Majoring in East Asian Studies
Resources are categorized under the following tabbed sections.
The Department offers a major for both Columbia College and General Studies students, as well as a minor for SEAS students. All majors, regardless of language of specialization, receive grounding in courses that are East Asia-wide, and that require a serious encounter with the historical past of the region, not just of a single country. That is why all majors must take three introductory courses, dealing with great texts of East Asian traditions, as well as at least two civilization courses chosen from among China, Japan, Korea, Tibet, and Vietnam. (Note: these introductory courses are preferably taken before embarking on electives in more specific subject areas.)
SEAS and Barnard students interested in East Asian courses should receive advising from their respective school advisors.
All majors should be in contact with the Director of Undergraduate Studies. The Director will provide basic advice to everyone, in regards to registration, requirements, study abroad, and the Honors Senior Thesis. The Director will also facilitate contact with other East Asian faculty, for more detailed advice about preferred course-sequencing in sub-fields of the student’s interest.
Students must meet the following prerequisite prior to declaring the EALAC major:
- Two years of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Tibetan, or Vietnamese, or the proficiency equivalent (to be demonstrated by placement examination).
- Third-year Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Tibetan, or Vietnamese (completion of the UN3005-UN3006 level in Chinese, Japanese, or Korean; TIBT UN3611-UN3612 level in Tibetan; VIET UN3101-UN3102 in Vietnamese), or the proficiency equivalent (to be demonstrated by placement examination). Students of Chinese may also complete UN3003-UN3004 to meet the third year requirement.
- Students who test out of three years or more of a language must take an additional year of that language or another East Asian language at Columbia in order to satisfy the language requirement.
- AHUM UN1400 “Colloquium on Major Texts” (4 points)
- Any two of the following four 4-point East Asian Civilization courses: ASCE UN1359 China Civ, ASCE UN1361 Japan Civ, ASCE UN1363 Korea Civ, ASCE UN1365 Tibet Civ, ASCE UN1367 Vietnam Civ
- First-year students and sophomores, prior to declaring an East Asian studies major, are strongly urged to take one or more of the introductory courses.
- EAAS UN3990 “Approaches to East Asian Studies” (offered only in the fall)
- Four elective courses in East Asian studies, to be chosen in consultation with the DUS. Two of these courses must be EALAC or AMEC courses.
Using language courses as an elective:
- A second East Asian language (1-year minimum) or one semester of a classical East Asian language may count for one elective course.
Please note that the following courses CANNOT be counted as an elective course. These courses can only be used to fulfill the EALAC language requirement:
- Business Chinese I/II
- Advanced Business Chinese I/II
- Media Chinese I/II
- Legal Chinese
- Japanese Pop Culture I/II
However, the following courses are NOT categorized as language courses and CAN count as an elective course:
- History of the Chinese Language
- Acquisition of Chinese as a Second Language
If you have any questions about the undergraduate major, please contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies.
East Asian Studies majors who wish to write a senior thesis apply to the EALAC Senior Thesis Program at the end of their junior year. Students must have at least a 3.6 GPA in courses taken in the major at the time of the application. Students interested in applying to the Senior Thesis Program should submit the EALAC Senior Thesis Program Application (see Undergraduate Planning Sheets and Forms) along with a Thesis Overview and writing sample. The application period for the Senior Thesis Program opens in March and closes the last Friday in April.
All potential thesis writers are required to enroll in Senior Thesis Research Workshop (EAAS UN3999 Research in East Asian Studies) in the fall of the senior year. Students who perform satisfactorily in this workshop, successfully complete a thesis proposal, and find a faculty advisor will then write the Senior Thesis itself in the spring semester under the direction of the advisor and a graduate student tutor (EAAS UN3901).
How long should a senior thesis be? As a rule of thumb, the senior thesis should be about 30-35 pages of text (double-spaced, normal typeface and margins) and 5-8 pages of references. Under no circumstances should a thesis exceed a total of 50 pages including references) without the special permission of the advisor. It is quality that counts, not quantity.
Successful completion of the thesis by the April deadline in the spring semester will be necessary but not sufficient for a student to receive Departmental Honors. (Because honors can be awarded to a maximum of 10% of the majors, not all thesis writers will receive honors.)
All senior thesis writers will be recognized with a gift for their special achievements at an awards luncheon named in honor of EALAC alumnus Oscar Lee, sponsored by EALAC alumnus and Oscar’s friend, Norman Hanson (CC ’79).
Students enrolled at Columbia College, SEAS, Barnard, and the School of General Studies may apply for early admission to the M.A. program in East Asian Languages and Cultures and begin their M.A. coursework in their senior year while completing their undergraduate degree. For more information, please see the BA/MA Option page.
Careers that East Asian Studies students have pursued include academia, law, medicine, business, the arts, journalism, and government, and stretch from fashion to food. For more detailed information on career opportunities pursued by EALAC majors, please visit the Center for Career Education.
In order to qualify for departmental honors, students must have a GPA of at least 3.7 in classes for the major and have submitted an honors senior thesis of distinction. The faculty of the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures submits recommendations to the College Committee on Honors for confirmation. Normally no more than ten percent of the graduating majors in the department receive departmental honors. In addition, EALAC students are eligible to receive both Latin and Phi Beta Kappa Honors conferred by Columbia College and Phi Beta Kappa inductees.
In addition, the Japanese language program awards the Keiko Chevray Award and the Mary Hue Award for Japanese language; the Korean language program awards The Center for Korean Research Manhae Prize for Korean Language; and students in the Chinese language program are eligible for the Columbia Award for Chinese Language Study.