House surrounded by colorful trees

Degrees Offered:

Asian Languages & Civilizations: MA, PhD

Chinese: Minor, BA

Japanese: Minor, BA

South Asian Languages & Civilizations: Certificate

Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies: Certificate

Department Website

Undergraduate Admission

Graduate Admission

The influence of Asian thought and culture in the Western world is continually increasing, and the importance of world markets in Asia and the Pacific Rim is just one more indication of the interdependence and reciprocity between Western and Eastern cultures. The programs in Chinese and Japanese at CU Boulder provide an entryway into the literature, culture and language of these ancient but thriving civilizations. A degree in Chinese or Japanese provides students with a strong background for advanced study and specialization in foreign languages and other area studies. It also introduces graduates to a very different cultural heritage and historical experience.

Undergraduate Opportunities

The Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations offers a major in either Chinese or Japanese; each leads to a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree. In their language of choice, students receive thorough preparation in the modern language, an introduction to the classical language and literature and a broad familiarity with the literary and cultural history. Upon completing this course of study, graduates are able to converse on an everyday level with native speakers and read both utilitarian and literary materials. They also possess a solid understanding of the cultural and intellectual traditions of either China or Japan. Advanced work in both classical and modern language and literature is also available through the BA/MA program. For the student interested in a broad interdisciplinary major, the university offers a BA in Asian Studies. 

Foreign language majors have the skills, information and concepts that are relevant to careers in virtually every area. A knowledge of foreign language is extremely useful in business, engineering, industry, commerce, the civil or foreign service, law, library science, the media, the natural sciences, economics, public administration, journalism, government, the health professions, the social sciences and teaching at all levels. Specifically, journalists, travel agents, creative and technical writers, diplomats, doctors, scientists and economists are among those who benefit greatly from mastery of a foreign language.

Undergraduate Degree Requirements

Graduate Studies

MA Chinese

The MA program in Chinese is designed to offer students maximum general exposure to the long sweep of Chinese literary history while also requiring intensive study of some particular genre or period. Each of the program's faculty members specialize in one of these periods and has additional competence in a second period. The program is therefore truly comprehensive in scope. The overarching goal of the program is preparing students for PhD study and eventual careers in Sinology. Since 1991, more than 35 graduates of the Chinese MA program have gone on to doctoral study in Chinese literature, religion or history at institutions such as Harvard, Princeton, Washington, Columbia, Chicago and UCLA.

MA Japanese

The MA program in Japanese is designed to provide advanced­level training in Japanese language, literature and civilization. Students may select one of two tracks within the MA program. One track emphasizes advanced study of Japanese literature and gives students a broad knowledge of Japanese literary and cultural history. The second track, emphasizing Japanese language and civilization, will be of particular benefit to those planning to teach at the pre­collegiate level or those planning to engage in business or public service professions.

PhD, Chinese or Japanese

The PhD in Asian Languages and Civilizations offers specializations in Chinese or Japanese with concentrations in literary and/or cultural studies of either the pre­modern or modern periods. PhD faculty research includes specialized topics in Chinese and Japanese literature and cultural history in fields such as poetry, literary criticism, manuscript studies, religious and intellectual history, fiction, drama and film.


South Asian Languages and Civilizations

South Asia—a region that includes India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Tibet—has emerged as a key center of culture, literature, politics and business in the twenty­ first century. South Asia is home to over 100 official languages and many of the world’s religious traditions. Graduates who have broad, interdisciplinary knowledge of South Asia are well­prepared for a host of international careers. 

The Certificate in South Asian Languages and Civilizations allows students to pursue a formal concentration in South Asia, in addition to most majors. To fulfill the required 19 credit hours, students choose from approved courses in Asian languages and civilizations, religious studies, history, anthropology and international affairs.

The certificate also features course work in Hindi­Urdu. With some 500 million speakers, Hindi­Urdu is among the world’s most widely spoken languages, and boasts thriving literary, media and popular cultures.


Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies

The region commonly referred to as the Middle East includes over 20 Arabic speaking countries, as well as Iran, Turkey and Israel, and spans Southwest Asia and North Africa. A culturally, religiously and linguistically diverse region, the Middle East today is one of the most geopolitically critical regions in the world. It is the birthplace of the three major monotheistic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the home of medieval Islamic civilizations and home to rich literary, architectural and religious traditions. Islam, a monotheistic faith that began in the Arabian Peninsula in the seventh century, is today practiced by over 1 billion people and is diversely expressed through a vast geographic, linguistic and cultural terrain, from West Africa to East Asia. The Certificate in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies provides students the opportunity to formally explore the cultural, political and religious diversity of the Middle East and Islamic worlds.

Graduate Degree Requirements

Research Opportunities

Students have access to state­of­the­art language instruction technology at the Anderson Language Technology Center (ALTEC), which includes audio, video and computer equipment. Internship and service learning opportunities are available. In addition, the department collaborates with the School of Education in offering secondary licensure in Japanese.