Chinese Language

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures offers a PhD program in Chinese Language. The department only admits students into the PhD program.

As a rule, students wishing to enter the graduate program should have completed an undergraduate program comparable to the undergraduate major in this department. Students who do not have BA or MA degrees in East Asian Languages and Cultures, Chinese, or in similar fields can be considered for admission. If admitted, these students are often required to make up deficiencies in their course work. This can result in a lengthening of the normative time to degree (seven years).

The department only admits students into the PhD program. You must indicate that a PhD is your degree goal on the application materials. Students who have not completed an MA degree before beginning study at Berkeley will have to complete the requirements for the MA before proceeding to the PhD program. After completion of the MA requirements (coursework and thesis), students are evaluated for permission to proceed to the PhD portion of the program. Students who have completed an MA degree before beginning study at Berkeley may apply for admission directly to the PhD program. After one year in the PhD program, such students will be evaluated before being permitted to continue in the program.

UC Berkeley graduate students from other disciplines who are considering transferring into the degree program in Chinese language undergo the same faculty review as first-time applicants. Students in this category should contact the department graduate assistant for instructions.

The length of time needed to complete an advanced degree in the department depends on financial considerations, the extent of the student's earlier preparation, and other factors. Under optimum conditions, the MA can be earned in two years and the PhD in an additional four to five years.

Step by Step

To learn how best to prepare for study at the graduate level in the humanities and the social sciences, current undergraduates may find Step by Step useful, a resource for UC Berkeley students to enrich their undergraduate academic experience and to prepare for graduate school.

Visit Department Website


Admission to the University

Minimum Requirements for Admission

The following minimum requirements apply to all graduate programs and will be verified by the Graduate Division:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;
  2. A grade point average of B or better (3.0);
  3. If the applicant has completed a basic degree from a country or political entity (e.g., Quebec) where English is not the official language, adequate proficiency in English to do graduate work, as evidenced by a TOEFL score of at least 90 on the iBT test, 570 on the paper-and-pencil test, or an IELTS Band score of at least 7 on a 9-point scale (note that individual programs may set higher levels for any of these); and
  4. Sufficient undergraduate training to do graduate work in the given field.

Applicants Who Already Hold a Graduate Degree

The Graduate Council views academic degrees not as vocational training certificates, but as evidence of broad training in research methods, independent study, and articulation of learning. Therefore, applicants who already have academic graduate degrees should be able to pursue new subject matter at an advanced level without the need to enroll in a related or similar graduate program.

Programs may consider students for an additional academic master’s or professional master’s degree only if the additional degree is in a distinctly different field.

Applicants admitted to a doctoral program that requires a master’s degree to be earned at Berkeley as a prerequisite (even though the applicant already has a master’s degree from another institution in the same or a closely allied field of study) will be permitted to undertake the second master’s degree, despite the overlap in field.

The Graduate Division will admit students for a second doctoral degree only if they meet the following guidelines:

  1. Applicants with doctoral degrees may be admitted for an additional doctoral degree only if that degree program is in a general area of knowledge distinctly different from the field in which they earned their original degree. For example, a physics PhD could be admitted to a doctoral degree program in music or history; however, a student with a doctoral degree in mathematics would not be permitted to add a PhD in statistics.
  2. Applicants who hold the PhD degree may be admitted to a professional doctorate or professional master’s degree program if there is no duplication of training involved.

Applicants may apply only to one single degree program or one concurrent degree program per admission cycle.

Required Documents for Applications

  1. Transcripts: Applicants may upload unofficial transcripts with your application for the departmental initial review. Unofficial transcripts must contain specific information including the name of the applicant, name of the school, all courses, grades, units, & degree conferral (if applicable). 
  2. Letters of recommendation: Applicants may request online letters of recommendation through the online application system. Hard copies of recommendation letters must be sent directly to the program, by the recommender, not the Graduate Admissions.
  3. Evidence of English language proficiency: All applicants who have completed a basic degree from a country or political entity in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. This applies to institutions from Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Latin America, the Middle East, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, most European countries, and Quebec (Canada). However, applicants who, at the time of application, have already completed at least one year of full-time academic course work with grades of B or better at a US university may submit an official transcript from the US university to fulfill this requirement. The following courses will not fulfill this requirement:

    • courses in English as a Second Language,

    • courses conducted in a language other than English,

    • courses that will be completed after the application is submitted, and

    • courses of a non-academic nature.

Applicants who have previously applied to Berkeley must also submit new test scores that meet the current minimum requirement from one of the standardized tests. Official TOEFL score reports must be sent directly from Educational Test Services (ETS). The institution code for Berkeley is 4833 for Graduate Organizations. Official IELTS score reports must be sent electronically from the testing center to University of California, Berkeley, Graduate Division, Sproul Hall, Rm 318 MC 5900, Berkeley, CA 94720. TOEFL and IELTS score reports are only valid for two years prior to beginning the graduate program at UC Berkeley. Note: score reports can not expire before the month of June.


Where to Apply

Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page

Admission to the Program

Applications are reviewed and ranked by the entire faculty. The faculty makes its selection on the basis of academic records and on whether or not the applicant's academic goals can be met by the department's programs. Those chosen are recommended to the Graduate Division, which sets the number of students the department can admit, makes a final review of the applications, and issues an official letter of admission to the student. The number of students the department can admit is usually very small and standards for admission are highly competitive.

The Graduate Application is submitted electronically; the online application becomes available in September for admission effective the following year. See the Graduate Division website for details. All applicants must use the online application.

Transcripts. Applicants will submit unofficial transcripts, GRE scores, and other admissions materials on-line as part of the application. Admitted students will be required to submit two copies of all official transcripts in envelopes sealed by the issuing institutions at a later date.

Letters of Recommendation. Three letters of recommendation are required. As part of the application you will have to submit the names and contact information for the letter writers. Letters in languages other than English should be translated into English, but the original letter, in the original language, must be included. The department recommends that letters of recommendation come from faculty members who can comment on the applicant's intellectual capacity, analytical skills, ability to write English, and general aptitude for scholarly work. Letters from nonacademic referees are rarely helpful. All letters must be submitted on-line by the recommenders no later than two weeks after the application deadline to ensure that they are included in the review process.

Academic Writing Sample. A writing sample in English must be included with the on-line application. The writing sample is intended to gauge an applicant's academic writing ability, and should be a paper that the student feels best represents the quality of his/her work. An ideal writing sample will be around 20 pages on a topic related to East Asian studies, but a paper on another topic or of a different length may be acceptable.

GRE Test Scores. The GRE is not currently required.

Applicants from Abroad. International applicants are urged to examine closely the requirements for certification and translation of records and TOEFL requirements provided in the Graduate Application and the information on legal residency and fees.

Doctoral Degree Requirements

Application to Degree Programs

All prospective graduate students must apply for the PhD program. The department does not offer terminal MA degrees; instead, an MA degree may be earned while progressing toward the PhD.

Normative Time Requirements

Normative time to advancement: The total normative time to advancement is five years.
Normative time in candidacy: The total time in candidacy is two years.
Total normative time: The total normative time of the program is seven years.

Language Requirements

Chinese MA
Fluency in modern Chinese and a year of classical Chinese.

Chinese PhD
Reading competence in a language other than Chinese relevant to the program, chosen in consultation with the Primary Advisor. In most cases, the second language will be three years of Japanese. In exceptional cases, this requirement may be satisfied by competence in another language, normally demonstrated by three years of language study at Berkeley or its equivalent. (Coursework must be taken for a letter-grade.) Native speakers of a language other than English do not automatically fulfill the language requirement; the language must be appropriate to advanced research in the program.

MA Requirements

  • EALANG 200, "Proseminar: Approaches to East Asian Studies" is required, normally in the first year.
  • A minimum of three CHINESE graduate seminars will be required, for four units and for a letter grade. EALANG 200 will not count toward the three required seminars. 

All courses required for the degree must be finished by the last day of the semester in which the student expects the degree to be conferred.

Students will have the option of taking additional seminars beyond the three required for the MA degree for two units, in which case no seminar paper is required. Each EALC seminar is structured with a 4 unit norm and a 2 unit option.

Students who will need to acquire a second language from scratch to satisfy PhD requirements (q.v.) will be advised to begin work on that language as early as possible.

MA Thesis
An MA thesis, usually based on a previous research paper and limited to 50 pages, is required. If the MA thesis involves a translation, the translation may be added as an appendix, which will not count toward the page limit.

Mechanism for Continuation or Termination at the MA level
A review of graduate students will take place in the middle and at the end of their first year and annually thereafter, and conveyed to the students in writing.

PhD Requirements

Two CHINESE graduate seminars, four units each, for a letter grade are required after completion of the M.A., as well as at least one graduate seminar outside the department in a cognate discipline, also for four units and for a letter grade. These three seminars must be taken before the Ph.D. Qualifying Examination (QE).

Qualifying Examination
The following will be required:

  • Three written examinations on fields within the department
  • One written examination on a field outside the department
  • Oral examination

The purpose of the qualifying examination is to insure that the student possesses adequate breadth and depth of preparation needed to conduct dissertation research and teach. The student will normally choose reading lists in consultation with examiners and then meet regularly to discuss those readings with them. The written examinations will be based on those readings and discussions. The oral examination that follows is not meant to be a separate field of enquiry; instead, it is designed to pursue issues raised in the written segments.

The oral examination will take place one week after completion of the last written examination. It will last three hours and be attended by all four members of the Qualifying Examination Committee. It will be devoted to further investigation of issues raised in the written examinations.

A dissertation is required. Students should meet with their dissertation chairs to decide on appropriate timelines for research abroad and the completion of individual chapters. Students are not required to defend the dissertation once the dissertation committee has decided the dissertation is finished.


Chinese Language

Faculty and Instructors

* Indicates this faculty member is the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award.


Jinsoo An, Associate Professor. Modern Korean Literature, East Asian Cinema, Korean Film, visual studies .
Research Profile

Robert Ashmore, Associate Professor. China, lyric poetry, Chinese literature, Chinese culture, poetic theory.
Research Profile

Weihong Bao, Associate Professor. Film theory and history, media archaeology, critical theory, visual and performance culture, Chinese language cinema, transnational genre cinema, comparative media history and theory.
Research Profile

Mark L. Blum, Professor. Buddhism, Japan, culture and society, modernization.
Research Profile

Mark Csikszentmihalyi, Professor. Early China, Confucianism, Taoism, Daoism, Comparative Religion.
Research Profile

Jacob Dalton, Professor. Religion, ritual, Tibet, Buddhism, Tantra, Dunhuang.
Research Profile

Yoko Hasegawa, Professor. Pragmatics, syntax, east asian languages and cultures, acoustic phonetics, semantics, sociolinguistics of Japanese, cognitive linguistics.
Research Profile

* H. Mack Horton, Professor. Performativity, east asian languages and cultures, classical poetry, diary literature, cultural context, anthology of vernacular poetry, Man'yoshu, poetry and poetics.
Research Profile

Andrew Jones, Professor. East asian languages and cultures, Chinese popular music, sonic culture, media technology, modern Chinese fiction, children's literature, literary translation.
Research Profile

Youngmin Kwon, Adjunct Professor. Korean literature.
Research Profile

Ling Hon Lam, Associate Professor. Premodern Chinese Drama and Fiction, Women's writing, sex and gender, Media Culture, and Critical Theory.
Research Profile

Daniel C. O'Neill, Associate Professor. Modern Japanese Literature, East Asian Cinema, Global Modernism, visual studies.
Research Profile

Lanchih Po, Associate Adjunct Professor. International and Area Studies, East Asian Languages and Cultures.
Research Profile

Robert Sharf, Professor. East asian languages and cultures, medieval Chinese buddhism, Chan buddhism, Japanese buddhism, Zen buddhism, Tantric buddhism, buddhist art, ritual studies, methodological issues in the study of religion.
Research Profile

Alan Tansman, Professor. Modern Japanese Literature, literary and cultural theory, aesthetics and politics, Comparative Responses to Violence, literary history.
Research Profile

Paula Varsano, Professor. Phenomenology, translation, comparative literature, aesthetics, epistemology, classical Chinese poetry and poetics (3rd-11th centuries), traditional Chinese literary theory.
Research Profile

Sophie Volpp, Professor. East asian languages and cultures, history of performance, gender theory, the history of sexuality, material culture, material objects in late-imperial literature.
Research Profile


Yasuko Konno Baker, Lecturer. Japanese language.
Research Profile

Brian Baumann, Lecturer. Mongolian language.
Research Profile

Weisi Cai, Lecturer. Chinese language.
Research Profile

Yuriko Caltabiano, Lecturer. Japanese language.
Research Profile

Chi Leung Chan, Lecturer. Chinese language.
Research Profile

Ina Choi, Lecturer. Korean Language.
Research Profile

Damien Donnelly, Lecturer. Chinese language.
Research Profile

Kayoko Imagawa, Lecturer. Japanese language.
Research Profile

Minsook Kim, Lecturer. Korean language.
Research Profile

Kijoo Ko, Lecturer. Korean language.
Research Profile

Meehyei Lee, Lecturer. Korean language.
Research Profile

Soojin C. Lee, Lecturer. Korean language.
Research Profile

Hsin-yu Lin, Lecturer. Chinese language.
Research Profile

Li Liu, Lecturer. Chinese language.
Research Profile

Sanjyot Mehendale, Lecturer. Near Eastern studies, Central Asia, Central Asian studies, archaeology and art history.
Research Profile

Junghee Park, Lecturer. Korean language.
Research Profile

Kyongmi Park, Lecturer. Korean Language.
Research Profile

Hayato Saito, Lecturer. Japanese Language.
Research Profile

Chika Shibahara, Lecturer. Japanese language.
Research Profile

Kyoko Takahara-Ahn, Lecturer. Japanese Language.
Research Profile

Maki Takata, Lecturer. Japanese language.
Research Profile

Yukiko Tsuchiya, Lecturer. Japanese Language.
Research Profile

John R. Wallace, Lecturer. Japanese language.
Research Profile

Chunhong Xie, Lecturer. Chinese language.
Research Profile

Lihua Zhang, Lecturer. Chinese language.
Research Profile

Mingzhe Zheng, Lecturer. Chinese Language.
Research Profile

Emeritus Faculty

Haruo Aoki, Professor Emeritus.

Cyril Birch, Professor Emeritus.

James E. Bosson, Professor Emeritus.

Hung-Nin Samuel Cheung, Professor Emeritus. East asian languages and cultures, East Asian studies, vernacular Chinese literature and linguistics.
Research Profile

John C. Jamieson, Professor Emeritus.

Lewis Lancaster, Professor Emeritus. East asian languages and cultures, East Asian studies, east asian buddhism.
Research Profile

Susan Matisoff, Professor Emeritus. Japanese literature, performing arts and folklore.
Research Profile

Jeffrey Riegel, Professor Emeritus. East asian languages and cultures, ancient Chinese poetry and prose, early Chinese thought, Confucian classics, paleography, recently-excavated manuscripts.
Research Profile

Pang-Hsin Ting, Professor Emeritus.

Stephen H. West, Professor Emeritus.

Contact Information

Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures

3413 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-642-3480

Fax: 510-642-6031

Visit Department Website

Department Chair

Andrew Jones

3112 Dwinelle Hall

Director of Graduate Studies

Mark Blum

4106 Dwinelle Hall

Graduate Student Affairs Officer

Grant Tompkins

3414 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-642-4497

Student Services Advisor

Presi Diaz

3413 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-642-3480

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