Japanese Graduate Programs

Requirements for students who matriculated in FL22 or earlier

The Japanese section of the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures provides a limited number of highly qualified graduate students with the opportunity to pursue intensive programs of study leading to the MA in Japanese, the PhD in Japanese language and literature, and the joint PhD in Japanese and comparative literature.

The goal of these programs is to produce scholars well-trained in Japanese language, firmly grounded in the linguistic and literary traditions, and thoroughly conversant with critical discourses (indigenous and western) relevant to their fields. Students who complete the program at the PhD level have extended first-hand exposure to the modern societies whose languages, literatures, and cultures they study and significant teaching experience in both the language and the literature classroom.

PhD in Japanese Language and Literature


The PhD in Japanese Language and Literature at Washington University provides students with a solid foundation in all periods and forms of Japanese literature while requiring expertise in one’s research concentration. Students select a complementary minor field in a second Asian literary tradition or another area of Japanese Studies as appropriate. Given present faculty strengths, students are encouraged to focus on Japanese literature of the twentieth century, while appreciating the strong “traditionalist” current that marks much of this literature.

Japanese PhD degree requirements

Fully-funded program

All students admitted to the PhD program can expect six years of financial aid, provided they maintain a successful coursework record. Students typically receive an A&S Fellowship, which carries full tuition remission and a competitive level of financial aid. Doctoral candidates in their final year of dissertation writing (usually the fifth or sixth year of doctoral study) will be eligible for a Dissertation Travel funds. Doctoral students can also apply for additional summer support for research and examination preparation.

More information about funding

Joint PhD with Comparative Literature

A PhD in Japanese and Comparative Literature is offered jointly with the Program in Comparative Literature. The focus of this program is comparison of the contents, theoretical bases, and methodologies of Japanese literature and a second literature (Western or non-Western), within the context of a familiarity of the cultural context and historical background of the literatures, and the critical and historical methodology of modern literary study.

Which program is for me?

Students who are primarily interested in literature as a general field of study, which includes the study of critical theory and methodology and at least one literature in addition to Japanese, should choose our highly successful PhD Program in Japanese and Comparative Literature. In addition, the department now offers the option of deep training in Japanese literature with a second field in another East Asian literature or in Japanese studies in another discipline: history, anthropology, art history, or film and media studies. Students whose interests are less comparative and more focused on Japan should choose this PhD Program in Japanese Language and Literature.

Students in both doctoral programs will have a variety of teaching experiences, including language teaching at several levels, grading essays in English, leading discussion sections, and giving lectures. When available, students will also have the opportunity to teach or to team-teach a course under the supervision of a faculty member.

Preference will be given to applicants who have the MA degree in a relevant discipline and area and have native or advanced competence in the language of their major literature and reading competence in at least one other research language. However, students who have unusually rich undergraduate backgrounds may apply for these programs after completing the BA in Japanese or in a related field.

Application process for joint program with Comparative Literature

Prospective students interested in pursuing a joint program with Comparative Literature should apply through the pertinent home department. On your application you will be able to find a degree program for all of the joint degrees, with the home department listed first and Comparative Literature listed second. When you go to "Select A Program," you will first choose "Office of Graduate Studies in Arts and Sciences" as the Academic Division from the top drop-down menu, then under the department of East Asian Languages and Cultures you will see options for Chinese or Japanese. You should send your application materials to East Asian Languages and Cultures. It will, however, be vetted by both the home department and Comparative Literature.

MA in Japanese

A two-year program housed in an internationally-recognized community for research on Japanese literature, language, and culture, the MA in Japanese requires 36 units of graduate study in Japanese which may include courses from related fields, such as East Asian Studies and Comparative Literature.


Financial aid is available through the Office of Graduate Studies in Arts & Sciences in the form of tuition scholarships. Our masters students usually receive a high percentage of tuition remission which helps to ease the burden of pursuing a graduate degree. All applicants are automatically considered for financial aid. No additional application is required.

Study Abroad

Exchange Program at Tsukuba University

Thanks to a long-standing academic exchange agreement with the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Tsukuba University (http://www.hass.tsukuba.ac.jp/en), we are able to nominate one graduate student annually for a period of up to a year of advanced study at one of Japan's finest universities, located approximately an hour north of Tokyo.

The student, who will typically be completing his/her MA program here at Washington University, will be able to enroll in appropriate courses and engage in independent study under the mentorship of Tsukuba faculty and graduate students. The exchange affords an unparalleled opportunity to advance one's Japan-related studies while improving language skills across the spectrum.

Tuition will be waived, and the nominated student may apply for funding administered through Tsukuba that will help defray travel and living expenses.

Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies (Yokohama, Japan)

The Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies (IUC) offers an intensive, 10-month program of study in advanced spoken and written Japanese. A 7-week summer session is also available.  For more information, click here.

The graduate program at WashU is small in terms of its student numbers, but large in terms of the wealth of knowledge that can be gleaned there. While at WashU, I was able to gain teaching experience in literature under the guidance of both Professors Copeland and Marcus, which allowed me to enter my current teaching assignment in East Asian Languages and Literature at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, with relative ease and confidence.

―Lee FriederichPhD '08