• NILE GREEN: Ph.D., London University, 2002. World history; Muslims in global history; Early modern and modern history of India/Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Central Asia 310-825-9498; green@history.ucla.edu
  • VINAY LAL: Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1992. Modern India; Comparative colonial histories; Subaltern history; Popular and public culture in South Asia 310-825-8276; vlal@history.ucla.edu
  • GEOFFREY ROBINSON: Ph.D., Cornell University, 1992. Modern Southeast Asian history and politics; Modern Indonesia and East Timor; Human rights in Asia 310-825-3563; robinson@history.ucla.edu
  • MICHAEL SALMAN: Ph.D. Stanford University, 1993. South and Southeast Asia; Philippines; United States; Colonialism and post-colonialism 310-825-0893; salman@history.ucla.edu
  • SANJAY SUBRAHMANYAM: Ph.D., Delhi School of Economics, 1987. Medieval and early modern South Asian and Indian Ocean history; History of European expansion; Comparative history of early modern empires; World history 310-825-3376; subrahma@history.ucla.edu


The Department of History at UCLA offers advanced graduate studies leading to the Ph.D. in both Southeast Asian History and South Asian History. Both these fields interact with other fields of history, including strengths in East Asia and the Near East (West Asia), and with regional strengths in other disciplines.

In Southeast Asian History, students may choose to work with Geoffrey Robinson (modern Indonesia and East Timor; human rights; political violence; and U.S. policy in Southeast Asia) or Michael Salman (Philippines; U.S. involvement; colonialism and post-colonialism). The Department’s strength in this field is augmented by a university-wide program in Southeast Asian Studies that has Title VI status and FLAS funds. Students are also encouraged to draw on Southeast Asian strengths in Art History, Anthropology, Asian Languages and Cultures, Political Science, Asian-American Studies and other disciplines. Consult the faculty list for details of faculty specialization.

In South Asian History, Nile Green’s research interests focus on the history of the Muslim communities of South Asia (including Afghanistan) between the eighteenth and early twentieth centuries. His interests include Sufism, Islamic reform movements, Indo-Persian and Urdu literary culture, Perso-British intellectual exchange, Indo-Iranian contacts, colonial military history and Islamic printing. Vinay Lal’s teaching and research focuses on modern India, post-colonialism, historiography, popular and public culture in South Asia, and the politics of knowledge systems. Sanjay Subrahmanyam holds the Stone Chair in Social Sciences. His research interests range between the fifteenth and early nineteenth centuries. His work encompasses the following fields: South Asian economic history; Indian Ocean trade in the medieval and early modern periods; comparative history of empires; Mughal history; and South Indian cultural and social history. Students will also be able to interact with faculty specializing in South Asia in disciplines such as Comparative Literature and Art History. Consult the faculty list for details of faculty specialization.


Students interested in applying for admission to our program should write directly to the Graduate Office at gradoffice@history.ucla.edu or to any of the faculty whose interests they share.

Financial support for outstanding candidates is available, up to four years, including two years of Departmental Teaching Assistantships in our introductory undergraduate survey courses in South and Southeast Asian History. Incoming and continuing students in Southeast Asian History may apply for FLAS scholarships administered by the Center for Southeast Asian Studies (see www.international.ucla.edu/cseas).

Requirements for the Doctorate in South/Southeast Asia History


Language competence will be a factor in admission to candidature. Before proceeding to their dissertation students must pass reading comprehension examinations in at least two relevant languages. Normally, competence will be required in the language of the country or cultural area studied. UCLA offers Hindi, Sanskrit, Pali, Vietnamese, Thai, Tagalog and Indonesian, and will encourage intensive summer courses in other South and Southeast Asian languages. A reading comprehension will also be required of at least one language other than English external to the region, normally drawn from French, Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic, Persian (for South Asia), Chinese or Japanese (for Southeast Asia). However, with the approval of the student’s advisor, the student may petition to have the second language also be drawn from the country or cultural area being studied by the student. In cases where the field deems it appropriate, coursework may be used to fulfill the language requirements, subject to the approval of the field coordinator and faculty adviser.


Candidates for the Ph.D. must meet (a) the special requirements for admission to the doctoral program listed on the Department’s website under Academics/Graduate/Admission Information; and (b) the general requirements set forth under the Graduate Division. An excellent command of English, spoken and written, the ability to read at least two foreign languages, and an acquaintance with general history are expected of all candidates.

Students must select four fields of study, one of which must be an approved field in Anthropology, Economics, Geography, Comparative Literature, Philosophy, Political Science, or other allied subjects. The allied field must be comparable in size and scope to the history fields listed above. Students should select the fields in consultation with their faculty adviser and must receive the Department’s approval of all four fields not less than three months before the written qualifying examination is taken.

All students are required to complete at least one continuing two-or three-quarter seminar, or alternatively, a continuing sequence of at least two graduate courses approved by the GGCC. This seminar, or its alternative, must include completion of a substantial research paper based at least in part on primary sources. Faculty serving on doctoral committees may require such courses as they deem necessary for preparation for qualifying examinations. Courses taken to fulfill M.A. degree requirements may also be used to satisfy Ph.D. requirements.

All students must write a dissertation prospectus (which could be written for credit as a history 596 or 597) expected to contain: (a) a full statement of the dissertation topic; (b) an historiographical discussion of the literature bearing on the topic; (c) a statement of the methodology to be employed; and (d) a survey of the sources sufficient to demonstrate the viability of the topic. The prospectus must be approved by the dissertation adviser prior to the oral qualifying examination (see below). After approval, copies will be given to each member of the examining committee.

Doctoral Written and Oral Examinations

Before admission to candidacy, students must pass written and oral qualifying examinations. Both the written and oral examinations are considered by the committee in arriving at a judgment of a student’s performance. Students with outstanding incompletes may not be permitted to sit for these exams.

  • Written Examination

Students are required to take written examinations in at least three of their four chosen fields. These examinations are designed to test not merely factual knowledge, but also a student’s power of historical analysis and synthesis, critical ability, and capacity for reflective thinking. A knowledge of the history of any area includes a reasonable knowledge of its historiography and bibliography; of its geography; and of its political, cultural, economic, and other historical aspects. The written examination is normally prepared and administered by the chair of the committee and read by the entire committee. Full-time graduate students must begin the written examinations not later than the end of the ninth quarter of graduate work (See Time-to-Degree).

  • Oral Examination

After completing the written examination, all students are required to take an oral examination that focuses on their dissertation prospectus. The oral examination is conducted by four faculty members, one from each of the student’s four fields. In most cases, the oral examination is held shortly after the written examination or, at the discretion of the doctoral committee, as late as six months after the written examination. The written examination must be passed before the oral examination can be taken. For more information on how to form your doctoral committee, please consult the Graduate Student Intranet.

The members of the doctoral committee determine whether or not an examination may be repeated (normally only once), based on their prognosis of a student’s potential for successfully completing both the written and oral examinations within a specified period of time to be designated by the doctoral committee, but not to exceed one calendar year.

Dissertation Research and Writing

Dissertation research usually requires at least one year of primary source fieldwork in Asia. The dissertation itself should be completed as expeditiously as possible after a student finishes his or her field research. A final oral examination may or may not be required, at the discretion of the Ph.D. dissertation committee. Each Ph.D. should not only be an important original contribution to its field of primary research, but should (with revisions if required) be of publishable quality.