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MA Program

Master's Program in South Asian Studies

CSAS offers an interdisciplinary Master of Arts program in South Asian studies (SAS) designed to introduce students to the area and to one or more of its languages. It is intended to provide broad area and language training at the graduate level for students with either academic or professional interests. It is ideal for students with in-country experience who want to channel their experience into a more formal direction, acquire further language competence, and interact with other specialists in an interdisciplinary environment; students interested in augmenting their professional training (in business, public policy, law, etc.) with a rigorous grounding in South Asian languages and regional knowledge; and students interested in pursuing a doctoral degree with a South Asia focus who wish to develop their language skills and foundational knowledge in the region and chosen discipline prior to applying to a PhD program. This program is offered through the University of Michigan Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies and administered by the International Institute.

The annual application deadline is December 15.


The normal program of study for the SAS M.A. takes two years and includes the following requirements:

  • Minimum Credit Requirement. Students must complete a minimum of 24 credit hours of graduate-level work in SAS-approved courses, at least 12 credits must be at the 500-level or above, and one course must include substantial writing (usually at the 600-level).
  • Course Distribution. Courses must be distributed in at least three disciplines, such as art, anthropology, history, literature, music, political science, religion, or sociology.  Language is not considered a discipline for the purpose of this requirement.
  • Proseminar in South Asian Studies. SAS 501, which is typically offered each fall (3 credits).
  • Language Proficiency. Students must attain at least second-year proficiency in a SA language (equivalent to four terms at U-M). The language requirement may be fulfilled by coursework or by demonstrating competency via a placement exam. Credits earned in advanced language courses (400-level or above) may be counted toward the minimum credit requirement.
  • Master’s Essay. A substantial research paper, which is the product of an individual research project. The paper should achieve the quality of a publishable academic article. Students may enroll in SAS 798 during the semester that the thesis is completed.



MA students should meet with the CSAS Advisor at least three times throughout the course of their degree: once at orientation, again near the end of their first year to discuss plans for the thesis and for guidance in selecting a thesis advisor, and early in their final semester to conduct a degree audit. Additional appointments can be scheduled as necessary. Schedule an advising appointment


How to Apply

The MA program admits students once per year for the fall term. Individuals apply online through the Rackham School of Graduate Studies. Online applications will go directly to Rackham and CSAS.  The online application opens in early September and the deadline is December 15. If you are applying for a dual degree program, you must also complete an application for the other program. Please note in both applications that you are applying for a dual degree program.

A UMID number will be issued to you by email once you complete the first five pages of the online application and advance to page 6.  Having your UMID number to include on all your application materials ensures accurate and timely processing, so we encourage you to complete pages 1-5 early in the process.

The Rackham online application requires the following:

  • Statement of Purpose: A concise, well-written statement about your academic and research background, your career goals, and how Michigan's SAS program will help you meet your career and educational objectives.

  • Personal Statement: A concise, well-written statement about how your personal background and life experiences, including social, cultural, familial, educational, or other opportunities or challenges, motivated your decision to pursue a graduate degree at the University of Michigan. This is not an Academic Statement of Purpose, but a discussion of the personal journey that has led to your decision to seek a graduate degree in SAS.

  • Recommendations: Three letters of recommendation are required. These should be from academic sources if possible.  Applicants may request and track recommendations using the Rackham online application. For tips on how to manage your recommendations online, see this Rackham web page.

  • Academic writing sample in English. Maximum 20 pages.

Transcripts/Academic Records

  • All applicants are required to send to Rackham a complete set of official academic records/transcripts from undergraduate and postgraduate institutions from which you have or will receive a degree.

  • E-transcripts are preferred but paper transcripts are also acceptable.  More information on transcripts sent to Rackham can be found here; graduates of non-US institutions should also see additional instructions here

  • In addition, CSAS encourages the submission of transcripts from other postsecondary institutions at which you have completed relevant language and area studies courses, such as study abroad programs, junior colleges, and summer sessions. Transcripts may be submitted electronically at or mailed to:

International Institute Graduate Academic Services
ATTN: CSAS Transcripts
Suite 300, Weiser Hall
500 Church Street
Ann Arbor, MI  48109-1042

Test Scores

  • Applicants must send GRE scores to Rackham, institutional code 1839.  Dual-degree applicants may use GMAT or LSAT scores in place of the GRE.

  • Applicants whose native language is not English must demonstrate English proficiency or meet the criteria for an exemption. More information can be found at

For more information, contact

Financial Aid

Applicants to the MA program who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents are encouraged to apply for Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships and for need-based financial aid through the Office of Financial Aid. Students are also encouraged to investigate the fellowships and grants offered by the International Institute and the Funding information provided by Rackham.