Our MA in Japanese is designed to maximize students’ exposure to Japanese literature and culture across genres and historical periods. Most MA students in Japanese are fully funded through Teaching Assistantships, which provide experience in instruction of Japanese language and culture. Funding includes a tuition waiver, stipend, and health insurance assistance, typically for a full three years in the program.

Thinking About Applying?

Whether you know what you want to study already, or need some time to explore, our program aims to provide a stimulating academic environment for students of diverse backgrounds and interests. Our faculty specialize in one or more of Japan’s major historical periods, including classical, medieval, early-modern, modern, and contemporary, and have additional competence in other areas. Each semester, we offer two seminars in Japanese literature across different historical periods that are centered around the intensive study of particular texts, genres, and theories. See our graduate course catalogue for more details.

As a student in our program, you are likely to serve as a Teaching Assistant in Japanese language and culture courses, in which case you would cultivate your language-teaching skills under the direction of our professional teaching faculty. During your time at CU, you may also serve as a Teaching Assistant for JPNS 1012 (Introduction to Japanese Civilization), an overview of Japanese cultural history from the earliest times to the present.

As part of the ALC graduate student community, you will be part of a close-knit group of students. Each year, this group works together to put on the annual CUBASGA (CU Boulder Asian Studies Graduate Association) conference, held in late January or early February. This is an opportunity to present your research before supportive colleagues and faculty, and it offers a valuable chance to network with graduate students from different North American institutions. 

MA graduates from our program have gone on to PhD programs and non-academic careers in Japan-related fields. Recent graduates have gone on to doctoral study in Japanese literature, religion, history, and art history at institutions such as Harvard, Yale, UCLA, UC Berkeley, the University of Michigan, the University of Wisconsin, and CU Boulder. They have also pursued careers in business, translation, secondary and post-secondary education; in governmental and non-governmental organizations; and in a variety of other institutions in both the public and private sectors of the United States and Japan. See our alumni stories here.


If you have not yet taken Classical Japanese, you will be required to take JPNS 5310 (“Advanced Classical Japanese 1”) in your first semester at CU. If you are employed as a Teaching Assistant, you will also take JPNS 5980 (“Practical Issues in Japanese Language Pedagogy”) in your first semester.

Selection of courses beyond these is made in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies in Japanese. We regularly offer two seminars each semester, typically one on premodern texts and another on modern literature. Depending on your interests, you may also consider coursework in other departments on campus that offer Japan- or theory-related courses. In addition, our program encourages students who may be interested in pursuing doctoral work to begin the acquisition of another research language as soon as possible.

Special-topics seminars offered recently by our faculty include “Class and Culture in the Literature of Meiji Japan,” “Reading Gaze and Voice in Modern Japanese Literature and Culture,” “Japanese Buddhism and Literature,”  “Heian Kana Prose Literature,” and “Confronting the Anxiety of the Anthropocene: Eco-disaster, Nuclear Fear, and Climate Change in Modern/Contemporary Japanese Literature and Culture.” These seminars focus on the reading and discussion of primary texts in Japanese and scholarship in both English and Japanese. Students in our program have opportunities to suggest topics for seminars to faculty, and in special cases, may also pursue independent study under the direction of a faculty member.

Graduation Requirements

At least 30 hours of approved coursework (or in exceptional cases, 24 hours of coursework plus a thesis) are required for the degree. All courses counted toward the degree must be completed at the 5000 level or above. However, with departmental approval, up to six credits from other departments may be completed at the 3000 or 4000 level.

For descriptions of graduate courses offered, see the University Catalog.

Regular degree students must maintain at least a 3.0 GPA each semester across their coursework, whether or not it is to be applied toward the intended graduate degree.