The Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences offers two interdisciplinary graduate programs in the literature, culture, visual arts, history, and languages of East Asia, with particular emphasis on critical methodology and comparative study. One program is a terminal MA degree while the other leads to a PhD.
Master of Arts (MA)
The Master of Arts program is a regionally-focused humanities program designed for students who wish to broaden their knowledge of East Asian studies and languages. The program equips students with the language skills necessary to prepare them to undertake advanced research at the PhD level in their region of choice. Alongside a regional or transregional comparative focus, students choose a discipline and take seminars as well methodological courses to prepare for conducting thesis research. For more information about the MA program, please refer to the EALAC MA Degree Requirements.
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
The Doctor of Philosophy program, which requires a minimum of three years of study in an East Asian language for admittance, is designed to prepare qualified full-time students for the Doctor of Philosophy degree. Students participate in a variety of courses, colloquia, and seminars designed to provide the student with historical breadth and critical acumen, the ability to read and analyze texts in East Asian languages, and the skills necessary to carry out original research. For more information about our PhD programs, please refer to the EALAC PhD Degree Program Requirements.
In addition, many students also apply to study with the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society while pursuing a PhD in the EALAC department. The Institute for Comparative Literature and Society (ICLS) supports interdisciplinary work in the humanities and social sciences as well as in the professional schools (Law and Architecture, Planning and Preservation) and the regional institutes. The Institute draws on a large number of comparatists in the language and literature departments as well as in related disciplines. Housed in the Institute, the Interdepartmental Committee on Comparative Literature and Society combines rigorous training in the student’s home PhD program with the most advanced cross-disciplinary work in the study of comparative literature and society. Doctoral students in EALAC may pursue a Concentration in the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society while pursuing a PhD in the EALAC department. Those who choose to do so must indicate their interest in ICLS clearly on the cover of their application or in the subfield section in the Application Part 1. More information about the Institute can be found at The Institute for Comparative Literature website.
East Asian Studies in Other Departments
Other departments at Columbia also offer courses and support faculty concerned with East Asia, among them the departments of Anthropology, Art History, Economics, History, Political Science, Religion, and Sociology. Students interested in East Asia with primary application in those disciplines should apply to those departments. Faculty members specializing in East Asian History typically have positions in both the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures and in the Department of History.
The School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) is a professional school offering Master’s degrees in international relations. This is an independent degree program that allows for various regional specializations, including contemporary East Asia. Students specifically aiming toward careers but not doctoral degrees in government, public policy, international relations, and some business fields should apply to SIPA. Among its regional institutes, the Weatherhead East Asian Institute is an interdisciplinary center for research and publication, emphasizing modern East Asia. Students registered in degree programs in Graduate School of Arts and Sciences departments may also participate in the programs of the Institute and apply for its Certificate upon completion of certain designated requirements. In addition, other professional schools and a professional college, including the School of Business, the School of Law, the School of Journalism, and Columbia Teachers College may have programs of interest to prospective students of East Asia. Students interested in advanced programs in those fields should apply directly to the relevant school or college.