Japan is the world's third-largest economy and one of the United States’ most important allies and trading partners. It also exerts an outsized “soft-power” influence through the boundless appeal of Japanese anime, manga, literature, and film. Japanese is one of the 10 most important business languages and one of the most common languages used on the Web. For all these reasons, the State Department recognizes Japanese as a critical language, noting that Japanese provides “a competitive edge among Americans seeking to engage in East Asia’s booming global market,” and stressing the importance of both “Japanese language proficiency and cultural knowledge” in forming “successful cross-cultural partnerships.”
The B.A. in Japanese Studies provides precisely this combination of uncommon linguistic proficiency and deep cultural knowledge. We offer four levels of language instruction, from Elementary to Advanced, and a variety of courses on Japanese culture and society taught in English. Our emphasis is on modern and contemporary Japan. Students completing the major will possess an in-depth knowledge of the social, economic, and cultural conditions of a nation vital to U.S. security and advancement, and the skills necessary to enter a wide variety of career paths. Many students combine a Japanese major with a second major (in Business, Finance, International Relations, Linguistics, etc.) to bring a geographical focus to their studies.
When you declare your major, you will choose one of the Japanese Studies faculty in Modern Languages as your major advisor. He or she will help you select courses to fulfill major requirements.
We encourage majors to study abroad in Japan if possible, through one of our summer-, semester-, and year-long programs. Up to 9 credits may be counted from courses taken at universities in Japan and applied toward JAPN Electives and/or Interdisciplinary Electives, as appropriate, with approval.
All Japanese Studies majors participate in faculty-mentored independent student research through the Advanced Seminar (JAPN 450). Qualified students may also consider completing an Honors thesis, in consultation with their advisor (see some examples here).