The Institute of Far Eastern Studies was founded in the midst of the Korean War (1950-53), when the United States began to realize the growing need to know more about Asia. On October 29, 1951, Monsignor John L. McNulty, then president of Seton Hall University, hosted a historic luncheon; the guests included prominent representatives of several Asian nations, including the People's Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea and Vietnam. He took the occasion to announce the University's establishment of an Institute of Far Eastern Studies that would seek to promote better understanding and relationships between people in Asia and America.
Monsignor McNulty initially entrusted the institute to Reverend John J. Cain, a University faculty member, and to the founding advisory board that include Reverend Paul Yu Pin, Archbishop of Nanking, China, and Cardinal and president of the Republic of China's Fu Jen Catholic University; John Chang Myun, prime minister of the Republic of Korea; Kotaro Tanaka, chief justice of Japan, who later became president of Tokyo University; Ngo Dinh Diem, former prime minister of Vietnam and later president of the Republic of Vietnam; and John C.H. Wu, a distinguished Chinese jurist and minister of China to the Holy See who, months earlier, had been appointed professor of law at Seton Hall's newly founded School of Law.
The institute began to offer courses on Asian languages, history and culture to Seton Hall University students in 1952. In 1961, its instructional activities were transferred to the newly established Department of Asian Studies. The institute was replaced by The Asia Center. The department was initially a graduate program. In 1968, the department added an undergraduate major. Now part of the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, programs of study are offered leading to the degrees of Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts.
The department also cooperates with the Stillman School of Business in offering a Certificate in International Business and a five-year Bachelor of Arts/Master of Business Administration. In addition, the department offers a dual master's degree program with the School of Diplomacy and International Relations. The department provides student with training in the languages and cultures of Asia, leading to careers in government, international services, research, teaching or business, as well as advanced graduate study.