The Department of East Asian Languages & Cultures offers an A.B. in Japanese and a minor in Japanese.

Major in Japanese

The Japanese major combines thorough training in spoken and written language with study of Japanese culture through a broad range of materials and approaches, including classical and modern literature, linguistics, history, philosophy, visual arts, and popular culture. Most courses are conducted in Japanese.

Students are expected to study Japanese for four years, regardless of their level when they begin at Georgetown.  Students must take at least one JAPN course taught in English in addition to “East Asia: Texts and Contexts.” One or both semesters of junior year are usually spent abroad. The major culminates in a Senior Seminar in which students are generally expected to write a thesis paper of 25+ pages.

Honors Thesis Option: Students may be invited, on the basis of their work in the senior seminar, to complete an honors thesis in spring of the senior year. This longer thesis project requires the use of vernacular sources. Students who successfully complete and defend the honors thesis receive honors in the major upon graduation.

Majors are strongly recommended to fulfill half of the history portion of their College core requirement by taking at least one course in Japanese history. A variety of Japanese studies courses are also available through other departments, including Economics, Government, International Affairs, Theology and Religious Studies, and Art. These can be taken as free electives, or in some cases to fulfill core requirements. Outside courses can often be counted toward an Asian Studies Certificate for interested students. Students should seek help from their department advisors to develop a well-integrated academic program built around their interests and drawing upon this rich variety of resources.

Students are encouraged to further their understanding of Japanese culture by participating in the Japan Network, which conducts social and educational activities. Also, a wide range of literary and audio-visual materials concerning Japan is available at the University library. The Freer and Sackler Galleries of Art hold one of the finest collections of East Asian art in the world. The Library of Congress has the largest collection of Japanese books and periodicals outside Japan.

Requirements for the A.B. in Japanese

12 courses, including:

  • JAPN-1124 East Asia: Texts and Contexts
  • 9 courses in Japanese language, 5 of which must at the 3000-level or above*
  • 1 department course on Japanese culture, literature, or linguistics taught in English
  • JAPN-4101 Senior Seminar

*Note: students must complete or place out of First, Second and Third Level Japanese before enrolling in 3000-level language courses.

Integrated Writing

Writing takes place everywhere in the Japanese major, in many forms and levels of formality, including expository and creative writing as well as the art of translation, and including personal, public, and professional modes. Alongside expository writing in English about aspects of culture in East Asia, students also practice writing of increasing complexity in target language all through the course of their major. As approaches to careful observation of and careful thinking about their object, writing in English and writing in target language reinforce each other. Attention is also given to translation as a form of detailed interpretive commentary and as a means of examining temporally specific differences in linguistic structure, modes of argument, and perceptual and conceptual habits. Attention to English language writing skills in the field begins in the gateway course East Asia: Texts and Contexts. At the other end of the major, the capstone Senior Seminar guides students in the writing of extensive individual research papers. For more information on writing in the major, see the EALC department website.

Overseas Studies

Students majoring in Japanese are required to spend one semester (usually Junior year) in Japan and are encouraged to spend the entire year in Japan.  Georgetown has formal arrangements for overseas study with Keio University, Sophia University, Waseda University, International Christian University in Tokyo and Nanzan University in Nagoya. 

Minor in Japanese

Requirements for the Minor

Students majoring in other fields, particularly those involving Asian studies, are encouraged to consider a minor in Japanese. The Japanese minor requires:

  • Seven JAPN courses
    • At least six of which must be Japanese language courses or advanced courses conducted in Japanese.
    • The seventh JAPN course may be taught in either Japanese or English.

Asian Studies Certificate

Interested students majoring in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, or East Asian Languages & Cultures may also pursue an interdisciplinary certificate in Asian Studies. A minimum of six semester courses is required, including the study of more than one Asian society or national group. Students should consult the Director of Asian Studies, SFS, for additional information.

(For course listings for Japanese see Schedule of Classes)