South Asia @ Penn

The University of Pennsylvania’s commitment to South Asia Studies began a hundred years ago, when in 1912 Franklin Edgerton was appointed Penn’s first professor of Sanskrit. Penn’s exceptional South Asia library collection dates back nearly two hundred years. In 1947, that W. Norman Brown, Penn’s distinguished Sanskrit scholar, established the nation’s first South Asia Studies Department (SAST). It is still one of the few departments dedicated exclusively to the study of South Asia. Today, four administrative units support South Asia Studies at Penn: the South Asia Center (SAC), the Department of South Asia Studies (SAST), the Graduate Group in South Asia Regional Studies (SARS) and the Center for the Advanced Study of India (CASI).


Follow the links below for more information about courses, language, degree requirements and study abroad opportunities:

Graduate Students


Fellowships & Grants

Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships:

The South Asia Center offers a limited number of graduate and undergraduate FLAS fellowships both for the academic year and summer. Please see for more information, and to apply online.

The Briton Martin Fellowship

The Briton Martin Fellowship covers stipend and fees for an ABD student in any graduate group at Penn who is within three years of their Ph.D. exams, to support the completion of a dissertation on South Asia. Additional research funds may be made available by the Dean to Briton Martin Fellows. Applications are due by March 26. The award will be made on April 15. Applicants should send the following material via email to SAST Graduate Chair, Lisa Mitchell:

  1. A detailed description of the program for the grant period
  2. Complete information on the state of the dissertation (including draft chapters)
  3. Three recommendations from faculty closely involved in the project

A recommendation for the award will be made by the SAST graduate committee to the SAST graduate faculty, which will make the final decision.

The Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for Graduate Study for New Americans

Who is eligible to become a Fellow? A New American is an individual who has applied for naturalization or has been naturalized as a U.S. citizen or the child of two parents who are both naturalized citizens. The applicant must either have a bachelor's degree or be in her/his final year of undergraduate study. Those who have a bachelor's degree may already be pursuing graduate study and may receive Fellowship support to continue that study. To be eligible you must be at least twenty and not older than twenty-eight years of age as of Monday, March 30, 1998.

The purpose of the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans is to provide opportunities for continuing generations of able and accomplished New Americans to achieve leadership in their chosen fields and to partake of the American dream.

The Fellowships are grants for up to two years of graduate study in the United States, with a third year of study considered. The recipients are chosen on a national competitive basis. In the spring of 1998, a pilot group of ten Fellows will be selected. thereafter, thirty Fellowships will be awarded each year.

Each year the fellow receives a maintenance grant of $20,000 (paid in three installments) and a tuition grant of one-half the tuition cost of the U.S. graduate program attended by the Fellow. For more information visit the fellowship website


South Asia Student Organizations on Penn Campus


Professional & Career

Ethnic & Religious

Performing Arts


Library Resources

The Van Pelt Library of the University of Pennsylvania has an extensive collection of South Asian texts and films which can be borrowed for use in classrooms by following the procedures described below:

Obtaining print materials (primarily books)

To locate items of interest, first search library catalog, Franklin. This is a standard library online catalogue and searching it should be straightforward. For those items in our collection which circulate (the catalog record will make this clear), you can make note of the work and submit it to your local library’s interlibrary loan office and they will be able to process the request. Should you encounter any problems, feel free to contact our South Asia bibliographer, Pushkar Sohoni, or call at 215-898-7460.

Obtaining Films & Documentaries

Our films (both feature and documentary) are fully catalogued and are all available through our interlibrary loan system. If there is a film or films in our video catalogue that interests you, please request those through your respective library's interlibrary loan office. For those of you not affiliated with an institution of higher learning, you could make use of your local public library to place the loan request.


Speaker Bureau

Penn’s faculty, graduate students and South Asia experts from the community form the South Asia Center’s Speakers Bureau. These speakers have an expertise in a wide variety of subjects; recent classroom visit topics include ‘Islamic Art in South Asia’, ‘Popular Culture of South Asian Countries’ and many others. Speakers can be invited to make their presentations to your classes on topics suggested by you. It is preferable to contact the South Asia Center well in advance of the desired visit so as to avoid conflicting schedules. To request a classroom visit please contact Raili Roy.

Materials: Books, Films and Artifacts

Besides the South Asia collection at the Van Pelt Library, the South Asia Center also has books and artifacts that highlight the cultural aspects of the region, such as music, dress, games and the like. These can be borrowed from our Center for classroom use. To borrow non-library materials, please contact Jody Chavez, or call at 215-898-4490. The procedure for borrowing library materials is explained on our Library Resources section above.


Additional resources available in our General Resources section.

To request SAC support for an event, write to Jody Chavez or call 215-898-7475.

For all other questions please feel free to contact the center.