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Southeast Asia Studies

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Southeast Asia Studies
Meg Bittle, Budget & Administrative Coordinator 
1619 Massachusetts Ave NW
Rome 718
Washington, DC 20036
+1 (202) 663-5837


The dramatic rise of Southeast Asia offers exciting career opportunities focused on the economic and foreign affairs of Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand, the Philippines, and the region as a whole. The program's policy-oriented curriculum emphasizes issues likely to shape the region's future, including democratization, rising inequality, energy and climate sustainability, and regional integration.

Become an Expert

Combine quantitative skills in economics and statistics with deep knowledge of the political systems and institutions of Southeast Asia. Learn from renowned scholars and practitioners with real-world experience in the diplomacy and development of the region. Undertake a professional internship or language study in the Southeast Asia region and gain direct experience in in the region.


Featured Courses

Gain in-depth knowledge and critical analytical and problem-solving skills for the demanding working environment of Southeast Asia.


Introduction to Economic Growth and Development of Southeast Asia

This course is designed to familiarize students with Southeast Asia’s dramatic rise from modest beginnings after the Second World War to a dynamic, rapidly growing region deeply integrated with the global economy and with close economic ties to its giant neighbors, especially China.

The course will also highlight Southeast Asia’s many economic fault lines – notably rising inequality, weak governance, and a spotty environmental record, and it will examine the economic challenges facing the region as many of its members strive to avoid the middle income trap and become high income economies. Students will learn basic economic concepts and how they can be applied to yield powerful insights into Southeast Asia’s past economic performance and its future prospects.


Leaders, Followers, and Political Power

National leaders are the essence of politics and the most prominent feature of international relations.

This course analyzes how leaders attain power utilizing different combinations of coercion, charisma, traditional authority, economic reward, or appeals to identity, ideology and nationalism. Special attention will be given to Southeast Asian women who have led their nations: Megawati Soekarnoputri; Aung San Suu Kyi; Cory Aquino, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, and Yingluck Shinawatra.


Demystifying Indonesia: The Political Economy of an Important Southeast Asian State

This course examines the dynamics of power, business, politics and economic growth in Indonesia through a review of modern Indonesian history, its political, social and economic development, and the multiple crises that have brought chaos and opportunity to the world’s most populous Muslim state.

Students will examine contemporary Indonesian politics and Indonesia’s complex relationships with global capital markets, international financial institutions and donors.


International Relations of Southeast Asia

This class considers the contemporary foreign policies and international relations challenges of major countries in Southeast Asia.

Students will survey key regional issues: evolution of ASEAN; security arrangements; trade conflicts and territorial disputes; the role of China, Japan and the United States; regional integration; transnational issues; and terrorism.

Learn From the Best

Study with world-class experts who are renowned for their scholarship, influence, and networks.

Devesh Kapur

Starr Foundation Professor of South Asian Studies, Director of Asia Programs

Vikram Nehru

Distinguished Practitioner-in-Residence

Karl Jackson

C.V. Starr Distinguished Professor of Southeast Asia Studies

Robert Blake

Adjunct Lecturer

In the News

Power and spats.

Devesh Kapur interviewed on Australian Broadcasting Corporation Radio, 11/11

The Indian prime minister and Trump addressed a Houston rally. Who was signaling what?

Devesh Kapur wrote in The Washington Post Monkey Cage blog, 9/29

Reforming Indian agriculture.

Devesh Kapur wrote for Center for the Advanced Study of India, 8/28

Advance Your Career

Gain the intellectual framework and analytic skills necessary to enter a variety of roles across the public, private, multilateral, and nonprofit sectors.

Recent Internships

  • Asia Group
  • Bower Group Asia
  • Brookings Institution
  • Congressional Research Service
  • Control Risks, Singapore
  • Institute for Inclusive Security
  • International Finance Corporation
  • US Department of Commerce
  • US Embassy, Hanoi
  • US Embassy, Yangon
  • World Resources Institute

Recent Employers

  • Albright Stonebridge Group
  • Asia Foundation
  • Deloitte
  • Fitch Ratings
  • International Monetary Fund
  • National Bureau of Asian Research
  • Standard Chartered Bank
  • US-ASEAN Business Council
  • Peterson Institute
  • World Bank Group

Build Your Network

Join a diverse, accomplished, influential community of scholars, practitioners, alumni, and students working across sectors in 140 countries around the world.

Students concentrating in Southeast Asia studies celebrate with regional food and dress at the school's annual student-run International Dinner.

Southeast Asia Studies and the SEALS student club co-host Dr. Chatib Basri, former Finance Minister of Indonesia, for a policy luncheon discussion.

Students are able to combine theory and practice, to gain hands-on experience in a professional field, and to experience the rich and varied dimensions of Southeast Asian societies through program-hosted study trips.

Members of the school's Thai Club celebrate the beginning of the school year.

Enriching Student Life on Two Continents

"Having never been to either Europe or the US, I believed the school would provide the best of both worlds: top class education and a global perspective."

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Learning Outside the Classroom

"With interests in the private sector and infrastructure development in Southeast Asia, no other school would be able to prepare me better professionally."

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Check back soon for upcoming events.

Explore Southeast Asian international affairs up close through study treks, internships, and exciting research opportunities.

Thai Club

The Thai Club is an inclusive group that draws members from across the student body. It endeavors to raise the profile of Thailand and its culture by organizing events to expose members of the greater Washington DC area to Thailand's unique identity.

Indonesia Corner

The Indonesia Corner at the school aims to promote cultural understanding and appreciation of Indonesia, as well as awareness of bilateral and regional issues.

Southeast Asian League of Students

The Southeast Asian League of Students (SEALS) was founded at Johns Hopkins SAIS in recognition of the distinctive and rich cultural diversity of the nations within Southeast Asia. SEALS is an organization in which various Southeast Asian affiliates and students can come together to share resources about the region and discuss ongoing events in Southeast Asia.

World-Class Events

Policy seminars offer opportunities to interact with diplomats, policymakers and academics concerned with Southeast Asia. In addition, panel discussions, special lectures, and cultural events introduce students to regional experts and cutting-edge scholarship.

Networking Events

Network with alumni and professionals and organize student-led events exploring Southeast Asia's challenges and opportunities outside the classroom.

Firsthand Experience

The Southeast Asia program encourages students to study language in the region during the January intersession and to intern in the region during the summer before their second year. Limited financial support is available to support these activities.