Certificate in Transnational Asia

Asia is at the forefront of many of the world’s most pressing issues, leading to many analysts declaring the 21st century to be the Asian Century. Representing 60% of the world’s population and 3 out of the 10 largest economies in terms of GDP, Asia plays a critical and ever-expanding role on the global stage. Transnational flows of people, disease, goods, and ideas in and out of Asia have fueled much of the rapid change within the region and its influence abroad. As the world wrestles with issues of global economics, environmental sustainability, public health, and labor migration, Asia’s impact defines a large number of research and social questions spanning academic and professional disciplines. Students endeavoring to understand international business, diasporic communities, history, and politics need to be intellectually agile and able to make transnational and even transregional connections. The Transnational Asia Certificates that will focus the continent’s transnational linkages with the world.  This certificate programs will help students prepare for international careers as well as graduate degrees with a global focus.  To learn more about the Transnational Asia Certificate please contact the Asian Studies Advisor via email (rookkoepsel@pitt.edu) or by making an appointment at http://www.ucis.pitt.edu/asc/academics/advising-appointment-scheduler.

Why consider the Certificate in Transnational Asia? 

If you have an interest in transnational flows, particularly around issues of culture, finances, and diaspora, the certificate in transnational Asia is a good fit for you. Some of the themes that students can focus on in this interdisciplinary, personalized education certificate are:

Asian American Studies/ Asian Diaspora Studies

Public Health in Asia

Global Soft Power (Anime, K-Dramas, Bollywood, Olympics etc)

Asia in International Business

Academic requirements

The undergraduate certificate has three academic components: language proficiency, area studies courses, and a digital portfolio.

  1. Language Proficiency: This certificate allows students to fulfill their language requirement in two ways:
    • Equivalent proficiency to one year of an Asian language, and one year of another, thematically related language.
    • Equivalent proficiency to two years of a single Asian language. Students can work with the Asian Studies advisor to determine language proficiency.
  1. Transnational Asia Coursework: Interdisciplinary understanding of transnational Asia can help build an understanding of broad trends and ideas from many different perspectives. When students apply for a Transnational Asia Certificate, they will work together with the Asian Studies Center advisor to choose an appropriate theme and will, over the course of their remaining semesters take a minimum of five courses (15 credits) approved by the Asian Studies Academic Advisor to fit around the theme. Some popular themes include: Asian Diaspora Studies (including Asian American Studies), Asian Public Health, Transnational Asian Popular Culture, Transnational Supply Chains, and many others. Required courses for the Asian Studies certificate may overlap with Gen. Ed. requirements and with courses taken on study abroad.

    Students must take courses in a total of three different departments.  At least one course (3 credits) should be in the student’s major, unless their major does not include a course appropriate to their certificate theme, in which case a course from a different department can count towards this requirement.

  2. Digital Portfolio: The digital portfolio is a website that asks students to reflect on their curricular and co-curricular experiences to situate their Transnational Asia Certificate with their broader academic plans, co-curricular actives, scholarship, work experience, and career goals. The digital portfolio will be started as students enter the Asian Studies program and will be changed and expanded as students continue through their college program. Digital portfolios will be finalized in early in the student’s final semester. Details will be discussed with the advisor.

Study Abroad

While study abroad in an Asian country is not required, it is strongly encouraged. Pitt offers a diverse and extensive array of pre-approved study abroad programs to Japan, South Korea, China, Singapore, Malaysia, and India. Additionally, students can work with the Asian Studies advisor and Study Abroad advisors to find additional programs that fit their regional and thematic interests. These programs all offer credits to count towards your degree and certificate requirements. Visit the Study Abroad website at http://www.abroad.pitt.edu to explore programs and search by location, program duration or time of year, and foreign language. For example, these summer study abroad courses, all taught in English, offer 3 to 6 academic credits:

Leadership in the Himalayas: Leadership skills are among the most highly sought transferrable skills that you will utilize in your professional life. Developing your leadership style is also a very personal experience that can’t be taught in the classroom. Leadership Development in the Himalayas gives you the opportunity to go beyond leadership theory and develop your leadership skills through this 6-credit experiential outdoor learning in the Indian Himalayas.   

During the pre-departure seminars in Pittsburgh and the month-long program at the Hanifl Centre in Mussoorie, India, you will learn principles and theories behind leadership development and have the chance to develop and hone your leadership skills through outdoor education. The program includes a two-week intensive trek in the Himalaya, field-based experiential learning at the Hanifl Centre, and leadership seminars.

Global Business Institute: Shanghai: A global megacity of 24+ million people, Shanghai is dynamic, technologically advanced, and fast-paced. It's future-focused with a drive toward economic development and strong international trade. Shanghai is a port city with infectious energy and you can be at the center of it all! You'll have the opportunity to take 9 credits of coursework, including Chinese language, an internship in your academic and professional interest area, and an option of a business or general education course. The city will be your classroom, with cultural activities and programming designed to complement your academics. And, you'll live with a local student, which will help you develop a personal connection to Shanghai.

TEAN Summer Thailand: Immerse yourself in the Thai culture and colorful world of Southeast Asia. Take courses focusing on a range of topics, such as holistic health and wellness, environmental conservation and sustainability, international relations, political science, tourism, ethnic identity, and religions of Southeast Asia. Courses are taught in English. Field trips and excursions vary depending on the course, but include homestays in different ethnic hill tribe villages, a retreat in the tropical southern coastal town of Krabi, field work and research in the jungles of Northern Thailand, and more. Housing varies depending on the course but consists of twin share rooms in either guest houses, hotels, or off-campus student accommodation.

Admission Process

Formal admission to the program is permitted at any point in the undergraduate career. There are no special requirements for admission.

Please fill out the appointment form here to schedule a meeting with our Academic Adviser and discuss admission into the program.

Approved courses

A number of courses from many departments across the university count towards the Asian Studies Certificate. You can find the course listings here.


All certificate students are eligible to apply for Asian Studies Center scholarship funds. Held each year, scholarship competitions are made possible by endowment funds, grants from private sources, and funds from the US Department of Education.