Skip navigation

Northern Illinois University Your Future, Our Focus Northern Illinois University Your Future, Our Focus

Global connections

Southeast Asian Studies links students to travel, scholarship and career opportunities

NIU political science doctoral candidate Thomas Rhoden on the Thailand-Myanmar border

NIU Political science doctoral candidate Thomas Rhoden
on the Thailand-Myanmar border

Northern Illinois University is located in the American heartland, but as an NIU student, the world can be your classroom.

In fact, you might just find yourself studying or conducting research in a rainforest, ancient temple or historic city halfway around the world. Such is the global reach of NIU, home to a distinguished Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS), which creates amazing student learning experiences.

The center’s faculty, students and alumni are increasing knowledge and understanding of the region’s 11 countries: Brunei, Burma/Myanmar, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. You can be part of that, too.

Did You Know?

  • NIU boasts more than 60 Indonesian alumni, including several who work within the highest reaches of academia and central government in the island nation, the world’s fourth most populous country.
  • NIU’s Center for Burma Studies is the only center of its kind in the world. The center collects information and artifacts related to the study of the peoples and cultures of Burma/Myanmar and makes these materials broadly available for research and study

One way to explore the area of study is to take the class titled, Southeast Asia: Crossroads of the World (SEAS 225). Our experts on Southeast Asia will deliver lectures on topics such as the region’s history, the aftermath of genocide in Cambodia and the mysteries of Burmese temple art.

NIU’s undergraduate minor and contract major in Southeast Asian Studies have even more to offer:

  • Language training in Burmese, Indonesian, Khmer, Tagalog, Thai and Vietnamese
  • Research experiences in a variety of disciplines, including art, anthropology, environmental science, history, literature, public health and political science
  • Leadership development through student organizations
  • Study abroad and internship experiences
  • Fellowship and scholarship opportunities, including the competitive Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellowships
  • Academic-year FLAS fellowships provide students with monthly stipends while covering NIU tuition, student fees and insurance. Summer FLAS fellowships provide for the study of Southeast Asian languages at outside institutions, including those in Southeast Asia (See what students say)

These opportunities will broaden your horizons, sharpen your language skills and raise your cross-cultural expertise in a region of growing strategic and global importance.

NIU Burmese art exhibitLearning a Southeast Asian language or earning a minor in Southeast Asian Studies has other bonuses as well. As the world becomes more interconnected, employers are increasingly looking for college graduates with a broader knowledge of the world.

The minor will give you a leg up while pursuing a successful career in a wide array of fields, ranging from law, art, finance and international business to health care, nonprofits, government and national security.

Interested in learning more? Visit, check out the Center for Southeast Asian Studies on Facebook, email or call (815) 753-1771.