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East Asian Languages and Cultures Graduate Degrees

New PhD and MA degrees for Fall 2023

PhD in East Asian Languages and Cultures
Joint PhD in East Asian and Comparative Literatures

The East Asian Languages and Cultures doctoral programs combines the study of Chinese, Japanese or Korean literature and cultural history as its major component with courses in two minor fields: in literary theory and critical methodology, in studies in one or more other disciplines, or in a second East Asian literature and/or culture.  All students will have a range of teaching experiences as part of their professional training, with extensive hands-on instruction in pedagogical methodologies.  Some students may have the opportunity to teach in related programs outside the Department as well. Program length is six years.

Course Requirements: All PhD candidates must complete a minimum of 12 graduate-level courses selected to yield a broad and deep familiarity with the literary and cultural history of the country of focus and a secondary area (or areas) of focus. Language courses will not count toward the 12 required courses.

For the EALC degree, the 12 courses must include the following:

  • At least two courses in literary and cultural theory, methodology, and pedagogy to be determined in consultation with the advisor.
  • Two courses in the literary and cultural traditions of a second East Asian culture.
  • For students focused on modern literature and culture, two courses focused on premodern East Asia, among which at least one must be in the major country. Students focused on premodern literature and culture must take at least two courses focused on modern East Asia.
  • Two East Asia-focused courses offered through other departments and programs. Students may either focus on one discipline for their secondary area or take courses from several areas to broaden their expertise.
  • The remaining four courses are elective courses that the student may choose in consultation with their advisor.

Beyond these requirements, students may take up to three additional courses to fulfill requirements for a certificate or to supplement their training.

The minimum grade required for coursework to count toward the PhD is a B-.

Language Requirement: All PhD students must demonstrate native or near-native competence in both the language of focus (Chinese, Japanese, or Korean) and English. Course work in premodern forms of the language of focus may also be required. If it is required for research in the chosen area of focus, students must achieve proficiency in one or more languages in addition to the language of focus and English (normally French or German among the European languages or a second East Asian language).

For the joint degree with Comparative Literature, the 12 courses must include the following:

  • Four courses in one East Asian literature, including two seminars at the 500/5000 level
  • Four courses in a second literature or other field to be determined in consultation with the advisor
  • Four courses comprising the Comparative Literature core requirement, including Comp Lit 502 Introduction to Comparative Literature and three additional courses distributed among designated categories

Beyond these requirements, students may take up to three additional courses to fulfill requirements for a certificate or to supplement their training.

The minimum grade required for coursework to count toward the PhD is a B-.

Language requirement: All PhD students must demonstrate native or near-native competence in both the language of focus (Chinese, Japanese or Korean) and English. Course work in premodern forms of the language of focus may also be required. In addition, for this joint PhD, reading knowledge of a third language on at least the research level is required. Students should select these languages in consultation with their advisory committee.

Competency in the third language must be demonstrated before students defend their dissertation prospectus by doing one of the following:

  1. Earning at least a B in a 500/5000-level course that requires the use of the language in which students wish to develop competence. (For example, in the case of a 500/5000-level EALC course taught in English, the student's written work must incorporate research in and/or analysis of material in the original language in which the student seeks to demonstrate competency.)
  2. In the case of an East Asian language, placing out of at least the third level of the language in the department's standard placement exam

Qualifying Evaluation: The Graduate Committee will conduct a screening of Ph.D. students no later than the end of their second year. By November 15 of their third semester, students will submit a research statement (500-800 words) and a writing sample (complete seminar paper).  During reading week, they will be expected to give a10-minute formal presentation to the department faculty. By the end of the fall semester, primary faculty advisors will submit an evaluative report of progress for each of their advisees. The Graduate Committee will then assess the students’ academic performance and either recommend or not recommend advancement. Regardless of the outcome of this assessment, all students meeting the requirements will be recommended for conferral of the MA degree. The second element of this qualifying evaluation assesses the student's progress in their primary language of specialization (Chinese, Japanese, or Korean). This will be waived in the case of native speakers.

Comprehensive Examinations: The PhD comprehensive examinations are intended to test a student’s general knowledge as well as mastery of their area or areas of specialization.  Near the end of formal courses, students begin preparing to complete three examinations, to include:

  • Major field, generally defined as modern or premodern literature/culture of China, Japan or Korea.
  • Two minor fields, defined in consultation with and approved by the student’s advisory committee.  One minor field may be directly related to the student’s dissertation research, but the second must demonstrate greater breadth in terms of period, discipline, or cultural-linguistic area.  One of the minor fields may be comparative or theoretical.
  • Students who have completed a certificate in FMS, WGSS, DASH, Early Modern Studies or Translation may, with advisory committee permission, waive one of the minor exams.

In consultation with relevant faculty, students will prepare a comprehensive bibliography prior to each exam. 

Students should expect to begin the exams before the start of the sixth semester, and to have completed all three no later than the end of the eighth semester.

Dissertation Prospectus.  Following successful completion of the three examinations, and prior to starting their fifth year in the program, students will present their dissertation prospectus in a public forum before a panel of relevant faculty. (refer to guide)

The Title, Scope and Procedure from must also be submitted before the start of the fifth year.

Mentored Experiences:  Students will complete eight mentored teaching experiences during their six years in the program.  A mentored professional experience may be substituted for one of the eight.  Another of the eight may be waived for students conducting research abroad during the academic year.

Dissertation. Students will complete a doctoral dissertation based on extensive research on a literary or cultural topic that produces new knowledge of publishable quality in the field of East Asian Studies.  Normally dissertation research and writing is completed in the last two years of graduate study.

For joint degree, the dissertation must be of a comparative nature and committee must include at least two Comparative Literature faculty or affiliated faculty.

Selection of Candidates and Admissions Criteria

Applicants for this program are screened on the basis of: their competence in the East Asian language of specialization and in English; their demonstrated ability to write analytically and to think critically; their commitment to the study of East Asian literature and culture; their interests in areas of research strength among our faculty (early modern, modern, and contemporary China, Korea and Japan). 

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The East Asian Languages and Cultures Master’s program is a single flexible two-year program that allows students either to concentrate primarily on one East Asian culture (China, Korea, Japan) or to pursue transcultural, multi-disciplinary study of East Asia.


1.  A minimum of 10 courses, chosen in consultation with advisor, to include:

  • At least once course in theory or methodology, chosen in consultation with advisor, for example: Global Asias, Intro to Comp. Lit., Film Theory, Advanced Moving Image Analysis, Feminist Literary and Cultural Theory, Modeling Cultural Systems, etc.
  • Language study.  Students must achieve third-year competence in one East Asian language by the end of the program.  Those who place out of third year via the placement exam or who attain that level after the first year in the program are expected to continue with fourth-year, fifth-year, and/or classical language.  Students who place beyond these levels or who are native speakers are encouraged to take up study of a second East Asian language.  No more than four semester-long courses in language may count toward the 10 required courses.  Note that courses numbered below the 500-level must be taken as an overload.  
  • At least two classes outside country of specialization, or that involves comparative treatment of more than one East Asian culture.
  • At least two classes focused on the modern era and two focused on the premodern era.  
  • The minimum grade required for coursework to count toward the AM is a B-.

2.  One of the following:

  • Students who plan to continue their academic training at the PhD level should complete a Master’s Essay or a Master’s Thesis.
    • The essay will be based on a research paper written for one of the student’s MA courses. Students will be expected to revise the paper in consultation with their advisor—lengthening to provide appropriate contexts and explanations, but also tightening, where necessary, to offer an incisive, analytical exploration of the topic. Essays should range from 8,000 to 10,000 words (34 to 40 pages). Students who elect this option may choose to register for 3-units of Guided Readings (L81 596) and will graduate "Masters without thesis."  Students are to assemble a committee of three faculty members who will read the essay; the student will meet with the committee for a short oral defense of the essay.
    • The second option allows students to complete a longer Master’s Thesis, under the direction of a Thesis Advisor. Based on original research in an area of interest, the thesis generally runs to at least 50 pages in length, and must utilize sources in the relevant East Asian language.  Upon completion of the thesis, students sit for a defense with three to four faculty members, chosen in consultation with the Thesis Advisor. Students who elect this option may choose to register for 3-units of Master’s Thesis (L81 591) and will graduate "Masters with thesis."  Students writing a thesis must complete and return to the EALC office the Notice of Title, Scope, and Procedure form 6 months in advance of the intended graduation date.  For more information, see Master's Thesis Guidelines.
  • Students who do not plan to continue their academic training at the PhD level may complete a comprehensive written examination focusing on two major areas to be determined by an advisory committee comprised of at least three faculty members. The examination is administered near the end of the candidate's term of study, and is followed by a short oral examination in which the student discusses the written examination with the advisory committee. Students may also elect to write a Master's Thesis.