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Frequently Asked Questions
What is it like to be a MAPS student?
MAPS is an intensive program lasting two academic years. 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.
Who are MAPS students?
Since the first class (or 'cohort') completed the program in 1995, the MAPS program has graduated over 300 students. There are typically 18-25 students in each cohort. The average class enrollment ranges from 12-20 students.
Some of the students work full-time or part-time while attending classes. Domestic students from California comprise a large part of MAPS, along with students from various regions of the United States, including the East Coast, the Midwest, the Northwest, and Hawaii. Our international students have come from mainland China, Japan, and South Korea as well as other countries, such as Argentina, Georgia, Italy, Russia, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.
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 Experience
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 unique in that the program 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. All students are interested in gaining an in depth understanding of the Asia Pacific and Asian international students are able to gain a unique perspective and deep understanding of their own part of the world. Our students recognize the value of a Jesuit education in America's most Asia-focused city. 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-half of students are pursuing the MAPS degree with specific career-related goals or for more general, possibly longer-term professional reasons; and the other half enroll in order to develop academically and prepare themselves for further graduate study. All students in MAPS are able to advance their research goals and have the opportunity to gain valuable internship and/or fieldwork experience.
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.
How important is my GPA?
We give a holistic assessment of each application we receive. 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. We take into account your entire transcript - 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.
How important is my application essay?
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 some 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 students complete undergraduate course work with a focus on the Asia Pacific or discover of their passions for the study of Asia after they completed their undergraduate studies.
Can I "test out" of the Asian language requirement?
In effect, yes. If you come to the program with at least a high intermediate competence in an Asian language (either native or learned) it may allow you to avoid further language study. All MAPS students, however, must demonstrate fourth semester or above language proficiency by graduation; such proficiency can be shown through previous coursework, an online test, and/or an interview by a USF faculty member. Please see
for more details.
Am I free to pursue my own research interests in the seminar courses?
While the MAPS curriculum provides students with a common foundation of knowledge, you are able to pursue relevant and meaningful topics to 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 while pursuing the MAPS degree?
A number of graduates of the MAPS program have worked full-time while earning their degree. Other MAPS graduates have 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 six to nine 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 typical completion time is three academic years, including summer sessions. It is, however, possible to complete the dual degree in a slightly shorter span. MAPS core and elective courses — as well as language courses and directed studies — are offered in the evening in the fall and spring semesters. In the summer MAPS students can pursue language, directed study, and internship options. MBA courses are offered both during the day and in the evening, during summer as well as during the fall and spring semesters.
How do most students fund their studies?
MAPS students typically fund their studies through a combination of personal funds, U.S. Federal Student loans, and private loans for international students. In addition, qualified students may be eligible for first-year partial tuition scholarships offered by the MAPS Program and second-year Fellowships offered by the Center for Asia Pacific Studies at USF. Payment plans are available to spread yearly tuition over a series of monthly payments throughout the year. USF's Financial Aid office has information on graduate student aid options.
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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