The 21st century has been called the “Asian Century”: indeed, many of the world's most pressing issues cannot be understood without a grasp of the histories, cultures, and languages of Asia. Asia is home to over half of the world's population. China, Japan, and India are three of the world’s top economies. For decades Asian countries have been leaders in global manufacturing, and Asian universities are renowned centers for literary studies and scientific innovation. Fifty percent of the declared nuclear-weapon states are also in the region. Simply put, Asia matters a great deal.

The Department of Asian Languages and Cultures offers a wide variety of courses on East, South, and Southeast Asia taught by faculty who are specialists in their regions and disciplines. Whether you are taking your first step toward learning about Asia or you bring some background experience, an ALC major will expand your ability to think and work across cultural and linguistic boundaries. Majors may opt to study Asia in a transnational and transhistorical perspective or in a more focused course of study by choosing one of our named options in East Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia.

To take advantage of the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures’ many relationships with other departments and program units across campus, students may choose to double major or enhance their studies in ALC with one of the certificates offered at the university, such as the Certificate in Global Health, the Certificate in Health and the Humanities, or those offered by the area studies centers.

This major is interdisciplinary and offers a wealth of options. Careful planning and consultation with the ALC undergraduate advisor is especially important.

East Asia
The East Asian Studies named option offers a multidisciplinary range of courses that explore the diverse and vibrant cultures, arts, histories, political systems, and literatures of China, Japan, Korea and Tibet. Students in the East Asian option can study Chinese, Japanese, Korean or Tibetan language and linguistics; and explore Chinese ghost stories and classical Chinese literature or poetry; Korean cinema and pop culture; classical Japanese fiction; early modern comedic narratives, manga, anime, and counterculture.

South Asia
The South Asian Studies named option offers a multidisciplinary range of courses that explore the diverse and vibrant cultures, arts, histories, political systems, and literatures of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Tibet. Students in the South Asian option can study Hindi, Persian, Sanskrit, Tibetan, or Urdu language; the roots of Yoga; methods of Buddhist philosophy and meditation; South Asian religion and politics in the past and present of the Indian subcontinent; and medical history in South Asia. 

Southeast Asia
The Southest Asian Studies named option offers a multidisciplinary range of courses that explore the diverse and vibrant cultures, arts, histories, political systems, and literatures of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam. Students in the Southeast Asian option can study Burmese, Filipino, Hmong, Indonesian, Khmer, Thai, and Vietnamese language; Human rights in Thailand; literature of the region; and history and politics in Southeast Asia. 


Students who who have prior experience in a language that is offered during the academic year must 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 declare the major, students must meet with the undergraduate advisor to review the requirements and discuss course options. Students may declare the major prior to completing the requisite language courses (1st and 2nd semester).

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 86th 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.  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

Students must take 32 credits as follows: 2

Introductory Course

ASIAN 100 (Gateway to Asia) 13-4
or ASIAN 300

Intermediate Language Coursework

Complete one pair of courses (8 credits):2

East Asian languages




South Asian languages





Southeast Asian languages








Major Breadth


Complete 9 credits from the following course options:
ASIAN 203 3
ASIAN 206 3
ASIAN 218 3-4
ASIAN 236 3
ASIAN 253 3
ASIAN 267 3-4
ASIAN 268 3
ASIAN 274 3
ASIAN 299 1-3
ASIAN 307 3
ASIAN 311 3
ASIAN 351 3
ASIAN 352 3
ASIAN 353 3
ASIAN 354 3
ASIAN 355 3
ASIAN 358 3
ASIAN 361 3
ASIAN 367 3
ASIAN 370 3-4
ASIAN 371 3
ASIAN 372 1-6
ASIAN 373 1-6
ASIAN 375 3
ASIAN 376 3
ASIAN 378 3
ASIAN 379 3
ASIAN 403 3
ASIAN 428 3
ASIAN 430 3
ASIAN 431 3
ASIAN 432 3
ASIAN 433 3
ASIAN 434 3
ASIAN 444 3
ASIAN 460 3
ASIAN 463 3
ASIAN 466 3
ASIAN 473 3
ASIAN 478 3
ANTHRO 358 3
ART HIST 203 3-4
ART HIST 305 3
ART HIST 307 3
ART HIST 308 3
ART HIST 371 3-4
ART HIST 372 3-4
ART HIST 373 3
ART HIST 375 3-4
ART HIST 411 3-4
ART HIST 475 3
ART HIST 478 (Asian Studies Topic required)3
COM ARTS 310 (Asian Studies Topic required)3
COM ARTS 470 (Asian Studies Topic required)3
DANCE 321 2
DANCE 421 2
ENVIR ST 356 3-4
FOLKLORE 467 (Asian Studies Topic required)3
or ASIAN 352
LITTRANS 261 undefined
or ASIAN 353

Social Science

Complete 9 credits from the following course options:
ASIAN 103 3-4
ASIAN 104 3-4
ASIAN 108 3-4
ASIAN 244 4
ASIAN 246 4
ASIAN 252 4
ASIAN 255 3-4
ASIAN 276 3-4
ASIAN 277 2
ASIAN 306 3
ASIAN 308 3-4
ASIAN 319 3-4
ASIAN 335 3-4
ASIAN 341 3-4
ASIAN 342 3-4
ASIAN 363 3-4
ASIAN 438 3-4
ASIAN 454 3-4
ASIAN 456 3-4
ASIAN 458 3-4
A A E 473 3
ANTHRO 310 (Asian Studies Topic required)3
ANTHRO 330 (Asian Studies Topic required)3-4
ANTHRO 350 (Asian Studies Topic required)3-4
ANTHRO 352 (Asian Studies Topic required)3
ANTHRO 357 3-4
ANTHRO 358 3
GEOG 340 3
GEOG 358 3
HISTORY 142 3-4
HISTORY 336 3-4
HISTORY 337 3-4
HISTORY 340 3-4
HISTORY 341 3-4
HISTORY 457 3-4
HISTORY 458 3-4
POP HLTH 640 1
POP HLTH 644 1
POP HLTH 645 1-6
POLI SCI 322 3-4
POLI SCI 323 3-4
POLI SCI 324 3-4
POLI SCI 327 3
POLI SCI 328 3-4
POLI SCI 346 3-4
SOC 225 3


Complete one course for at least 3 credits:
ASIAN 505 3
ASIAN 563 3
ASIAN 571 1-3
ASIAN 573 3
ASIAN 600 3
ASIAN 620 3
ASIAN 621 3
ASIAN 630 3
ASIAN 631 3
ASIAN 641 3
ASIAN 650 2-3
ASIAN 671 3
ASIAN 672 3
ASIAN 681 3
ASIAN 682 3
ASIAN 691 3
ASIAN 692 3
ASIAN 698 2-3
ASIAN 699 2-3
ASIALANG 421 3-4
ASIALANG 422 3-4
GEOG 557 3

Named Options

Residence and Quality of Work

  • 2.000 GPA in all ASIAN, ASIALANG, and approved courses for the major
  • 2.000 GPA in 15 upper-level major credits, taken in residence3
  • 15 credits in the major, taken in residence

Honors in the Major

Honors in the Major is not currently available for this major.  


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. Broad regional grounding: Understand the variation within and similarities across Asia with reference to historical and contemporary cultural connections (people, societies, languages, literatures, religions, and cultural genres).
  2. Multidisciplinarity: Become familiar and proficient with multiple perspectives scholars use to study Asia and use them as resources in their own self-reflective thinking.
  3. Depth of knowledge: Employ relevant theoretical and methodological approaches to arrive at informed understandings of key issues involving the environment, human rights, cultural practices, structures of power, etc. based on an understanding of the social and cultural ties within Asia as well as between Asia and the rest of the globe.
  4. Analytical skills: Critically examine taken-for-granted notions and stereotypes and to inquire into the process of their construction. They will also be able to read, analyze and explain the significance of Asian texts and artifacts (literary, cultural, historical, and popular culture).
  5. Language and cultural competence: Manage basic everyday communication needs in at least one Asian language; understand the relationship between language and culture; and understand how to study a new language and culture and how to advance their proficiency as life-long learners.

Sample Four-Year Plan

This Sample Four-Year Plan is a tool to assist students and their advisor(s). Students should use it—along with their DARS report, the Degree Planner, and Course Search & Enroll tools—to make their own four-year plan based on their placement scores, credit for transferred courses and approved examinations, and individual interests. As students become involved in athletics, honors, research, student organizations, study abroad, volunteer experiences, and/or work, they might adjust the order of their courses to accommodate these experiences. Students will likely revise their own four-year plan several times during college.

First Year
Communication A3Quantitative Reasoning A3-4
Foreign Language4Biological Science Breadth3
ASIAN 100 or ASIAN 300 (Required Introductory Course)3-4Ethnic Studies4
Major Breadth: Humanities3-4Foreign Language Course4
 15 15
Second Year
Quantitative Reasoning B3Science Breadth3
Physical Science Breadth3Communication B3-4
Intermediate Language Course4Intermediate Language Course4
Major Breadth: Humanities3-4Major Breadth: Social Science3-4
INTER-LS 2101 
 15 15
Third Year
Literature Breadth3Literature Breadth3
Science Breadth3Major Breadth: Social Science Course3-4
Social Science Breadth4ASIAN 699 (Optional)3
 15 15
Fourth Year
Major Breadth: Social Science Course3-4Capstone Course (Major Requirement)3-4
ASIAN 681 or ASIAN 691 (Optional)3ASIAN 682 or ASIAN 692 (Optional)3
 15 15
Total Credits 120

Undergraduate Advisor

Rachel Weiss
1244 Van Hise Hall
Schedule an advising appointment in Starfish. You can access Starfish from you MyUW dashboard.

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, prepare for study abroad or advance through their four-year plans.



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.

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). In short, SuccessWorks helps students in the College of Letters & Science discover themselves, find opportunities, and develop the skills they need for success after graduation.

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. 

Students should set up their profiles in Handshake to take care of everything they need to explore career events, manage their campus interviews, and apply to jobs and internships from 200,000+ employers around the country.


Asian Languages and Cultures is home to nearly twenty faculty whose research and teaching specialities cover a wide range of topics, including traditional medicine in India; the Hinduist roots of yoga; diversifying 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, anime, and Japanese counterculture. Visit our faculty pages for more information on areas of expertise, current research, teaching and publications.

Erlin Barnard
Faculty Associate
Fields of Study: Language Pedagogy; Materials Development; Second Language Acquisition

Gudrun Bühnemann
Fields of Study: Sanskrit language and literature; Buddhism in India and Nepal; Hinduism; Tantrism and Yoga Studies

Anthony Cerulli
Associate Professor       
Fields of Study: Hinduism; Religion in South Asia; Medical Humanities; History of Medicine in India; Sanskrit Language and Literature; Kerala History and Culture

Charo D'Etcheverry
Associate Professor       
Fields of Study: Classical Japanese literature (especially court fiction and its reception and early kabuki)

Anatoly Detwyler
Assistant Professor
Fields of Study: Modern Chinese literature and history, comparative new media, information studies

John D. Dunne
Fields of Study: Buddhist philosophy and contemplative practice; Religious Studies; Cognitive Science of Religion; Contemplative Science

Naomi Geyer
Associate Professor       
Fields of Study: Japanese Language, Language Pedagogy, Pragmatics

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

Rania Huntington
Fields of Study: Ming and Qing narrative and drama, literature of the weird and supernatural, memory in literature, depiction of women in literature

Seunggon Jeong
Faculty Associate
Field of Study: Korean language

Adam L. Kern
Fields of Study: The popular literature, culture, poetry, theater, and visual culture of early modern unto modern Japan (1600-1900). Transcultural comics in Japan (manga, kibyôshi, etc) and beyond.

Hieyoon Kim
Assistant Professor
Fields of Study: Cinema; Media activism; Cultural Studies; History of Modern and Contemporary Korea

Byung-jin Lim
Associate Professor       
Fields of Study: Korean Language and Linguistics, Second/Foreign Language Acquisition, Computer-Mediated Communication, Korean Language Textbook Development

Junko Mori
Fields of Study: Japanese Linguistics, Applied Linguistics, Conversation Analysis, Sociolinguistics

Takako Nakakubo
Faculty Associate           
Fields of Study: Second Language Acquisition of Japanese, Japanese Pedagogy, Learning Strategies

William Nienhauser
Fields of Study: Early traditional fiction and history; early poetry (especially Du Fu and Tao Qian)

Steve Ridgely
Associate Professor       
Fields of Study: Modern Japanese literature, Cultural Theory, Transasian Studies

Hongming Zhang
Fields of Study: Chinese linguistics; syntax-phonology interface; prosodic phonology; poetic prosody; history of Chinese language; teaching Chinese as a second language

Tianlu Zhang
Associate Faculty
Fields of Study: Chinese language

Weihua Zhu
Assistant Professor       
Fields of Study: Discourse Analysis, Pragmatics, Pedagogy and Second Language Acquisition


Students in the ALC department academic programs are encouraged to become engaged in undergraduate research. There are numerous programs that provide research opportunities for undergraduates at UW–Madison including:


Each summer around 200 undergraduate students, graduate students, professionals, and others come to UW–Madison to study a language at the Wisconsin Intensive Summer Language Institutes (WISLI).  WISLI is host to five summer language institutes which offer high-quality courses in 30 less commonly taught languages:

Arabic, Persian, and Turkish Language Immersion Institute (APTLII)
Central Eurasian Studies Summer Institute (CESSI)
South Asia Summer Language Institute (SASLI)
Southeast Asian Studies Summer Institute (SEASSI)


The University of Wisconsin–Madison is ranked #2 for semester-long study abroad participation among all US institutions, and #16 among all US universities and colleges for total students studying abroad, according to the 2018 Open Doors Report. There are nearly 60 study abroad opportunities across Asia. Approved UW–Madison programs will allow students to receive residents credit while abroad. With pre-planning, students may also fulfill major requirements on academic programs abroad, however careful planning and discussion with your advisor are key. For more information about programs, application process, and fees, visit: International Academic Programs.

Students may also gain career and professional experience through various internship opportunities abroad. To review opportunities, application process, and fees, visit: International Internship Programs.


Foreign Language & Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships
Center for East Asian Studies FLAS Coordinator: Laurie Dennis,, 325 Ingraham Hall
Center for South Asian FLAS Coordinator: Sarah Beckham,, 203 Ingraham
Center for Southeast Asian Studies FLAS Coordinator: Michael Cullinane,, 207 Ingraham

FLAS fellowships are funded by the US Department of Education and administered by the UW–Madison'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 US 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.

This is the primary campus-wide portal for applicants, current students, and everyone looking for scholarship opportunities 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.


Boren Scholarships 
Campus Representative: Undergraduates with questions should contact Matt Geisler, Associate Director of International Academic Programs

These scholarships provide up to $20,000 to US undergraduate students to study abroad in areas of the world that are critical to US interests and underrepresented in study abroad, including Africa, Asia, Central and 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
Campus Representative: Mark Lilleleht, Assistant Director for Awards at

The CLS program is part of the US 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, Advisor, International Academic Programs

The Gilman Scholarship Program is an undergraduate grant program for US 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.