Ph. D. Program in East Asian Religion
Students must be registered in the semester in which they distribute their dissertation. PhD students should be aware that if they distribute their dissertation during the summer session they incur the cost registering for the term, which EALAC does not cover, so please plan your defenses accordingly.
The student must take twelve one-semester courses for a grade, at least six of which must be graduate-level colloquia or seminars. One of the twelve courses must be outside the student’s East Asian country of specialization. The student is required to take Religion 6901, the primary methodology seminar of the Religion Department. Students are also strongly encouraged to take a bibliography course dealing with or appropriate to the country of specialization when available. The methodology and bibliography courses are counted as two of the twelve required courses. The choice of courses must be approved by the student’s adviser and by the DGS. Courses in first-year classical Chinese, first-year classical Japanese and Kanbun can be counted toward the twelve courses. Second-year classical Chinese can be counted as a graduate colloquium/seminar.
Entering students are required to take the language placement examination in their primary East Asian language of specialization (Chinese, Japanese, or Korean) 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. Requirements for each primary language are as follows:
A. Primary language
1. Students with Chinese as their primary language are required to complete Fifth-year modern Chinese or the equivalent, as well as one year of classical Chinese or the equivalent.
2. Students with Japanese as their primary language are required to complete Fifth-year Japanese or the equivalent as well as one year of classical Japanese or the equivalent. In addition, they are required to complete one semester of Kanbun or one year of classical Chinese.
3. Students with Korean as their primary language are required to complete Fifth-year Korean or the equivalent. In addition, they are required to complete one year of classical Chinese or one semester of Kanbun
B. Second and third languages
In addition to work in their primary language, students are also required to be able to use other research languages as well.
1. Students with Chinese as their primary language are required to also complete two years of Japanese or the equivalent. In addition, they are expected to complete either the equivalent of two years of a European language or two years of a third language in either classical or modern form chosen in consultation with the adviser.
2. Students with Japanese as their primary language are expected to complete the equivalent of two years of European language or two years of a second Asian language in either classical or modern form, in consultation with adviser.
3. Students with Korean as their primary language are required to complete the equivalent of two years of modern Japanese or Chinese. In addition, they are required to complete the equivalent of two years of one European language, to be chosen in consultation with the adviser.
4. Students with Tibetan as their primary language are required to complete the equivalent of two years of Sanskrit, modern Japanese, or Chinese. In addition, they are required to complete the equivalent of two years of one European language, to be chosen in consultation with the adviser.
The student must take a two-hour comprehensive oral examination in three or four subject areas defined in consultation with the advisor and the DGS. Normally, one of these subject areas is outside the student’s country of specialization. The committee for the oral examination, which is put together by the advisor, consists of three or more faculty members. It is up to the student to consult carefully with the advisor and DGS in constructing an effective program and schedule. The oral examination is normally taken at the end of the third year (but no later than the end of the fourth year, or third year for those with full advanced standing) of Ph.D. study.
PhD students are required to write and defend the dissertation prospectus within six months of completing the M.Phil. oral examinations. The student must pass an one-hour oral defense of the dissertation prospectus before his or her M.Phil oral examination committee or before a dissertation prospectus committee selected by the advisor.
The prospectus, which is at least 10 pages plus a bibliography, is usually a revision of the grant proposal submitted to outside funders at the beginning of the third year for dissertation research in Asia. The prospectus defense may be carried out in conjunction with the M. Phil oral examination, or it may be taken afterwards, before leaving for dissertation research.
All students write the M.A. essay or its equivalent (for those entering with an M.A., a research paper), to be completed by the end of the third semester. Students who entered the program without an M. A. in East Asian Studies as well as those who have earned a M.A degree that does not match Columbia’s criteria for East Asian Studies degree should apply to the department to receive the M. A. degree upon completion of the M. A. thesis and course requirements. Two additional papers must be completed by the time of the oral examination, one paper based on research in primary sources, and one paper outside the student’s primary specialization to be chosen in consultation with, and submitted to, the adviser.
This is done by completing the following two steps:
1) Apply for the M.A. degree with the Registrar. This can be done online via their website:
2) Submit the completed M.A. Degree Requirements Checklist for PhD Candidates form, signed by the advisor, to the EALAC office, 407 Kent Hall. This form is available on the department website: