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Southeast Asia Studies

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Office of Admissions
Johns Hopkins SAIS
1740 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, DC 20036
+1 (202) 663-5700


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

The crisis India needed.

Devesh Kapur wrote in Project Syndicate, 7/6

India – China border dispute.

Joshua White interviewed on Hopkins Podcast on Foreign Relations, 6/26

Global China’s ambitions in the Indian Ocean region.

Joshua White wrote for Brookings Institution, 6/16

This will be worst recession ever, farming may save the day.

Devesh Kapur interviewed in Business Standard, 6/2

What is multilateralism in European terms?

Hanns Maull wrote in Modern Diplomacy, 5/31

India’s COVID aid shouldn’t bypass the marginalised.

Devesh Kapur wrote in The Hindu BusinessLine, 5/27

China's evolving role in South Asia.

Daniel Markey and Joshua White participated in East-West Center in Washington webinar, 5/26

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.

Johns Hopkins SAIS students

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

Johns Hopkins SAIS students

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

Johns Hopkins SAIS students

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.

Johns Hopkins SAIS students

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

photo of dominique

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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photo of zach

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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