Row of golden Buddha statues

The undergraduate certificate in Southeast Asian studies is available to students working toward a baccalaureate degree in any of the University of Wisconsin–Madison schools and colleges. This certificate meets the needs of students choosing to focus on the Southeast Asia region (Brunei, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar/Burma, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) within their primary major, but not wishing to commit to the more rigorous language and area studies courses required for the BA in Asian Languages and Cultures (named option in Southeast Asia). Students select coursework reflecting their interests from classes offered through many university departments and can work toward a variety of undergraduate majors. Upon earning the certificate, this emphasis is noted on the student's transcript. The certificate is of value to students wishing to demonstrate their knowledge of the Southeast Asian region either to potential employers or to graduate schools.

Students interested in more specialized study of the languages and literature of East Asia, South Asia, or Southeast Asia should see the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, the Center for East Asian Studies, or the Center for South Asia. Those interested in the study of languages and cultures of Central Asia should see the Center for Russian, East European, and Central Asian Studies. All questions pertaining to Southeast Asian studies at UW–Madison should be addressed to the Center for Southeast Asian Studies (see the box to the right).

How to Get in

Students interested in declaring the certificate in Southeast Asian studies should contact the program advisor.

Students declared in the Asian Languages and Cultures: Southeast Asian Studies BA/BS/MAJ are not eligible to declare the Southeast Asian Studies certificate.


Complete 15 credits, as follows:

Up to 6 credits of Language may count:0-6
Third Semester Filipino
Fourth Semester Filipino
Third Semester Hmong
Fourth Semester Hmong
Third Semester Indonesian
Fourth Semester Indonesian
Third Semester Thai
Fourth Semester Thai
Third Semester Vietnamese
Fourth Semester Vietnamese
Third Semester Burmese
Fourth Semester Burmese
Third Semester Khmer
Fourth Semester Khmer
Fifth Semester Filipino
Sixth Semester Filipino
Fifth Semester Hmong
Sixth Semester Hmong
Sixth Semester Indonesian
Fifth Semester Thai
Sixth Semester Thai
Fifth Semester Vietnamese
Sixth Semester Vietnamese
Fifth Semester Burmese
Sixth Semester Burmese
Fifth Semester Khmer
Sixth Semester Khmer
Fifth Semester Indonesian
Third Semester Southeast Asian Language
Fourth Semester Southeast Asian Language
Fifth Semester Southeast Asian Language
Sixth Semester Southeast Asian Language
Seventh Semester Southeast Asian Language
Eighth Semester Southeast Asian Language
Core courses:9-15
Globalization, Poverty and Development
The Origins of Civilization
Archaeology of Warfare and Human Nature
Cities of Asia
Topics in Asian American Studies
Advanced Topics in Asian Translation
The Qur'an: Religious Scripture & Literature
Southeast Asian Literature
Introduction to Sufism (Islamic Mysticism)
Topics in Rhetoric and Communication Science
Contemporary Political Discourse
Introduction to Southeast Asia: Vietnam to the Philippines
World Regions in Global Context
Human Geography of Southeast Asia
Development and Environment in Southeast Asia
Southeast Asian Refugees of the "Cold" War
Asian Religions in Global Perspective
Introduction to Buddhism
The Vietnam Wars
The Cold War - From World War II to End of Soviet Empire
History of Southeast Asia Since 1800
Advanced Seminar in History
International Business
The Environment: Religion & Ethics
Islam: Religion and Culture
Total Credits15

Residence and Quality of Work

  • Minimum 2.000 GPA on all certificate courses
  • At least 8 certificate credits must be completed in residence

Certificate Completion Requirement

This undergraduate certificate must be completed concurrently with the student’s undergraduate degree. Students cannot delay degree completion to complete the certificate.

Learning Outcomes

  1. (Historical and Cultural Grounding) understanding the historical political and cultural forces and conditions that have given rise to the unity and diversity in the region today.
  2. (Multi-disciplinarity) analyzing contemporary political, economic, and cultural realities in the region from at least two disciplinary perspectives, ideally including humanities, social sciences and sometimes natural science approaches.
  3. (Depth of Knowledge) mastering at the undergraduate generalist level a particular facet of life in the region by taking courses on a particular sub-region or country or by studying a regional language or by taking at least two courses on the region in one discipline.

Advising and Careers

All students interested in this certificate are encouraged to take HISTORY/​ASIAN/​GEOG/​POLI SCI/​SOC  244 Introduction to Southeast Asia: Vietnam to the Philippines

Southeast Asian language courses can be taken during the academic year (Filipino, Hmong, Indonesian, Thai, and Vietnamese) and all of these plus three others (Burmese, Khmer, and Lao) can be taken at UW–Madison’s summer program, the Southeast Asian Studies Summer Institute.

Students interested in the certificate in Southeast Asian studies should contact the program advisor Michael Cullinane,, 608-263-1755.

L&S Career Resources

Every L&S major opens a world of possibilities.  SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science helps students turn the academic skills learned in their major, certificates, and other coursework into fulfilling lives after graduation, whether that means jobs, public service, graduate school or other career pursuits.

In addition to providing basic support like resume reviews and interview practice, SuccessWorks offers ways to explore interests and build career skills from their very first semester/term at UW all the way through graduation and beyond.

Students can explore careers in one-on-one advising, try out different career paths, complete internships, prepare for the job search and/or graduate school applications, and connect with supportive alumni and even employers in the fields that inspire them.


Faculty: Professors Baird (Geography), Bowie (Anthropology), Gade (Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies), Haberkorn (Asian Languages and Cultures), Hansen (History), Ho (Curriculum and Instruction/Education), Kim (Anthropology, Director), A. McCoy (History), Nobles (Sociology), Olds (Geography), Sidel (Law); Associate Professor Choy (Dance/Asian American Studies); Assistant Professor Fernandez Capiral (History), Kusumaryati (Anthropology/International Studies), Thao (Anthropology/Asian American Studies); Faculty Associates Barnard (Asian Languages & Cultures), Cullinane (History/Southeast Asian Studies), M. McCoy (Communication Arts/Southeast Asian Studies); Lecturers Abimanyu (Asian Languages and Cultures), Dinh (Asian Languages & Cultures), Lee (Asian Languages & Cultures), Nicolas (Asian Languages and Cultures), Surasin (Asian Languages and Cultures); Librarian Ashmun (Southeast Asia Collection, Memorial Library)

Wisconsin Experience

As a regional center within the Institute for Regional and International Studies, we support and enhance international and global awareness in our student communities and inspire informed thinking about the complexities of our world. We encourage our students to connect to international networks and our regional communities through our program’s lecture series, film screenings, and varied outreach events and activities. We encourage our students to study abroad, do international internships, learn foreign languages, and expect them to gain an interdisciplinary grounding in global and regional affairs. We provide resources and expertise on our world area to students and prospective students, and more broadly to K-12 teachers and students, postsecondary educators and graduate students, businesses, the media, the military, the community at large, and anyone else who wants it.

Resources and Scholarships

Information about resources, scholarships, and funding through the Center for Southeast Asian Studies is available on our website on the "For Students" and the "Resources" tabs. We also encourage our students to explore funding options available through the Institute for Regional and International Studies (IRIS) Awards Office.