Foreign Area Officer (FAO) Program Information


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The MA degree is normally a four-semester study program. Recent military practices have allowed some Foreign Area Officers (FAOs) eighteen months, three regular semesters and a summer, to complete the Master’s degree. Developed through our extended experiences working with FAO candidates, our MA program is able to provide a special educational schedule that addresses the specific needs of FAOs, modifies the curriculum to assure an even distribution of courses, and allows for a timely completion of degree work. We are not able to accommodate a one-year MA degree program at this time.

Deferral of Admission

Some FAOs apply to UH more than one year in advance; however, admission is valid only for the semester for which you are applying. So if you apply more than one year in advance, you have two options:

(1) re-apply and pay the $100 application fees again, or

(2) accept admission and immediately apply for a leave of absence.

LOAs are good for only 1 year. The best thing to do is contact us, and we will help you to find a solution.

Study Program Guide

1. In order to overcome current FAO time restrictions and make up for the fourth semester, FAOs may register for up to 9 credit hours of directed reading Asian studies courses in Summer Sessions. FAO students are, thus, able to take 9 credit hours for each semester throughout their study. There are a limited number of special Asian studies research seminars and courses on international relations and security issues in Asia offered during Summer Sessions. Students are advised to take a full program of courses in the summer in order to compensate for the early completion of the MA in Asian studies. The Asian Studies Program offers FAOs access to the summer programs at The Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies to help meet these summer credits. This is a unique opportunity limited to FAOs and is designed to allow FAOs to interact with military officers and security personnel from across the Asia-Pacific region.

2. FAOs are advised to select the Plan B: Non-thesis option, as the Plan A: Thesis option is for completion of the program in four-semesters of study. Students selecting the Plan A option will be advised to obtain approval for a fourth semester of study from their unit superior before the second semester of their program.

3. The MA degree is a language-intensive program requiring skills in speaking, listening, reading and writing. Students who have prior language training should strengthen their language skills in preparation for this degree program. Before entering the program, students must have reached at least one level below the language requirement of their chosen area of study in order to graduate on time. FAOs typically meet these language requirements and can replace the standard language credits with other UHM courses selected to meet their own individual educational goals.

FAO Student/Alumni Contacts

Applicants are encouraged to consult our current students/recent alumni for further information.

David Gigliotti, East Asia/Korea Specialist – US Command Seoul
Marcus Ferrara, SEA/Thailand Specialist – US Embassy Thailand
Pete Fowler, SEA/Malaysia Specialist – Private industry
Travis Cox, South Asia Specialist – Recent graduate

Application Procedures

Students applying to the Master’s programs must submit the following materials:

To the Graduate Division (all students):

– Completed graduate application form – You may apply on-line.
– US citizens and permanent residents application fee = $100

– One official copy of transcript sent directly from all post-secondary educational institutions attended

– Official GRE (Graduate Record Examination) score report, aptitude test only (choose “Area Studies” for department)

To the Asian Studies Program:
– Two letters of recommendation. download form

– A 10 page writing sample
 (FAO applicants have submitted past BA papers or battle reports)
– A one-page Statement of Purpose
– Asian Studies Information Form – You may apply on-line here.

Contact Information:
 Pattie Dunn, FAO Student Academic Advisor, Asian Studies Program, 
School of Pacific & Asian Studies
, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
, 1890 East-West Road, Moore Hall 416, 
Honolulu, Hawaiʻi 96822
; Telephone: (808)956-7814; Facsimile: (808)956-6345; Email:

Fact Sheet – Spring 2016

Tuition Costs: FAOs are automatically given in-state tuition status. UH is a low-cost school.

Cost of Living in Hawaiʻi
Hawaiʻi has an extremely high cost of living – if you are not in the military. Prices in the commissary nearly mirror those in Monterey. On-post housing is available at Fort Shafter, but sometimes there is a waiting list. Off-post rent is comparable to that in Monterey with some of Hawaiʻi’s best residential areas within biking/walking distance from the University (Mānoa Valley, Saint Louis Heights, Kahala, and Waikīkī). All dependent medical care is handled at Tripler Army Medical Center. The care is fast and first-rate, with no payment of a Tricare deductible. Hawaiʻi can be expensive, but the Army provides adequate compensation (BAH/COLA) to meet ones needs.

Monthly Housing Allowance [BAH-Hawaiʻi] [as of 01/16/2016]:

GRADE w/ dependents w/o dependents
O-3 $3375 $2820
O-4 $3786 $3090
Monthly Cost of Living Allowance [COLA-Hawaiʻi] [as of 01/16/2016]:

GRADE TIME FRAME w/ dependents (#) w/o dependents
O-3 8 yrs $993 (3) $755
O-3 8 yrs $945 (2)
O-3 8 yrs $849 (1)

GRADE TIME FRAME w/ dependents (#) w/o dependents
O-4 10 yrs $1097 (3) $809
O-4 10 yrs $1045 (2)
O-4 10 yrs $941 (1)

Space-A Travel

The availability of travel via Space-A in and out of Hawaiʻi is plentiful. Daily flights occur to/from Travis AFB (S.F. area), McCord AFB (Seattle area), and Yokota AFB (Tokyo area). Weekly flights occur to/from North Island NAS (San Diego area), March AFB (L.A. area), Kelly AFB (San Antonio area), McGuire AFB (New Jersey), and Charleston AFB (South Carolina). Being stationed in Hawaiʻi, dependents are authorized to travel unaccompanied Space-A anywhere within the Pacific Theater and to the end-destination for CONUS mission. As an Asia-focused FAO, this is an invaluable fringe benefit. It is extremely easy to travel to/from Japan during class breaks or PTDY during summer semester. From Japan, there are multiple flights each week to Korea and Singapore, which are extremely economical gateways to China, Southeast Asia, and India.

General Topics of Interest

As a FAO concentrating on Asia, about one-fourth to one-third of your future job assignments will be in Hawaiʻi (Pacific Command, JICPAC, US Army Pacific, The Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies). Studying at the University of Hawaiʻi gives you early access to all of these centers in the form of briefings, lectures, conferences, etc. The resources are there if you want them. It also provides you the opportunity to check out future job opportunities, specifically which jobs you might wish to compete for as well as which jobs you might wish to avoid.

Access to Professionals in Your Field

The Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, located in Waikīkī, is the preeminent security think tank and educational center in the Pacific.

The East-West Center, located on the campus of the University of Hawaiʻi offers access to top researchers in Asia and the Pacific, visiting diplomats, scholars-in-residence from around the world, and ongoing conferences, talks and performances.

Additional Links & SPAS Contact Information

Honolulu Star Advertiser
DOD Per Diem Website
University of Hawai′i

UH/SPAS Recruiting Representative: Paul Rausch, (808) 956-2688; 
UH/SPAS Asian Studies Department: Chair, Dr. Barbara Andaya [On Leave to 08/15/16]; UH/SPAS/FAO Graduate Advising & Admission Documents: Pattie Dunn, (808) 956-7814; Facsimile: (808) 956-6345