Please Note: The description of the Inner Asian and Altaic Studies (IAAS) degree requirements is currently under review; any questions should be addressed to the committee office.

The First Two Years Courses

A minimum of two years academic residence is required. In most cases, however, fulfillment of all requirements for the degree will involve at least one additional year of coursework. The committee members will arrange particular programs for each student.

All first-year students in this program should take an introductory course in at least one of the following fields given by members of the committee. 1) History of Inner Asia 2) Archaeology and Art of Inner Asia 3) Comparative and Historical Turkic, Mongolian, Tunguz, or Altaic Linguistics 4) Inner Asian Philology (Khotanese Saka, Sogdian, Tibetan, Tokharian Gandhari [Niya] Prakrit, etc.)

Language Requirement

Upon enrolling in graduate school the candidate should offer proof of competence in one foreign “tool” language and by the end of the second year demonstrate competence in a second language selected from among those especially pertinent to the topic of specialization. “Tool” languages, such as French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, etc., are to be distinguished from “source” languages, such as Arabic, Chinese, Mongolian, Persian, Sanskrit, and Turkic. In particular cases where one of the latter is not a “source” language, it may be considered a “tool” language.

Incomplete Grades

A grade of Incomplete (INC) must be converted into a letter grade before the end of the next registration period or it will become permanent, unless the student has successfully petitioned the GSAS Dean’s Office for an extension. No course with a grade of Incomplete can be used to satisfy any departmental requirement.


On entering the IAAS program, students are assigned an academic advisor from among the members of the IAAS Committee, with whom they should meet to design an appropriate program of study; students should also consult with the committee chair to discuss their study plan. The faculty advisor, chair, and program administrator should be consulted in making arrangements for the general examination, and an appropriate advisor or advisors will also be assigned for the PhD dissertation. Students may petition the committee for changes in the advisor assignment, where appropriate. Advising is a critically important aspect of the IAAS program, and the committee is committed to finding appropriate advising arrangements for all students.

General Examinations

At the end of the second year of residence or in the third year of residence, the candidate is expected to pass an oral general examination in three fields. One of these fields should normally cover the history of a major society outside of Inner Asia (Western Europe, Russia, Islamic Middle East, India, or East Asia). The other two are expected to be drawn from the following list:

  1. Pre-Islamic History of Inner Asia (to the tenth century)
  2. Medieval and Early Modern History of Inner Asia (tenth century to 1750)
  3. Modern History of Inner Asia (1750 to the present)
  4. Philology and Religion of Pre-Islamic Inner Asia (to the tenth century)
  5. Philology and Religion of Medieval and Early Modern Inner Asia (tenth century to 1750)
  6. Altaic Linguistics
  7. Archaeology and Art of Inner Asia
  8. Ethnology and Anthropology of Inner Asia

A student must have passed the general examination by the end of the fourth year.


The PhD dissertation must demonstrate the candidate’s ability to use primary source material and to produce a piece of original research. After the acceptance of the dissertation, the candidate must defend his or her dissertation in a special oral examination. The final manuscript must conform to the requirements described online in The Form of the PhD Dissertation.

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