Japanese M.A. Program

The Japanese Language & Literature M.A. Program has a choice of disciplinary concentration in literature or linguistics.  We do not offer an MA program focusing on Japanese language study.  


I. Admission

To be admitted to the program, applicants must satisfy the Graduate School’s Minimum Admission Requirements. Applicants are also expected to have 4 years of college-level training in Japanese language or the equivalent, as well as significant coursework in a relevant humanistic field.

II. Program Description

The graduate program in Japanese literature at the University of Washington is one of the largest and most dynamic in North America. With five graduate faculty, the program is strong in both modern and pre-modern literature, and provides training in primary source reading, textual analysis, and current approaches to Japanese literature and visual culture. Students who enter the program will work with a faculty adviser to design an individualized course of study that best suits their goals and needs. Anyone with a deep interest in Japanese language, literature, and culture is encouraged to apply.

III. Course Work & Credits

Students in the M.A. program must satisfy the Master’s Degree requirements set by the Graduate School at the time of their graduation. The M.A. program requires a minimum of 45 credits at the 400-level or higher. At least 18 credits must be completed in numerically graded courses at the 400 and 500 level, and 18 credits at the 500 level and above. Credits may be earned through a combination of coursework and research. Each student will customize his or her course of study in consultation with his or her faculty advisor.

In addition to coursework and the general examinations, the M.A. degree requires students to submit original research in one of two ways:

  1. as a thesis, in which case the student takes at least 36 course credits and 9 thesis credits, OR
  2. in the form of two research papers that have been written either independently or as part of their coursework, in which case all 45 minimum credits will be course credits.

IV. M.A. General Examination

Students must pass two written examinations to receive an M.A. degree. Each is two hours in duration, one in pre-modern (pre-Meiji) literature, the other in modern literature and culture. These are intended to evaluate the student's general mastery of the respective areas. The student will meet with his or her faculty adviser at least one quarter prior to the examination in order to discuss necessary preparation.

V. The M.A. and the Ph.D.

No student is admitted directly to the Ph.D. program. Students lacking an M.A. in Japanese literature must first earn one in this department before being allowed to petition to proceed to the doctoral program. Students who have earned M.A. degrees in Japanese literature elsewhere may bypass the M.A. requirements with approval from the Department, but must still complete at least 45 credits at the University of Washington before petitioning to proceed. For regulations on proceeding to the Ph.D. program, see sections 3.4.0 and 3.4.1d of the departmental M.A. and Ph.D. Policies and Procedures.

VI. To Apply

Procedures for admission are available online. Any logistical questions about application should be directed to the Academic Counselor in the Department office. Questions of an academic nature should be directed to the graduate faculty member in the applicant’s area of interest, or to the Japanese Program Coordinator. Limited amounts of financial support are available to students on a competitive basis. All applicants to the department are automatically considered for a recruitment fellowship. Prospective students with high proficiency in Japanese language are urged to apply for teaching assistantships simultaneously with their application to the program. All eligible applicants are especially encouraged to apply for FLAS (Foreign Language and Area Studies) awards. Details are available on this website.


I. Program Description

The Master of Arts Program in Japanese Language and Linguistics focuses on Japanese applied linguistics, including second language acquisition, and Japanese sociolinguistics. Each student works with a faculty advisor to design an individualized program of study that combines

  • Japanese linguistics courses taught in the Department of Asian Languages and Literature with
  • linguistics and language-related courses offered in the Departments of Linguistics, English, Anthropology, Psychology, Communication,
  • and other language and literature departments.

Students from a wide variety of academic backgrounds who have strong academic interest in Japanese applied linguistics and sociolinguistics are encouraged to apply.

II. Admission

Applicants must meet the requirements of the Graduate School as outlined in the General Catalog. Minimum requirements for admission are:

  1. A minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.00 in the junior and senior years.
  2. Three letters of recommendation.
  3. A statement of purpose.
  4. Strong undergraduate preparation in social sciences, linguistics, or literature.
  5. At least four years of college-level training in Japanese language; study, internship, or residence abroad in Japan is highly recommended.

In practice, students admitted to the Japanese linguistics M.A. program have strong undergraduate academic backgrounds as well as strong Japanese language skills. If a student is admitted who needs preparatory academic or language work, the student initially must work on compensating for such deficiencies by taking appropriate courses or studying abroad in Japan.

III. Course Work and Credits

The M.A. program requires a minimum of 45 credits above the 300 level. These are earned through a combination of coursework and research. Of the 45 credits required for the degree, at least 18 credits of coursework must be completed in numerically graded courses at the 400 or 500 level, and 18 credits at the 500 level and above. Students who enter without previous preparation in linguistics require a program considerably in excess of the 45 credit minimum.

Foundational courses in Japanese linguistics include JAPAN 342, The Japanese Language and JAPAN 343, Japanese Language in Society, for which graduate credit is not given.

Some students may also need to take introductory courses from the Linguistics Department. Courses that count toward the graduate degree include 400-level undergraduate courses and graduate courses numbered 500 and above.

The Department regularly offers the following 400-level courses in Japanese linguistics:

  • JAPAN 441 The Acquisition of Japanese as a Second or Foreign Language
  • JAPAN 443 Topics in Japanese Sociolinguistics

Students whose undergraduate training has provided them with a background comparable to this may enter more advanced courses. Graduate seminars in Japanese linguistics (ASIAN 503, JAPAN 540) vary topically from year to year. Recent topics have included: Japanese Second Language Acquisition, Sociocultural Approaches to Second Language Acquisition, Japanese Applied Linguistics, and Formulaic Language in Second Language Acquisition, among others. Students may take independent study courses (ASIAN 600). The Department also offers training in the teaching of Japanese as a foreign language via ASIAN 510, Teaching Assistant Training Workshop.

IV. General Examinations

Each student is required to take two written examinations drawn from Japanese applied linguistics and sociolinguistics. Prior to the quarter in which the student plans to take the examinations, each student meets with their faculty adviser to discuss preparation for these examinations. As a part of this process, the student will usually be asked to compile a list of courses taken and readings completed.

V. Research

Along with coursework and general examinations, the program also has a research requirement. Students present their research either by submitting a thesis OR by submitting two research papers.

  1. If submitting a thesis students take 9 credits of ASIAN 700 which counts toward the degree.
  2. If submitting two research papers, they may be course seminar papers or papers completed during independent study. 

VI. Admission to the Ph.D. program

The M.A. and the Ph.D. programs are separate and independent. Admission to the M.A. program does not guarantee admission to the Ph.D. program. For procedures on bypassing the M.A., see sections 3.4.0 and 3.4.1d of the departmental M.A. and Ph.D. Policies and Procedures.