Relief carving from Zuto stupa mound in Nara. Photo by David Lurie.

Relief carving from Zuto stupa mound in Nara. Photo by David Lurie.

Undergraduate Major

The Department offers a major for both Columbia College and General Studies students, as well as a minor for SEAS students. The department also offers several courses for non-majors that serve as an introduction to East Asian history and literature.

Columbia College: Major in East Asian Studies

School of General Studies: Major in East Asian Studies

SEAS and Barnard students interested in East Asian courses should receive advising from their respective school advisors.

Please note that these requirements are for students who have declared the major in Spring 2014 or beyond.  For graduating seniors and those who have declared the major in or before Fall 2013, please visit: 

For questions, please contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies.



Students must meet the following prerequisite prior to declaring the EALAC major: Two years of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, or Tibetan, or the proficiency equivalent (to be demonstrated by placement examination).

Language requirement

Third-year Chinese, Japanese, Korean, or Tibetan (completion of the W4005-W4006 level in Chinese, Japanese, or Korean; TIBT G4611-G4612 level in Tibetan), or the proficiency equivalent (to be demonstrated by placement examination).  Students of Chinese may also complete W4003N-W4004N 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.

Introductory courses

AHUM V3400 (4 points) and any two of the following four 4-point survey courses: ASCE V2359, ASCE V2361, ASCE V2363, ASCE V2365.

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.

Korean authors visit Columbia University

Korean authors visit Columbia University

Disciplinary specialty

On entering the major, each student must choose an academic discipline from among the following: history, literature, anthropology, art history, economics, philosophy, political science, religion, or sociology.

All majors are required to take EAAS W3990, “Approaches to East Asian Studies,” which is offered every spring.

Depending on the chosen discipline, each student must also complete a specific number of more specialized East Asia–related disciplinary courses: three for economics and political science; two for all other disciplines.

Courses in closely related disciplines may be substituted with the approval of the director of undergraduate studies.

Elective courses

For students specializing in history, literature, anthropology, art history, philosophy, religion, or sociology, two courses. For students specializing in economics or political science, one course. Courses are to be chosen in consultation with the director of undergraduate studies. East Asia–related courses offered in other departments may be counted toward the elective requirement. Courses in a second East Asian language (one year minimum) or a classical East Asian language (one semester minimum) may be used to fulfill one of the two elective requirements, but placement examinations may not be used to do so.

Senior Thesis Program

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 a hard copy of the EALAC Senior Thesis Program Application (see Undergraduate Planning Sheets and Forms) to the EALAC Academic Coordinator, in 407 Kent by Friday, April 29th at 5:00 PM. Decisions will be made by June 1, when grades for the second semester have been received. 

All potential thesis writers are required to enroll in the Senior Thesis Research Workshop (EAAS V3999) 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 W3901).

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 1 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.)

Careers for EALAC Majors

For information on career opportunities pursued by EALAC majors, please see the Center for Career Education here.


Director of Undergraduate Programs:
Theodore Hughes