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The Department of South Asian Studies is the principal unit within the School of Arts and Sciences for teaching and research on South Asia at Penn and offers a number of modern and classical South Asian languages, as well as courses in a variety of fields related to South Asia. The Department is comprised of faculty with diverse expertise in the languages, literatures, histories, cultures, religions and arts of the subcontinent.

The MA in South Asian Studies is intended to give students a broad background knowledge of South Asia and further their competence in an Asian language so that they may enter a career in business, law, non-profit or government work. It may also be used to prepare for application to a PhD program for those students who have insufficient linguistic or scholarly background in South Asia.

The Department’s PhD curriculum provides a rigorous training in South Asian languages, literature, culture, and history that serves as a foundation for research and teaching in higher education. The Department emphasizes both linguistic expertise as well as in depth disciplinary knowledge. Students will gain exposure to a wide variety of approaches and methods in the study of South Asia, and will also learn how to deal with a diversity of research materials (including texual, documentary, enthographic and material). Penn is one of the leading departments in the US and has trained generations of scholars working on South Asia for over a century.  Penn offers many resources for interested students, including one of the country's leading research libraries on South Asia, with over 3500 Indic ms. and over 200,000 printed volumes related to South Asia.

Interdisciplinary Studies

Sudev Sheth, Phd Candidate, SAST

"In the South Asia Studies department, I've been able to conceptualize my doctoral dissertation according to theories and methods in history, literature, anthropology, religion, and urban studies. This is not only because the faculty research and teach across disciplines, but also because graduate students are able to venture beyond their formal training to forge projects that are truly diverse and provoking. I never thought I would be combining my deep interest in late-Mughal history with a growing field like business studies - - but, it has happened here at Penn! A rigor that is informed by the richness of various disciplines, along with a concern for making research accessible and meaningful to a wide audience is the hallmark of this department. Truly a great place to study a region that is multiple by definition!"