About the Program

Contemporary East and Southeast Asian Studies

Situated at Canada’s leading university, U of T’s Collaborative Master’s Program in Contemporary East and Southeast Asian Studies (MA CESEAS, formerly Asia-Pacific Studies or MAPS) offers a unique learning experience. It invites students to probe and question boundaries and assumptions in their engagement with East and Southeast Asia. It offers opportunities to critically examine global transformations and the regions’ changing position in the world. It deepens one’s understanding of key issues through careful examination of their historical roots, and of the cultural and social context that drives their manifestation.  Faculty affiliated with the CESEAS program are deeply engaged in their research and teaching with countries of East and Southeast Asia, both from the humanities and the social sciences. They bring their particular specialization and enthusiasm to the classroom, their supervisory roles, and broad engagement with the Asian Institute community to create an environment where students can deepen their own interests while simultaneously broadening their grasp of the region and challenging their original assumptions.

The program is designed to suit individual interests and needs, while providing a context to selectively broaden one’s familiarity with particular issues and countries in East and Southeast Asia. A core course draws on the specialized fields of faculty instructors, while students are invited to pursue individual interests and approaches appropriate to their discipline in a Major Research Paper. Additional course work and opportunities for language training are tailored to individual circumstances and objectives.

How is this program different from others?

This program invites students to go beyond traditional regional boundaries by deepening their knowledge of one of the regions (East or Southeast Asia), while gaining greater familiarity with the other. It also unique in that it is a collaborative program with a Master’s degree in one’s discipline. It is not a stand-alone program.  Students work toward reaching the requirements of the CESEAS program while also meeting requirements to obtain a degree in their discipline. Finally, the program is flexible and encourages students to tailor paper and course requirements to meet their educational and career objectives.

The program is small and is intended to encourage frequent and quality exchange among students. It typically has 12-15 students, and is capped at 20 in order to facilitate individual attention and small group discussion. Students in the CESEAS program have dedicated workspaces for study and collaboration in the Asian Institute student lab.

Students in the program also benefit from the opportunity to apply for a David Chu Travel Award to conduct research in East and Southeast Asia for their Major Research Paper.

Incoming domestic students in the MA program in Contemporary East and Southeast Asian are automatically considered for an David Chu entrance award of up to $5,000.

Do I have the right background?

Students are expected to have some background study of the region, most evidently through demonstrated interest and course work from their undergraduate studies. In some cases, personal or work experience in East or Southeast Asia is also useful. Some prior training in an Asian language is also an asset, as all students are encouraged to deepen their linguistic skills during the program (See Application Procedures).

Is this program for me?

Students in the program are very diverse, both in terms of their background as well as their objectives.  One of the program’s strengths is the dialogue it creates between those with primary interest in East Asia and others in Southeast Asia. Students challenge each other and learn from the vast array of disciplines represented, such as anthropology, geography and planning, political science, global affairs, public policy, history, women and gender studies, sociology, management, and social work.

The program caters to students wishing to pursue doctoral studies in a relevant discipline, with a particular focus on East or Southeast Asia. It is equally well designed for students working on a professional Master’s degree, wishing to add a regional specialization. Graduates of the program have had successful careers in such varied fields as academia, government, business, civil society organizations, and the media.

How does the program work?

Students must be admitted by a home department as well as by the CESEAS program (see Application Procedures). Once admitted, students pursue their disciplinary degree requirements, as well as those of the CESEAS program. All students must take the core course (ASI1000), which is taught over one whole academic year (full course). They are usually required to take two more half year courses, one of which is intended to work on their Major Research Paper (MRP). Finally, students conduct original research, on a topic of their choice, and write a Major Research Paper that is appropriate to their discipline and tailored to meet their objectives. During the course of the program, students also use a variety of opportunities to deepen their knowledge of a relevant language of East and Southeast Asia. For more information, see Program Requirements.


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