Undergraduate Certificate Program

The undergraduate Certificate in Asian Studies is crafted to allow students in any major—from sciences and professional disciplines to languages and other liberal arts—to enhance their program of study and complement their departmental major. This interdisciplinary program fits into the academic spectrum between a major and a minor, and is an official credential recorded on the student’s academic transcript upon graduation. The goal of the certificate program is for students to attain an in-depth grasp of an Asian region. Students will integrate language study and, ideally, in-country experience with knowledge of the region’s history, culture, development, social transformations, environment and/or political systems.

Why consider the Certificate in Asian Studies program? Students who know or think they will work for an international business or NGO are good candidates for the Certificate in Asian Studies, as are students interested in world issues or Asian cultures. Students looking to pursue graduate study will also find the program beneficial. The certificate program allows students to design a study plan based on their interests and career goals. Students who complete the certificate will understand and experience cross-cultural differences, and should have a compelling portfolio of work to show prospective employers.

Academic requirements The undergraduate certificate has three academic components: language proficiency, area studies courses, and a capstone research paper and experience.

  1. Language Proficiency: A student must complete two years of college-level study (four semesters) of an Asian language. Pitt offers Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Hindi, and Vietnamese. Heritage and native speakers must demonstrate intermediate-level proficiency, and may be exempt from this requirement.
  2. Asian Area Studies Courses: Five Asian studies courses are required. Grades for courses must be a C minimum. Some certificate requirements are met with general education credits, and courses from study abroad or transfer credit (B grade minimum) may be applicable.
    • Four courses must be taken in at least two departments outside the major
    • One course must be taken in the major department. If the major department does not offer Asian-focused courses (eg chemistry or English), the course must be taken in a third department.
  3. Digital Portfolio: The digital portfolio is a website that asks students to reflect on their curricular and co-curricular experiences to situate their Asian Studies 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.

Students wishing to substitute the Asian Studies certificate for the “related area” requirements for the baccalaureate degree should first obtain permission from their major departments

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. 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:

Pitt in India: With breathtaking views of the snow-capped Himalayas, the hill station of Mussoorie will be your home for this six-week program. This is an opportunity to become immersed in Indian culture through true engagement with the local community while studying globalization.

Pitt in Shanghai: This short term is a great opportunity for students interested in China, Chinese language, development, history, and cultural studies. You will select two courses for a total of six credits.  You will also have the option to participate in an 8 - week internship for an additional 3 credits.  The program is based in Shanghai and will include a weekend trip to Beijing and the Great Wall.

Pitt in Japan:This Panther program is designed for students with little to no Japanese language training but who are fascinated by Japanese culture and who want to earn 6 credits in a packed 4-week summer program. Your experience will be guided by faculty from Pitt’s East Asian Languages and Literatures department and by faculty and staff from our host, Konan University CUBE campus. Learn how to negotiate the local commuter trains and make friends with Konan CUBE students by participating in the buddy program. Discover the ancient cities of Kyoto (former imperial capital) and Nara, a UNESCO World Heritage site a short train ride from the port city of Kobe.

Admission Process

Formal admission to the program is permitted at any point in the undergraduate career, but interested students are encouraged to apply in their freshman or sophomore year. 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.