IAAS Graduate Program Requirements

A minimum of two years academic residence is required. However, in most cases the fulfillment of all requirements for the degree will involve at least one additional year of coursework. The committee members will arrange particular programs for each student.

Introductory Courses

All first-year students in this program should take an introductory course in at least one of the following fields given by members of the committee.

1. History of Inner Asia
2. Archaeology and Art of Inner Asia
3. Inner Asian Philology (comparative and historical Turkic, Mongolian, Manchu, Tibetan, Tungus, Khotanese Saka, Sogdian, Tokharian, Gandhari [Niya] Prakrit, etc.)

Language Requirement

Upon enrolling in graduate school the candidate should offer proof of competence in at least one foreign “tool” language (this will be done by way of examination in the first term of study), and sometime during the first two years of residence, he or she should also demonstrate competence by way of examination in a second “tool” language, selected from among those especially pertinent to the student’s topic of specialization.  “Tool” languages, such as French, German, Italian, Russian, Japanese, etc., are to be distinguished from “source” languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Manchu, Mongolian, Persian, Tibetan, Turkic, and Sanskrit; in particular cases, where one of the latter is not a “source” language it may be considered a “tool” language.  Students are expected to be competent in the language(s) of their primary focus, and will be required to take written examinations in their “source” language or languages, both with and without the aid of a dictionary.

Incomplete Grades

A grade of Incomplete (INC) must be converted into a letter grade before the beginning of the next registration period or it will become permanent, unless the student has successfully petitioned the GSAS Dean’s office for an extension. No grade of Incomplete can be used to satisfy any departmental requirement.


On entering the IAAS program, students are assigned an academic advisor from among the members of the IAAS Committee, with whom they should meet to design an appropriate program of study; students should also consult with the committee chair to discuss their study plan. The faculty advisor, chair, and program administrator should be consulted in making arrangements for the general examination, and an appropriate advisor or advisors will also be assigned for the PhD dissertation. Students may petition the committee for changes in the advisor assignment, where appropriate. Advising is a critically important aspect of the IAAS program, and the committee is committed to finding appropriate advising arrangements for all students.

 General Examinations

Normally at the end of the second year of residence or in the third year of residence, the candidate will write a general examination in three fields approved in advance by the committee.  One of these fields should cover the history or culture of a major society outside of Inner Asia (e.g., Western Europe, Russia, Islamic Middle East, East Asia, South Asia, or the Americas).  The other two will be focused on:

1. Pre-Islamic History of Inner Asia
2. Medieval and Early Modern History of Inner Asia
3. Modern History of Inner Asia
4. Philology and Religion of Pre-Islamic Inner Asia
5. Philology and Religion of Medieval and Early Modern Inner Asia
6. Altaic or Tungusic Linguistics
7. Archaeology and Art of Inner Asia
8. Ethnology and Anthropology of Inner Asia

There will be a 3-hour written examination in each of the three specified fields, plus one 3-hour oral examination in Inner Asian studies, broadly defined.  In some cases, students may with the approval of the committee choose to take an additional fourth general examination field.


The doctoral dissertation must demonstrate the candidate’s ability to use primary source material and to produce a piece of original research. After the acceptance of the dissertation, the candidate must defend his or her dissertation in a special oral examination. The final manuscript must conform to the requirements described in The Form of the PhD Dissertation.