The Department of South Asian Studies offers programs of study leading to the doctor of philosophy (PhD) degree. While graduate work is tailored to individual intellectual interests, it is our expectation that all doctoral students will ground their work in primary language materials and participate in broadly interdisciplinary studies of South Asian languages, histories, and cultures.
Programs of Study
The Department has historic and well-defined courses of graduate study in Sanskrit and Indian Studies, and Tibetan and Himalayan Studies. It is our expectation that candidates for doctoral study will propose other programs in South Asian Studies. Such programs may have a regional emphasis, a disciplinary or multi-disciplinary emphasis, or an emphasis on a particular era of South Asian history, including modern South Asia. Some of the most exciting multi-disciplinary work in the global academy today has been pioneered by scholars of South Asian Studies, and this program intends to provide a platform for such study here at Harvard.
All of the Department’s PhD programs emphasize the study of South Asian languages as foundational for scholarly work. Currently, members of the department focus in their own work on Hindi-Urdu (including Avadhi, Braj, and modern dialects), Middle Indic (Pali, Prakrit), Nepali, Sanskrit (Vedic, Classical), Tamil (Classical, Modern), and Tibetan (Classical, Modern). The department also supports instruction in Bahasa Indonesia, Bengali, Burmese, Gujarati, Sindhi, and Thai. Persian is regularly offered through the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.
We emphasize a rigorous approach to South Asian texts and traditions, the cultural, intellectual, and social practices that they inform, and the diverse disciplinary perspectives that are needed to study and write about them. Students are encouraged to view their chosen topics in their historical contexts while also exploring their significance to ongoing South Asian traditions and/or to contemporary issues in the humanities and social sciences.