About the Institute

The South Asia Institute (SAI) promotes the study of the Indian subcontinent across the countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, across other regions in Asia and the Indian Ocean, and across global South Asia diasporic communities. The Institute organizes seminars, lecture series, and occasionally, conferences, that bring together faculty and undergraduate and graduate students with diverse interests and backgrounds. SAI partners with departments, centers, and institutes at Columbia, and works with South Asia groups on campus, in order to reach new audiences and facilitate an exchange of knowledge. 

Degree options for the Study of South Asia at Columbia University

The Master of Arts Program in South Asia Studies, administered by the Institute, combines a core curriculum on South Asia with a coherent set of courses from a variety of disciplines across the university. Each student selects an individualized program of study under the advice and approval of the M.A. Program Director. Students in the M.A. Program will join a larger cohort of students working on South Asia at Columbia in other degree programs. There are options to pursue undergraduate majors or concentrations, and graduate study of South Asia, in a number of departments, primarily Anthropology, Art History and Archeaology, Comparative Literature, History, Political Science, and Religion; and in the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies (see below). Master's students at the School of International and Public Affairs may pursue a Regional Specialization in Southern Asian Studies.  Graduate students at Columbia may take six to eight courses to qualify for a Certificate in South Asia Studieswhich is administered by the South Asia Institute.

Faculty and Curriculum

Affiliated Institute faculty members teach courses on South Asia in fourteen departments and six schools. SAI faculty research and teaching are often interdisciplinary and comparative across other world regions. Columbia offers three year department-based language programs (Elementary, Intermediate, and Advanced levels) in Hindi, Persian, Sanskrit, and Urdu. Two year language programs at Columbia include Bengali, Punjabi, and Tamil, with third year classes arranged as tutorials or directed study.

Columbia Libraries

The Columbia Libraries have one of the oldest and largest South Asia collections in the country, with some 500,000 volumes -- over 150,000 of them in South Asian Languages. Columbia hosts the digital library website, SARAI (South Asia Resource Access on the Internet) which serves as the official South Asia catalog for the WWW Virtual Library Association, the oldest extant web catalog and one of the most respected.

National Resource Center and Foreign Language and Area Studies

The US Department of Education has designated SAI as a National Resource Center (NRC), one of eight such South Asia centers in the country. SAI NRC outreach activities have included professional development courses for high school teachers and two-year college instructors, language teacher training workshops, and development of materials for use in schools and colleges, including resources for teaching Hindi and Urdu in the classroom.  

As an NRC, SAI awards Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellowships for Summer Intensive Language Study, and for Academic Year study in degree programs at Columbia.  Current students at a number of Columbia schools, including  those who will apply to our MA in South Asia Studies, are eligible to apply, as are applicants to degree programs in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, the School of International and Public Affairs, and Teachers College. Undergraduates at Barnard College, Columbia College, the Engineering School, and the School of General Studies, may apply for FLAS as well.

Links for Admissions and further information about Degree Programs at Columbia

The Institute welcomes inquiries from prospective students interested in studying South Asia at Columbia. Applications to apply to Columbia Schools can be found on-line at their respective websites, as below.

For information about the Institute's Master of Arts program, please visit our the MA Program pages on our website. If you have further questions or concerns, please contact M.A. Program Director Professor Quinn Clark at <[email protected]>Applicants to the MA Program use the on-line forms on the Graduate School of Arts and Science website, at <https://gsas.columbia.edu/degree-programs/admissions>.

For information about the Institute's Certificate in South Asia Studies for graduate students, and its requirements, please visit the Certificate page on the SAI website. If you have further questions or concerns, please contact M.A. Program Director at <qac2000@columbia.edu>.

For information about MA and Ph.D programs in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and to find links to departmental websites offering M.A. and Ph.D. degree programs of interest to South Asia scholars (AnthropologyComparative LiteratureHistoryMiddle Eastern, South Asian and African StudiesPolitical Science, and Religion), please visit the above departmental links or go to the GSAS website at http://www.columbia.edu/cu/gsas/pages/pstudents/admissions/information/index.html.

Prospective students to the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), which includes options for a South Asia regional specialization, should visit the SIPA website at <https://www.sipa.columbia.edu/academics/specializations/regional>.

For links to all Columbia Schools and affiliates admissions offices, go to http://www.columbia.edu/content/schools.html.