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Frequently Asked Questions
What is it like to be a MAPS student?
MAPS is an intensive, evening program lasting 21 months from beginning to end. Students will need to adjust their 'pre-MAPS' schedule to accommodate the reading, researching, and paper writing for the seminar classes and the homework, and test preparation in the language classes. Indeed, one skill that MAPS students develop, (if they do not already possess it), is time management.
The academic calendar for the first Fall semester will be, perhaps, the toughest part of the two years, because you are just getting used to the demands on your time created by the seminar and language classes. In each of the two Spring semesters there is a week off for Spring Break. Between year one and two you may have an 8-week language class that will meet two nights a week, but no seminar reading or writing to compete with it.
Who are MAPS students?
Since the first class (or 'cohort') completed the program in 1995, the MAPS program has graduated about nearly 300 students. There are typically 17-25 students in each cohort.
The average of age of students on entry to the program is 31 and women constitute about 51% of the total students and alumni. Over half of the students work full time while attending classes, and about 30% of the total are international students. The average class size is 15.
What are MAPS graduates doing?
Alumni of the MAPS program work in many occupations, in many countries. Some graduates are moving into the job market for the first time, and others go on immediately to earn an MBA or professional degree. Graduates often continue working for the same employer they had at the beginning of the program, but perhaps in a new capacity or location. Graduates also take advantage of their degrees and the contacts they have made while in the MAPS program to move into a completely new field. If you want to know what our graduates are doing, take a look at the Student Achievements page to see some samples.
Who is the MAPS program designed for?
When launched in 1993, the MAPS program was explicitly designed for mid-career professionals seeking to add to their professional skills a comprehensive humanities-based understanding of East Asia. Since then the program has attracted students with a wide variety of interests and from a wide range of backgrounds. Anyone with a strong interest in Asia and a desire to engage with the ideas, issues and events that have shaped — and continue to shape — the peoples, cultures and nations of the Asia Pacific ought to consider the MAPS program, especially those whose interest in Asia blossomed after they had already completed their undergraduate degree. MAPS is the only Master's program in the country that specifically accommodates students who did not prepare to study Asia at the graduate level while they earned their BA degrees.
Who is the "typical" MAPS student?
With over 300 students and alumni over the last 19 years it is difficult to define a "typical" MAPS student. However, almost all MAPS students have a deep, heart-felt connection to some part of Asia which they have already spent some time and energy pursuing either on their own or in formal academic study. We have also observed that about one-third of students are pursuing the MAPS degree with specific career-related goals; about one-third have more general, possibly longer-term career related reasons for earning the degree; and the final third enroll for reasons that can best be described as "personal enrichment", although most of these students find a practical application with their degree.
Average class size: 15, 51% female, 49% male
International students: 35%
Average number of years since earning their B.A.: 7.2 years
Employed full time during the program: 48%
Entering in the year after their B.A. graduation: 16%
Average age at start of program: 31.7 years
American minority-status students: 21%
What are the backgrounds of a typical "cohort" or class?
MAPS students have come to the program with almost every conceivable undergraduate degree, from Spanish to Engineering. The majority of our students, however, received degrees in History, International Relations, Business, Communications, Asian Studies, and Political Science. In addition, since most of our students come to the program after some years in the workforce, your classmates will bring experience from fields such as travel and hospitality, finance, non-profits, consulting, management, sales, education and international trade.
Should I apply for the Master's Degree or the Certificate Program?
In general we recommend that all students apply to the Master's program. If you subsequently find that you cannot or do not wish to complete the entire degree you can always choose to complete the Certificate instead. The Certificate program by itself is most attractive to someone who, for career or personal reasons, desires professional recognition of graduate-level study of East Asia but does not need or desire the full degree.
How important is my GPA?
We look at the entire "package" when we receive an application. Simply put, the closer in time you are to your undergraduate degree, the more important your undergraduate GPA is. Our main concern is to select students that will succeed in the program, which means that you will be in a position to take advantage of the instruction you receive and be able to share your ideas and the fruits of your research work with your classmates and the professors. The program looks at your entire application "package", meaning that we take into account your entire transcript (Did you start rough and end better? Did you do better in your major subject than in "general education" courses? If you took Asia-related courses did you excel in them?). The program also looks at what you have done since you graduated, and at your recommendation letters. If your total application "package" is good, a border-line GPA need not prevent you from being accepted into the program.
How important is my application essay?
Since our application review process is primarily focused on "selecting for success" AND our students are typically very dedicated to improving themselves through advanced education (89% of entering students complete the program and receive the degree), we are looking for an essay that addresses the following topics: your interest and familiarity with our program; what you hope to gain through pursuit of the degree; and what you feel you can contribute to the program. Overall, your essay helps the graduate program understand your communication skills. Graduate-level study requires not only the absorption of information and ideas, but also your own development of ideas and information and their expression to your classmates and professor on a regular basis.
Do I need to have an undergraduate background in Asian Studies?
Although the program does not require an academic background in Asian Studies — and most of our students do not have such a background — everyone brings a strong interest in some Asian countries or topics and have probably done a fair amount of Asia-related reading before enrollment in the program. Your strong interest in Asia is an essential prerequisite for success (and enjoyment!) in the MAPS program. Our most typical domestic student is a person whose discover of their passion for the study of Asia really developed only after they completed their undergraduate study. Our most typical international students include Europeans and North and South Americans who particularly recognize the value of a Jesuit education on America's most Asia-focused city, and Asian students who wish to gain the unique perspective and deep understanding of their own part of the world that is only possible through exploring it at a distance, and with the assistance of trained scholars and a group of like-minded fellow students.
Can I "test out" of the Asian language requirement?
In effect, yes. If you come to the program with at least an intermediate competence in an Asian language (either native or learned) it may allow you to avoid further language study. However, the program does require all students to complete a total of 36 units, so that the 12 units normally devoted to Asian language studies would be dedicated to other studies in such cases. Please see Curriculum for more details.
Am I free to pursue my own research interests in the seminar courses?
Within the limits of the ability of the instructor to support your research efforts you are able to pursue the topics that produce the greatest possible value for you as a student of Asia. Each instructor has their own projects, readings, and activities that make up the course requirements. Within that context students have always been encouraged to focus on the cultures, nations, periods or approaches that appeal to them.
Is it difficult to work full-time while pursuing the MAPS degree?
The slight majority of graduates of the MAPS program have worked full-time while earning their degree. Almost all MAPS graduates have at least worked part-time during their two years of study. It does require a degree of discipline and time management to balance work, study, and personal life, of course. We estimate that for every hour of class (about eight hours each week), a student dedicates about three hours outside of class in preparation, study, research and writing. That means that your MAPS-related time may consume a total of about 30 hours each week, depending on your background and organizational skills.
How long does it take to complete the MBA/MAPS Concurrent Degree?
The shortest amount of time that anyone has taken to complete the Concurrent Degree (that is, to complete BOTH the MAPS degree and the MBA degree) is 2.5 academic years (five semesters and two summer sessions). However, the typical completion time is three academic years, including summer sessions. MAPS courses are offered in the evening in the fall and spring semesters (with the exception of the Asian Language Summer Session). MBA courses are offered both during the day and in the evening, during summer as well as during the fall and spring semesters.
Can the MAPS degree be combined with other USF graduate degrees?
As of this date the only formal concurrent or joint degree program is the MBA/MAPS Program. However, for students who come to the program with competence in an Asian language as described above it is possible to create an "ad hoc" concurrent degree program by substituting credit from other USF graduate programs in place of up to 12 units of Asian language study. Past students have explored synergies between the MAPS program and the M.A. in International and Development Economics, the Master's in International and Multicultural Education, the Master's in Non-Profit Administration, among others.
How do most students pay for their degree?
Most of our students pay for their degree through a combination of personal funds and federally-insured student loans, and sometimes Graduate Fellowships offered by the program. Tuition installment plans are available to spread yearly tuition over a series of monthly payments throughout the year. USF's Financial Aid office has information on all available graduate-student aid options. In addition, the USF Center for the Pacific Rim offers annual Graduate Fellowships ranging from $2,500 to $10,000 to MAPS students on a competitive basis.
What do most students do with their degrees after graduation?
MAPS students come to the program with a wide variety of interests and backgrounds so it is only logical that MAPS graduates work in a wide variety of careers and in countries all over the world. Alumni of the MAPS program are currently employed in (among many other fields) international shipping and logistics, education (from elementary to graduate levels), banking, finance, and investment, cultural consulting and exchange, and educational administration. Quite a number of our graduates have gone on to earn other advanced degrees, including MBAs and PhDs.
Some graduates move into the job market for the first time after graduation, usually in entry-level positions, and occasionally in Asia-related firms. Some graduates continue working for the same employer they had at the beginning of the program, but perhaps in a new capacity or location. Other graduates take advantage of their degrees and contacts they have made during their studies to move into a completely new field. The bottom line, however, is that a graduate degree — in any subject — differentiates you from others with similar job skills as a person with focus, discipline, a concern for and knowledge of Asia as a client base, and a belief in the value of learning.
M.A. in Asia Pacific Studies
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