About the Program
Bachelor of Arts (BA)
Note: The Asian Studies Major and all of the associated minors have been retired and folded into Global Studies. We are no longer accepting Asian Studies declarations. Please visit the Global Studies website or the Global Studies page on the Berkeley Academic Guide for more information.
The Undergraduate Group Major in Asian Studies is a rigorous but flexible interdisciplinary program designed to help students take advantage of the rich course offerings in the Asian field campuswide in a way that is not available through individual departments. Utilizing the faculty and facilities of the entire university, these degree programs cut across conventional disciplinary lines and emphasize a basic core of knowledge concerning one particular geographic area of Asia. Within this core, which requires course work in multiple departments and reading knowledge of at least one Asian language, regionally-oriented students have the freedom to plan an individual program according to their particular interests and approaches. No two programs are alike, and students work closely with the student affairs office and with a faculty mentor in designing their customized academic plan.
A number of Asian Studies majors are double majors, finding the focus on Asia useful for complementing the political science, economics, anthropology, or history of art majors, for example.
The Asian Studies: Japan major program (denoted Area 3) is one of three major programs offered by the Group in Asian Studies.
Declaring the Major
All required courses must be taken for a letter grade. After you have fulfilled the prerequisite courses listed on the Major Requirements tab, students will need to see the major adviser at the undergraduate office, 101 Stephens Hall, on Mondays and Wednesdays between 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. The major adviser has the necessary paperwork needed to declare the major and put together an academic plan.
The honors thesis program provides an opportunity for eligible Asian Studies undergraduate seniors to complete original and independent research under the mentorship of a faculty thesis adviser. The honors thesis program is a year-long program which may begin in either the fall or spring semester of the senior year. It consists of the completion of ASIANST H195A and ASIANST H195B (3 units each, 6 units total), which includes the writing of the honors thesis. These can count towards two of the five concentration courses required for the major. These courses are independent study courses; there is no instruction or class time involved. All the work for the thesis and these two courses is done independently in consultation with faculty advisers. The honors thesis is expected to be a substantial research paper, both in its length and originality. Although there is no specific length requirement, a typical undergraduate honors thesis contains 40-80 pages of text, a bibliography, and often illustrations and tables. Each thesis is reviewed by two faculty members of your choice. To get a sense of what has been done in the past, visit our website for a list of theses, or visit the undergraduate major adviser in 101 Stephens for bound copies of theses.
Eligibility requirements for the honors program:
- Overall UC grade point average (GPA) must be 3.5 or higher at the time of application and when beginning the thesis.
- Major GPA must be 3.6 or higher at time of application and when beginning the thesis.
- Students must complete the language requirement, the upper division theories and methods, and history requirements, before embarking on the honors thesis.
- A completed honors thesis application form and a well-designed research proposal that has the sponsorship of two faculty members must be submitted to the undergraduate adviser.
- No incompletes on record at the time of application and when beginning the thesis. All incomplete grades must be resolved before a student can submit the honors thesis form.
Recommended application timeline for the honors program
February of junior year (fall/spring thesis), or September of junior year (spring/fall thesis). Prepare brief thesis proposal and meet with prospective thesis adviser(s). Get the consent of a faculty member to serve as your sponsor. Discuss the project, appropriate methodology and research methods, and preparation of sample bibliography with the faculty sponsor. April of Junior year (fall/spring); November of Junior year (spring/fall): The thesis application form, signed by both the faculty adviser and second reader, due to the undergraduate major adviser in 101 Stephens Hall.
The Group in Asian Studies does not offer a minor program in Asian Studies: Japan. However, the group does offer a minor in Japanese Studies.
Other Majors and Minors Offered by the Group in Asian Studies
- Asian Studies: Multi-Area (Area 1): Includes all countries and regions of Asia (Major only)
- Asian Studies: China (Area 2) (Major only)
- Chinese Studies (Minor only)
- Japanese Studies (Minor only)
- Korean Studies (Minor only)
In addition to the University, campus, and college requirements, listed on the College Requirements tab, students must fulfill the below requirements specific to their major program.
Students who earn a grade of F, D-, D, D+, or NP may repeat the course only once. Regardless of the grade the student receives for their second attempt (including F, D-, D, or D+), the student may not repeat the course a third time.
- All courses taken to fulfill the major requirements below must be taken for graded credit, other than courses listed which are offered on a Pass/No Pass basis only. Other exceptions to this requirement are noted as applicable.
- No more than one upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs, with the exception of minors offered outside of the College of Letters & Science.
- A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 must be maintained in both upper and lower division courses used to fulfill the major requirements.
For information regarding residence requirements and unit requirements, please see the College Requirements tab.
- Lower Division Prerequisites (two courses): ASIANST 10 (Introduction to Asia) and one history course (see list below for course options).
- Language Requirement: two years of Japanese or equivalent. Students can take the placement exam (for students who want to take more language courses at UCB) or the proficiency exam (for students who want to waive the language requirement) offered by the East Asian Languages and Cultures Department.
- Upper Division Requirements (total of eight courses as outlined below):
- Disciplinary Focus: two courses from the same discipline/department. The first course must be a theories and methods whose primary focus is to introduce the theories and methods of the chosen discipline. The second course, taken in the same department, must focus on Japan. In the case that the department does not offer a Japan course, other courses on Asia from the same department may be substituted. Note: Students that want to take an interdisciplinary theories and methods course can take IAS 102 or ISF 100A or ISF 100B. The course must be paired with an ASIANST 150 topics course.
- History: one upper division course on Japanese history (see course list below for options)
- Concentration: three upper division courses focusing on Japan (50% or more of the course must be on China). Advanced language study classes, such as the Japanese 100 series or upper division literature courses, can be counted towards the three upper division courses on Japan. Students completing the honors program can apply ASIANST H195A and ASIANST H195B towards the upper division requirements.
- Outside of Area: select one upper division course focusing on an area outside of Japan (courses on China, Korea, Taiwan, countries of Southeast Asia or South Asia)
- Regional: select one upper division course that focuses on Asia as a region (situates your country of focus in a larger regional context). Regional courses, by definition, deal with more than one country.
|Lower Division Prerequisites|
|ASIANST 10||Introduction to Asia||4|
|In addition to ASIANST 10, select one of the following:|
|HISTORY 6A||History of China: Origins to the Mongol Conquest||4|
|HISTORY 6B||Introduction to Chinese History from the Mongols to Mao||4|
|HISTORY 14||Introduction to the History of Japan||4|
|KOREAN 7A||Introduction to Premodern Korean Literature and Culture||4|
|KOREAN 7B||Introduction to Modern Korean Literature and Culture||4|
|SEASIAN 10A||Introduction to the Civilization of Southeast Asia||4|
|SEASIAN 10B||Introduction to the Civilization of Southeast Asia||4|
|SASIAN 1A||Introduction to the Civilization of Early India||4|
|SASIAN 1B||Introduction to the Civilization of Medieval and Modern India||4|
Students must complete four semesters of Japanese (end of intermediate level) by taking courses from this list or students can take the placement or proficiency exams offered by the East Asian Languages and Cultures Department.
|JAPAN 1||Intensive Elementary Japanese||10|
|JAPAN 1A||Elementary Japanese||5|
|JAPAN 1B||Elementary Japanese||5|
|JAPAN 10||Intensive Intermediate Japanese||10|
|JAPAN 10A||Intermediate Japanese||5|
|JAPAN 10B||Intermediate Japanese||5|
|JAPAN 10X||Intermediate Japanese for Heritage Learners||5|
Use this list to find courses that satisfy the upper division history requirement.
|HISTORY 118A||Japan: Japan, Archaeological Period to 1800||4|
|HISTORY 118B||Japan: Japan 1800-1900||4|
|HISTORY 118C||Japan: Empire and Alienation: The 20th Century in Japan||4|
|HISTORY 119A||Topics in Japanese History: Postwar Japan||4|
|HISTORY N119A||Course Not Available||4|
Theories and Methods courses
Use this list to find courses (take one course) that satisfy the theories and methods requirement. Note: students who want to take an interdisciplinary theories and methods course can take IAS 102 or ISF 100A or ISF 100B.
|ANTHRO 114||History of Anthropological Thought||4|
|ANTHRO 141||Comparative Society||4|
|ANTHRO 169B||Research Theory and Methods in Socio-Cultural Anthropology||5|
|ECON 100A||Economic Analysis--Micro||4|
|ECON 100B||Economic Analysis--Macro||4|
|ECON 101A||Economic Theory--Micro||4|
|ECON 101B||Economic Theory--Macro||4|
|FILM 100||History of Film Theory||4|
|HISTART 100||Theories and Methods of Art History||4|
|IAS 102||Scope and Methods of Research in International and Area Studies||4|
|LINGUIS 100||Introduction to Linguistic Science||4|
|LINGUIS 140||Field Methods||3|
|POLECON 101||Contemporary Theories of Political Economy 1||4|
|PHILOS 100||Philosophical Methods 1||4|
|POL SCI 112A||History of Political Theory||4|
|POL SCI 112B||History of Political Theory||4|
|POL SCI 112C||History of Political Theory||4|
|SOCIOL 101||Sociological Theory I||5|
|SOCIOL 102||Sociological Theory II||5|
|SOCIOL 105||Research Design and Sociological Methods||5|
Use this list to find courses that satisfy the concentration, outside of area, regional elective, and second disciplinary focus course requirements. This is essentially a list of all Asia-related courses currently offered on campus. Note that this is not an exhaustive list. If you think a course could count, discuss your suggestion with a major adviser.
|ANTHRO C125A||Archaeology of East Asia||4|
|ANTHRO C125B||Archaeology and Japanese Identities||4|
|ANTHRO 184||South Asia||4|
|ASIANST 150||Special Topics||4|
|BUDDSTD C114||Tibetan Buddhism||4|
|BUDDSTD C128||Buddhism in Contemporary Society||4|
|CHINESE 100A||Advanced Chinese||5|
|CHINESE 100XA||Advanced Chinese for Mandarin Speakers||4|
|CHINESE 100B||Advanced Chinese||5|
|CHINESE 100XB||Advanced Chinese for Mandarin Speakers||4|
|CHINESE 101||Fourth-Year Chinese Readings: Literature||4|
|CHINESE 102||Fourth-Year Chinese Readings: Social Sciences and History||4|
|CHINESE 110A||Introduction to Literary Chinese||4|
|CHINESE 110B||Introduction to Literary Chinese||4|
|CHINESE 111||Fifth-Year Readings: Reading and Analysis of Advanced Chinese Texts||4|
|CHINESE 112||Fifth-Year Readings: Chinese for Research and Professional Use||4|
|CHINESE 120||Ancient Chinese Prose||4|
|CHINESE 122||Ancient Chinese Poetry||4|
|CHINESE 130||Topics in Daoism||4|
|CHINESE 134||Readings in Classical Chinese Poetry||4|
|CHINESE 136||Readings in Medieval Prose||4|
|CHINESE C140||Readings in Chinese Buddhist Texts||4|
|CHINESE 155||Readings in Vernacular Chinese Literature||4|
|CHINESE 156||Modern Chinese Literature||4|
|CHINESE 157||Contemporary Chinese Literature||4|
|CHINESE 158||Reading Chinese Cities||4|
|CHINESE 159||Cities and the Country||4|
|CHINESE 161||Structure of the Chinese Language||4|
|CHINESE 165||History of the Chinese Language||4|
|CHINESE 180||The Story of the Stone||4|
|CHINESE C184||Course Not Available||4|
|CHINESE 186||Confucius and His Interpreters||4|
|CHINESE 188||Popular Media in Modern China||4|
|CHINESE 189||Chinese Landscapes: Space, Place, and Travel||4|
|CY PLAN 115||Urbanization in Developing Countries||4|
|EA LANG 101||Catastrophe, Memory, and Narrative: Comparative Responses to Atrocity in the Twentieth Century||4|
|EA LANG 105||Dynamics of Romantic Core Values in East Asian Premodern Literature and Contemporary Film||4|
|EA LANG 106||Expressing the Ineffable in China and Beyond: The Making of Meaning in Poetic Writing||4|
|EA LANG 107||War, Empire, and Literature in East Asia||4|
|EA LANG 108||Revising the Classics: Chinese and Greek Poetry in Translation||4|
|EA LANG 109||History of the Culture of Tea in China and Japan||4|
|EA LANG C120||Buddhism on the Silk Road||4|
|EA LANG C130||Zen Buddhism||4|
|ECON 162||The Chinese Economy||3|
|ECON C171||Economic Development||4|
|ECON C181||International Trade||4|
|FILM 160||National Cinema ((when on China or Japan))||4|
|GEOG 164||The Geography of Economic Development in China||4|
|GEOG 175||Undergraduate Seminars||4|
|HISTORY 100||Course Not Available ((when on China))||4|
|HISTORY 103F||Proseminar: Problems in Interpretation in the Several Fields of History: Asia||4|
|HISTORY 111A||Topics in the History of Southest Asia: Southeast Asia to the 18th Century||4|
|HISTORY 111B||Topics in the History of Southest Asia: Modern Southeast Asia||4|
|HISTORY 111C||Topics in the History of Southest Asia: Political and Cultural History of Vietnam||4|
|HISTORY 111D||Vietnam at War||4|
|HISTORY 113A||Course Not Available||4|
|HISTORY 113B||Modern Korean History||4|
|HISTORY 114A||Politics, Culture, and Philosophy in South Asia before Modernity||4|
|HISTORY 114B||India: Modern South Asia||4|
|HISTORY 116A||Course Not Available||4|
|HISTORY 116B||China: Two Golden Ages: China During the Tang and Song Dynasties||4|
|HISTORY 116C||China: Modern China||4|
|HISTORY 116D||China: Twentieth-Century China||4|
|HISTORY 117A||Topics in Chinese History: Chinese Popular Culture||4|
|HISTORY 117D||Topics in Chinese History: The Chinese Body: Gender and Sex, Health, and Medicine||4|
|HISTORY 118A||Japan: Japan, Archaeological Period to 1800||4|
|HISTORY 118B||Japan: Japan 1800-1900||4|
|HISTORY 118C||Japan: Empire and Alienation: The 20th Century in Japan||4|
|HISTORY 119A||Topics in Japanese History: Postwar Japan||4|
|HISTART 130A||Early Chinese Art, Part I||4|
|HISTART 131A||Sacred Arts in China||4|
|HISTART 131B||The Classical Painting Tradition in China||4|
|HISTART 134A||Topics in Buddhist Art and Architecture: Buddhist Temple Art & Architecture in Japan||4|
|HISTART 134B||Topics in Buddhist Art and Architecture: Buddhist Icons in Japan||4|
|HISTART 134C||Topics in Buddhist Art and Architecture: Buddhist Art in the Modern/Contemporary World||4|
|HISTART 136A||South Asian Art: Ancient||4|
|HISTART 136B||South Asian Art: Early Modern||4|
|HISTART 136C||The Art of India: 1350 A.D. to the Present||4|
|HISTART 137||The Art of Southeast Asia||4|
|HISTART 190A||Special Topics in Fields of Art History: Asian||4|
|HISTART 192A||Undergraduate Seminar: Problems in Research and Interpretation: Asian||4|
|JAPAN 100A||Advanced Japanese||5|
|JAPAN 100B||Advanced Japanese||5|
|JAPAN 100S||Japanese for Sinologists||4|
|JAPAN 101||Fourth-Year Readings: Social Sciences||4|
|JAPAN 102||Fourth-Year Readings: Japanese Culture||4|
|JAPAN 103||Fourth-Year Readings: Japanese Literature||4|
|JAPAN 104||Fourth-Year Readings: Japanese History||4|
|JAPAN 111||Fifth-Year Readings: Reading and Analysis of Advanced Japanese Texts||4|
|JAPAN 112||Fifth-Year Readings: Japanese for Research and Professional Use||4|
|JAPAN C115||Japanese Buddhism||4|
|JAPAN 120||Introduction to Classical Japanese||4|
|JAPAN 130||Classical Japanese Poetry||4|
|JAPAN 132||Premodern Japanese Diary (Nikki) Literature||4|
|JAPAN 140||Heian Prose||4|
|JAPAN 144||Edo Literature||4|
|JAPAN 146||Japanese Historical Documents||4|
|JAPAN 155||Modern Japanese Literature||4|
|JAPAN 159||Contemporary Japanese Literature||4|
|JAPAN 160||Introduction to Japanese Linguistics: Grammar||4|
|JAPAN 161||Introduction to Japanese Linguistics: Usage||4|
|JAPAN 163||Translation: Theory and Practice||4|
|JAPAN 170||Classical Japanese Literature in Translation||4|
|JAPAN 173||Modern Japanese Literature in Translation||4|
|JAPAN 180||Ghosts and the Modern Literary Imagination||4|
|JAPAN 185||Introduction to Japanese Cinema||4|
|JAPAN 188||Japanese Visual Culture: Introduction to Anime||4|
|LEGALST 161||Law in Chinese Society||4|
|MUSIC 133C||Music and Theater in Southeast Asia||4|
|MUSIC 133D||Music of Central Java||4|
|MUSIC 134A||Course Not Available||4|
|MUSIC 134B||Course Not Available||4|
|MUSIC 140||Javanese Gamelan||2|
|NE STUD 126||Silk Road Art and Archaeology||3|
|POL SCI 128||Chinese Foreign Policy||4|
|POL SCI 138E||The Varieties of Capitalism: Political Economic Systems of the World||4|
|POL SCI 143A||Northeast Asian Politics||4|
|POL SCI 143B||Japanese Politics||4|
|POL SCI 143C||Chinese Politics||4|
|POL SCI 144B||Politics of Divided Korea||4|
|POL SCI 145A||South Asian Politics||4|
|POL SCI 145B||South Asian Politics||4|
|PSYCH 107||Buddhist Psychology||3|
|SEASIAN 128||Introduction to Modern Indonesian and Malaysian Literature in Translation||4|
|SEASIAN 137||Islam and Society in Southeast Asia||4|
|SEASIAN 138||Southeast Asian Cultures, Texts, and Politics||4|
|SOCIOL 190||Seminar and Research in Sociology||4|
Undergraduate students must fulfill the following requirements in addition to those required by their major program.
For detailed lists of courses that fulfill college requirements, please review the College of Letters & Sciences page in this Guide. For College advising appointments, please visit the L&S Advising Pages.
University of California Requirements
All students who will enter the University of California as freshmen must demonstrate their command of the English language by fulfilling the Entry Level Writing requirement. Fulfillment of this requirement is also a prerequisite to enrollment in all reading and composition courses at UC Berkeley.
The American History and Institutions requirements are based on the principle that a US resident graduated from an American university, should have an understanding of the history and governmental institutions of the United States.
Berkeley Campus Requirement
All undergraduate students at Cal need to take and pass this course in order to graduate. The requirement offers an exciting intellectual environment centered on the study of race, ethnicity and culture of the United States. AC courses offer students opportunities to be part of research-led, highly accomplished teaching environments, grappling with the complexity of American Culture.
College of Letters & Science Essential Skills Requirements
The Quantitative Reasoning requirement is designed to ensure that students graduate with basic understanding and competency in math, statistics, or computer science. The requirement may be satisfied by exam or by taking an approved course.
The Foreign Language requirement may be satisfied by demonstrating proficiency in reading comprehension, writing, and conversation in a foreign language equivalent to the second semester college level, either by passing an exam or by completing approved course work.
In order to provide a solid foundation in reading, writing, and critical thinking the College requires two semesters of lower division work in composition in sequence. Students must complete parts A & B reading and composition courses by the end of their second semester and a second-level course by the end of their fourth semester.
College of Letters & Science 7 Course Breadth Requirements
The undergraduate breadth requirements provide Berkeley students with a rich and varied educational experience outside of their major program. As the foundation of a liberal arts education, breadth courses give students a view into the intellectual life of the University while introducing them to a multitude of perspectives and approaches to research and scholarship. Engaging students in new disciplines and with peers from other majors, the breadth experience strengthens interdisciplinary connections and context that prepares Berkeley graduates to understand and solve the complex issues of their day.
120 total units
Of the 120 units, 36 must be upper division units
- Of the 36 upper division units, 6 must be taken in courses offered outside your major department
For units to be considered in "residence," you must be registered in courses on the Berkeley campus as a student in the College of Letters & Science. Most students automatically fulfill the residence requirement by attending classes here for four years. In general, there is no need to be concerned about this requirement, unless you go abroad for a semester or year or want to take courses at another institution or through UC Extension during your senior year. In these cases, you should make an appointment to meet an adviser to determine how you can meet the Senior Residence Requirement.
Note: Courses taken through UC Extension do not count toward residence.
Senior Residence Requirement
After you become a senior (with 90 semester units earned toward your BA degree), you must complete at least 24 of the remaining 30 units in residence in at least two semesters. To count as residence, a semester must consist of at least 6 passed units. Intercampus Visitor, EAP, and UC Berkeley-Washington Program (UCDC) units are excluded.
You may use a Berkeley Summer Session to satisfy one semester of the Senior Residence requirement, provided that you successfully complete 6 units of course work in the Summer Session and that you have been enrolled previously in the college.
Modified Senior Residence Requirement
Participants in the UC Education Abroad Program (EAP), Berkeley Summer Abroad, or the UC Berkeley Washington Program (UCDC) may meet a Modified Senior Residence requirement by completing 24 (excluding EAP) of their final 60 semester units in residence. At least 12 of these 24 units must be completed after you have completed 90 units.
Upper Division Residence Requirement
You must complete in residence a minimum of 18 units of upper division courses (excluding UCEAP units), 12 of which must satisfy the requirements for your major.
Student Learning Goals
Learning Goals for the Major
- Demonstrate specialized knowledge of China, Japan, or of multiple areas with a thematic concentration.
- Acquire language skills in one foreign language depending on the student's area of focus (Mandarin Chinese for a China emphasis; Japanese for a Japan focus; Chinese, Japanese, or Korean, as appropriate for the multi-area thematic concentration).
- From perspectives of more than one discipline, understand the study of China or Japan, or in the case of the multi-area thematic concentration, of countries and regions of East Asia, Southeast Asia, and South Asia.
- Apply approaches of one selected discipline to the study of China or Japan, or in the case of the multi-area thematic concentration, of countries and regions of East Asia, Southeast Asia, and South Asia.
- Demonstrate understanding of research methods in that discipline.
- Acquire relatively deeper knowledge of one Asian culture other than China or Japan.
- Demonstrate basic knowledge of the multiplicity of countries and cultures that make up the region.
- Acquire knowledge of historical flows in the region.
- Develop understanding of contemporary trends.
- Formulate well-organized and well-supported arguments.
- Show evidence of critical thinking skills.
Download the explanation/representation of how undergraduate student learning goals intersect with curriculum requirements.
Berkeley Student Journal of Asian Studies
The Berkeley Student Journal of Asian Studies is an interdisciplinary student journal that bridges research at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The Journal strives to broaden the study of Asian across disciplinary lines and to expand the Asian studies community by promoting leadership and scholarship of Asia. For information on submissions and to view copies of previous journals, please visit their website.
Opportunities to study in Asia are abundant and students are encouraged to take advantage of them. Those who qualify for the UC Education Abroad Programs (EAP) are often eligible for substantial scholarships. Many courses taken abroad transfer easily to the major. We accept up to 12 semester units for the major and two courses for the minor. Students should consult with the undergraduate major adviser for approval of courses taken through an education abroad program. For further information, contact the Berkeley Programs for Study Abroad at 160 Stephens Hall, 510-642-1356, and/or check out the EAP website for the UC system.
This is a list of courses offered by the Asian Studies major only. For a comprehensive list of all Asia-related courses currently offered on the Berkeley campus, look at the Asia-focused list under "Major Requirements."
Group in Asian Studies
1995 University Avenue, Suite 510E