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East Asian Studies (PHD) 
Program Description

East Asian Studies PHD

The Department of East Asian Studies offers two areas for Doctoral degrees. Candidates may focus on either China or Japan.

Candidates for admission to the doctoral program must have the support of one faculty member within whose general area the student proposes to work. Information on requirements and procedures for admission is available from the Graduate College and the department.

The department may admit a student with a B.A. directly into one of the Ph.D. programs if that student shows exceptional promise in his or her field and if there is strong backing from at least one faculty member. In such cases, the student is responsible for fulfilling all normal requirements for the appropriate M.A. program before beginning work for the Ph.D.

Department/Academic Unit(s)

East Asian Studies -

The Department of East Asian Studies is dedicated to the study of the cultures and languages of China and Japan. The rich cultural heritages of the region are covered by courses in literature, history, society, religion and thought, linguistics and other aspects of culture.

EAS offers a wide range of courses in Chinese and Japanese language. Understanding the languages and cultures of these two nations—the second (China) and third (Japan) largest economies in the world—is essential for anyone working globally today.

EAS offers programs leading to the  Master of Arts (M.A.), and the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees with a major in East Asian Studies.

College of Humanities  
Campus where offered
Main Campus - Tucson  
Admissions Contact
Frank Simmons Whitehead
Graduate Program Coordinator
Frank Simmons Whitehead
Director of Graduate Studies
Albert Welter
Graduate College Degree Counselor
Kristi Renee Davenport
Tuition and Fees
Please refer to the UA Bursar's Office Tuition and Fees Calculator for up-to-date information about tuition and fees. 
Please refer to the UA Registrar's's Office Special Course Fees for up-to-date information about special course fees. 

Admissions Information

Admissions Requirements
  • GPA 3.5
  • TOEFL 550 on the paper based (PB) or 79 on the internet based (IBT) or composite score of 7 (IELTS) for international students.
  • GRE (required of domestic applicants and applicants from English speaking countries, e.g. U.K., Canada, etc.)(not required for other international
  • students)
  • Two (2) letters of recommendation
  • Statement of purpose (Must specify the area you are applying for: Chinese Studies, Japanese Studies, and speciality (example: linguistics)
  • Sample of written work (Ph.D. applicants only)
  • Official sealed Transcripts
  • Department Financial Aid Application
Standardized Tests

Required test(s) required for Domestic applicants: GRE
TOEFL 550 on the paper based (PB)or 79 on the internet based (IBT) or composite score of 7 (iBT)international students)Minimum TOEFL: 550
Minimum IELTS: 7

*Note: International applicants who do not meet the minimum English proficiency requirements may be considered for conditional admission to this program at the department’s discretion.

Financial Aid
  • Teaching Assistantships
  • Graduate College Fellowships
  • Tuition and Registration Scholarships
  • Graduate and Professional Student Travel Funds
Admissions Deadlines

Domestic Applicants:

  • Fall: January 15

International Applicants:

  • Fall: January 15
International Conditional Admission
International applicants may be considered for conditional admission to this program at the department's discretion.
Other Information
The GRE Institution Code for The University of Arizona is 4832
ETS Major Field Code(s) for this program: 2601
NRC Taxon(a) for this program: Language, Societies, and Cultures

Degree Specifics

Degree Requirements

China-Area Ph.D. Program

The China Ph.D. program is divided into three fields. Two of these fields constitute the major; one constitutes the minor.

The Major

One field may be taken in the student’s major discipline but focused upon another country or cultural area.

Major Fields

Chinese History

  1. Pre-modern
  2. Ming-Ch’ing
  3. Modern China

Chinese Religion and Thought

  1. Pre-Ch’in and Han thought
  2. Buddhism in China
  3. Neo-Confucianism

Chinese Literature

  1. Criticism and theory
  2. Classical
  3. Modern


  1. Chinese linguistics

Cultural Anthropology

  1. Chinese anthropology
  2. Popular culture


Japan-Area Ph.D. Program

The Ph.D. program is currently offered in Japanese Linguistics, Literature and Religion.

The Linguistics Major

We offer Japanese linguistics majors in the following fields:

  • Discourse Analysis/Conversation Analysis
  • Sociolinguistics
  • Phonetics/Phonology
  • Second Language Acquisition

The Literature Major

Core Curriculum for all students. (Substitutions to this core curriculum may be made only with the approval of the chair of the student’s Committee.)

  • 4 survey courses in Japanese literature (2 in modern, 2 in pre-modern: JPN 546a, JPN 546b, JPN 547a, JPN 547b)
  • 3 seminars in Japanese literature (JPN 596a [rpt/3]. Modern specialists will take 2 modern lit. seminars and 1 pre-modern lit. seminar; pre-modern lit. specialists will take 2 pre-modern lit. seminars and 1 modern lit. seminar.)
  • For modern lit. specialists: 1 course from the following: ENG 515 or ENG 554.
  • 1 course in Japanese religion: JPN 585, JPN 586, or JPN 589.
  • 2 courses in Modern Japanese Reading [JPN 521, JPN 522]; for native speakers this requirement is waived; the same holds true for non-native speakers who have fulfilled this requirement through testing or previous course work.

The Religion Major

Core Curriculum

  • 4 survey courses in East Asian thought and religion (such as EAS 584a, EAS 584b, CHN 583, CHN 584, JPN 585, JPN 586 JPN 589), including at least 2 with a focus on Japan (such as JPN 585, JPN 586, JPN 589).
  • 3 seminars in East Asian thought and religion (such as EAS 596a, CHN 596a; some editions of EAS 596c may also qualify), including at least 2 with a focus on Japan.
  • 2 courses in Japanese history and literature, to be selected in consultation with the advisor.
  • 1 course in Classical Japanese (JPN 505)
  • 2 courses in modern Japanese reading (JPN 521, 522)

Ph.D. Examinations for both Chinese and Japanese

These include the Qualifying Examination, the Comprehensive Examination, and the Final Defense. All doctoral oral examinations are conducted in English.

Qualifying Examination

The Ph.D. Qualifying Examination in Japanese Linguistics determines if students are equipped with sufficient analytical abilities and background knowledge in the field to allow them to pursue studies in the Ph.D. program.

Comprehensive Examination

Both the written and the oral portions of the Comprehensive Examination for the PhD Program have a two-fold purpose: to determine students’ (1) competence in their major and minor areas of specialization and (2) readiness to undertake dissertation research.

Timing of Exam: Students normally take the Comprehensive Examination during their third year of study.


Chinese - Students must attain fluency in Chinese.

Japanese - Students must attain fluency in Japanese. Depending on the student’s course of study, attainment of proficiency in another language may also be required.

Dissertation Proposal

The dissertation proposal is a 10-20 page double-spaced document laying out the nature of the problem the student intends to focus on for the doctoral dissertation. The proposal demonstrates that (a) the problem selected is of the appropriate scope, importance, and relevance for a dissertation; (b) the student controls the core literature for the topic selected; and (c) the student has selected a reasonable approach (theoretical and methodological) to follow in solving the problem, at least in the initial stages of the research.

Time Limitation

The Ph.D. program must be completed within 10 years of the earliest course work listed on the student’s “Doctoral Degree Study Program.”

Application of M.A. Units and Transfer Units Toward Ph.D. Requirements

With departmental approval, a student’s M.A. units earned here or at another approved institution may be applied toward the Ph.D. requirements. Students should be advised that the Graduate College requires that 30 units of graduate credit must be earned at the University of Arizona. Ph.D. students must also meet residence requirements.


Minor Requirements

The Minor

Two doctoral fields constitute the minor. The minor fields must be chosen from any of the fields of study acceptable to the Graduate College. (See the College’s list, “Major Fields for Doctoral Degrees;” the minor must be drawn from the same list.) The minor is often taken from a department other than the student’s home department, and it must be discipline based. The minor department sets the minimum number of units of work required.

Student Handbook  

Program StatisticsInformation about these numbers

Program-level Information
Application Acceptance Rate 48%
Med. Time-to-degree (years) 5.50
Department-level Information
Enrollment Percent Male 23%
Enrollment Percent Female 77%
Enrollment Percent International 64%
Enrollment Percent URM 8%

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Last revised 30 Aug 2016