Graduate programs in Japanese Studies focus on the language and culture of Japan and prepare students with a strong interest in the region for positions in business, education, or government, among other fields. These programs are often interdisciplinary, incorporating subjects like history, political science, and art along with linguistics. Although some Ph.D. programs are available in related fields, most programs specifically in Japanese Studies are offered at the master's level. Students may encounter similar programs titled East Asian Studies or East Asian Languages and Cultures.
Japanese Studies Graduate Program Information
Master's degree programs in Japanese Studies often require students to attain language proficiency either during the completion of the master's program or before admission to the program. In addition to courses like those outlined below, students usually must complete comprehensive exams or a thesis or research project.
Religion in Japan
Students in these graduate programs usually have the option to take classes exploring cultural dimensions of Japan, including religion. Classes may focus on a specific religious or philosophical tradition like Buddhism. Students explore key texts and examine how these perspectives have changed over time and how they impact Japanese culture.
Classes in Japanese literature are key components of these master's programs and examine major literary works from Japanese writers. These courses may focus on a specific time period by studying classical works or more modern literary offerings. Alternatively, they may discuss specific literary topics and themes found in Japanese literature, like writings concerning the atomic bomb. They may also study the process of translating works from one language to another.
Japanese Film & Media
Elements of Japanese popular culture are usually covered in these programs, including film and cinema studies. Classes look at filmmakers who are significant in Japanese culture and analyze their works. Students analyze the forms of and approaches to filmmaking in Japan and the themes or narratives within these movies.
Politics in Japan
Courses examining government structure and political processes in Japan are often available to students in these programs through law or political science departments. These classes may cover changes in Japan's system of government over time or how government regulations shape the country. Content may include a study of the global impact of Japan's politics; for example, students might study how Japanese imperialism impacted diplomacy with other nations. They may also investigate relevant political events in nearby countries or contemporary issues facing Japan.
History of Japan
Curricula for Japanese Studies programs may include significant coverage of the country's history. Courses may cover Japan's initial formation as a country and changes in the Asian region through early modern times. Students might examine how the cities and culture of Japan changed due to economic and technological developments over time. These classes sometimes address more recent eras and how Japan's traditional culture has evolved due to modern influences.
Japanese Studies Program Admissions Requirements
Applicants to Japanese Studies graduate programs must hold an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university, and some schools require a minimum GPA of 3.0 in at least a portion of an applicant's undergraduate work. Some programs require an undergraduate major in a relevant field; in other programs, a specific major is not necessary but previous coursework in Japanese or East Asian studies or in-country experience in Japan is desirable. Most departments in this field either require or encourage prior study in the Japanese language. Applicants must also submit GRE scores. Additional materials may include a statement of purpose, a resume, letters of recommendation, and a writing sample.
Graduate programs in Japanese Studies include in-depth research of the language and culture of Japan by drawing from fields including political science, history, and literature. Applicants to these programs should have some prior familiarity with the Japanese language and an interest in learning about the country's politics, economy, and society.