South Asian Studies

Director of undergraduate studies: tbd,

The program in South Asian Studies combines the requirements of a discipline-based first major with significant coursework in South Asian Studies. South Asian Studies can be taken only as a second major. The major is intended to provide students with a broad understanding of the history, culture, and languages of South Asia, as well as the region's current social, political, and economic conditions. Work in a discipline-based major coupled with a focus on South Asia prepares students for graduate study, employment in nongovernmental organizations, or business and professional careers in which an understanding of the region is essential.

Requirements of the Major

In addition to fulfilling the requirements of the primary major, a student choosing South Asian Studies as a second major must complete seven term courses in South Asian Studies numbered 200 or above. At least two of the seven courses must address premodern South Asia, and at least two should be seminars. Students may petition the director of undergraduate studies (DUS) to include one relevant course from another department or program; approval may require additional course work on South Asian topics. Students must also complete the senior requirement and meet the major's language requirement.

Language requirement One South Asian language must be studied at the advanced level (L5). Yale offers L5 instruction in Hindi and Sanskrit. Students may request the substitution of another appropriate language (e.g., Persian or Arabic) for the core language requirement, and they are encouraged to pursue intensive language study through courses or work abroad. For South Asian languages beyond Hindi and Sanskrit, proficiency can be demonstrated through testing. Please contact the DUS if this is the route you would like to take. Students who fulfill the major requirement through the successful completion of an L5 language exam must take an additional term course for a total of eight term courses. While the exploration of a second language is encouraged, an elective approved by the DUS will fulfill the requirement.

Credit/D/Fail A maximum of one course taken Credit/D/Fail may count toward the major.

Senior Requirement 

Students are held to the senior requirements that were in place when they declared their major. However, with approval from the director of undergraduate studies (DUS), the following requirements, updated for the academic year 2024-2025, may be fulfilled by students who declared the major in a prior term.

The senior requirement may be fulfilled by the completion of a seminar that culminates in a senior essay. Alternatively, the requirement may be fulfilled by completion of a one-credit, one-term senior essay undertaken in consultation with a faculty advisor in SAST 491. The senior essay can be written in either the fall or spring of the student's senior year. The senior essay should be a substantial paper with a maximum length of 8,000-10,000 words. The use of primary materials in the languages of the region is encouraged in senior essay projects.

The DUS must approve senior requirement plans early in the student's senior year.


The South Asian Studies major permits students to choose courses from a wide range of disciplines. Individual programs should have a balance between courses in the humanities and those in the social sciences. The proposed course of study must be approved each term by the DUS. Students should also identify an adviser from the South Asian Studies faculty in their area of specialization as early as possible.

Two majors Permission to complete two majors must be secured from the Committee on Honors and Academic Standing. Application forms are available from the residential college deans and must be submitted prior to the student's final term.

Courses in the Graduate School Graduate courses in South Asian Studies are open to qualified undergraduates. Course descriptions appear in the Graduate School online bulletin and are also available in the South Asian Studies program office. Permission of the instructor and of the director of graduate studies is required.

Study Abroad 

Up to three course credits from approved study abroad programs may be applied toward the requirements of the major, with permission of the DUS.


Prerequisites None

Number of courses 7 term courses (not incl senior req or lang req)

Distribution of courses 7 courses in South Asian Studies numbered 200 or above, 2 in premodern, 2 seminars

Substitution permitted One relevant course in another dept, and/or up to 3 study abroad credits with DUS permission

Language requirement South Asian lang through L5 level

Senior requirement Senior essay in seminar, or research project in SAST 491 


South Asian Studies can be taken only as a second major. 

7 courses (7 credits), not including the senior requirement or the language requirement 

  • 7 courses in South Asian Studies numbered 200 or above, to include:
    • 2 courses in premodern topics
    • 2 seminars
  • South Asian languages through level L5
  • SAST 491 or senior essay in a sem

The South Asian Studies Council (SASC) brings together faculty and students with diverse interests in South Asia. The University offers a wide range of courses on South Asia in the humanities and social sciences, including courses in anthropology, English, religious studies, history, comparative literature, linguistics, history of art, economics, environmental studies, and political science. The Council organizes an annual speaker series, concerts of South Asian music, and conferences. Information on courses and Council events can be found on the SASC website.

Yale College offers South Asian Studies as a second major. Students select courses for the major from a wide range of disciplines and complete a language requirement in a South Asian language.

Certificates of Advanced Language Study

The Department of South Asian Studies offers a Certificate of Advanced Language Study in Hindi and Sanskrit. A certificate adviser, typically the director of undergraduate studies (DUS), advises students on the certification process. The Certificate of Advanced Language Study, once certified through Degree Audit, is listed on the student's transcript. 

Requirements for the Hindi certificate

Students seeking to earn the certificate are required to take four courses beyond the L4 level in their chosen language, at least two of which must be Yale courses designated as L5. All courses must be taken for a letter grade, and students must achieve a grade of B or above. With the approval of the adviser, one advanced non-L5 Yale course, conducted in the target language, such as an independent study course (graded Pass/Fail), a graduate seminar, or an advanced seminar may count toward certification requirements.

The certificate adviser may allow one “language across the curriculum” (LxC) course taught in English to count toward the certification requirements provided the course includes at minimum a weekly discussion section conducted entirely in the target language. The discussion section must enroll a minimum of three students and the course must be designated as LxC in the course description.

The certificate adviser may also approve the substitution of up to two credits earned during study abroad and taught in the target language to count toward the certificate requirements. If the adviser approves courses taken outside of Yale for inclusion in the certificate requirements, students must take the necessary steps to ensure that those courses appear on their transcripts.

Requirements for the sanskrit certificate

Students seeking to earn the certificate are required to take four courses beyond the L3 level in their chosen language, at least two of which must be Yale courses designated as L5. For the remaining two courses, one must be designated as L5 or L4 and one may be SKRT 557, a directed reading course, or a course closely related in Old or Middle Indic language, such as Vedic or Pali, or a seminar in Sanskrit literature with the readings in English. All courses must be taken for a letter grade, and students must achieve a grade of B or above. 

Credit/D/Fail No courses taken Credit/D/Fail may be counted toward the requirements of the certificate.

Declaration of Candidacy

Students must submit a Declaration of Candidacy for a Certificate form, as early as possible, but at the very latest, before the start of the student’s last semester at Yale. The form can be found on the University Registrar’s Office website. Once declared, Degree Audit tracks students' progress toward completion of the certificate.


Professors Akhil Amar (Law School), Sunil Amrith (History), Tim Barringer (History of Art), Veneeta Dayal (Linguistics), Nihal de Lanerolle (School of Medicine), Michael Dove (Anthropology, Forestry & Environmental Studies), Robert Jensen (Economics), Mushfiq Mobarak (Economics, School of Management), Kaivan Munshi (Economics), Rohini Pande (Economics), Kishwar Rizvi (History of Art), Kalyanakrishnan Sivaramakrishnan (Anthropology, Forestry & Environmental Studies), Shyam Sunder (School of Management), Kalindi Vora (Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies, Ethnicity, Race, & Migration), Steven Wilkinson (Political Science)

Associate Professors Rohit De (History), Mayur Desai (Public Health), Zareena Grewal (Ethnicity, Race, & Migration

Assistant Professors Anthony Acciavatti (Architecture), Supriya Gandhi (Religious Studies), Sonam Kachru (Religious Studies), Sarah Khan (Political Science), Priyasha Mukhopadhyay (English), Ameera Nimjee (Music), Madiha Tahir (American Studies)

Senior Lecturer Carol Carpenter (Anthropology, Forestry & Environmental Studies)

Lecturers Jane Lynch (Anthropology), Jane Mikkelson (Comparative Literature, Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations)

Senior Lector Swapna Sharma (Hindi)

Lectors  Mansi Bajaj (Hindi), Aleksandar Uskokov (Sanskrit)