Political & Global Studies


Degrees Offered:

  • BA
  • Minor*

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* = Minors are not technically a degree, but can be pursued to supplement a bachelor's degree

The study of Asia is highly relevant and important in this global age. Its influences on the Western world can be seen in economics, politics, music, the arts, entertainment and religion.

The Asian Studies major at the University of Colorado Boulder encompasses a diverse interdisciplinary study of Asia and gives students an opportunity to discover Asia through a wide variety of courses that reflect the astonishing diversity of the region. As part of the requirments for the major, students will receive a thorough grounding in the history of Asia, as well as an understanding of an Asian language.

It wasn’t until I graduated that I realized how valuable my Asian Studies degree was. Founding two international companies, launching my own TV show, and becoming a radio host in Beijing was just the beginning. My degree would promise me many more opportunities and adventures to come."

— Leslie Dong ('15), founder and president, Pursuit International

A degree in Asian studies provides not only a unique perspective into another culture, but also a chance to learn a language, study abroad and have an interdisciplinary educational experience. As an Asian Studies major, students gain a unique insight into an increasingly prosperous region of the world that is increasingly important in business, the arts, world politics and even state politics, with more of Colorado's economy holding ties to Asia than even Europe. 

Many employers in this increasingly interconnected world also seek job applicants with an international perspective. Students' specialized knowledge of Asia will give them an edge in the job market. In addition, an area specialty within the major is an excellent way to lay the groundwork for life-long study of a region, whether as a career or a hobby.

For those reasons, many students pursue Asian Studies either alone, or as a second major or minor to complement the study of such subjects as history, international affairs and geography.

Asian Studies students have access to a wide spectrum of opportunities across campus and around the world. The Center for Asian Studies organizes Asia-related events on campus and provides several study-abroad scholarships and Asia-based internship opportunities for undergraduates. The Program for Teaching East Asia sponsors innovative workshops for teachers and prospective teachers. Asian Studies students have access to state-of-the-art language instruction technology at the Anderson Language Technology Center (ALTEC) and access to the East Asian Library, located in Norlin Library, the largest collection of East Asian materials in the Rocky Mountain region. In addition, there are over 110 faculty members on the CU-Boulder campus who either specialize in or have research interests in Asia.

For the undergraduate students pursuing a degree in asian studies and interested in research or scholarly work, there are a number of opportunities beyond just class work:

  • One of the most enriching experiences available to any student is studying abroad. The University offers more than 350 programs throughout the world, including over 40 in various locations throughout Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mongolia, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. All Asian Studies students are strongly encouraged to study abroad; living a language and culture is the best way to learn about them. Students can earn credit that counts as if you had taken courses on the Boulder campus, in some cases fulfilling major, minor and core curriculum requirements. They may spend a few weeks to a full academic year abroad, depending on the program selected. Prior language study or other prerequisites are necessary for some programs, so early planning for study abroad is encouraged. Further information about study abroad is available from Education Abroad, 303-492-7741 or on the education abroad website.
  • The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) offers students a chance to work alongside a faculty sponsor on original research. Learn to write proposals, conduct research, pursue creative work, analyze data and present the results. For more information, call UROP at 303-492-6802 or visit the UROP website.
  • You may also seek honors in Asian Studies, which results in the designation of cum laude, magna cum laude, or summa cum laude at graduation. Honors work usually involves special coursework and a senior honors research project. Look into this program early because it involves securing a faculty sponsor and developing an individual project.

A degree in Asian Studies provides a broad base of knowledge that can be applied to any number of possible fields, including international business, commerce, journalism, politics, publishing, the social sciences and teaching at all levels. Some students go on to do postgraduate work in business or law, or continue in Asian Studies. Asian Studies can open up new job possibilities at home and abroad for prospective engineers, health professionals, teachers, and writers of all types.

Many employers in this increasingly interconnected world seek job applicants with an international perspective. As an Asian Studies student, you will gain unique insight into a region of the world that is highly important in world politics, business, and the arts. Your specialized knowledge of Asia will give you an edge in the job market. In addition, an area specialty is an excellent way to lay the groundwork for life-long study of a region, whether as a career or a hobby.

Career Services offers free services for all CU Boulder degree-seeking students, and alumni up to one year after graduation, to help students discover who they are, what they want to do, and how to get there. They are the bridge between academics and the world of work by discussing major and career exploration, internship or job searching, and graduate school preparation. 

According to the 2017-18 College Salary Report by PayScale Human Capital:

  • the median salary for someone with a bachelor’s degree in Asian Studies and 0-5 years of experience is $42,300;
  • median salary for 10-plus years of experience, $95,100.

Asian Study Salary Figure

At CU Boulder, Asian Studies graduates earn roughly the same amount as the nationwide average of comparable majors as reported by PayScale. CU Boulder alumni in this discipline earn an estimated annual salary of $88,759, based on a pool of 60 alumni who graduated between 1989 and 2018. This amount is also roughly the same as the average for all CU Boulder graduates with a bachelor's degree, according to a survey by Esmi Alumni Insight of 25,000 alumni who graduated during the same stretch.

The Asian Studies major and minor have an extensive list of alumni that are either working or have worked in a variety of industries across the globe. Some alumni of the program include:

  • Jeremy Sjodahl-Brainard, who now works for the Japan Department of Education.
  • Leslie Dong ('15), founder and president of Beijing-based Pursuit International.
  • Kevin Peters ('12), lives in Xinjiang China, works as a freelance writer for online newspapers and blogs.
  • Liz A. Dorn ('97), program coordinator for the East-West Center, and former vice chair of communications for the Hawaii State Republican Party.
  • Robin Sweeten ('82), worked in management positions at Panasonic for 25 years.
  • Robert J. Kauffman ('77), associate dean, Information Systems, Singapore Management University.
  • David Scrimgeour ('77), doctor of Japanese acupuncture.