Japanese Language

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

The Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures offers an undergraduate major in Japanese Language. The course of study is designed to train students in the humanistic investigation of major East Asian traditions, through a curriculum that centers on the acquisition of the modern and classical forms of the language, the informed and engaged reading of a wide variety of East Asian texts in their historical and cultural contexts, and the development of effective writing skills and critical thinking. Students are introduced to the vast and variegated literary, artistic, philosophical, and cultural traditions of East Asia and their transformations in modernity. Course offerings situate the study of East Asia in a global context and expose students to a variety of disciplinary and comparative approaches.

The major provides training in speaking, reading, and writing the relevant modern languages as well as a basic familiarity with one or more of the language's earlier forms. Students complete the major by selecting from a broad range of courses in literature, popular culture, philosophy, and linguistics both in translation and in the original languages.

Students who major in the program 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 program 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 grade point average (GPA) of 3.5 in those courses and an overall GPA of 3.0 may apply for admission to the honors program. If accepted, the student will enroll in an honors course (any H195 course) 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 program. 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

The Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures offers an undergraduate minor in Japanese Language. To declare the minor, please visit 3413 Dwinelle Hall or email Presi Diaz at ealc-advising@berkeley.edu.

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

Chinese Language (Major and Minor)
East Asian Religion, Thought, and Culture (Major only)
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.

Please note that students with previous language experience will be required to take the online placement exam.

Lower Division Prerequisites

JAPAN 1AElementary Japanese (or equivalent) 15
JAPAN 1BElementary Japanese (or equivalent) 15
JAPAN 7AIntroduction to Premodern Japanese Literature and Culture 24
or JAPAN 7B Introduction to Modern Japanese Literature and Culture

Lower Division Major Requirements

Minimum three courses, 12 units

JAPAN 10AIntermediate Japanese (or equivalent) 15
JAPAN 10BIntermediate Japanese (or equivalent) 15
or JAPAN 10X Course Not Available
Select one of the following (whichever one not selected as a prerequisite)
Introduction to Premodern Japanese Literature and Culture [4]
Introduction to Modern Japanese Literature and Culture

Upper Division Major Requirements

Minimum eight courses, 32 units

JAPAN 100AAdvanced Japanese (or equivalent) 15
JAPAN 100BAdvanced Japanese (or equivalent) 15
or JAPAN 100X Course Not Available
JAPAN 120Introduction to Classical Japanese4
Select one classical Japanese literature courses numbered JAPAN 130-149
Classical Japanese Poetry [4]
Premodern Japanese Diary (Nikki) Literature [4]
Heian Prose [4]
Introductory Readings in Kanbun [4]
Edo Literature [4]
Japanese Historical Documents [4]
Select one modern Japanese literature course from courses numbered JAPAN 150-159
Modern Japanese Literature [4]
Contemporary Japanese Literature [4]
Select one EA LANG upper division course, from courses numbered EALANG 100-1894
Select two additional upper division EALC electives (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, Tibetan, or East Asian Languages and Cultures) in consultation with the adviser8

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.


Introduction to Japanese Literature must be taken at UC Berkeley.

Minor Requirements

Students who have a strong interest in an area of study outside their major often decide to complete a minor program. These programs have set requirements.

General Guidelines

  1. All minors must be declared no later than one semester before a student's Expected Graduation Term (EGT). If the semester before EGT is fall or spring, the deadline is the last day of RRR week. If the semester before EGT is summer, the deadline is the final Friday of Summer Sessions. To declare a minor, contact the department advisor for information on requirements, and the declaration process.
  2. All courses taken to fulfill the minor requirements below must be taken for graded credit.
  3. A minimum of three of the upper division courses taken to fulfill the minor requirements must be completed at UC Berkeley.
  4. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 is required for courses used to fulfill the minor requirements.
  5. Courses used to fulfill the minor requirements may be applied toward the Seven-Course Breadth requirement, for Letters & Science students.
  6. No more than one upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs.
  7. All minor requirements must be completed prior to the last day of finals during the semester in which you plan to graduate. If you cannot finish all courses required for the minor by that time, please see a College of Letters & Science adviser.
  8. All minor requirements must be completed within the unit ceiling. (For further information regarding the unit ceiling, please see the College Requirements tab.)


Language Training 1
JAPAN 1AElementary Japanese (or equivalent)5
JAPAN 1BElementary Japanese (or equivalent)5
JAPAN 10AIntermediate Japanese (or equivalent)5
JAPAN 10BIntermediate Japanese (or equivalent)5
or JAPAN 10X Course Not Available
Upper Division (five courses, minimum 20 units) 2,3
Select three upper division Japanese courses
Advanced Japanese [5]
Advanced Japanese [5]
or JAPAN 100X
Course Not Available
Fourth-Year Japanese: Aspects of Japanese Society [4]
Fourth-Year Readings: Japanese Culture [4]
Fourth-Year Readings: Japanese Literature [4]
Fourth-Year Readings: Japanese History [4]
Fifth-Year Readings: Reading and Analysis of Advanced Japanese Texts [4]
Fifth-Year Readings: Japanese for Research and Professional Use [4]
Buddhism and its Culture in Japan [4]
Introduction to the Religions of Japan [4]
Introduction to Classical Japanese [4]
Classical Japanese Poetry [4]
Premodern Japanese Diary (Nikki) Literature [4]
Heian Prose [4]
Introductory Readings in Kanbun [4]
Edo Literature [4]
Japanese Historical Documents [4]
Modern Japanese Literature [4]
Contemporary Japanese Literature [4]
Introduction to Japanese Linguistics: Grammar [4]
Introduction to Japanese Linguistics: Usage [4]
Translation: Theory and Practice [4]
Classical Japanese Literature in Translation [4]
Modern Japanese Literature in Translation [4]
Archaeology and Japanese Identities [4]
Urami: Rancor and Revenge in Japanese Literature [4]
Ghosts and the Modern Literary Imagination [4]
Reframing Disasters: Fukushima, Before and After [4]
Introduction to Japanese Cinema [4]
Japanese Visual Culture: Introduction to Anime [4]
Topics in Japanese Film [4]
Select two additional electives from Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, Tibetan, and East Asian Languages and Cultures courses 48

Students with previous language experience will be required to take a placement exam.


All courses require advisor approval.


One 7A or 7B course from the EALC department listings may be substituted for one of the five upper division courses.


EAP course(s) may be used to satisfy one of the electives; however, not all EAP courses will be approved for the minor. Please check with the adviser in advance.

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 Japanese Language Major Map PDF.


Japanese Language

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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