Degree Programs

East Asian Programs

AM in Regional Studies — East Asia
PhD in East Asian Languages and Civilizations
PhD in History and East Asian Languages
PhD in History with a Special Field in East Asian History
PhD in East Asian Languages and another discipline

General

Harvard University over the years has developed a number of training and research programs and facilities concerning the languages and societies of Asia. The University’s principal resources are in the East Asian field, but Central Asia, the Near and Middle East, India, and Russia in Asia are all receiving increasing attention. One primary resource is the Harvard-Yenching Library, an outstanding collection, which has been built up over six decades. There are also significant collections of East Asian publications in the Fogg Art Museum, the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, and the Harvard Law School. Western language works on East Asia are housed most extensively in the University’s central collection, the Widener Library.

This publication is designed to indicate briefly the opportunities for study and research on East Asia offered in the various departmental disciplines and in the several programs at Harvard designed specifically for the study of East Asia. The language instruction offered at Harvard includes Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Manchu, Mongolian, Tibetan, Uighur, and Vietnamese. The departments in which the study of East Asia is pursued include Anthropology, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Economics, History of Art and Architecture, Government, History, Linguistics, Music, and Sociology.

In the following pages, information is given concerning admission, degree requirements, fellowships, libraries, museums, research activities, and publications. Courses are described in the Official Register of Harvard University entitled Courses of Instruction, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Admission

Application forms for admission to AM and PhD programs in the study of East Asia may be obtained only from, and must be submitted to, the Admissions Office, Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center, 3rd floor, 1350 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138 (not the Committee on Regional Studies — East Asia or any academic department). Applicants must have, or have in near prospect, a bachelor’s degree from a recognized institution (or a satisfactory equivalent), with a superior academic record and other indications of promise. See the website for online submission of the application.

The holder of a bachelor’s degree who for special reasons may wish to pursue East Asian studies without intending to take a higher degree should apply to the Office of Special Students and Visiting Fellows, Harvard University, Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center, 3rd floor, 1350 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138. Special Students may be admitted to part-time as well as full-time study, and the tuition is the same as in the Graduate School. The University awards no fellowships or financial aid to Special Students.

Degree Requirements

Graduate students may pursue programs leading to higher degrees in several different subjects relating, directly or indirectly, to East Asia. The specific requirements for higher degrees in such subjects as anthropology, comparative literature, economics, history of art and architecture, linguistics, music, political science, and sociology, in any of which the student may emphasize work on East Asian materials, are listed below. The specific requirements for advanced degrees in the East Asian field follow.

Higher Degrees in East Asian Studies

AM in Regional Studies — East Asia [top]

RSEA is a vibrant interdisciplinary area studies master’s program designed to accommodate a wide range of interests and needs for graduate training in the languages, societies and cultures of East Asia. Administered by the Committee on Regional Studies — East Asia, this program provides a basic preparation for specialization in the East Asian field, both for future PhD candidates and for those preparing for nonacademic careers.

Admission. Admission is based on the applicant’s academic record, general ability, and promise. The typical applicant will have an undergraduate background in the study of East Asia and/or previous experience in East Asia itself. The GRE General test is required, as is the TOEFL exam, where applicable. Although knowledge of an East Asian language is not a prerequisite, such training also will be taken into consideration.‚Äč

Financial Aid.Financial aid for AM students is extremely limited and there is no guaranteed funding for AM students. Prospective AM students who are US citizens or permanent residents may apply for federal aid, including Perkins Loans, Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans, and should also apply for an academic year Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS). Prospective students are encouraged to apply for independent grants and fellowships to fund their studies. A limited number of Harvard Yenching Fellowships for Asian nationals are awarded only by committee nomination.

Residence. Generally candidates are registered as full-time students in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences for two academic years

Academic Requirements. The program is designed to be flexible, and to allow students the opportunity to pursue their own particular East Asia-related interests, whether wide-ranging or relatively focused, within the guidelines of the RSEA requirements. In the normal two-year program of study, students take a total of sixteen half-courses. Some students may choose to take courses in subjects related to their academic interests but outside the East Asian studies field — perhaps to pursue the theoretical background of a discipline, to provide a comparative framework for study, or to develop necessary methodological skills. All students, however, must graduate with at least eight RSEA-approved half-courses

Language Requirement. Minimum language proficiency required to graduate is defined as the satisfactory completion of a third-year level Harvard course, or the equivalent. For students without prior language background, it usually will be necessary to continue formal language study, at Harvard or elsewhere, during the summer following the first year in residence.

Thesis. The thesis developed under the guidance of a thesis advisor should demonstrate original research and/or a fresh interpretation of a subject; significant use of primary sources in one (or more) East Asian language(s); and the candidate’s familiarity with previous scholarship related to the subject matter.

Further information regarding the AM in Regional Studies — East Asia may be obtained by consulting the website.

Graduate Programs in East Asian Languages and Civilizations

The Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations offers instruction in the Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Manchu, Mongolian, and Vietnamese languages; its faculty also offers Literary Tibetan in the Sanskrit and Indian Studies Department. The principal fields of study are Chinese, Japanese, and Korean literature, East Asian Buddhism, and Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Inner Asian history. Instruction in Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese history is also offered in the History Department. A rough division of emphasis places Chinese and Japanese history after 1800 in the History Department and most courses in earlier periods in East Asian Languages and Civilizations. Faculty holding joint appointments with other departments include specialists in Chinese history, Vietnamese history, Buddhist studies, Chinese archaeology, and Japanese history.

PhD in East Asian Languages and Civilizations [top]

Admission. Strong preference will be given to applicants who achieved distinction in their undergraduate or graduate work, and who are adequately prepared to meet the language requirements of the doctorate. The GRE General test and a writing sample are required.

Program of Study. Each student is required to engage in a program of study that involves at least three fields of knowledge. One of these fields should be chosen to demonstrate breadth in regard to a different area, discipline, or period. The program will be determined in consultation with the student’s advisor. Courses in other departments may be included whenever appropriate. Two research seminar papers with a grade of A- and above, one of which must be in the student’s primary field, are required of all students prior to taking the General Examination.

Language Requirement. The Department sets specific language requirements for the degree that are intended to ensure that all students are proficient in the primary language(s) needed for professional scholarly research in the field. These requirements are the same for EALC and HEAL PhD candidates.

The general principle is competence in a relevant research language other than the language of primary focus, but we will also emphasize flexibility and individual needs.  Students are required to obtain written permission from their advisor and the DGS if they want to waive or change the language requirements.  Students may be asked to demonstrate their competence in their primary language through course work or a language examination (administered by the head of the relevant language program in consultation with the advisor).  They normally fulfill their research language requirement through course work but can choose to demonstrate their competence through a language examination.

Chinese Studies

  • Fourth-year level in modern Chinese
  • Second-year level in literary Chinese
  • Third-year level in modern Japanese or, in exceptional cases, equivalent ability in another east Asian language or another research language

Japanese Studies

  • Fourth-year level in modern Japanese
  • First-year level in classical Japanese
  • Note: In exceptional cases, a second year of classical Japanese may be substituted for the fourth year of Japanese.
  • For students of pre-modern Japan: One year of literary Chinese and other appropriate language study (e.g., kanbun, komonjo, more classical Japanese) as determined by the advisor
  • For students of modern Japan: One year of literary Chinese or advanced proficiency (2nd year level) in another modern East Asian language.

Korean Studies

  • Fourth-year level in modern Korean
  • Third-year level in modern Japanese
  • For students of pre-modern Korea: Second-year level in literary Chinese
  • For students of modern Korea:  First-year level of literary Chinese. (Note: May be waived in certain circumstances with written permission of the faculty advisor.)

Tibetan Studies

  • Third-year level in literary Tibetan
  • First-year level in modern Tibetan
  • Combined two years of study of literary and/or modern Chinese depending on specialty. In some cases, the equivalent background in either Manchu or Mongolian may be substituted for Chinese.
  • One year of Sanskrit

General Examination. The student must pass a two-hour oral examination in at least three fields. In addition to the oral examination, the student will be required to demonstrate proficiency in the primary language to be used in his or her research. Each subfield within the department will determine the means to test such proficiency.

Note: All course, language, and seminar paper requirements must be completed prior to taking the General Examination. The General Examination normally must be taken before the start of the student’s fourth year in the department.

Prospectus. A prospectus of a student’s dissertation, of 15-25 pages, will be required within six months after the General Examination has been passed.

Dissertation. The dissertation, which must make an original contribution to knowledge, may deal with any subject approved by the department. It must demonstrate the student’s capacity to make critical use of source material in one or more East Asian languages.

As of May 1994, an overall Graduate School policy has been established that students ordinarily will not be allowed to register beyond their tenth year in the Graduate School. If after ten years a candidate has not completed all the requirements for the degree, he or she will be withdrawn from candidacy. A candidate who has been withdrawn can be reinstated only by formal readmission to the Graduate School and to the Department for the purpose of getting the degree.

Further information regarding courses and programs of study in East Asian languages and civilizations may be obtained by visiting the department’s website or by writing to the chair, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, 2 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138.

PhD in History and East Asian Languages [top]

The Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations also administers a PhD in History and East Asian Languages. (This replaces the degree in History and East Asian Languages formerly administered by the Standing Committee on the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in History and East Asian Languages, which ceased to admit new students in 2006.) The degree is designed to accommodate the needs of students who desire a more language-intensive program of study of East Asian history.

Admission. Candidates are expected to have demonstrated special aptitude and competence for advanced work in East Asian history. Admission will be based primarily on distinction in undergraduate or graduate work, including evidence of high achievement in history or related fields, and evidence of adequate preparation in one of the East Asian languages. The GRE General test and a writing sample are required.

Residence. Minimum of two years of full-time study (16 half-courses or equivalent). For financial residence requirements, see the Prospective Students page.

Program of Study. Students working toward this degree are all required, at an early stage in their preparation, to submit a plan to their advisor showing the fields of study (normally three, but sometimes four) they propose for their general examination. The student’s program is built around these fields, which may be drawn from the lists of fields for either EALC or the Department of History. Each student must do honors work in two half-year history seminars. Students who can submit a Master’s thesis in a relevant area are required to complete one substantial research paper, normally as part of a regular seminar.

Language Requirement. (See Language Requirements under PhD in East Asian Languages and Civilizations.)

General Examination. The student must pass a two-hour oral General Examination in at least three fields, ordinarily chosen from those listed among the requirements for the PhD in History (see Higher Degrees in History). One of these fields must be in premodern history. In some cases, fulfilling these requirements may entail taking a fourth field. The General Examination normally must be taken before the beginning of the student’s fourth year in the department.

Prospectus. A prospectus of a student’s dissertation, of 15-25 pages, will be required within six months after the General Examination has been passed.

Dissertation. The dissertation must be in a field of East Asian history and must demonstrate the candidate’s capacity to do original research work, utilizing one or more of the East Asian languages.

Dissertation Defense. To qualify for the degree of doctor of philosophy, students are required to present their dissertation at a public defense.

Further information regarding courses and programs of study in history and East Asian languages may be obtained by writing to the Chair, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, 2 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138; or on the website.

PhD in History (with Special Field of East Asian History) [top]

This PhD degree program is administered by the Department of History. The student must apply to the Department of History and must consequently conform to the requirements of the PhD in history, as given in Higher Degrees in History.

The requirements for this degree are:

Admission. Please refer to Higher Degrees in History.

Residence. Minimum of two years of full-time study (16 half-courses or equivalent). For financial residence requirements, see the Prospective Students page.

Program of Study. The student’s program is built around four “fields of study” selected by the student from a list of fields contained in Higher Degrees in History.

Language Requirement. The student must demonstrate a reading knowledge of of two East Asian languages, or one East Asian language plus German, French or Russian by passing examinations administered by the Department of History, which are ordinarily given in September and January. See also Higher Degrees in History.

General Examination. All students must take a two-hour oral examination, covering four fields of study (see above under Program of Study), ordinarily in May of the fourth term of graduate work.

Dissertation. Please see Higher Degrees in History for rules regarding the makeup of the dissertation committee, the timing of the dissertation proposal, and submission of the dissertation.

Further information regarding courses and programs of study in history may be obtained by writing to the Director of Graduate Studies, Department of History, Robinson Hall, Cambridge, MA 02138; or on the website.

Joint Degrees Between the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations and Other Departments [top]

After a full year of graduate study, a student whose subject of study is geographically limited primarily to East Asia but who is specializing in some branch of knowledge other than linguistics, literature, or history may, with the approval of the departments concerned, become a candidate for the PhD degree under a special ad hoc committee representing the department of the special discipline and the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations. The procedure for requesting the formation of such an ad hoc committee is outlined in The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Handbook. The requirements for a PhD degree under such a committee are separately determined in each individual case, but the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations will normally expect a candidate to meet its usual language requirements. In recent years such ad hoc degrees have been administered to students working in the fields of anthropology, history of art and architecture, and sociology, among others.

Financial Aid

Applications for admission and for financial aid should be made as early as possible in the fall preceding the year of desired entrance into the Graduate School and prior to January 2 of that year.

Applicants who expect to rely on financial aid from Harvard at any stage in their graduate years should file the appropriate application for financial aid at the time they apply for admission. Detailed instructions are contained in the Prospective Students page.

Course assistants and teaching fellows are selected by the various departments and committees, and in most departments these posts are not normally open to first-year graduate students.

Foreign Language and Area Study Fellowships (FLAS)

The fellowships are annually assigned to Harvard University by the US Department of Education under the National Defense Education Act (Title VI) for language and area studies in East Asia at Harvard and approved Asian universities; specifically, Inter-University centers in Beijing, Tokyo, or at the ICLP in Taipei. Applicants must be American citizens or permanent residents of the United States.

Harvard-Yenching Institute Fellowships

Harvard-Yenching Institute Fellowship, primarily for Asian nationals who plan to return to Asia to teach, is awarded for graduate study at Harvard University in the humanities and social sciences. The nomination comes from East Asian studies Ph.D. programs or from the Regional Studies (East Asia) admissions committee. The nominees can be applicants who are not directly admitted to a doctoral program, but are judged to be potentially competitive for admission to a doctoral program after completing an MA degree under faculty supervision. Upon successful application, students will be granted a two-year fellowship from the Harvard-Yenching Institute to complete their MA degree. If successfully admitted to a doctoral program at Harvard or other appropriate university upon completion of the MA, one year of additional fellowship support will be provided toward completion of the doctoral degree. Further information may be obtained from the Program Office, Harvard-Yenching Institute, 25 Francis Avenue, Suite 20, Cambridge, MA 02138; www.harvard-yenching.org

Traveling Fellowships

Social Science Research Council Fellowships for International Doctoral Research (formerly known as the Foreign Area Fellowship Program), funded by the Ford Foundation, support study in the United States and Asia. Inquiries should be addressed to the Social Science Research Council, 605 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10016; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Harvard students wishing to study in Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, or Taiwan may also apply for either a US Office of Education-administered Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship or a Fulbright Grant for Graduate Study Abroad administered by the Institute of International Education for the US Department of State. Applications for these two awards may be obtained from the Fulbright coordinator at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center.

There are also travel grants among the Harvard General Scholarships, under the Kennedy, Knox, and Sheldon Traveling Fellowships and the Graduate Society Fellowships. In addition, the Japan Foundation provides dissertation fellowships for research in Japan.

The Harvard-Yenching Institute

The Harvard-Yenching Institute is an independent nonprofit corporation (with a Board of Trustees and an executive director) primarily concerned with education in Asia. However, the location at this University of the Harvard-Yenching Library (which the institute founded and still helps to support), together with the institute’s headquarters for its administration, publications, fellowships, and program of visiting scholars from East Asia, makes the institute a major factor in resources for and activities in East Asian studies at Harvard. Although it contributes to the University’s Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, the institute itself is a foundation and not a teaching organization.

The institute publishes the Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies. It also supports the publication of various books through the Harvard University Press, or in conjunction with the Council on East Asian Studies.

The Harvard-Yenching Library

The Harvard-Yenching Library is the largest university library for East Asian research in the United States and one of the most distinguished collections in East Asian languages outside Asia itself. In addition to materials in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, it also contains holdings in Manchu, Mongolian, Tibetan, Vietnamese, and Western languages. Thus, the library is both a subject collection on East Asia and a general collection of works in the East Asian languages.

The library, after having been known primarily for its outstanding collections on the classical and traditional literatures, histories, religions, and philosophies of China and Japan, has gone through a vigorous expansion of Korean holdings and is now also being built into a major repository on contemporary East Asia, while continuing to grow from strength in its original fields.

The library’s collection consists of over 980,000 volumes. It also boasts an outstanding periodical collection of more than 14,000 titles, and a newspaper collection consisting of some 700 titles. Recent years have seen a rapid growth in the library’s microfilm and microfiche collection to its present size of approximately 80,000 reels and 18,000 fiche. Electronic resources are also being added to its collection.

The library is open to all Harvard faculty and students and to other qualified scholars. A fee is assessed for borrowing privileges by non-Harvard users. (For the fee schedule, inquire at the circulation desk.)

Biblographical records of all Chinese, Japanese, and Korean-language materials catalogued since 1989 are included in HOLLIS, as are the records for the entire Western-language collection. Chinese, Japanese, and Korean-language materials catalogued prior to 1989 are listed in separate printed book catalogues.

Registered users are permitted entry into the stacks. Study carrels are available in the library stacks. They are assigned as available upon application at the circulation desk.

The library sponsors the Harvard-Yenching Library Bibliographical Series under which research aids in East Asian studies are published.

For more information consult the library’s website.

Museums

The Harvard University Art Museums contain a distinguished representation of different branches of the archaeology and fine arts of China, Korea, and Japan, housed in the Arthur M. Sackler Museum. The collections of ancient Chinese bronzes, jades, and Buddhist sculpture, and Japanese woodblock prints are among the finest in the world. The museum also houses an extensive working library, a large slide collection, and a substantial photographic archive.

Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology has long been a leading center for research in the anthropology as well as the archaeology of Eastern Asia.

The Boston Museum of Fine Arts possesses balanced collections of Indian, Chinese, and Japanese art that are among the finest in the world. Chinese numismatics and Japanese ethnology may be advantageously studied in the Essex Institute and the Peabody Museum of Salem.

The Council on East Asian Studies

Established in 1972, the Council on East Asian Studies was formed to coordinate all teaching and research in East Asian studies at Harvard University. The council is currently administered through the Asia Center.

The Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies

The Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, originally called the Center for East Asian Research and renamed as the John K. Fairbank Center for East Asian Research in 1977, was founded in 1955 by Professor John King Fairbank, a leading scholar in modern and contemporary China studies.

The center’s primary objective is to facilitate research and publication on China, with particular emphasis on contemporary issues. At the same time, the center’s program of activities reflects the underlying premise that China today can best be understood in the light of its historical background and in its geographical and cultural context.

Although the center does not offer instruction, it provides assistance to postdoctoral researchers who are preparing manuscripts for publication, and to graduate and undergraduate students traveling to Asia. In addition, the center invites senior researchers from American and foreign institutions to come as visiting scholars, research associates or fellows to work on selected projects.

For more information consult our website.

The Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies

First established in 1973 as the Japan Institute, the Reischauer Institute has a University-wide mandate to develop and coordinate activities concerning Japan among the various faculties at Harvard, through the advancement of instruction and research in the social sciences and humanities. Moreover, the Institute seeks to expand and coordinate Japan-related connections with other Harvard departments, centers, and research institutes, and to respond to scholarly and public interest in Japan from outside Harvard through outreach activities such as lectures, conferences, symposia, exhibitions, and films.

The institute contributes to (1) support for new teaching positions in the field of Japanese studies; (2) support for research, publications, library, and administrative costs related to institute programs; (3) undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral fellowships and grants; (4) other activities designed to stimulate interest in the study of Japan.

The Korea Institute

The Korea Institute is Harvard’s only organization devoted solely to the development and support of Korean studies at the university. Established in 1981 under the aegis of the Fairbank Center, the Institute became an independent organization within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) in 1993. The Korea Institute’s purposes are to give heightened visibility and direction to Korean Studies activities throughout Harvard, and to serve as a focal point of involvement for scholars and others outside the Harvard community to conduct research with Harvard faculty, students, and resources.

The Institute’s programs include seminars, workshops, conferences, exhibits, films and cultural events. The Institute also coordinates a growing array of undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral fellowships, representing fields in the humanities and social sciences. The Institute supports publications in the Korean studies field, including a series on Korean literature, studies and translations, sponsored by the Sunshik Min Endowment for the Advancement of Korean Literature.

More information on the Korea Institute is available at: www.fas.harvard.edu/~korea, including a link for prospective students.

The Harvard University Asia Center

The Harvard University Asia Center was established in 1997 to facilitate teaching and research in East Asian Studies throughout Harvard University. In addition, the Center will prepare for expanded programs in Southeast and South Asia. Some of the goals of the Asia Center are (1) to promote research, teaching and other programs that study Asia in comparative terms (particularly projects involving more than one Asian country); (2) to support cooperative projects involving participants from more than one Faculty of the University; and (3) to develop and support programs which link scholarship on modern Asia to contemporary issues on government, business, law, society, culture, and other fields.

The Center currently administers Harvard’s National Resource Center for East Asia and publishes the Harvard East Asian Monograph Series, the Harvard-Hallym Series, and the Harvard-Yenching Institute Monograph Series. The Center also supports faculty, graduate, and undergraduate research through its grants and fellowships programs.

East Asian Languages and Civilizations Faculty List