East Asian Religion, Thought, and Culture

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

The Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures offers an undergraduate major in East Asian Religion, Thought, and Culture. Knowledge of philosophical and religious traditions is important to understanding many aspects of East Asia's diverse cultures. This major seeks to train students in these traditions in a way that is grounded in a familiarity with the texts, languages, and cultures of East Asian societies, while also examining how these traditions have been (and might better be) brought into humanistic disciplines.

Students who major in the department have a variety of backgrounds and many students are double majors in a broad spectrum of other departments and programs, including anthropology, applied mathematics, architecture, art history, art practice, Asian studies, business, comparative literature, computer science, economics, English, linguistics, mass communications, molecular and cell biology, political economy, political science, psychology, rhetoric, and theater arts.

Declaring the Major

Students interested in majoring in the department should consult with the staff undergraduate advisor regarding major requirements, transfer credits, and other academic concerns. Students are admitted to the major only after successful completion (with a grade of C or higher) of the prerequisites to the major; for information regarding the prerequisites, please see the Major Requirements tab on this page. Students are advised to begin preparation for the major as soon as possible in order to satisfy University, college, and department requirements. All students should be familiar with the college requirements for graduation with a Bachelor of Arts degree, as explained in the "Earning Your Degree," a bulletin available from the College of Letters & Science, 206 Evans Hall.

Honors Program

A senior undergraduate student who has completed 12 units of upper division language courses in the department, and who has a GPA of 3.5 in those courses and an overall average of 3.0 may apply for admission to the honors program. If accepted, the student will enroll in an honors course (EA LANG H195A or EA LANG H195B) for two consecutive semesters leading to the completion of an honors thesis, which must be submitted at least two weeks before the end of the semester in which the student expects to graduate. While enrolled in the honors program, the student will undertake independent advanced study under the guidance of the student's honors thesis adviser. Upon completion of the program, a faculty committee will determine the degree of honors to be awarded (honors, high honors, highest honors), taking into consideration both the quality of the thesis and overall performance in the department. Honors will not be granted to a student who does not achieve a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.3 in all undergraduate work at the University by the time of graduation.

Minor Program

There is no minor program in East Asian Religion, Thought, and Culture. Students interested in Buddhism should consider the Buddhist Studies minor offered by the Group in Buddhist Studies.

Other Majors and Minors Offered by the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures

Chinese Language (Major and Minor)
Japanese Language (Major and Minor)
Korean Language (Minor only)
Tibetan (Minor only)

Visit Department Website

Major Requirements

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.

General Guidelines

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.


Select one language sequence:
Elementary Chinese
and Elementary Chinese (or equivalent) 1
Elementary Japanese
and Elementary Japanese (or equivalent) 1
Elementary Tibetan
and Elementary Tibetan (or equivalent) 1
Select one Core Course (see List A below)4

Major Requirements

Select one language sequenece:
Intermediate Chinese
and Intermediate Chinese (or equivalent) 1
Intermediate Japanese
and Intermediate Japanese (or equivalent) 1
Intermediate Tibetan
and Intermediate Tibetan (or equivalent) 1
Select five additional Core Courses (see List A below) 2,320
Select two Supplementary Disciplinary Breadth courses (see List B below) 38
EA LANG 191Tools and Methods in the Study of East Asian Philosophy and Religion 44

Please note that students with previous language experience will be required to take a placement exam. Students who place out of language courses or into the heritage track will be required to take additional adviser-approved literature or culture courses offered by the department in order to meet the above unit requirements.


Of the six courses from List A, a maximum of two semesters of classical language study and no more than one lower division course may be counted toward fulfilling the requirements. 


The two lists of courses (List A & List B) will be updated periodically, and the full listings will be available on the departmental website.


A preapproved course can be substituted in an academic year during which EA LANG 191 is not offered.

Core Courses (List A)

BUDDSTD 190Topics in the Study of Buddhism (When topic is relevant, see adviser for approval)4
CHINESE 51Chinese Thought in the Han Dynasty4
CHINESE 110AIntroduction to Literary Chinese 24
CHINESE 110BIntroduction to Literary Chinese 24
CHINESE C116Buddhism in China4
CHINESE 130Topics in Daoism4
CHINESE C140Readings in Chinese Buddhist Texts4
CHINESE 186Confucius and His Interpreters4
EA LANG C50Introduction to the Study of Buddhism4
or BUDDSTD 50 Introduction to the Study of Buddhism
EA LANG 110Bio-Ethical Issues in East Asian Thought4
EA LANG C120Buddhism on the Silk Road4
EA LANG C128Buddhism in Contemporary Society4
EA LANG C130Zen Buddhism4
EA LANG C132Pure Land Buddhism4
EA LANG C135Tantric Traditions of Asia4
EA LANG C152Buddhist Astral Science4
JAPAN C115Buddhism and its Culture in Japan4
JAPAN 116Introduction to the Religions of Japan4
JAPAN 120Introduction to Classical Japanese 24
JAPAN C141Introductory Readings in Kanbun4
JAPAN 144Edo Literature 24
JAPAN 146Japanese Historical Documents 24
MONGOLN C117Mongolian Buddhism4
TIBETAN 110AIntensive Readings in Tibetan4
TIBETAN 110BIntensive Readings in Tibetan4
TIBETAN C114Tibetan Buddhism4
TIBETAN 116Traditional Tibet4
TIBETAN C154Death, Dreams, and Visions in Tibetan Buddhism4

Supplementary Disciplinary Breadth Courses (List B)

Art History
HISTART 130AEarly Chinese Art, Part I4
HISTART 131ASacred Arts in China4
HISTART 134ATopics in Buddhist Art and Architecture: Buddhist Temple Art & Architecture in Japan4
HISTART 134BTopics in Buddhist Art and Architecture: Buddhist Icons in Japan4
HISTART 134CTopics in Buddhist Art and Architecture: Buddhist Art in the Modern/Contemporary World4
HISTART 190ASpecial Topics in Fields of Art History: Asian (When topic is relevant, see adviser for approval)4
Asian Literature
CHINESE 120Ancient Chinese Prose4
CHINESE 122Ancient Chinese Poetry4
CHINESE 134Readings in Classical Chinese Poetry4
CHINESE 136Readings in Medieval Prose4
CHINESE 153Reading Taiwan4
CHINESE 155Readings in Vernacular Chinese Literature4
CHINESE 156Modern Chinese Literature4
CHINESE 157Contemporary Chinese Literature4
CHINESE 158Reading Chinese Cities4
CHINESE 176Bad Emperors: Fantasies of Sovereignty and Transgression in the Chinese Tradition4
CHINESE 178Traditional Chinese Drama4
CHINESE 179Exploring Premodern Chinese Novels4
CHINESE 180The Story of the Stone4
CHINESE 187Literature and Media Culture in Taiwan4
CHINESE 188Popular Media in Modern China4
EA LANG 101Catastrophe, Memory, and Narrative: Comparative Responses to Atrocity in the Twentieth Century4
EA LANG 105Dynamics of Romantic Core Values in East Asian Premodern Literature and Contemporary Film4
EA LANG 106Expressing the Ineffable in China and Beyond: The Making of Meaning in Poetic Writing4
EA LANG 107War, Empire, and Literature in East Asia4
EA LANG 108Revising the Classics: Chinese and Greek Poetry in Translation4
EA LANG 109History of the Culture of Tea in China and Japan4
EA LANG 111Reading Global Politics in Contemporary East Asian Literature4
EA LANG 112The East Asian Sixties4
EA LANG 114Illness Narratives, Vulnerable Bodies4
EA LANG 115Knowing Others, and Being Known: The Art of Writing People4
EA LANG 116Modern East Asian Fiction4
EA LANG 118Sex and Gender in Premodern Chinese Culture4
JAPAN 130Classical Japanese Poetry4
JAPAN 132Premodern Japanese Diary (Nikki) Literature4
JAPAN 140Heian Prose4
JAPAN 155Modern Japanese Literature4
JAPAN 159Contemporary Japanese Literature4
JAPAN 170Classical Japanese Literature in Translation4
JAPAN 173Modern Japanese Literature in Translation4
JAPAN 177Urami: Rancor and Revenge in Japanese Literature4
JAPAN 180Ghosts and the Modern Literary Imagination4
JAPAN 181Reframing Disasters: Fukushima, Before and After4
KOREAN 130Genre and Occasion in Traditional Poetry4
KOREAN 140Narrating Persons and Objects in Traditional Korean Prose4
KOREAN 150Modern Korean Poetry4
KOREAN 153Readings in Modern Korean Literature4
KOREAN 155Modern Korean Fiction4
KOREAN 157Contemporary Korean Literature4
KOREAN 170Intercultural Encounters in Korean Literature4
KOREAN 172Gender and Korean Literature4
KOREAN 174Modern Korean Fiction in Translation4
KOREAN 180Critical Approaches to Modern Korean Literature4
KOREAN 185Picturing Korea4
MONGOLN 110Literary Mongolian4
TIBETAN 115Contemporary Tibet4
CHINESE 172Contemporary Chinese Language Cinema4
EA LANG 180East Asian Film: Directors and their Contexts4
EA LANG 181East Asian Film: Special Topics in Genre4
JAPAN 185Introduction to Japanese Cinema4
JAPAN 188Japanese Visual Culture: Introduction to Anime4
JAPAN 189Topics in Japanese Film4
KOREAN 186Introduction to Korean Cinema4
KOREAN 187History and Memory in Korean Cinema4
KOREAN 188Cold War Culture in Korea: Literature and Film4
KOREAN 189Korean Film Authors4
HISTORY 100Course Not Available (When topic is relevant, see adviser for approval)
HISTORY 103FProseminar: Problems in Interpretation in the Several Fields of History: Asia (When topic is relevant, see adviser for approval)4
HISTORY 113ACourse Not Available
HISTORY 113BModern Korean History4
HISTORY 116AChina: Early China4
HISTORY 116BChina: Two Golden Ages: China During the Tang and Song Dynasties4
HISTORY 116CChina: Modern China4
HISTORY 116DChina: Twentieth-Century China4
HISTORY 116GImperial China and the World4
HISTORY 117ATopics in Chinese History: Chinese Popular Culture4
HISTORY 117DTopics in Chinese History: The Chinese Body: Gender and Sex, Health, and Medicine4
HISTORY 118AJapan: Japan, Archaeological Period to 18004
HISTORY 118BJapan: Japan 1800-19004
HISTORY 118CThe Twentieth Century in Japan4
HISTORY 119ATopics in Japanese History: Postwar Japan4
MONGOLN 116The Mongol Empire4
MONGOLN 118Modern Mongolia4
TIBETAN 118The Politics of Modern Tibet4
TIBETAN 119Tibetan Medicine in History and Society4
CHINESE C184Course Not Available
MUSIC 134ACourse Not Available4
MUSIC 134BCourse Not Available4
PHILOS 151Early Chinese Thought4
Religious Studies
ANTHRO 158Religion and Anthropology4
EA LANG C126Buddhism and the Environment4
RELIGST 190Topics in the Study of Religion4

College Requirements

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

Entry Level Writing

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. 

American History and American Institutions

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

American Cultures

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

Quantitative Reasoning

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.

Foreign Language

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.

Reading and Composition

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 in sequential order by the end of their fourth semester.

College of Letters & Science 7 Course Breadth Requirements

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.

Unit Requirements

  • 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
Residence Requirements

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, or two years for transfer students. 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.

Major Map

Major Maps help undergraduate students discover academic, co-curricular, and discovery opportunities at UC Berkeley based on intended major or field of interest. Developed by the Division of Undergraduate Education in collaboration with academic departments, these experience maps will help you:

  • Explore your major and gain a better understanding of your field of study

  • Connect with people and programs that inspire and sustain your creativity, drive, curiosity and success

  • Discover opportunities for independent inquiry, enterprise, and creative expression

  • Engage locally and globally to broaden your perspectives and change the world

  • Reflect on your academic career and prepare for life after Berkeley

Use the major map below as a guide to planning your undergraduate journey and designing your own unique Berkeley experience.

View the East Asian Religion, Thought, and Culture Major Map PDF.


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

Robert Ashmore

3403 Dwinelle Hall


Student Services Advisor

Cassandra Dunn

7228 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-643-8741


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