Graduate Program Requirements and Additional Information

View current requirements sheets (UCSB General Catalog)

If admitted without an M.A. in East Asian Studies…

Students are required to complete 60 units of course work (graduate level courses and upper division courses) for the M.A. degree, successfully pass field exams (three fields and three courses for each field; 9 courses in total), and write an M.A. thesis. In the first two years, such students complete the course work for Plan 1 of the M.A. degree (60 units), with a minimum GPA of 3.75. In addition, students complete 24 units (6 courses) of graduate level work beyond those taken for the M.A. Hence, the total number of courses required is 21; the total number of graduate level courses is 12.

By the end of the third year, students should be completing their course work in 3 graduate program specializations, with a 4th optional. A specialization is fulfilled by taking a minimum of 3 graduate level courses associated with one specialization (for a list of specializations, see below). Thus, a minimum of 9 courses (out of the 21) are needed to fulfill the 3 specializations. Most students will begin this course work in their first two years of study. Note that while the core graduate seminars are mandatory for all graduate students, they do not count toward any of the specializations.

Courses required for field exams must be graduate-level courses (upper division courses do not count). In choosing fields, students are encouraged to review the emphases listed on the left sidebar of this page and consult their main adviser. There is a lot of flexibility in choosing your field among these specializations. We list 5 specializations by general headings but after consultation with their adviser a student may form two fields from just one such specialization.”

If admitted with an M.A. in East Asian Studies…

Students are required to complete the 3 core seminars and the minimum of 9 courses to satisfy the 3 specializations for a total of 13 courses.

More Information About…

Language Training

The Department offers a full curriculum of four years in modern Chinese and Japanese, as well as courses in the languages classical forms.The Chinese and Japanese language programs are each coordinated by a senior language lecturer. These coordinators supervise all lecturers within their programs who  teach first- through third-year language courses. Language courses are thus taught by experienced professionals. Graduate student teaching assistants supplement language instruction as needed.

Core Graduate Seminars

The Department offers a series of core graduate seminars that give M.A. and Ph.D. students a common grounding in methodological and theoretical issues that all scholars in East Asian Studies confront (EACS 212, 215, Chinese 211 or Japanese 211; for short descriptions, see below). One seminar is offered each quarter, and the entire series of four seminars is required of all students. They are: (1) Topics in East Asian Cultural Studies, which takes up broad topics within the study of modern and contemporary East Asian cultures in an interdisciplinary perspective; (2) Canon Formation, Periodization, and Disciplinarity in East Asian Studies, which analyzes classical, medieval, and modern sets of “canons,” including myth, historiography, literature, and the arts, with a view to consider the ways in which these fields were mutually distinguished (disciplinarity) and changed through time (periodization); and (3) Pro-seminars on Bibliography, Reference Works, and Documentation in Chinese studies and Japanese studies (2 separate courses).

Foreign Language Requirement

The language requirement is flexible and is determined by the student’s Ph.D. degree committee in consultation with the EALCS Faculty Graduate Advisor. Students in Japanese are required to take 8 units of pre-modern Japanese language (Japanese 181, 183). Students in pre-modern Chinese studies are required to take 8 units of Classical Chinese language courses (CHIN101A and CHIN101B) and 4 units of a seminar that uses classical Chinese texts as primary sources. Other students are required to take 8 units of classical language. Students are encouraged to form their degree committee early on, so that the details of the language requirement may be determined in a timely manner.

Dissertation Prospectus

Before the end of spring quarter in the fourth year, submit a dissertation prospectus of 25-50 pages, outlining the goals, organization, and sources for the dissertation.

Field Examinations

Students with a prior MA degree should take the field exams by the end of the 3rd year and those who enter the program without should take it by the end of the 4th year. The field exams will be written exams, all taken within one week.  They will be followed by a joint oral defense, to be held the week after the exams.  The oral defense will cover the dissertation prospectus as well as the field exams.  Once the student has passed these written and oral qualifying examinations, he or she will be advanced to candidacy for the Ph.D.


By the end of the seventh year, submit the completed Ph.D. dissertation for acceptance by the student’s dissertation committee.

Oral Defense. The oral defense will take 2-3 hours. It will begin with students’ presentation (approximately 20 minutes) and will be followed by questions from dissertation committee. After the defense, the committee will briefly deliberate and determine the result at once. The defense will be open to other graduate students and faculty. While Zoom or Skype may be used as an alternative for faculty members, the student and the Chair of the committee will normally be required to be present. However, under special circumstances, arrangements may be made after consulting the graduate committee. This policy applies to students admitted Fall 2014 and after.

Normative Time. The normative time for completion of the Ph.D. will be six to seven years, depending on the level of East Asian language training at the time of admission and the need for time spent in East Asia doing dissertation research.  We expect that most students will finish their degree within six years, and those admitted with a prior M.A. will finish in five years, while those admitted without a prior M.A. and with minimal prior foreign language study will need part or all of the seventh year to finish.


Every student is required to take at least 1 course that grounds her/his studies of East Asia in a discipline by taking a graduate-level course that is devoted to theory or discipline-specific methodology. Students will be encouraged to fulfill this new requirement by taking a course outside of EALCS.

Funding Policy

Our efforts to provide for graduate students focus on years 1 through 4, the years during they complete their course work and field exams. Only in rare cases will we consider funding beyond the 4th year on a case by case basis.

Language Evaluation

New graduate students are required to take a language evaluation test for their intended East Asia region of focus. Upon completion of evaluation, the student’s advisor will determine whether their proficiency is sufficient or if the student could benefit to strengthen their language skills.

Other Departments and Programs.The program has extensive links through cross-listed courses and faculty affiliations with other departments and programs at UC Santa Barbara, including History, Film & Media Studies, Art History, Comparative Literature, UCSB Theater & Dance, Music, and Religious Studies. Students are encouraged to take courses outside the Department and to create their own interdepartmental specializations.

Centers & Resources