Regional Studies–East Asia (RSEA) is a vibrant interdisciplinary area studies program designed to accommodate a wide range of interests and needs for graduate training in the languages, societies, and cultures of East Asia. The terminal master’s degree program affords students interested in a professional career of engagement with East Asia an opportunity to pursue a flexible and varied course of instruction related to their career interests; it also serves the needs of students who wish to enter a PhD program but require further background training in the field of East Asian studies. The RSEA program prepares students for careers in higher education, politics, the military, journalism, international organizations, and the business and financial sectors.

RSEA dates back to 1946, when renowned China scholar John King Fairbank launched a full-time seminar leading to a master’s degree known as Regional Studies–China; the seminar was later expanded to include Japan, Korea, and Vietnam, and became the AM program known as Regional Studies–East Asia.

For almost three-quarters of a century, RSEA has transformed the field of East Asian Studies and produced close to 1500 alumni in all walks of life. Many of the RSEA program’s alumni have achieved distinction in the academic world, or the world of public service. 

Admissions Requirements

Admission to the RSEA AM program is highly competitive. In evaluating applications, the RSEA admissions committee may consider all of the following criteria for admission: proven academic excellence, the extent of language training and prior experience in East Asia, letters of recommendation, writing ability (as demonstrated by a writing sample no longer than 20 pages), GRE scores and, where applicable, TOFEL or IELTS scores (a score of at least 100 on the iBT TOEFL or at least 7.5 on the IELTS is required), together with the student’s statement of purpose and proposed subject of study. Furthermore, each proposed plan of study is evaluated to assess the availability of suitable faculty resources to provide adequate training and supervision to an applicant, if admitted. 

Applicants are asked to indicate in their application which Harvard faculty member(s) they are most interested to work with should they be admitted into the program. There is no need for an applicant to contact any member of the faculty directly. 

Regional Studies–East Asia provides more information including FAQs about admissions on their websiteGSAS Policies details the program’s academic requirements.

Regional Studies–East Asia Faculty