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South Asian Studies

Photo of fishermen in Bangladesh

The minor in South Asian studies focuses on the interdisciplinary study of South Asia and its diaspora. It brings together the perspectives of various disciplines, from art history to philosophy, from economics to religion, to create a sustained curricular focus on South Asian life and culture.

South Asia comprises India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka, and reaches out to Afghanistan, Burma and Tibet. It is home to the world’s highest mountains and to enormous ecological diversity. It is also home to more than one-fifth of the world's population and hundreds of languages. South Asia is the birthplace of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, and more than one-third of the world’s Muslim population resides there. It has rich traditions of art, music and dance, and is renowned for its fiction and film. As a major contributor to global culture and economics, South Asia occupies an important position for understanding colonialism, postcolonialism and geopolitics.

Requirements & Courses

6 courses (a minimum of 24 credits) are needed to satisfy the requirements of a minor in South Asian studies, and meet the following distribution requirements:  

  1. An introductory course with a focus on South Asia. 
  2. Three courses, distributed over a) the visual, literary or performing arts; b) history, philosophy or religions; c) the social sciences.
  3. One advanced seminar in any discipline that addresses South Asia.
  4. An elective, which could be an additional course or a special studies in any of the above mentioned areas.

Fall 2020 courses offered at Smith College which can be counted towards the requirements for the South Asian studies minor can be found using the Registrar's course search here.

Spring 2020 courses in South Asian studies can be found at the Registrar's course search here.  

Study Abroad & Language Programs

Studying abroad in South Asia or studying a South Asian language are not required for the minor, but they are a great way to enrich your knowledge of the region. There are a number of study abroad programs available, as well as South Asian language courses taught at the Five Colleges.


S. Mona Ghosh Sinha Prize

This prize is awarded annually for the best academic paper written by a Smith undergraduate on a subject that concerns South Asia. Papers from any academic discipline are welcome, and one need not be a South Asian Studies minor to be eligible for the prize. You may submit no more than one paper for consideration in any given year.

To submit, send by email attachment a copy of your paper together with the required cover sheet to Phoebe McKinnell ( by noon on Friday, May 1, the last day of classes in the spring semester.

Winners are notified in writing by the Dean of the College and announced on Commencement weekend at Last Chapel and at Convocation in the fall.

2020 Recipients

  • Harriet Brookes-Gray '21J, “Gender Equality As A Matter Of Life And Death: Can The Effects Of Tertiary Sector Growth On Gender Equality Be Observed In India's Sex Ratio?”
  • Isabel Kitschelt ’20, “Like Mother, Like Daughter?  How does mother's education impact daughter's educational attainment?  Evidence from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, India"

Religion Prizes

The Department of Religion has several prizes for essays in religious studies. See the religion website for more information.

Special Studies

Advanced students in the South Asian Studies minor may arrange for special studies with faculty members. Topics and logistics are worked out with the designated faculty member and must be submitted to the department for approval.




South Asian Studies
Wright Hall
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063
Phone: 413-585-3662
Administrative Assistant:
Phoebe McKinnell