Learning Abroad for Asian Studies Majors

The Asian Studies Program encompasses the many people and cultures of the Middle East, South Asia and Far East. It is important for Asian Studies majors to choose one of the above areas and ground themselves with a comprehensive understanding of the language and culture of the country and region that they focus on. Studying abroad is an excellent way to accomplish this. When Asian Studies majors study abroad they learn and improve their target language and observe first-hand the people and culture of the language they are learning.

Immersion in an Asian language and culture consolidates and enhances students’ classroom learning, and at the same time, allows them to develop a deeper understanding and to acquire a keener insight into solutions for global issues in general and Asian issues in particular.

To encourage our majors to study abroad, the Asian Studies Program has both established its own program and become affiliated with several reputable programs (see below). Asian Studies faculty host annual study abroad orientations for majors and also advise the individual student as she develops her plan, selects courses, and applies for financial aid.

Studying abroad gives our students opportunities to examine the past and present of the local country and their own country from a different point of view. I believe that such opportunities are extremely valuable for our students to grow into global citizens.

--Naoko Nemoto, Associate Professor, Japanese Language

Study Abroad

Where to Study

We hope that Asian Studies majors will take advantage of the study abroad opportunities offered by Mount Holyoke College and its affiliates. We especially recommend the following programs:

  • MHC-BLCU Summer Program in Beijing, China
    The Mount Holyoke summer program is hosted by Beijing Language and Culture University and offers eight weeks of intensive language study that provides an immersion learning experience covering the equivalent of one year of Chinese as normally taught in an American college classroom. All of the courses will be taught by BLCU faculty. BLCU specializes in teaching Chinese as a foreign language and has more than five thousand international students on campus studying Chinese at different levels. MHC students must have completed at least one year of college-level Chinese language study, and will be placed at the appropriate language level (intermediate or advanced) in Beijing.
  • MHC-University of Hong Kong exchange
    Students may apply to study for one or two semesters on exchange at The University of Hong Kong, the oldest institution of higher education in Hong Kong. University of Hong Kong offers a wide range of courses, taught in English, in the humanities, science, and social sciences.
  • MHC Program in Shanghai: Economic Transformation and Business Challenges in China
    In this spring semester program, students will study China’s emergence as a world economic giant and its role as a major player in shaping the events of the 21st century.  Mount Holyoke will launch this program in spring 2012, in cooperation with the Alliance for Global Education.  Students will study international business, economic development, and finance (in English).  They will also have the rare opportunity to study with Chinese students from Shanghai University of Finance and Economics in the core course “China in the World.”  One semester of Chinese is required; students with at least three semesters of Chinese may apply for internships.
  • Associated Kyoto Program
    AKP, which began in 1972, represents one of the oldest study abroad programs in Japan. AKP's goal is to provide students with a rigorous academic program that helps them live and experience and know more about Japan and Japanese in one of Japan's oldest and most beautiful cities, Kyoto.
  • MHC/Japan Women's University Exchange
    J.W.U. is the largest and oldest private women's university in Japan.
  • MHC/Ewha Women's University Exchange
    Students have the option to study for one or two semesters on exchange at Ewha. Ewha's co-ed international program offers courses taught in English, and Korean language at various levels; students who are proficient in Korean may take regular Ewha courses taught in Korean.
  • MHC/Sookmyung Women's University Exchange
    Students may apply to study for one or two semesters on exchange at Sookmyung. Students with little or no knowledge of Korean will take intensive Korean language courses, and courses about Korea taught in English. Students who are proficient in Korean may take regular Sookmyung courses taught in Korean.

Asian Studies majors should investigate programs approved by the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives. Please pay special attention to laurel preferred programs which are competitively priced for their location. For a list of where past and present Asian studies majors have studied and a summary of the courses that they took abroad, check this searchable database. Note that the database is not a definitive list of what is possible and should serve only as a useful guide and planning resource.


Asian studies students who are looking for funding to study abroad (either during the summer or academic year) or to conduct summer research abroad are encouraged to investigate the following sources:

  • Freeman Asia Scholarship
    The Freeman-ASIA Award Program supports American undergraduates with demonstrated financial need who are planning on studying overseas in East or Southeast Asia. The program funds summer or semester study. Applications must be endorsed by MHC's Dean of International Studies in the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives.
  • Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship
    The Gilman International Scholarship Program offers awards for undergraduate study abroad for U.S. students who are receiving federal Pell Grant. New $3,000 Critical Need Language Supplement available to students studying a critical need language.
  • Bridging Project for Study Abroad in Japan
    Bridging Scholarships for Study in Japan are scholarships for undergraduates wishing to study Japanese culture and language. Japanese language study is not a prerequisite. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
  • Morgan Stanley Scholarship for Study in Japan
    Morgan Stanley is proud to support the US-Japan Bridging Foundation’s Bridging Project for Study Abroad in Japan. Eligible students include juniors and seniors at US universities with an interest in economics and international finance who have been accepted for study in Japan for the academic year.
  • U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarships for Intensive Summer Institutes
    This program is an effort to expand dramatically the number of Americans studying and mastering critical need foreign languages. Scholarship recipients receive funding to study Arabic, Bangla/Bengali, Hindi, Japanese,  Punjabi, Turkish, Urdu, Chinese, Korean, Persian, and Russian.
  • Weed Research Fellowships
    The Weed Summer Research Scholar Program is designed for students who want to develop their skills in research and who are willing to work closely with a faculty mentor on a specific project. One of the goals is to attract talented students who show considerable promise for an academic career and who want to pursue a doctorate in higher education.

When to Study

Our faculty encourages incoming students with an interest in Asian Studies to start an Asian language in their first semester at Mount Holyoke College. We recommend that majors have at least one year (preferably two years) of language study before going abroad. With early planning, majors are better able to integrate their learning abroad experience with their academic program, especially if they wish to study abroad for an entire year.

Asian studies majors interested in studying abroad for a single semester generally find the fall or spring of their junior year is their best option. Please note that some programs in Asia have academic calendars different from Mount Holyoke's, so students need to plan accordingly. Students may also wish to study abroad in the summer, although there is no MHC funding available at present for this option.

Credit Transfer

Generally, Asia-related elective offerings at foreign institutions are accepted for 200-level credits towards the Asian studies major. Students who would like some of their courses from abroad to fulfill 300-level requirements should discuss this possibility with their advisor before leaving. Students should save course syllabi and writing assignments so that, upon return, they can meet with their advisor to review work completed abroad.

Language courses taken at a university abroad may transfer as 300-level courses and count towards the Asian studies major if a student has taken 200-level language courses prior to going abroad. In order to have credits from abroad transferred, upon their return, students must fill out a permission form and have it signed by the chair of Asian studies.

Please note that students may count a maximum of 8 credits earned in the summer towards their A.B. degree.

Summer Internships and Research Abroad

Asian studies majors are encouraged to pursue a summer internship or research project, since it allows them apply and develop their skills and explore possible career paths while engaging with cultures and perspectives outside the United States. Mount Holyoke provides a number of summer internship opportunities in South Asia and the Far East. Additionally, each year the faculty chooses an Asian studies major or minor to receive the Barbara Yen Sun Prize for an outstanding research project in Asian studies.


Students also have the option of developing their own summer internship or research project. Support for unpaid opportunities is available through the Universal Application Funding (UAF), which offers students access to funding from a variety of College fellowship sources to cover travel and living expenses for the duration of the project. Students with a family contribution of less than $5000 may also receive a $500 grant to apply towards their summer earnings contribution. Both the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives and the Career Development Center have student evaluations of past international internships on file.