These answers to Frequently Asked Questions may be helpful to prospective applicants.   Please email RSEA (rsea@fas.harvard.edu) if you have additional questions.

What can you do with a master's in Regional Studies East Asia?

A multi-disciplinary master’s degree in Regional Studies--East Asia is a springboard to many career directions. RSEA alumni go on to pursue careers in all sectors – public, private, and nonprofit – and in a broad variety of fields including public policy, law, business, management, journalism, and education. Many RSEA graduates live and work in Asia, as well as in North America and other regions.

While there is always variation between and among each cohort, typically about one-third of each graduating class go on to pursue a PhD program in their chosen discipline. Roughly another third of RSEA graduates enter positions in government or public service, or policy-oriented non-governmental organizations. Others go into business, consulting, and private sector companies, or pursue opportunities in education, museum curation, and journalism.

Do I need a background in East Asian studies?

A background in East Asian studies is helpful but is not required to apply to the program. RSEA has admitted students with diverse academic backgrounds who have successfully completed the program.  However, an applicant with no background in an East Asian language will be required to devote extra time to language study in order to complete the academic requirements for the AM degree.

Will my previous language study count towards my degree?

Incoming RSEA students with East Asian language ability, including native speakers, are required to take the Harvard Language Placement Exams to assess their language proficiency.  East Asian language proficiency results will be counted toward fulfillment of the RSEA language requirement.

RSEA does not accept language test scores or grades from outside institutions.

Do I need to take a GRE or TOEFL/IELTS exam?

GRE exam scores are required of all applicants to the RSEA AM program.  Please refer to the GSAS website for acceptable types of GRE exams.

GRE scores are valid for five years from the test date (i.e. taken no earlier than September 1, 2019, for fall 2024 admission). Official GRE General Test scores must be sent directly to Harvard GSAS using ETS code: 3451. 

TOEFL/IELTS exams are required for all non-native English speakers.  RSEA requires a minimum score of 100 for TOEFL and 7.5 for IELTS.  TOEFL/IELTS scores are waived for non-native English speakers who have received their bachelor’s degree from an accredited English-language college or university.

TOEFL and IELTS Academic scores are valid for two years from test date (i.e. taken no earlier than September 1, 2022, for fall 2024 admission).

GRE and TOEFL/IELTS exams must be taken prior to the RSEA application deadline.  Scores for exams taken after the RSEA deadline will not be accepted.

What should I write in my Statement of Purpose?

Your statement of purpose (SOP) should concisely state your academic background that motivates your proposed graduate research at Harvard.  Focusing on your intended research and area of study, your SOP should note how Harvard's resources will support your study.

Should I contact the Faculty members that I want to work with?

No, it is not necessary to contact faculty. On the application you can indicate up to three "Faculty of interest" -- the professors with whom you wish to work if accepted to the program.

Will there be an interview?

The RSEA Admissions Committee does not require an interview. Members of the Admissions Committee may reach out to individual applicants for additional information or to schedule a meeting. 

What should I submit as a writing sample?

RSEA does require an academic writing sample.  The writing sample must be in English and should be limited to 20 pages (5,000 words). The writing sample may be an academic paper you have previously submitted to a class, or a part of your senior thesis. Ideally, the writing sample should focus on your proposed area of research and provide insight into your academic ability.

Whom should I ask to write my letters of recommendation?

Letters from those who know you well academically are the most beneficial. Your recommenders need to be able to speak to your qualifications to succeed in graduate study.  Letters of recommendation should be written in English and submitted directly by the recommender as directed in the GSAS online application. Only three letters of recommendation should be submitted.

Can you upload something for me?


The RSEA office cannot upload any application materials to the online portal, nor can we accept any application materials outside of the application process.  Please contact the GSAS Admissions office (admiss@fas.harvard.edufor assistance with submitting application materials. 

RSEA does not accept applications after the deadline has passed. 


What kind of funding is available?

There is limited funding available to RSEA master’s degree students and awards are solely based on academic merit. We recommend that all applicants apply for other sources of support outside of Harvard.

The Harvard-Yenching Institute Fellowships are awarded through nomination by the RSEA Admissions Committee; applicants may not apply directly for the HYI Fellowship, nor should applicants contact faculty members to request consideration for the HYI Fellowship.  

Can RSEA support the unique needs of a military applicant?

We welcome applications from military personnel. RSEA has a history of admitting military personnel into the program. We understand the financial commitment required and the time limitations given to our military applicants.