The Japanese program offers students a range of courses and activities which enhance students intercultural and transcultural competencies. With the completion of the four basic years of the language, students will be prepared to handle various types of colloquial Japanese. Our majors pursue advanced studies in Japanese language or literature. It is also possible to 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 previous Japanese study experience may enter advanced courses on the basis of department recommendation.

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.


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  previous Japanese study experience may enter advanced courses on the basis of placement tests.

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

ASIAN 100 Gateway to Asia: Special Topics3-4
ASIAN 253 Japanese Popular Culture3
ASIAN/​HISTORY/​RELIG ST  267 Asian Religions in Global Perspective3-4
ASIALANG 103 First Semester Japanese4
ASIALANG 113 First Semester Elementary Japanese2
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


If you are a student with prior experience in Japanese language (e.g., self-taught, learned in elementary, middle or high school, or learned from family, relatives or friends, etc.), and seek advise about foreign language placement, or continuing with the language of your heritage please fill out this questionnaire in order to receive appropriate advising or guidance.


The Department of Asian Languages and Cultures requires that students with any prior knowledge of the languages taught in our department (e.g. Chinese, Japanese and Korean), and who plan to enroll in our language classes, take a placement test before enrolling in a language course. The Japanese language faculty will meet with students for the 30 minute test, one-on-one in person or via Skype by registration only.


Students may declare the major at any time - schedule an appointment today.

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 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 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

Prerequisites: First and Second Year Language
First Semester Japanese (complete one):4
First Semester Japanese
First Semester Elementary Japanese
and Second Semester Elementary Japanese
Followed by (complete all):
ASIALANG 104 Second Semester Japanese4
ASIALANG 203 Third Semester Japanese4
ASIALANG 204 Fourth Semester Japanese4
Required Language Course
ASIALANG 303 Fifth Semester Japanese4
Advanced or Specialized Language Courses9
Sixth Semester Japanese
Classical Japanese
Japanese Conversation
Business Japanese Communication
Advanced Readings in Japanese I
Seventh Semester Japanese
Eighth Semester Japanese
Advanced Readings in Japanese II
Advanced Japanese through Audio-Visual Media
Advanced Topics in Asian Translation
Intermediate Technical Japanese II
Japanese for Business and Industry
Japanese for Politics and Government
Japanese Culture, Linguistics, and Literature
Introductory Course (complete one):3
Gateway to Asia: Special Topics
Introduction to East Asian History: Japan
Lost in Translation: Western Experience in Asia
Asia Enchanted: Ghosts, Gods, and Monsters
Japanese Popular Culture
Introduction to East Asian Civilizations
Asian Religions in Global Perspective
Survey of Asian Art
Intermediate Courses (complete three):9
Topics in Asian Studies (Only topics related to Japan/Japanese will count)
Social Studies Topics in East Asian Studies (Only topics related to Japan/Japanese will count)
Lovers, Warriors and Monks: Survey of Japanese Literature
Early Modern Japanese Literature
Modern Japanese Literature
Language in Japanese Society
Love and Politics: The Tale of Genji
Topics in Japanese: Study Abroad
Topics in East Asian Visual Cultures (Only topics related to Japan/Japanese will count)
Introduction to Japanese Linguistics
Samurai: History and Image
Pearl Harbor & Hiroshima: Japan, the US & The Crisis in Asia
Classical Japanese
Advanced Readings in Japanese II
Advanced Japanese through Audio-Visual Media
Advanced Topics in Asian Translation
Introduction to the Anthropology of Japan
Arts of Japan
Classical Japanese Prose in Translation
Topics in Japanese Literature
Modern Japanese Fiction
Advanced Course (complete one):3
Readings in Modern Japanese Literature
Readings in Classical Japanese Literature
Capstone Seminar in Asian Humanities (Only topics related to Japan/Japanese will count)
Proseminar: Studies in Cultures of Asia (Only topics related to Japan/Japanese will count)
Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Thesis
Senior Thesis
Directed Study
Directed Study
Total Credits44

Residence and quality of work

  • 2.000 GPA in all major courses
  • 2.000 GPA in 15 upper-level major credits, in residence1
  • 15 credits in the major, taken on campus

1 Upper-level major courses in the major

ART HIST 372 Arts of Japan3-4
ASIALANG 303 Fifth Semester Japanese4
ASIALANG 304 Sixth Semester Japanese4
ASIALANG 313 Classical Japanese3
ASIALANG 373 Advanced Readings in Japanese I3
ASIALANG 376 Japanese Conversation3
ASIALANG/​E P D  377 Business Japanese Communication3
ASIALANG 403 Seventh Semester Japanese3
ASIALANG 404 Eighth Semester Japanese3
ASIALANG 450 Advanced Readings in Japanese II3
ASIALANG 452 Advanced Japanese through Audio-Visual Media3
ASIALANG 475 Advanced Topics in Asian Translation3
ASIAN 300 Topics in Asian Studies (Only topics related to Japan/Japanese will count)3
ASIAN/​E A STDS  301 Social Studies Topics in East Asian Studies (Only topics related to Japan/Japanese will count)1-3
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 367 Haiku3
ASIAN 373 Topics in Japanese: Study Abroad1-6
ASIAN 376 Manga3
ASIAN 378 Anime3
ASIAN 433 Topics in East Asian Visual Cultures (Only topics related to Japan/Japanese will count)3
ASIAN 434 Introduction to Japanese Linguistics3
ASIAN/​E A STDS/​HISTORY  454 Samurai: History and Image3-4
ASIAN/​E A STDS/​HISTORY  456 Pearl Harbor & Hiroshima: Japan, the US & The Crisis in Asia3-4
ASIAN 563 Readings in Modern Japanese Literature3
ASIAN 573 Readings in Classical Japanese Literature3
ASIAN 600 Capstone Seminar in Asian Humanities (Only topics related to Japan/Japanese will count)3
ASIAN 630 Proseminar: Studies in Cultures of Asia (Only topics related to Japan/Japanese will count)3
ASIAN 681 Senior Honors Thesis3
ASIAN 682 Senior Honors Thesis3
ASIAN 691 Senior Thesis3
ASIAN 692 Senior Thesis3
ASIAN 698 Directed Study2-3
ASIAN 699 Directed Study2-3
E P D 375 Intermediate Technical Japanese II3
E P D 601 Japanese for Business and Industry3-4
E P D 602 Japanese for Politics and Government3-4
LITTRANS 368 Modern Japanese Fiction3
LITTRANS 372 Classical Japanese Prose in Translation3
LITTRANS 373 Topics in Japanese Literature3

Honors in the Major

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

Honors in the Major Requirements

To earn Honors in the Major, students must satisfy both the requirements for the major (above) and the following additional requirements:

  • Earn a 3.300 University GPA
  • Earn a 3.300 GPA for all courses accepted in the major
  • Complete the following coursework, with a grade of B or better:
    • Either ASIAN 699 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 ASIAN 681.
    • Complete a two-semester Senior Honors Thesis in ASIAN 681 and ASIAN 682, for a total of 6 credits.

Distinction in the Major

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

  • the L&S general degree requirements, and
  • 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, ASIAN 681ASIAN 682.

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.
First Year
ASIAN 1003-4ASIAN/​ASIAN AM/​HISTORY  246 (meets Ethnic Studies requirement)4
Communication A3Quantitative Reasoning A3-4
Biological Science Breadth3Science Breadth3-4
 Students beginning language study this term may start with:
 14 15
Second Year
ASIALANG 2034ASIALANG 204 or 1044
Or students continue with:ASIAN/​RELIG ST  236 (Communication B)3
ASIAN 253 (Humanities Breadth)3
ASIAN/​E A STDS/​HISTORY/​POLI SCI  255 (Social Science Breadth)3-4ASIAN 355 (Literature Breadth)3
ASIAN/​HISTORY/​RELIG ST  267 (Humanities Breadth)3-4Physical Science Breadth3-4
Quantitative Reasoning B3-4 
 14 16
Third Year
ASIALANG 303 or 2034ASIALANG 304 or 2044
ASIAN 367 (Literature Breadth)3ASIAN 6992-3
ASIAN 3731-6Science Breadth3
E A STDS/​ASIAN/​HISTORY  454 (Social Science Breadth)3-4Elective3-4
 16 16
Fourth Year
ASIALANG 303 (if not yet completed)4ASIALANG 304 (if not yet completed)4
ASIAN 4343ASIALANG 475 (Japanese topic only)3
ASIAN 6913ASIAN 6923
 16 13
Total Credits 120

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 and Cultures. She is happy to meet with students as they explore the degree options 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.


Charo D'Etcheverry, Associate Professor
Areas of Expertise: Classical Japanese literature (especially court fiction & its reception and early kabuki)

Naomi Geyer, Associate Professor
Areas of Expertise: Japanese Language, Language Pedagogy, Pragmatics
Adam L. Kern, Professor
Areas of Expertise: 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.
Junko Mori, Professor
Areas of Expertise: Japanese Linguistics, Applied Linguistics, Conversation Analysis, Sociolinguistics
Takako Nakakubo, Faculty Associate
Areas of Expertise: Second Language Acquisition of Japanese, Japanese Pedagogy, Learning Strategies
Steve Ridgely, Associate Professor
Areas of Expertise: modern Japanese literature, cultural theory, transasian studies


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:


The Department of Asian Languages and Cultures has various scholarships to support meritorious students in our programs. Application information and deadlines.

Cameron G. Keith Memorial Scholarship 

This award is given annually to two undergraduate students studying Japanese. This award is announced 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.


Foreign Language & Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships
East Asian Studies FLAS Coordinator: Laurie Dennis, Assistant Director,, 325 Ingraham Hall

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.

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 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). 

Critical Language Scholarship Program
Campus Representative: Mark Lilleleht, Assistant Director for Awards at
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.