UW–Madison offers M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Japanese, specializing either in linguistics or in literature and culture. The program provides broad foundations and focused training in these two specialties, assuring that our graduates are amply prepared to teach and conduct research.

Japanese Program

The literature and culture specialty covers the Heian through Heisei periods, offering a wide range of courses on fiction, poetry, drama, popular culture, visual culture, cinema, acoustic culture, and cutting-edge cross-media and avant-garde topics, particularly manga and anime.

The linguistics specialty excels in areas such as functional linguistics, pragmatics, discourse/conversation analysis, sociolinguistics, applied linguistics, and language pedagogy. Students will receive excellent training both in various aspects of Japanese linguistics and Japanese applied linguistics, not only in graduate courses they take but also through actual teaching as a teaching assistant.

Prospective students should see the program website for funding information.

Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress

To make progress toward a graduate degree, students must meet the Graduate School Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress in addition to the requirements of the program.

Doctoral Degrees


Minimum Graduate Degree Credit Requirement

51 credits

Minimum Graduate Residence Credit Requirement

32 credits

Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement

All 51 credits must be in graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide.

Prior Coursework Requirements: Graduate Work from Other Institutions

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 9 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions. Coursework earned ten years or more prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Prior Coursework Requirements: UW–Madison Undergraduate

With program approval, no more than 7 credits of graduate coursework (as defined above) completed while a UW–Madison undergraduate may be counted to satisfy degree requirements. Coursework earned ten years or more prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Prior Coursework Requirements: UW–Madison University Special

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 9 credits of graduate coursework (as defined above) taken as a UW–Madison special student. Coursework earned ten years or more prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Credits per Term Allowed

15 credits

Program-Specific Courses Required

After completing the M.A., Japanese literature/culture students must take three additional courses in Japanese literature/culture at the 700 level or higher. Japanese linguistics students must take E ASIAN 775 Studies in Japanese Linguistics.

Doctoral Minor/Breadth Requirements

All doctoral students are required to complete a minor.

Japanese Linguistics students are encouraged to complete a minor in Linguistics or SLA. The 12 credits required for a minor count as part of the 51 credits required for the Ph.D. coursework.

Overall Graduate GPA Requirement

3.50 GPA required

Other Grade Requirements

Ph.D. candidates should maintain a 3.5 GPA in all coursework and may not have any more than two Incompletes on their record at any one time.

Probation Policy

A semester GPA below 3.5 will result in the student being placed on academic probation. If a semester GPA of 3.5 is not attained during the subsequent semester of full time enrollment, the student may be dismissed from the program or allowed to continue for 1 additional semester based on advisor appeal to the Graduate School. A student on probation may not take the preliminary examination.

Advisor / Committee

All students are required to be supervised by a major professor. Students meet regularly with their advisor to ensure satisfactory progress. The major professor serves as dissertation advisor.

Assessments and Examinations

Japanese literature/culture students are required to take a comprehensive preliminary examination. A dissertation proposal must be presented to the members of the Ph.D. Committee and accepted within one semester of passing the preliminary examination.

Japanese linguistics students need to complete three preliminary exams (two in-class or take home exams and a paper). The three preliminary exams should be completed within one year.

Time Constraints

A candidate for a doctoral degree who fails to take the final oral examination and deposit the dissertation within five years after passing the preliminary examination may be required to take another preliminary examination and to be admitted to candidacy a second time.

Language Requirements

Japanese literature students must demonstrate reading proficiency in classical Japanese and one research language.

Japanese linguistic students are required to demonstrate basic knowledge of the structure of one non-Western language other than Japanese. The language requirements must be completed by time when students finish taking the preliminary exams.

Applications will be evaluated on the basis of the applicant's previous academic record, letters of recommendation, and personal statement. Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores are required. TOEFL is required of all applicants who are not native speakers of English. Writing samples in English are strongly encouraged for M.A. applicants and required of Ph.D. applicants.

Knowledge and Skills

  • Demonstrate a thorough and in-depth understanding of research problems, potentials, and limits with respect to theory, knowledge, or practice in at least one of the following areas of study: Chinese literature and culture, Chinese linguistics, Japanese literature and culture, Japanese linguistics, and Transasian studies.
  • Formulate ideas, concepts, designs, and/or techniques beyond the current boundaries of knowledge within the specialized field(s).
  • Create scholarship and advance knowledge that makes a substantive contribution to the field(s).
  • Articulate and communicate complex ideas in a clear and understandable manner to both specialized and general audience.

Professional Conduct

  • Recognize, apply, and foster ethical and professional conduct.


Professors Bühnemann, Dunne, Huang, Huntington, Kern, McGloin, Mori (chair), Nienhauser, Zhang; Associate Professors Cerulli, D'Etcheverry, Geyer, Lim, Meulenbeld, Ridgely; Assistant Professors Yang, Zhu (Diversity Liaison); Faculty Associate Barnard, Nakakubo

East Asia

Charo D'Etcheverry (Associate Professor). Area: Classical Japanese Literature

Naomi Geyer (Associate Professor). Area: Japanese Language

Nicole Huang (Professor). Area: Transcultural East Asia; 20th century Chinese and Taiwanese Literature

Rania Huntington (Professor). Area: Ming and Qing Narrative and Drama, Chinese Literature of the weird and supernatural

Adam L. Kern (Professor). Area: Popular Literature, Culture, Poetry, Theater, and Visual Culture of early modern-modern Japan.

Byung-jin Lim (Associate Professor) .Area: Korean Language and Linguistics, Second / Foreign Language Acquisition, Korean Language Textbook Development

Naomi McGloin (Professor). Area: Japanese Language and Linguistics

Mark Meulenbeld (Associate Professor). Area: Daoism, Chinese Religion and Literature

Junko Mori (Professor). Area: Japanese Linguistics, Applied Linguistics, Sociolinguistics

Takako Nakakubo (Faculty Associate). Area: Second Language Acquisition of Japanese, Japanese Pedagogy

William Nienhauser (Professor). Area: Early Traditional Chinese Fiction and History; early poetry (Du Fu and Tao Qian)

Steve Ridgely (Associate Professor). Area: Modern Japanese Literature, Pop culture, TransAsian studies

Bei Yang (Assistant Professor). Area: Second Language Acquisition, Chinese Languages and Linguistics

Hongming Zhang (Professor). Area: Chinese Linguistics; History of Chinese Language; Teaching Chinese as a Second Language

Weihua Zhu (Assistant Professor). Area: Chinese Language, Pedagogy and Second Language Acquisition

South Asia

Gudrun Bühnemann (Professor). Area: Sanskrit Language and Literature; Buddhism in India and Nepal; Hinduism; Tantrism; Yoga Studies

Anthony Cerulli (Associate Professor). Area: Theory and Method in the Study of Religion in South Asia; History of Medicine in India; Sanskrit Language and Literature; Kerala History and Culture; Malayalam Language.

John D. Dunne (Professor). Area: Buddhist Philosophy and Contemplative Practice; Religious Studies; Cognitive Science of Religion

Southeast asia

Erlin Barnard (Faculty Associate) Area: Indonesian Language, Language Pedagogy; Materials Development; Second Language Acquisition

Language instructors

Language instructors are an integral part of our department, teaching more than 14 languages during the academic year from East (Chinese, Japanese, Korean), South (Hindi, Persian, Sanskrit, Tibetan, Urdu), Southeast (Burmese, Filipino, Hmong, Indonesian, Thai, Vietnamese) Asian Languages.

Graduate advisor

Undergraduate Advisor:
email Rachel Weiss
1244 Van Hise Hall