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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 among our cultures. The programs in Chinese and Japanese in the Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations provide an entryway into the literature, culture, and language of these ancient and still thriving civilizations.

In your language of choice you may 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, you will be able to converse on an everyday level with native speakers, and read both utilitarian and literary materials. You will have a solid understanding of the cultural and intellectual traditions of either China or Japan, depending on your focus.

During my time at the Chinese program at CU Boulder, I received not only comprehensive training in modern Chinese, but classical as well. Upon graduation, my Mandarin ability had progressed to an advanced level, which left me well prepared for my goal to work and live in China. I not only learned to read and appreciate the classics of Chinese literature, but their effect on shaping the Chinese culture and language as it exists today. On a personal level, the program opened up the study of history for me on a truly enjoyable level, and has imbued me with a lifelong appreciation for the discipline."

— Eric Chow

Language-learning activates the grey cells in the brain. This not only improves general intelligence and memory, but it can also reduce the effects of brain aging. Multilingualism also develops the following transferable skills highly sought after by employers in today's global market:

  1. Decision-making
  2. Observation
  3. A sophisticated cultural awareness
  4. Critical thinking
  5. Effective oral and written communication in English and your other language(s)
  6. Open-mindedness
  7. Independence
  8. Resilient problem-solving
  9. Prioritising
  10. Willingness to accept new challenges

In particular, a degree in Chinese or Japanese from the CU Boulder program will provide you with a strong background for advanced study and specialization in a variety of disciplines related to China and Japanese, which are among the world’s largest economies and trading partners with the U.S., and other related fields across the nation and the globe.

The Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations contains a number of research areas stretching across the different programs, including the Arabic literature and culture; Chinese literature, history, religion and culture; Japanese literature, culture, media, performance and history; Korean literature and media; and Hindi/Urdu literature.

For the undergraduate students pursuing a degree from the Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations and interested in research or scholarly work, there are a number of opportunities beyond just class work:

  • Because the most satisfying way to learn a language is to live it, students of Japanese and Chinese are strongly encouraged to consider studying abroad. The university offers programs in both Japan and China. You can earn credit that counts as if you had taken courses here, in some cases fulfilling major and core requirements. You may spend a few weeks to a full academic year abroad, depending on the program you select. Further information about study abroad is available from Education Abroad, 303-492-7741 or on the education abroad website.
  • You will have access to state-of-the-art language instruction technology at the Anderson Language Technology Center (ALTEC).
  • The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) offers students a chance to work alongside a faculty sponsor on original research. Learn to write proposals, conduct research, pursue creative work, analyze data and present the results. For more information, call UROP at 303-492-6802 or visit the UROP website.
  • You may also seek honors in Japanese or Chinese, which results in the designation of cum laude, magna cum laude, or summa cum laude at graduation. Honors work usually involves special coursework and a senior honors research project. Look into this program early because it involves securing a faculty sponsor and developing an individual project.
  • Advanced work in both classical and modern language and literature is also available through the BA/MA program. In addition, the department collaborates with the School of Education in offering secondary licensure in Japanese.

With a Chinese or Japanese major, you will have skills, information, and concepts that are relevant to careers in virtually every area. Competency in a foreign language is a highly desirable skill in all fields. A knowledge of Chinese or Japanese is particularly beneficial and useful in business, engineering, industry, commerce, the civil or foreign service, law, library science, natural and social sciences, the media, economics, public administration, journalism, government and teaching at all levels. In addition, China and Japan are increasingly sources of a wide variety of excellent careers, as they are among the world’s largest economies and trading partners with the U.S. and Colorado. Students are encouraged to consider combining their Chinese or Japanese language training with courses in these or other fields.

Many majors elect to spend the first few years after graduation studying or working in China or Japan. There are many opportunities in this area, and the Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations makes every effort to facilitate this transition for its students. For example, the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme (JET), administered by the Japanese Ministry of Education, sends a large number of US college graduates to teach English in the Japanese school system. Department graduates have had conspicuous success in being accepted to this program.

Students interested in advanced study of Chinese and Japanese language and literature are encouraged to consider the Chinese MA and Japanese MA in Asian Languages and Civilizations offered by the department. For further information, please contact the Director of Graduate Studies in Chinese or Director of Graduate Studies in Japanese.

According to the 2019-20 College Salary Report by PayScale Human Capital:

  • the average expected salary for someone with a bachelor’s degree in Japanese is $62,000; and
  • the average expected salary for someone with a bachelor’s degree in Chinese is $63,000.

Japanese Payscale

The estimated median salaries, as reported on Tableau, for Japanese graduates for 1 to 5, 6 to 10, and over 11 years out from school.

CU Boulder alumni in Japanese earn an average annual salary of $71,229, based on a pool of 418 alumni, which is more than the average salary as reported by Payscale.

Cinese Payscale

The estimated median salaries, as reported on Tableau, for Chinese graduates for 1 to 5, 6 to 10, and over 11 years out from school.

CU Boulder alumni in Chinese earn an average annual salary of $62,604, based on a pool of 320 alumni, which is about the same as the average salary as reported by Payscale.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that 2016-2026 job growth for language translators and interpreters will be 18 percent, which is “much faster” than average job growth.

Career Services offers free services for all CU Boulder degree-seeking students, and alumni up to one year after graduation, to help students discover who they are, what they want to do, and how to get there. They are the bridge between academics and the world of work by discussing major and career exploration, internship or job searching, and graduate school preparation. 

The Asian Languages and Civilizations department has an extensive list of alumni that are either working or have worked in a variety of industries across the globe. One of the most notable alumni of the program is Trey Parker (Japanese language '93), the co-creator of Comedy Central’s hit cartoon series South Park and the co-writer and co-director of the hit Broadway musical The Book of Mormon.