Program Description

Master of Arts in South Asia Studies

The South Asia Institute (SAI) at Columbia University offers an interdisciplinary course of study leading to the award of the Master of Arts in South Asia Studies. With a rich and diverse linguistic, cultural, and political history, South Asia has moved to the center of the global stage due to its dramatic economic growth and strategic importance. Our MA program in South Asia Studies provides an opportunity to engage with critical issues in a region that includes Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in an academic environment that includes many of the most distinguished South Asia Studies faculty in the U.S. Students can deepen their knowledge of the cultural, economic, political, and social processes shaping the region. Ideal for both professionals seeking regional knowledge and students intending to pursue a Ph.D. in the future, the South Asia Studies program prepares graduates for careers in government, public policy, non-profit organizations, journalism, education, the private sector, and academia.

The curriculum combines integrative core seminars with the opportunity to take South Asia Studies courses in a variety of disciplines across Columbia University. Core courses address key issues and approaches to South Asia Studies. The program includes training in research methodologies and the critical use of scholarship as a foundation for developing the M.A. thesis. To complement the core curriculum, students choose from a variety of courses offered regularly by South Asia Studies faculty in anthropology, art history, history, international affairs, literature, politics, and religion. Although there is no language requirement for the M.A., Columbia offers elementary through advanced levels of training in Hindi, Persian, Sanskrit, Tamil, Tibetan, and Urdu.  Columbia offers Elementary and Intermediate levels of Bengali and Punjabi, and offers Sinhala, through the "Shared Courses" initiative.  Sinhala courses are live-streamed from Cornell, via interactive classrooms located in both sites.

The Institute provides resources and guidance for students to develop both a broad interdisciplinary expertise in South Asia Studies and an area of specialization to be chosen by the student across a range of disciplines in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. As a capstone project, student completes a master's thesis in consultation with an advisor from the student's field of specialization.

All students meet regularly with the M.A. Coordinator, Professor Katherine Pratt Ewing, who is a member of the South Asia Studies faculty at Columbia, for advisement and assistance in developing a coherent program of study to meet their individual goals and interests.

Contact the MA Program in South Asia Studies

For additional information and questions about the Master of Arts in South Asia Studies, please contact Professor Katherine Pratt Ewing, at

Additional information about the MA Program:

Degree Requirements


Early Admission (BA-MA Program)

Financial Aid

For Current Students