The Department of Asian Languages and Cultures offers a new interdisciplinary M.A. and Ph.D. program in Asian Languages and Cultures. Students may take advantage of the many opportunities within the department and on campus to do in-depth research on Asia from multiple disciplinary perspectives and across the traditional area studies divisions of East, South, and Southeast Asia. We welcome applications from students who are interested in working transregionally, transdisciplinarily, or both. This includes students with a traditional background in Asian Studies and related academic fields as well as those whose path to studying Asia has been through professional work. 

The Department of Asian Languages and Cultures has developed a lively intellectual community around Transasian Studies and is supporting student-led seminars, reading groups, workshops, and other events. Prospective graduate students are encouraged to reach out to faculty members who share their academic and research interests.

Asian Languages and Cultures is home to nearly twenty faculty whose research and teaching specialties cover a wide range of topics, including traditional medicine in India; the history of yoga; contemporary mindfulness practice with insights from Tibetan Buddhism; human rights in Thailand; Chinese ghost stories, traditional poetics and philology; sociolinguistics and discourse analysis of the Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, Indonesian languages; analysis of classical Japanese tale fiction, early modern comedic narratives, manga, and anime; and Japanese counterculture.

Asian Studies at UW–Madison has strong ties across departments, to research centers, area studies programs, extensive library connections, and alumni relations. 

Please consult the table below for key information about this degree program’s admissions requirements. The program may have more detailed admissions requirements, which can be found below the table or on the program’s website.

Graduate admissions is a two-step process between academic programs and the Graduate School. Applicants must meet the minimum requirements of the Graduate School as well as the program(s). Once you have researched the graduate program(s) you are interested in, apply online.

Fall Deadline January 10
Spring Deadline This program does not admit in the spring.
Summer Deadline This program does not admit in the summer.
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) Not Required.
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English must provide an English proficiency test score and meet the Graduate School minimum requirements (https://grad.wisc.edu/apply/requirements/#english-proficiency).
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

Thank you for your interest in our programs. The Department of Asian Languages and Cultures (ALC) offers a graduate program in Asian Languages and CulturesChinese and Japanese.

Prior to submitting application and materials, applicants should carefully review the information regarding the program of interest and the faculty’s expertise to determine the fit between their interest and the program. To this extent, prospective applicants may contact a specific faculty to discuss their research interest prior to submitting applications.

Applicants should also review the Graduate School's admission process, Graduate School's minimum requirements, and program requirements and information prior to submitting the online application and fee. The application fee cannot be waived or refunded.


We accept applications for the fall term only.

In order to be considered for fellowships, project assistantships, and teaching assistantships, all application materials must be in by January 10.

If you do not need any funding support, you may submit applications by April 15.

Application Process

New applicants to UW-Madison apply to programs through the Graduate School application process. Complete the online Graduate application and select the Asian Languages and Cultures (major code 597) or Chinese (major code 171) or Japanese (major code 583) program. 

If you are a currently enrolled UW-Madison graduate student and would like to add or change your current graduate program to Asian Languages and Cultures, Chinese, or Japanese, you do not need to fill out the online application. You will need to submit the following to the ALC Graduate Program Coordinator:

The applications from current UW–Madison graduate students will be reviewed every spring, together with new applications submitted.

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and restrictions related to funding.

Graduate Student Costs

For tuition and living costs, please view the Cost of Attendance pageInternational applicants recommended for admission to the Graduate School are required to show sufficient funds to attend the University during the course of studies (tuition, food and housing, incidentals and health insurance) to be officially accepted by the Graduate School.

Department Resources

The Department of Asian Languages and Cultures offers financial assistance in the forms of fellowships, teaching assistantships (TAships), and project assistantships (PAships). Please make note of the deadline of January 10 for financial assistance consideration. All necessary materials including test scores must be submitted by the deadline.

If you are an international applicant and receive a fellowship, PAship or TAship, please make note that you will likely be required to show additional financial documentation to meet the minimum required for your official acceptance to the Graduate School.

Other awards & Fellowships

  • 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.

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.

Complete details about FLAS at UW-Madison are available on the FLAS FAQs (your first stop) and the FLAS Languages & Coordinators pages (should you have additional questions).

  • Advanced Opportunity Fellowship (AOF): This fellowship is awarded to highly qualified underrepresented students. To be considered for AOF funding, prospective students must be new to the Graduate School and be admissible to a graduate program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  For further information: https://grad.wisc.edu/diversity/.
  • Project Assistantships. Availability of PAship vary from one year to another, depending on the types of projects the departmental faculty are engaged in. PAs assist faculty members’ research projects and/or respond to some programmatic needs of the department and other campus units.
  • Teaching Assistantships. Availability and types of TAship vary from one year to another, depending on the department’s curricular needs and the student enrollment. TAs will support a number of our language and culture courses, typically team-teaching with faculty members. If you are interested in being a teaching assistant in our language programs, you must submit the TA application and necessary materials (1-2 page written autobiography that refers to your prior teaching experience, letter of recommendation that speaks to your teaching experience, video recording of your teaching, if available) through the Graduate School application system by January 10.
  • Institute for Regional and International Studies (IRIS) Awards Office: IRIS manages its own funding opportunities (Scott Kloeck-Jenson Fellowships, IRIS Graduate Fieldwork Awards, Incubator Grants), coordinates the campus component of a number of external programs (Boren Fellowships, Fulbright US Student Program, Fulbright-Hays DDRA, Luce Scholars Program), assists students, faculty, and staff in exploring funding options, and much more. Visit: https://iris.wisc.edu/funding/ for more information on awards. Contact Mark Lilleleht, Assistant Director for Awards, with questions at awards@iris.wisc.edu & 608-265-6070.
  • Other Forms of Financial Aid: Loans and some on-campus job openings are handled through the Office of Student Financial Aid. Please contact them to obtain more information.
  • Students may also obtain information from the Grants Information Center in the Memorial Library, Room 262, 728 State Street, Madison, WI 53706. Phone 608-262-3242.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements


Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions

Accelerated: Accelerated programs are offered at a fast pace that condenses the time to completion. Students typically take enough credits aimed at completing the program in a year or two.

Evening/Weekend: ​Courses meet on the UW–Madison campus only in evenings and/or on weekends to accommodate typical business schedules.  Students have the advantages of face-to-face courses with the flexibility to keep work and other life commitments.

Face-to-Face: Courses typically meet during weekdays on the UW-Madison Campus.

Hybrid: These programs combine face-to-face and online learning formats.  Contact the program for more specific information.

Online: These programs are offered 100% online.  Some programs may require an on-campus orientation or residency experience, but the courses will be facilitated in an online format.


Minimum Credit Requirement 51 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 32 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement 51 credits must be graduate-level coursework. Details can be found in the Graduate School’s Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) policy (https://policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1244).
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
This program follows the Graduate School's GPA Requirement policy
Other Grade Requirements Students must earn a B or above in all coursework (300 or above, not including research credits) taken as a graduate student.
Assessments and Examinations The preliminary exam must be taken within 1 semester after completing doctoral coursework. Comprehensive written preliminary exams will be based on reading lists developed with the committee. These exams have four parts: general competence in major field; secondary field; theory and method; and specialized area of dissertation focus. The preliminary examination will be evaluated by a committee of at least three members (the co-advisors and an additional faculty member).

Successful completion of the exam process will also require research language competence as demonstrated through examinations in one or more languages as determined by the advisors.

A dissertation proposal must be approved within 1 year after completing prelim exams. An oral defense of the proposal will be evaluated by the committee.
Language Requirements Additional language coursework beyond the M.A. requirements is not required in general, but students must gain sufficient competence to pass the research language exams required by the advisors.
Graduate School Breadth Requirement A doctoral minor or Graduate/Professional certificate is not a requirement, but a student, in consultation with their advisors, may choose to complete either.

Required Courses

  • At least 15 credits in Asia-related graduate courses in the department or elsewhere on campus
  • At most 6 credits of other courses as approved by the advisors
  • Additional language coursework beyond the M.A. requirements is not required in general, but students must gain sufficient competence to pass the research language exams required by the advisors. Language study at the third year level and beyond can count toward the total degree credits to a maximum of 6 credits past the M.A.

Students may take courses and seminars drawn from offerings in other departments or within Asian Languages and Cultures, as decided in collaboration between student and the co-advisors, such as:

ASIAN 300 Topics in Asian Studies3
ASIAN 301 Social Studies Topics in East Asian Studies3
ASIAN/​RELIG ST  306 Hinduism3
ASIAN/​RELIG ST  307 A Survey of Tibetan Buddhism3
ASIAN/​HISTORY/​RELIG ST  308 Introduction to Buddhism3-4
ASIAN 311 Modern Indian Literatures3
ASIAN/​HISTORY  319 The Vietnam Wars3-4
ASIAN/​HISTORY  335 The Koreas: Korean War to the 21st Century3-4
ASIAN/​HISTORY  337 Social and Intellectual History of China, 589 AD-19193-4
ASIAN/​HISTORY  341 History of Modern China, 1800-19493-4
ASIAN/​HISTORY  342 History of the Peoples Republic of China, 1949 to the Present3-4
ASIAN 351 Survey of Classical Chinese Literature3
ASIAN 352 Survey of Modern Chinese Literature3
ASIAN 353 Lovers, Warriors and Monks: Survey of Japanese Literature3
ASIAN 354 Early Modern Japanese Literature3
ASIAN 355 Modern Japanese Literature3
ASIAN 358 Language in Japanese Society3
ASIAN 361 Love and Politics: The Tale of Genji3
ASIAN/​HISTORY  363 China and World War II in Asia3-4
ASIAN 367 Haiku3
ASIAN/​AFRICAN/​RELIG ST  370 Islam: Religion and Culture3-4
ASIAN 371 Topics in Chinese Literature3
ASIAN 375 Survey of Chinese Film3
ASIAN 376 Manga3
ASIAN 378 Anime3
ASIAN/​ART HIST  379 Cities of Asia3
ASIAN 403 Southeast Asian Literature3
ASIAN/​ART HIST  428 Visual Cultures of India3
ASIAN/​RELIG ST  430 Indian Traditions in the Modern Age3
ASIAN 432 Introduction to Chinese Linguistics3
ASIAN 433 Topics in East Asian Visual Cultures3
ASIAN 434 Introduction to Japanese Linguistics3
ASIAN/​HISTORY/​RELIG ST  438 Buddhism and Society in Southeast Asian History3-4
ASIAN/​RELIG ST  444 Introduction to Sufism (Islamic Mysticism)3
ASIAN/​HISTORY  454 Samurai: History and Image3-4
ASIAN/​HISTORY  456 Pearl Harbor & Hiroshima: Japan, the US & The Crisis in Asia3-4
ASIAN/​HISTORY  458 History of Southeast Asia Since 18003-4
ASIAN/​RELIG ST  460 The History of Yoga3
ASIAN/​HISTORY  463 Topics in South Asian History3
ASIAN/​RELIG ST  466 Buddhist Thought3
ASIAN/​RELIG ST  473 Meditation in Indian Buddhism and Hinduism3
ASIAN/​ENGL  478 Indian Writers Abroad: Literature, Diaspora and Globalization3
ASIAN/​RELIG ST  505 The Perfectible Body in Religions, Medicines, and Politics3
ASIAN 533 Readings in Early Modern Japanese Literature3
ASIAN 563 Readings in Modern Japanese Literature3
ASIAN 571 Readings in Classical Chinese Literature1-3
ASIAN 573 Readings in Classical Japanese Literature3
ASIAN 600 Capstone Seminar in Asian Humanities3
ASIAN/​ART HIST  621 Mapping, Making, and Representing Colonial Spaces3
ASIAN 642 History of Chinese Literature II3
ASIAN 655 Ethnography in Asia3
ASIAN 630 Proseminar: Studies in Cultures of Asia3
ASIAN 631 History of the Chinese Language3
ASIAN 632 Studies in Chinese Linguistics3
ASIAN 641 History of Chinese Literature I3
ASIAN/​RELIG ST  650 Proseminar in Buddhist Thought2-3
ASIAN 671 Literary Studies in Chinese Drama3
ASIAN 672 Studies in Chinese Fiction3
ASIAN 698 Directed Study2-3
ASIAN 699 Directed Study2-3
ASIAN 700 Teaching Asian Languages2-3
ASIAN 701 Proseminar in Chinese Literature3
ASIAN 712 Teaching of Chinese3
ASIAN 713 Teaching of Japanese as a Foreign Language3
ASIAN 741 Studies in Chinese Syntax and Morphology3
ASIAN 761 Studies in Chinese Historical Texts3
ASIAN 762 Studies in Chinese Philosophical Texts3
ASIAN 763 Studies in Japanese Literature3
ASIAN 775 Japanese Applied Linguistics3
ASIAN 799 Reading for Research1-3
ASIAN 815 Seminar: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Asia3
ASIAN 833 Topics in East Asian Visual Cultures3
ASIAN/​HISTORY  857 Seminar-History of India (South Asia)1-3
ASIAN 873 Seminar in Languages and Literatures of Asia3
ASIAN 932 Seminar in Chinese Linguistics2-3
ASIAN 951 Seminar in Chinese Literature3
ASIAN 971 Seminar in Chinese Thought3
ASIAN 990 Thesis Research3
ASIAN 999 Independent Research1-3

Program Pathway1

Students may choose to focus their studies in a thematic track, such as; Asian Religions, Asian Medical and Health Humanities, and Asian Rights, Violence, and Law. Initially working with two co-advisors, each student will craft a program of coursework that combines Asia-focused courses with disciplinary study in and beyond the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures. This may include linkages with other departments as well as UW-Madison’s rich array of centers and programs, including the Center for Healthy MindsCenter for Visual CulturesHuman Rights ProgramReligious Studies Program, and the Center for East Asian Studies, the Center for South Asia, and the Center for Southeast Asian Studies.


These pathways are internal to the program and represent different curricular paths a student can follow to earn this degree. Pathway names do not appear in the Graduate School admissions application, and they will not appear on the transcript.


Asian Medical and Health Humanities Pathway
The M.A. and Ph.D. in Asian Languages and Cultures welcomes students interested to do interdisciplinary research that employs theories and methods in medicine and health humanities to probe questions in Asian societies and histories about healthcare, patienthood, embodiment, and psychology. Students may work in a transasian perspective and will be encouraged to work across multiple disciplines, including anthropology, history of science, literature, cognitive science and religious studies. Drawing on the  resources in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures and across the UW-Madison campus, students may examine such things as the imperial, cultural, and structural-economic matrixes that impact human flourishing and suffering in Asian societies; the spread of biomedicine in Asia and Cold War politics; the appropriation of traditional modalities and contemplative practices such as mindfulness and yoga into contemporary medical contexts; links between western biomedicine and the politics of nation building under and after colonialism in Asia; and the entwined histories of religion, politics, and medicine in premodern Asian societies. 
Core Faculty: BuhnemannCerulliDunne

Asian Religions Pathway
The M.A. and Ph.D. in Asian Languages and Cultures welcomes students interested to do interdisciplinary research on the numerous religious traditions of East Asia, the Himalayan region, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. Students may focus on one or more traditions, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Zoroastrianism. Study of such traditions, whether in their past or present forms, using a combination of approaches, such as philology, history, ethnography and philosophy, is generally conducted with faculty members in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures as well as affiliates in other units on campus, including Religious Studies, Art History, History, Comparative Literature, the Center for Healthy Minds, and UW-Madison's area studies centers. 
Core Faculty: BuhnemannCerulliDunne

Asian Rights, Violence and Law Pathway
How are rights, law and justice understood and experienced comparatively in and beyond Asia? How are rights violated and promoted by states and citizens? How does violence – regional, state, communal – and its memory reshape societies and nations? What are the manifestations of the rule of law and its opposites? What representations and metaphors for justice are found in art, film, and literature?  The M.A. and Ph.D. program in Transasian Studies particularly welcomes students who would like to answer these and other questions comparatively, either across multiple countries, and/or drawing on more than one disciplinary approach, including history, literature, law, political science, art, and anthropology.
Core Faculty: Haberkorn Affiliate FacultyMcCoy

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-Specific Policies

Prior Coursework

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.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

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

UW–Madison University Special

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 9 credits of graduate coursework 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.


This program follows the Graduate School's Probation policy.


Starting fall 2018, all students are required to be supervised by co-advisors. One of the co-advisors must be a member of the Asian Languages and Cultures program, but the other co-advisor can be identified from related fields outside of the department at UW-Madison.

At the point of beginning work on the dissertation, a single dissertation advisor (most likely one of the co-advisors) may be chosen, or the co-advising arrangement may continue for the dissertation as well.

Dissertation committees must have at least four members representing more than one graduate program, three of whom must be UW–Madison graduate faculty or former UW–Madison graduate faculty up to one year after resignation or retirement. At least one of the four members must be from outside of the student’s major program or major field (often from the minor field).


15 credits

Time limits

This program follows the Graduate School's Time Limits policy.

Grievances and Appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

Students should contact the department chair or program director with questions about grievances. They may also contact the L&S Academic Divisional Associate Deans, the L&S Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning Administration, or the L&S Director of Human Resources.



Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

Program resources

Throughout the academic year, professional development trainings, workshops, and graduate student-organized activities take place. The Director of Graduate Studies is eager to hear from students about what interests they have for such events. 

GRADUATE SCHOOL Office of PRofessional Development

The Graduate School Office of Professional Development (OPD) coordinates, develops, and promotes learning opportunities to foster the academic, professional, and life skills of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers and scholars.

Professional development topics include Individual Development Plans, communication, mentoring, grant writing, dissertation writing, career exploration, job search strategies, and more. OPD collaborates with the Writing Center, Libraries, DoIT Software Training for Students, Delta, career centers, and others to provide a wealth of resources and events tailored to the needs of UW–Madison graduate students.

The office developed and maintains DiscoverPD, an innovative tool for UW–Madison graduate students to advance their academic and professional goals. DiscoverPD introduces nine areas (or "facets") of professional development, includes a self-assessment, and provides a customized report of areas of strength and weakness. The report comes with recommendations to help graduate students strengthen their ability within each area.

More information on campus resources for student professional development is available at Graduate Student Professional Development. Students may keep up-to-date by reading GradConnections, the weekly newsletter for graduate students, and bookmarking the Events Calendar to keep tabs on upcoming workshops of interest.

  1. Demonstrate a thorough and in-depth understanding of research problems, potentials, and limits with respect to theory, knowledge, or practice in the selected area of the student's focus.
  2. Formulate ideas, concepts, designs, and/or techniques beyond the current boundaries of knowledge within the specialized field(s).
  3. Create scholarship and advance knowledge that makes a substantive contribution to the field(s).
  4. Articulate and communicate complex ideas in a clear and understandable manner to both specialized and general audiences.
  5. Recognize, apply, and foster ethical and professional conduct.

Faculty & Staff

Please visit the Asian Languages & Cultures website for a complete list of faculty, instructional, and academic staff.