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

Majors 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 Japanese credits from high school or summer sessions may enter advanced courses on the basis of department recommendation.

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

Study Abroad in Japan

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 Japanese 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:

E ASIAN 101 First Semester Chinese6
E ASIAN 103 First Semester Japanese6
E ASIAN 121 Elementary Chinese3
E ASIAN 123 Elementary Japanese3
E ASIAN/​LCA/​RELIG ST  235 Genres of Asian Religious Writing3
E ASIAN/​HISTORY/​RELIG ST  267 Asian Religions in Global Perspective3-4
E ASIAN/​HISTORY/​LCA/​RELIG ST  308 Introduction to Buddhism3-4
E ASIAN 367 Japanese Poetic Tradition3-4
E ASIAN 434 Introduction to Japanese Linguistics3
LITTRANS 231 Manga3
LITTRANS 232 Anime3
LITTRANS 263 Survey of Japanese Literature in Translation3
LITTRANS 264 Survey of Japanese Literature in Translation3
LITTRANS 368 Modern Japanese Fiction3
LITTRANS 372 Classical Japanese Prose in Translation3
LITTRANS 373 Topics in Japanese Literature3

Placement Tests

The department requires that students who are new to our program take a placement test before enrolling in a language course beyond the first semester level. More information here.

declaring the major

Students may declare the major at any time during their undergraduate career and their study of Japanese. You are urged to meet with the undergraduate advisor in advance of declaring the major to discuss the requirements

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.  Please note that the following special degree programs are not considered majors so are not available to non–L&S degree-seeking candidates:  

  • Applied Mathematics, Engineering and Physics (Bachelor of Science–Applied Mathematics, Engineering and Physics)
  • Journalism (Bachelor of Arts–Journalism; Bachelor of Science–Journalism)
  • Music (Bachelor of Music)
  • Social Work (Bachelor of Social Work)

Requirements for the Major 

Requirements for the Major

First and Second Year Language
First Year Japanese, select one of the following options:
First Semester Japanese
and Second Semester Japanese (or equivalent)
Elementary Japanese
and Elementary Japanese
and Second Semester Japanese
Second Year Japanese
Third Semester Japanese
and Fourth Semester Japanese (or equivalent)
28 credits of Advanced Studies
Third Year Japanese
E ASIAN 303
E ASIAN 304
Fifth Semester Japanese
and Sixth Semester Japanese
8
Fourth Year Japanese
E ASIAN 403
E ASIAN 404
Seventh Semester Japanese
and Eighth Semester Japanese
6
Pre-Modern Japanese Literature Survey
E ASIAN 353 Survey of Japanese Literature (or equivalent)3
Modern Japanese Literature Survey
ASIAN 355 Modern Japanese Literature3
Japanese History
ASIAN 253 Japanese Popular Culture3-4
or HISTORY/​E A STDS  104 Introduction to East Asian History: Japan
Select 5 credits from the following:5
First Year Classical Japanese
Intermediate Japanese Conversation
Language in Japanese Society
Masterworks of Japanese Literature: The Tale of Genji
Japanese Poetic Tradition
Manga.
Business Japanese Communication
Topics in Japanese: Study Abroad
Anime
Introduction to Japanese Linguistics
Readings in Modern Japanese Literature
Readings in Modern Japanese Literature
Readings in Classical Japanese Literature
Readings in Classical Japanese Literature
Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Thesis
Senior Thesis
Directed Study
Modern Japanese Fiction
Classical Japanese Prose in Translation
Topics in Japanese Literature
Total Credits28-29

Residence and quality of work

2.000 GPA in all courses that count toward the major

2.000 GPA in 15 upper-level major credits in residence1

15 credits, in the major, taken on campus

1 Courses in Japanese that count toward upper-level major requirement are:

E ASIAN 303 Fifth Semester Japanese4
E ASIAN 304 Sixth Semester Japanese4
E ASIAN 323 First Year Classical Japanese3
E ASIAN 335 Intermediate Japanese Conversation3
E ASIAN 353 Survey of Japanese Literature3
ASIAN 355 Modern Japanese Literature3
E ASIAN 358 Language in Japanese Society3
E ASIAN 361 Masterworks of Japanese Literature: The Tale of Genji3
E ASIAN 367 Japanese Poetic Tradition3-4
E ASIAN/​E P D  377 Business Japanese Communication3
E ASIAN 378 Anime3
E ASIAN 403 Seventh Semester Japanese3
E ASIAN 404 Eighth Semester Japanese3
E ASIAN 434 Introduction to Japanese Linguistics3
E ASIAN 563 Readings in Modern Japanese Literature3
E ASIAN 564 Readings in Modern Japanese Literature3
E ASIAN 573 Readings in Classical Japanese Literature3
E ASIAN 574 Readings in Classical Japanese Literature3
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
HISTORY/​E A STDS  454 Samurai: History and Image3-4
LITTRANS 368 Modern Japanese Fiction3
LITTRANS 372 Classical Japanese Prose in Translation3
LITTRANS 373 Topics in Japanese Literature3

Distinction in the Major

Students majoring in Japanese 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.

Honors in the Major

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

Honors in the Japanese Major: Requirements

To earn Honors in the Major in Japanese, 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 GPA for all courses accepted in the major
  • Complete the following courses:
    • Either 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 taking the Senior Honors Thesis and must be completed with a grade of B or better.
    • Complete 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 video 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
608-890-0138
rweiss@wisc.edu
Schedule an advising appointment

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


L&S career resources

SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science helps students leverage the academic skills learned in their major, certificates, and liberal arts degree; explore and try out different career paths; participate in internships; prepare for the job search and/or graduate school applications; and network with professionals in the field (alumni and employers).

SuccessWorks can also assist students in career advising, résumé and cover letter writing, networking opportunities, and interview skills, as well as course offerings for undergraduates to begin their career exploration early in their undergraduate career. 


International Directions Advising

Language Institute

The Language Institute provides academic and career advising to undergraduate students interested in languages and international area studies. The International Directions advisor provides academic and career advising to undergraduate students who are interested in languages and international area studies. Learn more.

Faculty

Asian Languages and Cultures is home to nearly twenty faculty whose research and teaching specialities range from medical humanities in India, the Hinduist roots of yoga, or inflecting contemporary mindfulness practice with insights from Tibetan buddhism, to human rights in Thailand - from Chinese ghost stories, traditional Sinology, and mathematically inflected Chinese philology, to sociolinguistics, discourse analysis, and pragmatics in Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, and Indonesian - and from critical reading of late-Heian tale fiction, early modern Japanese comedic narratives, and haiku, to manga, anime, and Japanese counterculture.

East Asia

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

Naomi Geyer (Associate Professor). Area: Japanese Language

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

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

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

Tyrell Haberkorn (Associate Professor) Area: Violence, Human Rights, Sovereignty, Arbitrary Detention, Land Rights, Agrarian Struggle, Historiographies of Repression, Gender Studies, Socialism, Dissident Literature, Southeast Asia (Thailand). 

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
608-890-0138

staff

Department Administrator:
email Alyson Amenda
1240 Van Hise Hall
608-262-0524

Financial Specialist:
email Haiyan Wei
1238 Van Hise Hall
608-890-0138

Department Scholarships


Cameron G. Keith Memorial Scholarship 

This award is given annually to two undergraduate students studying Japanese. This award is annouced during the fall semester, and eligible students may apply. The criteria are: Japanese major, junior or senior standing, cumulative GPA of 3.5 or above, currently taking Japanese, and plan to go into a Japanese related profession. Cameron G. Keith was an East Asian Studies and Economics studies major at UW-Madison who studied abroad in Japan, and later in Nepal. In his memory, the Keith family established these funds in memory of his interest in the region.


Ellen and William E. Fisher Scholarship

Ellen and William E. Fisher have provided funding for an annual scholarship to be awarded to an undergraduate student at the UW-Madison who is studying the Chinese language.  According to the terms of the gift agreement, the award is based on merit, therefore there is no application, but faculty will make a determination based on students progressing in the program. Mr. Fisher stipulated that the award must be made in the Fall semester, so that the recipient can use it in the Spring semester. 

Chou Kuo-p'ing Book Award
 
Several awards will be given each year to undergraduate students who are studying and will continue to study Chinese during the following semester. This award is made possible through a donation by Professor Emerita Chou Kuo-p’ing, the founder of the Chinese program here at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Professor Chou, a dedicated teacher, devoted her entire career to teaching, promoting and developing Chinese studies in Wisconsin. Professor Chou was very active during her teaching career, and often helped financially disadvantaged students, especially those who excelled in their academic careers despite economic difficulties. Although this award is based mainly on the applicant’s academic performance, special consideration is given to those who are financially disadvantaged in order to carry on this tradition.

Lawrence Louey Merit Scholarship
 
The Lawrence Louey Merit Scholarship is an annual competition recognizing an undergraduate Chinese major in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures with a $1000 award. Eligibility: You must be a graduating senior with a GPA above 3.75 and have taken at least three years of Chinese. An application is required for consideration, including a brief career plan, as well as a research paper from one of your major field courses. 

Other campus resources

Scholarships@UW-Madison
This is the primary campus wide portal for applicants, current students, and everyone looking for scholarship opporunities on campus.


Undergraduate Academic Awards Office
We help UW-Madison undergraduates and recent graduates pursue nationally competitive scholarships and campus-wide awards for research, service and leadership—activities at the heart of the Wisconsin Experience. We can help you:

  • Find scholarship opportunities that match your goals and interests
  • Navigate the scholarship application process
  • Review scholarship essays
  • Prepare for national scholarship interviews

Contact us to schedule an appointment​ to discuss which opportunities are right for you.


Foreign Language & Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships
FLAS fellowships are funded by the U.S. Department of Education and administered by the UW's National Resource Centers to assist students in acquiring foreign language and either area or international studies competencies. FLAS awards are only available for specific languages, and are contingent on federal funding. Please direct any questions to the FLAS Coordinator of your chosen language.

Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the United States. Applications by students in professional fields are encouraged. Preference will be given to applicants with a high level of academic ability and with previous language training. Academic Year and Summer FLAS awards are two separate competitions requiring two separate and complete applications.

National scholarships

Boren Scholarships 
These scholarships provide up to $20,000 to U.S. undergraduate students to study abroad in areas of the world that are critical to U.S. interests and underrepresented in study abroad, including Africa, Asia, Central & Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East. The countries of Western Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are excluded. (Full list of preferred countries) Additionally, all programs must include formal study of an appropriate foreign language. (Full list of preferred languages). Undergraduates with questions about the Boren Scholarship should contact Matt Geisler, Associate Director of International Academic Programs. 


Critical Language Scholarship Program

The CLS program is part of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. It is a fully-funded overseas intensive language and cultural immersion program for American undergraduate and graduate students. With the goal of broadening the base of Americans studying and mastering critical languages and to build relationships between the people of the United States and other countries, CLS provides opportunities to a diverse range of students from across the United States at every level of language learning.

The fourteen CLS languages are: Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Swahili, Turkish, and Urdu.

The CLS Program seeks participants with diverse interests, from a wide variety of fields of study, backgrounds and career paths, with the purpose of representing the full diversity of the United States. Thus, students from all academic disciplines, including business, engineering, law, medicine, science, social sciences, arts and humanities are encouraged to apply.


Gilman Scholarship Program
Campus Representative: Andy Quackenbush

The Gilman Scholarship Program is an undergraduate grant program for U.S. citizens of limited financial means to enable them to study abroad, thereby internationalizing their outlook and better preparing them to assume significant roles in the increasingly global economy.