M.A. Program Overview and Degree Requirements
Please note, these requirements are effective as of September, 2014. For students who have matriculated prior to this date, please follow the requirements in place during your first semester of enrollment which can be found HERE. For questions, please contact your M.A. Program Director.
I. Course Requirements
II. M.A. Thesis Requirement
III. Residence Units
IV. Language Requirements
V. Length of Study
VI. Transfer Credit and Advanced Standing
VIII. Written Work, Grades, and Satisfactory Academic Progress
IX. Leave of Absence, Withdrawal, and Reinstatement
X. Continuing to a Ph.D. Program
XI. Degree Conferral Deadlines
XII. M.A. Degree Requirements Checklist Instructions
The requirements listed below are special to the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures (EALAC) and must be read in conjunction with the general requirements of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS): http://www.columbia.edu/cu/gsas/index.html.
Students in the Free-Standing M.A. Program in East Asian Languages and Cultures may study Chinese, Japanese, Korean, or Tibetan history, literature or film. The M.A. Program is intended for students who show academic promise but have not yet acquired the language skills or background in East Asian studies to qualify for a Ph.D. program. It is also intended for those who have the language skills in East Asian studies but need advanced academic training in the chosen discipline.
This section lists the requirements for the M.A. program, which is overseen by the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) and the M.A. Program Director. The primary contact regarding all questions related to the requirements listed below is the M.A. Program Director.
M.A. PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Tibetan Studies)
The student who is a candidate for the Master of Arts degree in East Asian Languages and Cultures must earn a minimum of 30 credits in order to receive the degree. The student must also fulfill the residence units and language requirements described below:
The student must take six one-semester content courses (in addition to EAAS G6990 and G6991, see below) for a letter grade of B or higher. This will give the student a total of 30 course credits according to the normal counting of credit/hr. All courses must be at the 4000-level and above. 4000-level courses in EALAC are graduate/advanced undergraduate seminars. 6000-level, 8000-level, and 9000-level courses in EALAC are graduate colloquia and research seminars. Students can expect the level of difficulty and amount of material in the target language to increase from the 6000 through 9000 levels. The student is strongly urged to take higher (6000-level and above) graduate level courses when possible.
Students may take relevant courses in other departments, but these courses must be approved by the M.A. Program Director prior to registration if they are to count toward the degree. Students must submit a brief rationale, the course name, instructor, course description, and syllabus (when it is available). If the course is in addition to those required by the department, no special permission is needed.
EALAC offers two methodology courses in the spring semester designed for students in the EALAC M.A. program: EAAS G6200, “Workshop in East Asian History”; EAAS G6400, “Critical Approaches to East Asian Studies”. These courses will familiarize EALAC M.A. students with the critical approaches necessary to analyze East Asian history, literature, film, and culture in a comparative framework. These courses will also provide students with strategies for writing research papers and the MA thesis. The student is required to take the methodology course appropriate to his or her discipline, to be determined in consultation with the M.A. thesis advisor.
Students may apply up to two semesters of Classical Chinese, two semesters of Classical Japanese, two semesters of Classical Tibetan, or one semester of Advanced Korean in Mixed Script (Korean G8010) toward the six-course requirement. Modern languages (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Tibetan) of the fourth-fifth year level can also be accepted for course-credits. They can be accepted only as replacement for the thesis research workshop (EAAS G6990; see below). However, one methodological course in language pedagogy may be accepted towards the six-course requirement.
The choice of courses must be approved by the M.A. Director.
The student must, under the supervision of the M.A. thesis advisor, write an M.A. thesis that makes significant use of sources in the East Asian target language.
The M.A. thesis receives a total of 6 credits, which are divided between 1) EAAS G6990: “M.A. Thesis Research” (2 credits) followed by 2) EAAS G6991: “M.A. Thesis Writing” (4 credits).
1) The student is required to register for EAAS G6990: “M.A. Thesis Research,” offered in two segments from the Spring to the Fall semester, in conjunction with the methodology course. The student is required to work with his/her advisor closely to develop the thesis proposal and bibliography. The thesis proposal, in six pages, should describe the main argument, methodology, scope of sources, and scholarly contributions of the thesis, and it should be accompanied by a bibliography.
2) The M.A. thesis, which should be between 30 and 60 pages, must be approved by the advisor with a letter grade and submitted to the M.A. Program Director. Students are required to register for EAAS G6991: “M.A. Thesis Writing” in order to receive credits for the thesis and to meet with their M.A. thesis advisors at least twice each semester.
In addition to registering for individual courses, students are required to register for Residence Units (RU), which provide the basis for tuition charges. At least two full Residence Units – the equivalent of one year of full tuition – are required for the free-standing Master of Arts degree in EALAC.
Depending on their background in East Asian studies, students take from two to four semesters to complete the M.A. program. Most students complete the program in two to three semesters.
Although most M.A. students attend full-time, one may also obtain the M.A. degree through part-time study. Part-time students must complete the degree in no more than four years.
All entering students who have received a B.A. from an institution in which instruction is conducted in a language other than English must take the American Language Program Placement Test during the registration period of the fall semester. Students who do not pass the Placement Test must, in consultation with the M.A. Program Director, take appropriate American Language Program courses.
Entering students are required to take the language placement examination in the East Asia language of specialization at the beginning of the semester in which they enter the program, unless that language was the primary language of instruction at the institution from which they received the B.A. degree.
To count toward meeting degree requirements, all language courses must be taken for a letter grade of B or higher.
Language requirements are listed below by field:
Chinese Studies Requirements
Three years of modern Chinese, or the equivalent demonstrated by the department’s placement exam, are required for completion of the degree. Students who remain in the program after satisfying this requirement are expected to continue language study throughout their time in the program, either at more advanced levels of Chinese or through study of an additional East Asian language. Study of classical Chinese is strongly encouraged, especially for students concentrating in literature or premodern history.
Japanese Studies Requirements
Three years of modern Japanese, or the equivalent demonstrated by the department’s placement exam, are required for completion of the degree. Students who remain in the program after satisfying this requirement are expected to continue language study throughout their time in the program, either at more advanced levels of Japanese or through study of an additional East Asian language. Study of classical Japanese is strongly encouraged, especially for students concentrating in literature or premodern history.
Korean Studies Requirement
Three years of Korean, or the equivalent demonstrated by the department’s placement exam, are required for completion of the degree. Students who remain in the program after satisfying this requirement are expected to continue language study throughout their time in the program, either at more advanced levels of Korean or through study of an additional East Asian language.
Tibetan Studies Requirement
Two years of modern Tibetan are required. Study of classical Tibetan is strongly encouraged, especially for students concentrating in literature or history before 1950. Students who remain in the program after satisfying this requirement are expected to continue language study throughout their time in the program, either at more advanced levels of Tibetan or through study of Chinese.
Full-time students in the MA program typically take 1-2 years (or 2-3/4 semesters) to complete the MA degree, depending largely on the level of their languages. The course planning is different between the “2-semester-to-finish” model and the “3-semester-to-finish” model exhibited here:
Transfer credit may be awarded to students who have completed graduate-level coursework at Columbia while not being matriculated in GSAS (i.e., students who have completed classes in the School of Continuing Education). Students consult with the M.A. Program Director regarding the amount of transfer credit allowed.
The Department does not offer advanced standing toward the M.A.
All students are assigned an M.A. thesis advisor and this needs to be decided by the first day of the Spring semester (the second semester of the students enrollment in Columbia). The advisors should meet in person with their advisees twice per semester, and should be prepared to respond via e-mail to questions that may come up during summer and winter breaks as students consider their options for the upcoming semester. It is the advisee’s responsibility to get in touch with the advisor as questions arise, and to arrange for face-to-face meetings twice per semester, once during registration, once around the middle of the semester or near the end of classes. The first meeting will focus on course selection, while the second meeting gives the advisee a chance to say how things are going generally, to discuss any specific issues or problems that are arising with a course or with the workload overall, and to begin to think ahead to the next term. While advisees are expected to take the initiative in scheduling meetings, advisors in turn are expected to make it a priority to find time to meet when asked, during office hours when mutually convenient, or otherwise at another time. At least twenty minutes should be blocked out for the two basic meetings each semester. Advisors should not hesitate to be in touch with the DGS, the M.A. Program Director, the Department Administrator or the Academic Coordinator on any uncertain questions, or when an issue arises that should be brought to the attention of those who are overseeing the graduate program.
A. Written Work
With the exception of the M.A. thesis, which may be developed from a paper originally written for course credit, no written work in the M.A. program may be submitted more than once for credit. Students are responsible for avoiding plagiarism and following the Graduate School’s general guidelines on academic honesty: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/gsas/rules/chapter-9/pages/honesty/index.html.
Students and faculty should consider that both the A and the A- are truly positive grades. Grades of A- do not indicate a lack of satisfactory progress, but simply register good work that can be taken a step further in future.
Grades of B+ signal work that raises concerns, and in the case of an M.A. student a pattern of B+ grades would indicate someone who shouldn’t go on in the program unless he or she is doing significantly better work in other courses. B is the minimum grade for counting a course toward degree requirements.
C. Satisfactory Academic Progress
GSAS has specific rules for satisfactory academic progress for M.A. students. Permission to register each term is contingent, in part, on judgment that progress in the degree program is satisfactory.
D. Master of Arts Thesis Honor
Occasionally the EALAC department awards special honors to MA theses, in recognition of their excellence. Theses awarded departmental honors must be based on original research, and should offer new insights to the fields in which they are written. The recommendation for honors is made by the thesis advisor, in a cover letter addressed to the Director of Graduate Studies. The letter should highlight the thesis’ strength and special contributions, and establish why the thesis ranks among the top 10% of EALAC MA theses. The cover letter must be submitted together with the MA checklist and the thesis (as an electronic copy) to the appropriate MA Coordinator and the Director of Graduate Studies. The nomination is reviewed by the Director of Graduate Studies who, in consultation with the MA Coordinator, may invite a second faculty member in the relevant field to provide additional evaluation if necessary, before giving his or her final approval. The honors will be entered into the department’s permanent records, and the thesis will be preserved in the department’s archive. The departmental honor will appear on the student’s transcript as “MA THESIS RECEIVED SPECIAL DEPARTMENTAL HONOR”.
Continuous registration until all degree requirements are completed or until the time-to-degree limit has been reached is required for students in the M.A. program. Students who wish to take a leave of absence, withdraw from the program, or seek reinstatement must discuss their wishes with the M.A. Program Director before applying to the GSAS. Please refer to the GSAS website for guidelines regarding leaves of absence, withdrawal, and reinstatement: http://gsas.columbia.edu/content/university-policies.
M.A. students can apply to a Ph.D. program in the fall semester of their first or second year in the M.A. program. Most students apply to a Ph.D. program after completing the M.A. degree or in the second year of study. This option has the advantage that applicants will then have completed or made significant progress toward completing the M.A. thesis, which can be used as a writing sample. Students applying to a Ph.D. program in their second year also have the benefit of a full year’s maturation of their work.
Students are encouraged to submit applications to multiple institutions, as this increases the possibility of acceptance to a Ph.D. program.
August 1st for October graduation
November 1st for February graduation
December 1st for May graduation
Both thesis and checklist are due to your advisor by the deadline:
Friday, September 19th, 2014 for October 2014 graduation
Friday, January 23rd, 2014 for February 2015 graduation
Friday, May 1st, 2014 for May 2015 graduation
Please incorporate all the revisions suggested by your Thesis Advisor and submit the final manuscript to her/him. When your final manuscript is approved by your advisor, please follow the steps below:
1. Print out the checklist and fill out necessary information: the name, UNI, and the course and language requirements you have fulfilled.
2. Submit the form to your Thesis Advisor for her/his signature.
3. Ask your advisor to forward the signed form to your appropriate MA co-director.
4. Submit your thesis on a CD to your MA co-director .