The program is designed to be flexible, and to allow students the opportunity to pursue their own particular East Asia-related interests, whether broad-ranging or relatively focused, within the guidelines of the RSEA requirements. In the normal two-year program of study, students will take a total of 16 half-courses, and some students may choose to take some of their courses in subjects related to their academic interests but outside the East Asian studies field — perhaps to pursue the theoretical background of a discipline, provide a comparative framework for study, or develop necessary methodological skills. All students, however, must graduate with at least eight RSEA-approved courses. These courses must meet the following conditions:

•          At least six courses used to count toward RSEA course requirements must be East Asian content courses.  East Asian content courses are defined as courses where a minimum of 51% of the course material is focused on East Asia.  Courses that focus solely or primarily on East Asia automatically qualify for RSEA East Asian course credit.  Other courses that may count for RSEA East Asian course credit are those that deal with East Asia as part of a broader context as well as courses that provide the theoretical underpinnings of a particular discipline, such as anthropology, comparative literature, or history.  For such courses to count for East Asian course credit, 51% of the student’s work for the course, such as the final paper or project should deal with East Asia.  If the East Asian focus of a course is not clearly stated in the course title, students must submit a petition (a template is available at to the RSEA Program Administrator at the end of the semester that the course is taken, for approval by the RSEA Committee.

•  A minimum of six Harvard FAS courses.  RSEA students are also free, within GSAS guidelines, to take up to two courses per semester (no more than half their enrollment) through cross-registration at other schools, but in the course of their study they must ensure that at least six of their required courses are FAS course

•  No more than two East Asian language courses may be used to fulfill RSEA course requirements. Such courses must be at least at the fourth-year level in the case of a primary East Asian language, or in the case of a second language, at least at the second-year level.

•  “RSEA 300: Thesis Research and Writing” may be used to fulfill RSEA course requirements only if the RSEA 300: Thesis Adviser Grade Report has been filled out with SAT grade and is approved by the RSEA Program. No more than one RSEA 300 course may be used to fulfill RSEA course requirements. 

Only one course with SAT/UNSAT grading option and graded SAT may be used to fulfill RSEA course requirements.

All courses must receive a minimum grade of B- or better.

Students should closely consult their faculty academic advisers, the RSEA Director of Graduate Studies, and the Program Administrator regarding their proposed course of study.  Any exception to the above rules must be first approved in advance by a student’s faculty academic adviser, also a written petition, written by the student and signed by the student’s faculty academic adviser, should be submitted to the Director of Graduate Students and the Chair for approval.