India Studies B.A.

The India Studies B.A. degree provides you with a broad understanding of India and, to a lesser extent, its neighbors: Tibet, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Coursework for the India Studies major balances language study with interdisciplinary approaches to understanding the region. Majors learn an Indic language, choosing from Bengali, Hindi, Sanskrit, or Urdu. They also study the history, geography, politics, literature, and religions of the region with faculty who are experts in these and other fields.

When pursuing a major in India Studies, you are a part of the The Madhusudan and Kiran C. Dhar India Studies Program, which draws its faculty from the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies and other units on campus.

If you are interested in the study of India and the subcontinent, but you do not wish to learn an Indic language, consider pursuing the India Studies certificate or minor.


Getting started

Your starting point in India Studies is the study of an Indic language (Bengali, Hindi, Sanskrit, or Urdu) and INST-I 100 Introduction to India (Spring only).

INST-I 100 provides you with basic information about India from around independence (1947) onward from multiple perspectives.

If you are new to your selected Indic language, start with a 100-level introductory course in the Fall semester. If you have prior language experience, through formal or informal study, or family heritage, contact the program to schedule a placement exam to determine which course level is the best fit for your current skills.

Tracks and concentrations

There are no official concentrations in the India Studies major. Instead, the major offers flexibility in choosing your language of specialization and additional courses related to India and the greater subcontinent. This allows you to personalize the curriculum while obtaining a well-rounded generalist understanding of India.

Majors take at least one class in each of the following three areas of study:

  • Literary and performance studies
  • Philosophical and religious studies
  • Social, political, and historical studies

Courses within the three areas consider such questions as how to analyze and interpret Bollywood films, how to interpret classical religious texts such as the Bhagavad Gita, and the causes and legacy of the partition of India and Pakistan.

If you wish to delve more deeply into a particular aspect of India, you can focus your coursework on one of the three areas of study, fashioning an individualized concentration. The academic advisor will help you select the best courses to suit your interests.

Upper level coursework

Taking at least one class in each of the three areas of study gives you a basic understanding of the major aspects of Indian cultural life. As you take other upper level courses, you will develop cultural literacy in the region. The elective courses give you greater expertise in specific areas of interest.

India Studies majors are required to study an Indic language through the fourth semester level. Students studying Hindi can continue on through the sixth semester level.

Commonly pursued majors, minors and certificates

All India Studies majors are required to have at least one other major. Work with your academic advisor to see how your coursework can be paired with other courses of study.

You might wish to complement your India Studies coursework with a major or minor in Economics, History, International Studies, Journalism, Linguistics, Political Science, Religious Studies, Second Language Studies, the Media School, or other disciplines not on this list.

The five most common majors paired with India Studies are English, International Studies, Religious Studies, Business-Economic Consulting, and Political Science.

Frequently completed minors are Religious Studies, Chemistry, Economics and Spanish.

Students majoring in India Studies might wish to pursue the Liberal Arts and Management Program (LAMP) certificate.

Enhance your major

Working with faculty

When pursuing an India Studies degree, you have the opportunity to work with faculty who have expertise and experience in the field. Take advantage of office hours to talk with your instructors about your performance in class, the content of readings and assignments, and how the course helps you work toward your goals.

You can get involved in research as early as your first year. Many incoming first-year students apply to the Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Experience (ASURE) program. ASURE students experience project-based learning enhanced by a community of supportive faculty and peers. Choose an ASURE path in the arts and humanities, social and historical studies, or natural and mathematical sciences. Consider joining one that will deepen your skills and knowledge in an area related to your major or a different one to become a more well-rounded thinker. 

Students interested in a topic not covered through standard coursework or who want to go into greater depth in a subject might want to enroll in INST-X 490 Individual Readings in Indic Studies. Your academic advisor can help identify faculty you may be able to work with on this project.

The India Studies program also hosts many special events that can enrich the co-curricular aspects of your study.


India Studies does not offer departmental honors at this time. You may wish to pursue honors through your other major.

High achieving students may be recognized for Academic Excellence in the College of Arts and Sciences, or be eligible for admission to the Hutton Honors College.

Undergraduate scholarships and awards

Options for pursuing scholarships and awards related to India Studies include:


Internships offer you a chance to develop both technical and transferable skills while making vital professional contacts with others in the field. Many students begin exploring internship opportunities, including overseas study programs with internships, as early as their first year.

India Studies majors can earn credit for an internship by enrolling in ASCS-X 373 or SGIS-X373.

Opportunities relevant to India Studies can be found at these and other organizations:

Learn more about internships, including the possibility of receiving credit, through The Walter Center for Career Achievement, where you’ll find many resources for both domestic and international internships.

Foreign language study

As one of the premier institutions in the U.S. for the study of languages, IU Bloomington offers courses and resources in over 80 languages.

To practice language skills outside the classroom, consider participating in a Bengali, Hindi or Tamil conversation table.

Below is a sampling of language study resources available to students at IU Bloomington.

If you wish to study an Indic language in India, the American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS) might have a program for you. They also regularly offer instruction in Indic languages not taught at IU.

Overseas study

Study abroad is an important part of undergraduate education in our increasingly interconnected world. India Studies students often pursue language study and other coursework through the following exchange programs:

  • Hyderabad-CIEE
  • Pune-Alliance
  • OVPDEMA Program to India

Advanced students might also consider the study abroad program offered by the International School for Jain Studies. It offers summer programs and often helps fund students. While this program does not count toward an Indiana University degree, it could enhance your studies.

The College of Arts and Sciences also directly hosts a variety of study abroad programs, some even featuring IU faculty, that might be right for you. Learn more about study abroad opportunities and locations through conversation with India Studies faculty, your academic advisor, and through the Office of Overseas Study.

Student groups

Becoming a member of a student group is a good way to make connections between your coursework and co-curricular activities. Organizations that are relevant to students in India Studies include:

Students interested in Indian performing arts should consider joining the Indiana University Chapter of Raas Royalty. The group's contact email is

Sigma Iota Rho is an honor society for students in the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies. Members are eligible for scholarships and research grants, and have the opportunity to publish work and serve on the Editorial Board for the Journal of International Relations.

The Hamilton Lugar School Living Learning Center and the Global Living Learning Community are two Living Learning Centers that often appeal to India Studies majors. In different ways, they integrate formal and informal residential learning for motivated undergraduates with international interests.

Explore beINvolved to connect with any of the 750+ student organizations that already exist, or to start a new one.

Volunteer opportunities

There are numerous opportunities for volunteer engagement, allowing you to give back to the local community while developing useful job skills. The organizations below can help you connect with others from the university and beyond:

Sign up to receive weekly emails from the Bloomington Volunteer Network to learn about more local opportunities and organizations.

Professional organizations

Use the Indiana University Library system to search for Associations Unlimited, an online directory of associations, professional societies, non-profit organizations, and much more.

There are a number of professional organizations with interests in India Studies, including the South Asian Journalist Association. 

Build your skills

Through the major

The major in India Studies provides you with a set of skills and qualities that are relevant and transferable to many areas of study and work. These include:

  • Regional expertise: understand and describe several features of Indian society and their variations in relation to politics, economics, literature, cinema, and/or history
  • Language competence: speak, read, listen, and write in an Indic language at the intermediate level
  • Methods of analysis: the ability to interpret information about and from India through multiple disciplinary lenses
  • Research synthesis: gain skills to develop evidence-based arguments, assess the strengths of the analyses of others, and defend your own position
  • Communication: communicate knowledge-facts, concepts, arguments-about India with experts and non-specialists, in both written texts and oral presentations

Through a College of Arts and Sciences degree

Your coursework provides many opportunities to develop the following five foundational skills that will serve you well in every career path:  

  • Question critically
  • Think logically
  • Communicate clearly
  • Act creatively
  • Live ethically

These foundational skills will aid you in landing your first job and advancing professionally throughout your working life. Not only are these the skills that employers say they value most in the workplace, they provide the best preparation for lifelong success in a world of complexity, uncertainty, and change.

Skills desired by employers

Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers asks employers what skills and qualities they are looking for in recent college graduates.

The following are some of the most commonly desired attributes across many employment sectors:

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Written and verbal communication skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Strong work ethic
  • Analytical and quantitative skills
  • Ability to take Initiative
  • Being detail oriented
  • Demonstrating adaptability
  • Technical skills relevant to the field
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Computer skills
  • Organizational ability

As you explore various career fields, pay attention to specific job descriptions and requirements. If there are areas where your skills or knowledge are lacking, talk with your academic advisor and career coach about how you can develop in those areas while you are at Indiana University.

Your academic advisor and career coach can also help you find ways to strengthen and deepen the knowledge you already have, becoming more prepared for whatever path you select after College.

Launch your career

Plan your search

A good starting point for exploring your career options is an appointment with the School of Global and International Studies career coach.

The Walter Center for Career Achievement offers job search resources, career courses, job fairs, information about internships and full-time jobs, and help with social media networking through professional organizations. Get advice about how to write your resume, ask for letters of recommendation from faculty and workplace supervisors, and prepare for job interviews, too.

Explore and enroll in Career Communities to learn more about industries relevant to your interests. These offer unique information about each field, including alumni spotlights, opportunities and resources, and in-person events.

Maximize your career preparation with a career course. India Studies majors should consider enrolling in ASCS-Q296 College to Career II: Navigate Your Arts and Sciences Experience. The section dedicated to Hamilton Lugar School students provides the opportunity for you to explore the relationship between your field of study and life after graduation, while developing an academic and career development plan for post-collegiate success. If you are considering continuing your studies after graduation, you may wish to enroll instead in the section dedicated to graduate school preparation. Regardless of the section you select, you will leave the class with your resume, a cover letter or personal statement, and a LinkedIn profile ready to go!

Your academic advisor and India Studies faculty may also be able to advise you about specific education and employment opportunities involving India Studies.

The job market

There is a positive employment outlook for students with the India Studies major, reflecting India's growing significance as an economic, cultural, and political player.

India Studies majors take their education in many directions, whether moving directly into a career or going on to graduate or professional studies. Initial and long-term destinations for graduates include positions in many job sectors: federal and state government, military or civil service, non-governmental organizations, non-profits, cooperatives, education, research and policy think tanks, banking and business.

Students who have majored in India Studies at IU now hold many positions, including:

  • Owner of an Indian restaurant
  • Founder, administrator and teacher of a Montessori preschool
  • Full-time environmental activist
  • Principal data quality associate
  • Account manager of investor relations
  • Independent contract lawyer
  • Law clerk
  • Public interest coordinator

Want to see where your fellow majors go right after graduating from IU? Check out the Walter Center’s First Destinations survey!

Need more ideas? The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers career information about hundreds of occupations.

Talk with India Studies faculty, the academic advisor, career coach and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates with this degree.

Post-graduate short-term experiences

A short-term experience or internship can help you make connections, gain life skills, and assess your interest in future careers.

The beginning of your post-graduate career might be an ideal time to explore an international internship or other short-term experience through organizations such as these:

Using these and other resources, your career coach can help you craft a short-term experience, whether in the United States or abroad.

Fellowships for post-graduate study

Fellowships are temporary post-graduate opportunities to conduct research, work in a field or fund graduate school. Most opportunities can be found through universities, non-profit and government organizations.

Good resources for finding fellowship opportunities include:

Graduate and professional study

When applying to graduate or professional schools, you'll need letters of recommendation from faculty members who are familiar with your work. Make a practice of attending office hours early in your academic career, to get to know your professors and discuss your options for advanced study in the field.

An India Studies major will can also prepare you for entry into graduate programs in a wide variety of fields, such as area studies, foreign languages and literatures, history, anthropology, politics, religious studies, international studies, or business. Indiana University offers a Ph.D. Minor in India Studies and also a College +Kelley program.

With careful planning, and in consultation with the Health Professions and Prelaw Center, you could also prepare to enter law school, medical school, or other health professional programs.

Students who pursue graduate studies in India Studies have gone into careers with top academic and research institutions, the United Nations, World Bank, non-governmental organizations, media, private entrepreneurship, business, and the military and intelligence communities.

Alumni connections

The IU College of Arts and Sciences has thousands of active alumni. Check out the College Luminaries program, which connects students with the College's most influential, successful, and inspiring alumni.

Join the Walter Center Success Network to remain in touch, network directly with College of Arts and Sciences Alumni, and let others know where your path takes you.

Is it for you?

India Studies attracts students from a variety of backgrounds and interests. They typically possess some of the following qualities:

  • Wish to study an Indic language
  • Concern about the history and contemporary state of India and other countries of the subcontinent
  • Fascination with the history of empire, colonialism, and the struggle for Indian independence
  • Awareness of geopolitical issues in an increasingly globalized world
  • Interest in the many religions originating and coexisting in India
  • Intellectual curiosity and imagination
  • Desire to gain expertise while working with others who have studied, lived, or traveled in India

Learn more

Contact the India Studies academic advisor and schedule an appointment to explore your options. Complete information about the requirements of the major can be found in the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin.

Department website
Advisor email address