East Asian Languages and Cultures

University of California, Berkeley


The Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures (EALC) was one of the first academic departments devoted to the study of Asia established in the United States. Its history dates back to 1872, when Edward Tompkins, one of the founders of the University of California, presented the then four-year-old institution with its first endowed chair, the Agassiz Professorship of Oriental Languages and Literature. Tompkins was convinced that the future of the state and its citizens lay not in the Atlantic 'old world' but in the Pacific. More than a century later, the department continues to build upon its distinguished tradition of scholarship and service as an innovative and vibrant center for the teaching and research of East Asian languages, literatures, and cultures.

In 1900, the department began to develop a curriculum in Japanese to complement its initial strengths in Chinese, and in 1943 it became the first department in the country to offer instruction in Korean. By the 1960s—in the wake of an unprecedented expansion in the postwar era of Area Studies programs in the American academy—UC Berkeley and the department cemented its national preeminence in the study of East Asia and hosted many of the most renowned modern scholars of Chinese and Japanese linguistics, literature, and cultural history.

Today, the department offers a comprehensive curriculum in the East Asian humanities for both undergraduate and graduate students that encompasses modern and classical languages, literatures, philosophies, and cultures. Faculty research and teaching interests are diverse and interdisciplinary, running the gamut from premodern literary and artistic expression to contemporary writing and popular cultures.

East Asian Languages and Cultures (EALC) is also at the center of a lively campus-wide community devoted to the study of East Asia. EALC students benefit immensely from the expertise of over 50 Berkeley faculty members conducting research on China, Japan, and Korea in disciplines such as Anthropology, Architecture, Art History, Comparative Literature, Economics, Film, Geography, History, Journalism, Music, Political Science, and Sociology.

Language Exams

The department offers two types of language exams: placement and proficiency. Placement exams are for those students who plan to enroll in one of the language courses. Proficiency exams are for students who wish to waive a college major or foreign language requirement without taking a course.

Undergraduate Programs

Chinese Language: BA, Minor
East Asian Humanities: BA
East Asian Religion, Thought, and Culture: BA
Japanese Language: BA, Minor
Korean Language: Minor
Tibetan: Minor

Graduate Programs

Chinese Language: PhD
Japanese Language: PhD

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East Asian Languages





Contact Information

Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures

3413 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-642-3480

Fax: 510-642-6031


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Department Chair

Robert Ashmore

3403 Dwinelle Hall


Department Manager

Jan Johnson

3410 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-642-3485


Undergraduate Student Services Advisor

Cassandra Dunn

7228 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-643-8741


Graduate Student Affairs Officer

Grant Tompkins

3414 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-642-4497


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