East Asian Studies


One of four interdisciplinary majors within the Asian Studies program, East Asian studies allows students to specialize in the history, languages, cultures, and politics of East Asia. Complementing course work at Mount Holyoke are extracurricular activities and study abroad programs that broaden and deepen students’ understanding of Asia.

Program Overview

Language study is the core component of the major. We offer four levels of instruction in Chinese, three in Japanese, and two in Korean. As a student of East Asian Studies, you are expected to incorporate the humanities and the social sciences fully into your studies with classes at Mount Holyoke and the other colleges in the Five College Consortium.

On campus, you will experience regional culture at many levels, including language tables and clubs, guest lectures, performing and visual arts, film, festivals, and regional cuisine. These activities are often initiated by and benefit greatly from the diverse student population of Mount Holyoke and particularly the large numbers of students from Asian countries or with an Asian background.

Most of our students spend a semester or a summer in study abroad programs. ý has affiliated programs or exchanges in China at Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, Peking University (summer), and University of Hong Kong; in Japan at the Associated Kyoto Program (year) and the Japan Women’s University; and in South Korea at the Ewha Womans University and the Sookmyung Women’s University.

East Asian Studies majors and minors graduate to pursue graduate studies and careers in fields as varied as law, education, business, NGOs, journalism, the arts, and government service.

Community Voices

Spotlight on East Asian Studies students and alums

Learning Goals

By majoring in East Asian Studies, students should:

  • Develop proficiency in Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. By "proficiency" we mean the ability to:
    • Read newspapers, magazines, and popular literature.
    • Converse with a native speaker on non-technical subjects.
    • Write coherent paragraphs on non-technical subjects.
  • Develop knowledge of the history of premodern and modern East Asia.
  • Develop knowledge of the arts, literature, religions, and philosophies of East Asia.
  • Develop knowledge of the geography, politics, economics, and societies of East Asia.

Requirements for the Major

A minimum of 40 credits:

Four courses (16 credits) in, equivalent to two years of college-level study of, an East Asian language: Chinese, Japanese, or Korean 116
HIST-137Modern East Asia, 1600-20004
or POLIT-228 East Asian Politics
At least three non-language courses (12 credits) on East Asia, including at least one from each of the following two groups: 212
Group One: Humanities (literature, art, history, philosophy, and religion and interdisciplinary courses in these areas) 3, 4
Group Two: Social Sciences (anthropology, economics, geography, international relations, linguistics, politics, and sociology interdisciplinary courses in these areas)
Two additional courses (8 credits) to complete the major 28
At least three courses (12 credits) must be at the 300 level. One of the three 300-level courses must be a non-language and non-independent study course. 5
Total Credits40

Japanese, Chinese, and Korean are taught at Mount Holyoke and elsewhere in the Five Colleges. A maximum of 16 lower-level language credits and a total of 24 language credits can be counted toward the major.


A full list of the approved courses for the major appears at the end of the East Asian Studies Courses section.


Language courses are not included in this group


In order to count toward the major, Studio Art or performance courses must be supplemented with analytical written work


A course that is taught outside of ý must be approved by the chair of the Asian Studies program to count as a 300-level course.

Additional Specifications

  • Any course that devotes 50 percent or more of its substance to East Asian countries, peoples, or issues may be included in the major.
  • One course on East Asian diasporas (e.g., Asian American studies) may count toward the major.
  • Students who declare an East Asian studies major automatically fulfill the College's "outside the major" requirement.

Related Courses Counting toward the East Asian Studies Major

Most East Asian studies courses at Mount Holyoke are listed below, but students should also consult the catalog entries or websites of other departments, including art history, history, international relations, politics, and religion. East Asian Studies majors should also plan to use the rich resources of the Five College Consortium in selecting their courses (listings are available through the or individual college websites).

Please consult the chair of Asian Studies for guidelines regarding Asian languages not taught in the Five Colleges.

ANTHR-204Anthropology of Modern Japan4
Art History
ARTH-262Arts of Japan4
Asian Studies
ASIAN-110First Year Chinese I6
ASIAN-111First Year Chinese II6
ASIAN-120First Year Japanese I6
ASIAN-121First Year Japanese II6
ASIAN-160First Year Korean I4
ASIAN-161First Year Korean II4
ASIAN-212Second Year Chinese I6
ASIAN-213Second Year Chinese II6
ASIAN-215Androgyny and Gender Negotiation in Contemporary Chinese Women's Theater4
ASIAN-222Second Year Japanese I6
ASIAN-223Second Year Japanese II6
ASIAN-247Chinese Women Writers in the 20th and 21st Centuries4
ASIAN-262Second Year Korean I4
ASIAN-263Second Year Korean II4
ASIAN-310Third Year Chinese I4
ASIAN-311Third Year Chinese II4
ASIAN-312Newspaper Reading and Journalistic Practice in China4
ASIAN-314Learning Chinese Through Film4
ASIAN-315Business Culture and Communication in China4
ASIAN-324Third Year Japanese I4
ASIAN-326Third Year Japanese II4
ASIAN-340Love, Gender-Crossing, and Women's Supremacy: A Reading of The Story of the Stone4
Film, Media, Theater
FMT-230CWIntermediate Courses in History and Theory: 'Androgyny and Gender Negotiation in Contemporary Chinese Women's Theater'4
Gender Studies
GNDST-204CWWomen and Gender in the Study of Culture: 'Androgyny and Gender Negotiation in Contemporary Chinese Women's Theater'4
GNDST-206CGWomen and Gender in History: 'Women and Gender in China'4
GNDST-333HHAdvanced Seminar: 'Love, Gender-Crossing, and Women's Supremacy: A Reading of The Story of the Stone'4
HIST-137Modern East Asia, 1600-20004
HIST-239CDTopics in Asian History: 'Chinese Diasporic Communities in the World: Race, Empire, and Transnationalism'4
HIST-239GFTopics in Asian History: 'Global Food and Local Tastes in Modern East Asia'4
HIST-239HHTopics in Asian History: 'History of Humans and Other Living Beings'4
HIST-239MCTopics in Asian History: 'Borderlands and Ethnicity in Modern China'4
HIST-239METopics in Asian History: 'Cities in Modern East Asia'4
HIST-296CGWomen in History: 'Women and Gender in China'4
HIST-332Environmental History of China4
PHIL-212Philosophical Foundations of Chinese Thought: The Ancient Period4
POLIT-208Chinese Politics4
POLIT-228East Asian Politics4
POLIT-359Democratization and Civil Society in East Asia4
RELIG-163Introduction to Buddhism4
RELIG-241Women and Gender in Buddhism4
Russian & Eurasian Studies
RES-312Silk Roads: Ancient and Modern Highways Across the Eurasian Continent4

Contact Us

The Department of Asian Students helps students explore the rich and extremely diverse cultures of Asia, home to some 60 percent of humanity.

Denise Falk
  • Academic Department Coordinator

Next Steps

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