The Chinese program offers students a range of courses and activities which impart an understanding of the culture and civilization of China. With the completion of three basic years of the language, students will be prepared to handle various types of colloquial Chinese. Most majors pursue advanced studies in Chinese linguistics or literature, while others combine an interest in China with a degree in business, education, engineering or journalism. 

For more information about the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures visit the department overview.

Study Abroad in China

Students may receive residence credit for study abroad through a variety of different programs sponsored by the department. Please contact International Academic Programs for details.

Students may also receive credit, or gain experience, through various internship opportunities abroad. Please contact International Internship Programs for details.

Starting Coursework towards the Major

Before declaring the major, students are urged to begin coursework early, ideally in the freshman or sophomore year. If, however, this is not possible, summer courses at UW–Madison or elsewhere are available which speed the student's progress. Those who have Chinese credits from high school or summer sessions may enter advanced courses on the basis of placement tests.

The following courses may be taken with no previous knowledge of Chinese or Japanese:

ASIAN 253 Japanese Popular Culture3
E ASIAN 101 First Semester Chinese6
E ASIAN 103 First Semester Japanese6
E ASIAN 121 Elementary Chinese3
E ASIAN 123 Elementary Japanese3
Classical Chinese for Non-Majors
and Classical Chinese for Non-Majors
E ASIAN/​RELIG ST  350 Introduction to Taoism3-4
E ASIAN/​RELIG ST  363 Introduction to Confucianism3
E ASIAN 367 Japanese Poetic Tradition3-4
E ASIAN 371 Topics in Chinese Literature2-3
E ASIAN 434 Introduction to Japanese Linguistics3
Survey of Chinese Literature in Translation
and Survey of Chinese Literature in Translation
Survey of Japanese Literature in Translation
and Survey of Japanese Literature in Translation
LITTRANS 368 Modern Japanese Fiction3
LITTRANS 372 Classical Japanese Prose in Translation3
LITTRANS 373 Topics in Japanese Literature3

Enrollment Information

The department requires that students who are new to the program take a placement test before enrolling in a language course beyond the first-semester level. For information about the placement test and test dates, please visit the department website. To register for a placement test, please contact Rachel Weiss.


If you would like to declare the major, please meet with the undergraduate advisor to review the requirements, discuss courses, and to submit the declaration request.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

College of Letters & Science Breadth and Degree Requirements: Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)

Students pursuing a bachelor of arts degree in the College of Letters & Science must complete all of the requirements below. The College of Letters & Science allows this major to be paired with either a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science curriculum. View a comparison of the degree requirements here.

Bachelor of Arts degree requirements

Mathematics Fulfilled with completion of University General Education requirements Quantitative Reasoning a (QR A) and Quantitative Reasoning b (QR B) coursework. Please note that some majors may require students to complete additional math coursework beyond the B.A. mathematics requirement.
Foreign Language
  • Complete the fourth unit of a foreign language; OR
  • Complete the third unit of a foreign language and the second unit of an additional foreign language

Note: A unit is one year of high school work or one semester/term of college work.
L&S Breadth
  • Humanities, 12 credits: 6 of the 12 credits must be in literature
  • Social Sciences, 12 credits
  • Natural Sciences, 12 credits: must include one 3+ credit course in the biological sciences; must include one 3+ credit course in the physical sciences
Liberal Arts and Science Coursework 108 credits
Depth of Intermediate/Advanced work 60 intermediate or advanced credits
Major Declare and complete at least one (1) major
Total Credits 120 credits
UW-Madison Experience 30 credits in residence, overall
30 credits in residence after the 90th credit
Minimum GPAs 2.000 in all coursework at UW–Madison
2.000 in intermediate/advanced coursework at UW–Madison

Non–L&S students pursuing an L&S major

Non–L&S students who have permission from their school/college to pursue an additional major within L&S only need to fulfill the major requirements and do not need to complete the L&S breadth and degree requirements above.

Requirements for the Major

First & Second Year Language
First Year Chinese:
First Semester Chinese
and Second Semester Chinese
Elementary Chinese
and Elementary Chinese
and Second Semester Chinese
Second Year Chinese
Third Semester Chinese
and Fourth Semester Chinese
Advanced Studies, 27 credits:
1. Third Year Chinese (2 courses):
Fifth Semester Chinese
Sixth Semester Chinese
2. Classical Chinese Courses (2 courses)
First Year Classical Chinese
First Year Classical Chinese
3. Chinese Literature or Linguistics (2 courses)
Survey of Chinese Literature
and Survey of Chinese Literature
Introduction to Chinese Linguistics
and Introduction to Chinese Linguistics
4. Additional credits in Chinese Studies, at least 5 credits:
Chinese Conversation
Introduction to Taoism
Survey of Chinese Literature
Chinese Painting
Introduction to Confucianism
Topics in Chinese Literature
Topics in Chinese: Study Abroad
Business Chinese
Seventh Semester Chinese
Eighth Semester Chinese
Introduction to Chinese Linguistics
Buddhist Thought
Fifth-year Chinese
Popular Culture and Film in Twentieth-Century China
History of the Chinese Language
History of the Chinese Language
History of Chinese Literature
History of Chinese Literature
History of Chinese Thought, Part 1
History of Chinese Thought, Part 2
Literary Studies in Chinese Drama
Literary Studies in Chinese Fiction
Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Thesis
Senior Thesis
Directed Study
Early Chinese Art: From Antiquity to the Tenth Century
Later Chinese Art: From the Tenth Century to the Present
Chinese Painting
Introduction to East Asian History: China
Chinese Migrations since 1500
Chinese Economic and Business History: From Silk to iPhones
Social and Intellectual History of China, 589 AD-1919
History of Modern China, 1800-1949
History of the Peoples Republic of China, 1949 to the Present
China and World War II in Asia

Distinction in the Major

Students majoring in Chinese who are not enrolled in the honors program may earn distinction in the major by completing:

  1. the L&S general degree requirements, and
  2. the junior–senior honors curriculum.

Fifteen honors credits are required in courses at the 300 level or higher, including a Senior Honors Thesis of 6 credits, E ASIAN 681 Senior Honors ThesisE ASIAN 682 Senior Honors Thesis.

Residence and quality of work

15 credits that count toward the major, taken on campus

2.000 GPA on 15 upper-level major credits, in residence1

2.000 GPA in all credits in the major

1 Upper level courses in the major

E ASIAN 301 Fifth Semester Chinese4
E ASIAN 302 Sixth Semester Chinese4
E ASIAN 321 First Year Classical Chinese4
E ASIAN 322 First Year Classical Chinese4
E ASIAN 333 Chinese Conversation3
E ASIAN/​RELIG ST  350 Introduction to Taoism3-4
E ASIAN 351 Survey of Chinese Literature3
E ASIAN 352 Survey of Chinese Literature3
E ASIAN 356 Chinese Painting3-4
E ASIAN 353 Survey of Japanese Literature3
E ASIAN 371 Topics in Chinese Literature2-3
E ASIAN 379 Business Chinese3
E ASIAN 401 Seventh Semester Chinese3
E ASIAN 402 Eighth Semester Chinese3
E ASIAN 431 Introduction to Chinese Linguistics3
E ASIAN 432 Introduction to Chinese Linguistics3
E ASIAN/​LCA/​RELIG ST  466 Buddhist Thought3
E ASIAN 501 Fifth-year Chinese3
E ASIAN 520 Popular Culture and Film in Twentieth-Century China3
E ASIAN 651 History of Chinese Literature3
E ASIAN 652 History of Chinese Literature3
E ASIAN 661 History of Chinese Thought, Part 13
E ASIAN 662 History of Chinese Thought, Part 23
E ASIAN 671 Literary Studies in Chinese Drama3
E ASIAN 672 Literary Studies in Chinese Fiction3
E ASIAN 681 Senior Honors Thesis3
E ASIAN 682 Senior Honors Thesis3
E ASIAN 691 Senior Thesis3
E ASIAN 692 Senior Thesis3
E ASIAN 699 Directed Study2-3
ART HIST 308 Later Chinese Art: From the Tenth Century to the Present3
HISTORY/​E A STDS  341 History of Modern China, 1800-19493-4

Honors in the Major

Students may declare Honors in the Chinese Major in consultation with the Chinese undergraduate advisor.

Honors in the Chinese Major Requirements

To earn a B.A. or B.S. with Honors in the Major in Chinese students must satisfy both the requirements for the major (above) and the following additional requirements:

  • Earn a 3.300 overall university GPA
  • Earn a 3.300 for all E ASIAN courses, and all courses accepted in the major
  • Complete the following coursework:
    •  E ASIAN 699 Directed Study or other appropriate course of 3–4 credits with the major professor, under whose guidance a student intends to write a thesis. This course must be taken before E ASIAN 681 Senior Honors Thesis
    • A two-semester Senior Honors Thesis in E ASIAN 681 Senior Honors Thesis and E ASIAN 682 Senior Honors Thesis, for a total of 6 credits.

University Degree Requirements

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.
  1. Understand the content and cultural context of written texts and audiovisual materials with a large degree of independence, adapting style and speed of comprehension to different texts and purposes, and using appropriate reference sources selectively.
  2. Spontaneously exchange ideas about various topics with relative ease.
  3. State and support one’s own opinion while acknowledging others’ viewpoints.
  4. Demonstrate an awareness of the importance of pragmatic, sociolinguistic, and rhetorical features of the target language.
  5. Conduct library and/or internet-based research on topics relating to their particular interests and special fields of expertise, collecting and selecting relevant information using English and target language source materials.
  6. Synthesize and critically evaluate source materials in both English and the target language.
  7. Present (orally or in written language) their experiences and their introspection on these experiences in a coherent and effective manner.
  8. Demonstrate cultural awareness across historical epochs.
  9. Produce effective academic writing in English.

Undergraduate Advisor

Rachel Weiss
1244 Van Hise Hall
Schedule an advising appointment

Rachel is the advisor for the undergraduate majors and certificates in the Department of Asian Languages & Cultures. She is happy to meet with students as they explore the degree options or advance through their four-year plans.

L&S Career Initiative & Career Services
1305 Linden Drive, Suite 205

The Career Initiative and Career Services have joined together to prepare undergraduates for satisfying and rewarding careers.  Check out the L&S Career Initiative website to view progress and hear from notable L&S Alumni via the Vignettes page.

Language & International Directions Advising
Michael Kruse, International Directions Advisor

International Directions Advisor Michael Kruse provides academic and career advising to undergraduate students who are interested in languages and international area studies. Michael is available to meet with students from across campus to help connect them with academic programs and campus resources that fit their interests, as well as to discuss professional opportunities that draw on their language-learning and international experiences.


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.

undergraduate advisor

Undergraduate Advisor:
email Rachel Weiss
1244 Van Hise Hall


Department Administrator:
email Terry Nealon
1210 Van Hise Hall

email the Graduate Coordinator
1212 Van Hise Hall