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 Programme have good opportunities for student exchange in East Asian universities as well as to receive East Asian study and research scholarships. The Programme provides expertise to enter international public, private and third sector professions. Students also become qualified to apply to PhD programmes and to pursue an academic career.

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 specializes in research on contemporary East Asian societies, with special focus on various manifestations of civil societies in China, North and South Korea and Japan. For China, academic staff conducts research, for example, on disaster management, social movements and protest, urban governance, and environmental issues. For South Korea, on popular culture and social movements, as well as on South Korean foreign aid. For North Korea, on social and economic transformation. For Japan, on social movements and civic society.

The research by the academic staff is directly reflected in the Master’s programme: students get up-to-date teaching on topical issues and societal and political developments in East Asian societies. Students also 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 have very good study exchange opportunities in the People’s Republic of China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong, in the partner universities of the University of Turku.

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

Students of the 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 Programme in Turku.

Career options


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 become familiar with intercultural communication
  • methods in social science as related to East Asian studies
  • how to carry out independent research through your Master’s thesis project
  • how to analyse research data and communicate your research findings by writing a Master’s thesis
  • 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 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.

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 consists of at least 180 ECTS (European credits) or three years of full-time study,
  • 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 for detailed degree 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. 


Who can apply?

Persons who have completed a Bachelor’s degree of at least 3 years in length. 

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 programme are also eligible to apply.

Verified proficiency in the English language is needed. See the webpage for recognized qualifications, required levels and exemptions:

The following four 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
  3. Knowledge of East Asian languages, verified appropriately (transcripts, certificates etc.)
  4. Letter of motivation

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). The application requirements and selection criteria needs to be documented with certified documents.

In addition to the Degree Certificate, Transcript of Study Records 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).

The Letter of motivation 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 apply to EAST in Turku
  • what are your topics and areas of interest in East Asia, including your tentative thesis research 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 of your previous studies.

The maximum length of 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.