UB Offering Bachelor's Degree Program in Asian Studies

By Sue Wuetcher

Release Date: October 2, 2003 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- University at Buffalo students interested in studying Asian civilizations and contemporary societies now can register for the new interdisciplinary bachelor's degree program in Asian studies.

The degree program, which was granted final approval this summer by SUNY central administration, is the culmination of two years of curriculum design by Asian studies faculty, says Thomas Burkman, director of the Asian Studies Program in the College of Arts and Sciences.

"In art, cinema, religion, cuisine and economic influence, Asia is no longer 'over there' -- indeed, Asia is here," Burkman says. "By studying Asian civilizations and contemporary societies, we come to understand a significant part of humanity and acquire insight into ourselves."

The Asian studies major includes 10 hours of required core courses and four semesters of an Asian language -- Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Hindi, Arabic, Thai or Vietnamese. The language will define the student's focus for the major, Burkman says, noting that 18 hours of upper-level electives must include nine hours related to the focus culture or region. The student must choose elective courses from both the humanities and the social sciences, as well as complete a senior seminar.

Courses for the major are drawn from many departments, as well as from the Asian Studies Program itself, Burkman says, pointing out that UB is home to some 20 faculty members whose teaching and research are devoted primarily to Asia.

Moreover, study abroad programs offer students the chance to encounter Asian cultures firsthand, as well as advance their language capability, he says. In addition, there are myriad opportunities to learn about Asia while on campus, including a wide variety of special lectures, stage performances and Asia-focused student clubs.

Burkman notes that the Asian Studies Program continues to offer a minor in East Asian studies, and undergraduates can pursue language minors in Japanese, Chinese and Korean, as well as focus on Asia while pursuing a major in international studies. Several departments also offer Asia-focused graduate work at the master's and doctoral levels, he adds.

Students with a degree in Asian studies find employment opportunities in many fields, including international business, government service, non-governmental organizations and the arts, he says. Some go on to professional schools in such fields as management, finance, diplomacy and law, while others pursue graduate degrees and enter Asia-related academic careers.

Students who combine a major in Asian studies with another field through a double major or a joint major will be particularly well-suited for jobs that require disciplinary/professional training coupled with Asian linguistic ability and cultural understanding, Burkman says.