The Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations offers BAM, MA, Dual MA and PhD graduate degrees with specializations in Chinese or Japanese. Celebrating a history of over 30 years, we offer small class sizes that allow our graduate students the opportunity to work closely with faculty who are noted scholars in their fields. Faculty research includes various specialized topics in Chinese and Japanese literature and cultural history, from early times to the present day, in fields such as poetry, literary criticism, manuscript studies, religious and intellectual history, as well as fiction, drama and film.

The MA program in Chinese is designed to offer students maximum general exposure to the long sweep of Chinese literary and cultural history as well as the opportunity to delve into the study of some particular period, field, topic or genre. With six professors covering literature and culture from early China through the medieval era to the early modern period and contemporary China, the program is comprehensive in scope. The program focuses especially on preparing students for PhD study and careers in sinology. Since 1991, more than seventy graduates of the Chinese MA program have gone on to doctoral study here or at other first-rank institutions in the U.S. For alumni stories, please click here.

The MA program in Japanese is designed to provide advanced-level training in Japanese language, literature and civilization, with the aim of preparing students for both Japan-related professional careers and doctoral study in Japanese literature and culture. The program boasts four professors with specializations in the literature and performing arts of classical, medieval, early-modern and modern Japan. In recent years our MA students have gone on to PhD programs in Japanese literature, art history and religious studies at this and numerous other first-rank institutions in the U.S. and abroad. For alumni stories, please click here.

The PhD programs in Chinese and Japanese offer extensive training in the modern and pre-modern literatures of China and Japan for students seeking to pursue research and teaching careers at the collegiate level.

The MA in Asian Languages and Civilizations may be pursued with a specialization in Chinese or Japanese. Graduate students work in a broad interdisciplinary context, requiring a study of literary, historical, and cultural texts across the millennia of Chinese and Japanese written materials. The MA requires 30 hours of approved graduate coursework or 24 hours of coursework plus a thesis.

The PhD in Asian Languages and Civilizations offers specializations in Chinese or Japanese with concentrations in literary and/or cultural studies of either the pre-modern or modern periods. The PhD requires a minimum of 45 credit hours in graduate courses numbered 5000 or above in Chinese or Japanese, and 30 credit hours of dissertation work beyond the required coursework. PhD students may transfer to the department up to 21 hours of acceptable graduate-level credit. Academic preparation is expected in both classical and modern language.

  1. Meet the minimum admissions requirements:
    1. Hold a baccalaureate degree or its equivalent from an accredited college or university, with an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0.
    2. Have successfully completed the equivalent of the CU Boulder undergraduate major in Chinese or Japanese, with advanced competence in modern Chinese or Japanese, an introduction to classical Chinese or Japanese, an understanding of the interrelationship of Chinese or Japanese language and society, and a familiarity with the history and major writers and works of Chinese or Japanese literature.
    3. PhD applicants: In addition to the requirements of the University of Colorado Graduate School for regular degree students, the department requires all entering PhD students to have superior proficiency in the target language and broad general knowledge of the literary and cultural traditions of their region of concentration. Academic preparation is expected in both classical and modern language. Applicants for the Japanese program who have not studied the classical language will be asked to complete two semesters of classical language while in the program. The department will evaluate all applications for admission based on previous academic achievements and on the quality of the writing sample.
  2. Review admissions information for domestic and international applicants, find answers to frequently asked questions and access the online graduate admissions application on the Graduate Admissions website.
  3. Applications for Fall admission are due on December 1. Applications for Spring admission are due on October 1. Please consult the Frequently Asked Questions page for more information.
  4. Submit the online graduate admissions application, including:
    • CV
    • Statement of Purpose (ca. 800 words)
      • Your Statement of Purpose should highlight your expertise and research interests, and explain why you think our program would be a good match for your research interests.
    • Transcripts of all previous academic work (PDFs of all unofficial transcripts should be uploaded to the online application. If you are offered admission and accept, then we will request that you have your official transcripts sent to Graduate Admissions. International applicants should submit transcripts in the original native language as well as English translations issued by the school or a professional translator.)
    • Three letters of recommendation (uploaded electronically by recommender by application deadline)
    • Writing sample (ca. 10.000 words)
      • Your writing sample should demonstrate your approach to a text or cultural phenomenon that you explore, as well as your ability to create a convincing argument. The writing sample does not need to pertain to your current research interests.
  5. GRE not required, but is recommended for PhD and MA applicants seeking funding.
  6. International applicants must submit results from a TOEFL or IELTS exam, no older than 2 years. (The exam is not required if you have completed at least one year of full-time academic study at a U.S. institution- or at an institution in a country where English is the native language- at the time you apply, and within two years from your desired admission term.)
    1. MA applicants: TOEFL score of at least 95 (internet-based) or 587 (paper-based), or IELTS score of at least 7.0.
    2. PhD applicants: TOEFL score of at least 105 (internet-based) or 620 (paper-based), or IELTS score of at least 7.5.

The Graduate School offers application fee waivers for participants in the following programs:

  • AmeriCorps (currently serving)
  • Black in AI (BAI)
  • Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) Initiative
  • Gates Millennium Scholars
  • Leadership Alliance
  • Life Sciences Summer Undergraduate Research Program (LSSURP)
  • Louis-Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP)
  • Math Alliance Scholars
  • McNair Scholars Program
  • Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program
  • Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) Scholar Program
  • Peace Corps (currently serving)
  • Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP)
  • SMART
  • Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS)
  • Teach for America

If you are affiliated with one of these programs, please send us proof of your affiliation to gradadm@colorado.edu after you have started an application and before you submit, and we will process your fee waiver for you. 

If you are in the U.S. military you will receive an automatic fee waiver as a thank you for your service (active duty, veteran, previously served, and active reserve are all eligible for this automatic fee waiver).

If you are undocumented and/or a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) beneficiary, please contact gradadm@colorado.edu to inquire about possible fee waivers.


The Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations is committed to providing educational opportunities for a diverse range of applicants regardless of their financial situations.

If you are not eligible for the CU Boulder Graduate School fee waiver listed above and meet all the conditions below, we may be able to pay the application fee on your behalf. 

You must request this fee waiver BEFORE YOU APPLY in order for the department to pay the application fee on your behalf. 

The conditions are:

  • You are not eligible for the CU Boulder Graduate School fee waiver

  • You are a U.S. citizen, U.S. permanent resident, or DACA recipient

  • You intend to apply for the Ph.D. or MA program in the Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations

  • You are applying to enroll in the fall semester

  • You meet the admission requirements for the program you apply to

  • The application fee is a financial hardship AND/OR you have participated in under-represented minority (URM) recruitment programs AND/OR you are a first-generation college student

We are not asking for any explanation of your financial hardship or documentation of the above conditions. We trust you to judge for yourself whether you fulfill these criteria.

To request that the Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations pay the graduate application fee, send an email to dalc@colorado.edu BEFORE YOU APPLY, stating, “I am ineligible for the CU Boulder Graduate School application waiver and meet the other criteria for the Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations to pay my application fee.” This request will not impact your application in any way. Please request your waiver as soon as possible.

Generous funding opportunities for our MA and PhD candidates include fellowships, tuition reimbursement, health insurance assistance and stipends for Teaching Assistantships and Graduate Part-Time Instructorships. Applicants may compete for all appropriate Graduate School fellowships (information available from the Graduate School).

Teaching Assistantship 

The department awards a number of fellowships and teaching assistantships every year. Teaching normally involves instruction in the elementary or intermediate Mandarin or Japanese language courses. All interested applicants for Teaching Assistantships should provide the following by December 15 for full consideration:

1.  Application for Teaching Assistantship in Chinese or Application for Teaching Assistantship in Japanese
2. An audio/video recording as detailed in the application.

Please send the application and the recording to dalc@colorado.edu.

Graduate Part Time Instructorship 

The department will offer five-year PhD fellowships, which will include a tuition waiver, teaching exemption in the first year, and competitive monthly stipend. Financial aid is available in the form of fellowships and a small number of Graduate Part-Time Instructor (GPTI) positions. Beyond these department funding opportunities, graduate students may also apply for awards, grants and fellowships through the Center for Asian Studies and the Graduate School. All interested applicants for Instructorships should provide the following by December 15 for full consideration:

1.   Application for Graduate Part Time Instructorship in Chinese or Application for Graduate Part Time Instructorship in Japanese.
2.  An audio/video recording as detailed in the application.

Please send the application and the recording to dalc@colorado.edu.

The Chinese and Japanese graduate programs at CU have been selected for inclusion in the Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP). Through the WRGP, graduate students who are residents of 15 participating states may enroll in certain distinctive programs at public institutions on an in-state resident tuition basis.

The following states currently participate in the WRGP: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

If you are currently a non-resident of Colorado and believe you are eligible and would like to apply for the WRGP benefit, answer 'yes' to the WRGP question in the Supplemental Information section of the online application, or email the Tuition Classification Officer, in the Registrar's office: tuitclass@colorado.edu.