Buddhist temple ruins

Asian Studies

Asian Studies uses multi- and inter-disciplinary approaches to study traditional and contemporary Asian societies.

UBC’s Department of Asian Studies focuses on approaches to Asia based in the Humanities (language, literature, history, culture, religion, philosophy, gender studies, performance, visual culture) and features strong coverage of East Asia (China, Japan, Korea) and South and West Asia (India, Pakistan, and the Persianate world) and is one of the leading programs of its kind in North America.

Languages taught include Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Punjabi, Hindi, Sanskrit and Persian. Cantonese will be added from Fall 2015. 

Get experience at UBC

Building your career takes more than academics. Complement your studies with relevant experiences. Whether you choose one of the experiences below that are particularly suited for your major, or one of the many other great opportunities available, you’ll learn new things, make new friends, network, and set yourself apart. It all counts.

Go Global

Enhance your study in Asian language or culture and immerse yourself in another perspective. Go on an exchange at one of over 20 partner institutions in China, Japan, South Korea, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, or take a Global Seminar to access courses, culture and experiences that aren’t available at UBC. Learn more about international opportunities recommended by the Asian Studies department

Arts Co-op Program

Put your language skills and cultural knowledge to work for you. Gaining paid, full-time experience will help you explore careers in non-profits and community organizations, arts organizations, education, government, and the private sector with employers across Canada and abroad, including several in Asia. Graduate with career skills, experience, and a network of professional contacts that will give you a competitive edge after graduation.

Arts Internship Program

Build a career while you are studying through part-time, unpaid internships designed with Asian Studies students in mind. Exciting internships are being created at non-profits and social service organizations. Apply your valuable intercultural understanding and language skills to the world of work and gain industry contacts along the way. Past internships include Schema Magazine, Chinese Cultural Centre, local neighbourhood houses and others.

Community experience

Work and learn in community settings like non-profits and inner city schools. Take a course with a community-based experiential learning (CBEL) component and develop an understanding of community contexts and the systemic factors underlying community needs. Whether it’s a course or signing up for Trek & Reading Week placements,or a grant project in community, you’ll build skills in real-world settings and make invaluable connections with people in community.

Student Directed Seminars

Student Directed Seminars allow senior undergraduate students to either participate in or initiate and coordinate small, collaborative, group learning experiences. In previous years, students in Asian Studies have facilitated such seminars as Communalism and Politics in South Asian Literature.

Asian Studies Interest Association (ASIA)

ASIA provides a wide variety of events, both social and academic, to everyone who holds an interest in Asian food, people, culture and more.

Using your degree

Intercultural competence and literacy, a first-hand appreciation of cultural difference, and a linguistically informed understanding of one or more cultures and civilizations of South or East Asia are essential to global citizenship and also highly valued by employers and industry. Graduates from Asian Studies bring these sensitivities and competencies along with strong research, writing, and critical thinking skills to work in a wide variety of fields.

Career possibilities

Foreign Service Officer

Working in the foreign services requires an understanding of economic and political issues, global affairs, and different cultural backgrounds to effectively act on behalf of a country in negotiations, services or offices abroad.

Community Service Agency Worker

Community Service Agency Workers use their communication skills and knowledge of social issues to contribute to community social service and outreach programs that help people in need.

More possibilities:

Community Liaison Coordinator
Public Affairs Officer
International Trade Developer
Program Director
Project Manager
Multinational Marketing Director
Public Relations Coordinator
ESL Teacher
Business/Economic Development Officer
Publications Director
Communications Coordinator
Trade Officer
Immigration Officer
Policy Advisor/Researcher
Cultural Affairs Officer
Tourism Consultant
Political Aide
Campaign/Elections Officer
Market Research Analyst
Public Policy Analyst
Settlement Assistant
Second Language Instructor
Cross-Cultural Skills Instructor

Academic possibilities

An Asian Studies degree prepares students for further study in:

Asian Studies
Political Science / Policy
Social Work

Alumni profiles