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 placement tests.

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.

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 Science (B.S.)

Students pursuing a bachelor of science 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.


Mathematics Two (2) 3+ credits of intermediate/advanced level MATH, COMP SCI, STAT
Limit one each: COMP SCI, STAT
Foreign Language Complete the third unit of a 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 6 credits in biological science; and must include 6 credits in physical science
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 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 

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
Fifth Semester Japanese
and Sixth Semester Japanese
Fourth Year Japanese
Seventh Semester Japanese
and Eighth Semester Japanese
Pre-Modern Japanese Literature Survey
E ASIAN 353 Survey of Japanese Literature (or equivalent)3
Modern Japanese Literature Survey
E ASIAN 354 Survey of Japanese Literature3
Japanese History
ASIAN 253 Japanese Popular Culture3
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
Business Japanese Communication
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

Residence and quality of work

2.000 GPA in all major and SUBJECT courses

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
E ASIAN 354 Survey of 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 a B.A. or B.S. with 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 E ASIAN courses, and 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
    • 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
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

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 Chinese or 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
ASIAN 253 Japanese Popular Culture3
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


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