Master's Degree Programme in East Asian Studies

The Master's Degree Programme in East Asian Studies (EAST) gives a unique opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge on the dynamic societies of contemporary East Asia. 

Gain in-depth knowledge on today`s East Asian societies and become a specialist in the most dynamic region of the world!

Students gain expertise on East Asian contemporary history, politics and societies and learn social science research methods to become area specialists on East Asia. East Asian languages are studied as part of the degree to support students’ acquisition of knowledge and Master’s thesis research.

Students in the EAST Programme have good opportunities to go on exchange to one of UTU’s partner universities in East Asia as well as to receive East Asian study and research scholarships. The EAST Programme provides expertise for a professional career in the national and international public, private and third sector. Students also become qualified to apply to PhD programmes and to pursue an academic career.

Entry requirements


General Requirement

You are an eligible applicant for Master’s studies if

  • you have a nationally recognized first cycle degree – usually a Bachelor’s degree – from an accredited institution of higher education,
  • your degree corresponds to at least 180 ECTS (European credits) or to three years of full-time study,
  • your degree gives eligibility to master level studies in the country where it was issued,
  • your degree is in a relevant field for the Master’s degree programme that you’re applying to. Please check the section on programme-specific admission requirements.

Language Requirements

Applicants must have excellent English language skills and a certificate that proves those skills. You can indicate your language skills by taking one of the internationally recognized English language tests.

Applicants must reach the minimum required test results to be considered eligible to be accepted to the University of Turku. No exceptions will be made. Read more about the language requirements, recognized qualifications, required levels and exemptions here. 


Before you start preparing your application, always read the full admission requirements on the application portal

Who can apply?

Persons who have completed a Bachelor’s degree of at least 3 years in length that corresponds to at least 180 ECTS (European credits). A GPA of 3 or higher (on the
Finnish grading scale of 0-5) in previous degree studies is required for admission.

NB. Persons who have the Finnish first-cycle polytechnic degree called “ammattikorkeakoulututkinto” and have completed courses on scientific thinking, writing and research methods in areas relevant to the EAST Programme, are also eligible to apply.

Verified proficiency in the English language is needed according to the instructions of the University of Turku. See recognized qualifications, required levels and exemptions:

In case the applicant is going to graduate after the application period, s/he must include a certificate or a statement from the home university or institute stating the expected date of graduation. If the applicant has not graduated by the end of the application period, the possible admission will be conditional until s/he has presented the University with a finished degree certificate and transcript of records by the given deadline.


Admission criteria

The following four programme-specific selection criteria will be used when assessing the applicants:

  1. The East Asia contents and relevance of previous degree studies; this includes exchange studies in East Asia
  2. Academic performance in previous studies (a GPA of 3 and higher on the Finnish grading scale of 0-5)
  3. Knowledge of East Asian language(s), verified appropriately (transcripts, official certificates etc.)
  4. Motivation letter

Intake quota in the EAST Programme is 15.

Admissions procedure

The following four programme-specific selection criteria will be used when assessing the applicants:

  1. The East Asia contents and relevance of previous degree studies; this includes exchange studies in East Asia
  2. Academic performance in previous studies: a GPA of 3 or higher in previous degree studies is required for admission (on the Finnish grading scale of 0-5)
  3. Knowledge of East Asian language(s), verified appropriately (transcripts, official certificates etc.)
  4. Motivation letter

Each of these criteria is graded on a scale of 0 to a maximum of 1 (0, 0.25, 0.5, 0.75, and 1.0). Previous academic performance weights 1.5 times in the overall score; other criteria weigh equally 1 in the final score (For example: An application that receives 0.75 points for East Asia contents, 0.5 points for previous academic performance, 0.75 points for East Asian language studies and 1 point for the motivation letter will have a final score of 3.25 (0.75 + 0.5*1.5 + 0.75 + 1). The application requirements and selection criteria need to be documented with certified documents.

The Motivation letter is included as an item in the electronic application form and not attached as a separate document. Describe briefly:

  • your study background
  • how you have become interested in study of East Asia
  • what motivates you to study East Asia and to apply to the EAST Programme at the University of Turku
  • what are your topics and areas of interest concerning East Asia, including your tentative Master's thesis topic, and what are your future aspirations.
  • add the name and contact information (affiliation, e-mail) of two academic references, of whom at least one has been the main supervisor during your previous studies.

A good length for a letter of motivation is 4000 characters. It is highly recommended to draft the letter in advance as a separate document and copy and paste the text to the application form.

In addition to the Degree Certificate, Transcript of Study Records, certificate of knowledge in English and letter of motivation, the applicants are required to submit also a Curriculum Vitae (resumé) (for the format, you can use for example the guidelines at EU’s Europass website) and an officially certified proof of East Asian language proficiency.

Programme in brief


Master’s Degree Programme in East Asian Studies (120 ECTS)

  • Study and research skills, and Master’s Thesis (64 ECTS)
  • Obligatory Subject Studies (22 ECTS)
  • Optional Subject Studies (14–26 ECTS)
  • East Asian Languages (10–20 ECTS)

For a detailed information about the courses, please see the Electronic Curriculum.


The Centre for East Asian Studies specialises in research on contemporary East Asian societies, with special focus on various manifestations of civil societies in China, South Korea, North Korea, and Japan. Academic staff at CEAS conducts research, for example, on China’s disaster management, China’s urban governance, environmental issues, social movements, protest and civil society in China, South Korea and Japan, South Korea’s foreign aid and North Korea’s socioeconomic transformation.

CEAS provides research-based teaching on topical issues and socio-political developments in East Asian societies. Students receive individual thesis supervision firmly anchored in the East Asia expertise of the teaching staff.


Students conduct independent research on their chosen topic and write a Master’s Thesis (40 ECTS). This trains students to apply social science methods, carry out research, analyse research data, present their findings orally and in writing, be engaged in argumentation and debate, and communicate their research findings in accordance with scientific standards.

Examples of thesis topics:

  • Place and belonging – an ethnography of rural migrant children in Beijing
  • Cosmetic surgery and rites of passage in Korean society – a study on cosmetic surgeries after the university entrance exam
  • Remembering the war and aggression: a discourse analysis of Japan’s state apologies and commemoration speeches on August 15th 1995–2015
  • From the Great Famine (1958–1962) to the food waste problem: the role of memory to enhance the awareness in the city of Shanghai
  • Japan’s shining women: young women negotiating the transition to adulthood in Japan
  • South Korean presidents and the alliance with the United States 1998‒2012: a case study of the Free Trade Agreement

Check out the complete list of Master’s theses written by our graduates from the programme’s webpages


Students in the Master’s Degree Programme in East Asian Studies (EAST) have very good study exchange opportunities at the University of Turku’s partner universities in the People’s Republic of China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

It is common that students spend one or even two academic terms abroad during their second year in the EAST Programme and also conduct field research for their Master’s thesis during that time.

Students of the EAST Programme also have a chance to study for one year in the Master of China Studies programme at the Zhejiang University in China as part of their Master’s Degree Programme in Turku.

Career prospects


In this Master’s Degree Programme, you will gain in-depth knowledge on contemporary East Asian societies.

You will learn:

  • about present developments, debates, social phenomena and competing perspectives in East Asia, and you learn to put them in contemporary historical context
  • East Asian languages as part of your training and intercultural communication skills
  • methods in social science as related to East Asian studies
  • how to analyse research data and communicate your research findings by writing a Master’s thesis
  • how to carry out independent research (your Master’s thesis project)
  • communication, computer and organisational skills

Those graduating from the Master’s Degree Programme in East Asian Studies find employment in public, private and third sector jobs, such as in diplomatic service, international organisations, and companies where knowledge on East Asia and dynamic regions is in demand.

Example job titles of our alumni:

  • Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Finland
  • Junior Account Executive
  • Senior Adviser, Finnish Immigration Services
  • International Sales Specialist
  • HR and Communications Assistant

Graduates of the EAST Programme are eligible to apply to the doctoral programmes at the University of Turku and other universities in the fields of social sciences and East Asian studies.