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Japanese Ph.D. Program


I. Admission

Application for admission to the University of Washington Graduate School for study in the Department of Asian Languages and Literature is a separate process from petitioning for admission to any individual Ph.D. program in the Department. The former is undertaken before the applicant enters the University of Washington, the latter only after the student has completed at least two full quarters of graduate study in the Department. The successful applicant for admission to the Graduate School who already holds an M.A. degree is officially classified as a "Post-master" until the petitioning and examining process is completed, when the student becomes a "pre-candidate." 

Aside from having to complete at least two quarters of graduate study in the Department, the student petitioning for admission to pre-candidacy must either hold the M.A. degree in Japanese language and literature or must have completed a minimum of 45 course credits and have satisfied the language requirement for the M.A.

The student should also be entering at least 500-level courses in modern Japanese and should have studied classical Japanese for a minimum of one year. Any insufficiencies in background (e.g., in the case of a student holding an M.A. in an area other than Japanese language and literature) should be made up before the student petitions for admission to pre-candidacy. The petition indicates that the student feels they are prepared to take a written examination on their general knowledge of the field and an additional oral diagnostic examination on their background and plans for future study. The petition should only be submitted after consultation with their faculty adviser.

II. Course Requirements

In addition to the minimum of 45 credits or its equivalent required for the master's program, the PhD student must take at least 50 credits of course work on the graduate level, 20 of which must be at the 500 level.

The following courses and dissertation credits are required:

  • Modern Japanese: JAPAN 431, JAPAN 432, JAPAN 433 (may be bypassed with previous training, if approved)
  • Classical Japanese and kambun: JAPAN 471, JAPAN 472, JAPAN 505 (may be bypassed with previous training, if approved)
  • 10 credits in classical Japanese literature and culture (JAPAN 571. JAPAN 572, or JAPAN 573)
  • 10 credits in modern Japanese literature and culture (JAPAN 531, JAPAN 532, or JAPAN 533)
  • ASIAN 800 Doctoral Dissertation (27 credits)

Additional course work in related fields may be required to meet the needs of each program. In order to acquire the widest possible background, students are encouraged to take related courses in history, linguistics, religion, and the social sciences. Familiarity with Chinese literature and allied fields as well as with comparative literature is strongly recommended. Each student develops their individualized program of studies in consultation with their faculty adviser.

III. Language Examinations

In addition to English and Japanese, the student must demonstrate proficiency in a third language related to his or her course of study. Proficiency in the third language must be demonstrated to the satisfaction of the adviser before the student may proceed to the General Examination.

IV. Field Examination

A student becomes a precandidate when they have completed a generalized study of the area of Japanese language and literature. The student will choose three specialized fields on which to concentrate their studies for the next one or two years under the guidance of a Supervisory Committee.

A "field" may consist of

  • a period (e.g., Heian literature, Muromachi literature, Meiji literature),
  • genre or sub-genre (poetry, drama, fiction; tanka, haiku, shintaishi),
  • a specific author and his work (Komachi, Zeami, Sōseki),
  • a style or a school (Shinkokinshū symbolism, the naturalists, the White Birch school),
  • a broadly conceived topic (Shinto elements in Japanese literature, literary censorship, women in the modern novel),
  • a language topic (historical phonology, historical grammar, comparative grammar),
  • or any other appropriate topic of interest to the student.

The three fields MUST be sufficiently diverse. At least one must be classical Japanese literature and at least one must be modern Japanese literature. Each requires a substantial research paper. The third field, which may be pursued outside the department, is selected in consultation with the adviser and its requirements are determined by the supervising faculty.

V. General Examination

When the three field examinations and the third language requirement have been satisfied, the Academic Counselor arranges with the Graduate School for the student to take the Oral/General Examination for admission to candidacy for the doctoral degree. The student will be asked to speak on their work to date and their proposal for a program of dissertation research.

VI. Dissertation and Final Examination

After achieving Candidate status, the student engages in research and the writing of the dissertation. When the Formal Reading Committee has accepted the dissertation, the Dean of the Graduate School authorizes the Supervisory Committee to hold the Final Examination in defense of the dissertation, which completes the degree requirements for this program.