Japanese Major

School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

Major Advisor: Ms. Makiko Inoue

The Japanese major provides the training and cultural background needed for entering East Asia-related careers in such fields as the arts, business, government, international relations, higher education, and the media. Students may also consider a double major in Japanese and another discipline, such as art history, business, economics, computer science, international relations, or linguistics. Another option available to students is a 24-credit undergraduate certificate in East Asian Studies.

After completing the prerequisite of one year of language (12 credits - JAPN101 Elementary Japanese I, six hours per week, fall or summer I; and JAPN102 Elementary Japanese II, six hours per week, spring or summer II), students must complete 42 credits for the major course requirements (24 language, 6 civilization/history, 12 elective).

Placement in Courses

For information about the World Language Placement, go to: http://arhu.umd.edu/academics/world-language-placement/.

Program Learning Outcomes

  1. Upon completion of the core language sequence of JAPN 101-302, students will be able to ask and answer questions, handle topics related to their daily life and autobiographical topics by means of narration and description, engage in conversation in a participatory manner, and disagree by providing supporting reasons about a range of everyday topics, using passable grammar, vocabulary, and speech style(s) appropriate to specific social contexts.
  2. Students will be able to read and understand kanji (Chinese characters) and kanji compound vocabulary introduced during the course; grasp the main points in a reading passage, analyze syntactic (grammatical) structures, recognize the function of polite (honorific/humble) language styles, and identify deleted subjects.
  3. Upon completion of one or more courses in literary/cultural studies, students will demonstrate strong skills in interpreting a variety of literary, cultural, and historical texts in translation, and indicate a nuanced and deep understanding of the diversity of Japanese literature(s) and culture(s).

Students must take language-acquisition courses sequentially, and receive a grade of C- or better to advance to the next level. Once credit has been received in a higher level language acquisition or grammar course, a lower level course may not be taken for credit.

Course Title Credits
College Requirements
Language Requirements
JAPN201Intermediate Japanese I6
JAPN202Intermediate Japanese II6
JAPN301Advanced Japanese I6
JAPN302Advanced Japanese II6
Civilization/History Requirements
Select an Option:6
Option I:
East Asian Civilization I
History of Japan Since 1800
Option II:
East Asian Civilization II
History of Japan to 1800
Electives 1
Courses that fulfill the literature/cultural studies requirement for the major include (3xx-level or above):3
Women and Japanese Literature: Japanese Literature in Translation
Modern Japanese Literature and Film (In Translation)
Japan From the Margins
The Atomic Bomb in Literature and Memory
Special Topics in Japanese Studies
Courses that fulfill the linguistics requirement for the major include (3xx-level or above):3
History of the Japanese Language
Seminar in Japanese Discourse and Conversation Analysis
Topics in Japanese Pragmatics
Courses that fulfill general elective requirements (3xx-level or above):3
Traditional Japanese Language and Culture
Readings in Modern Japanese Literature
Readings in Japanese Cultural Studies
The Art of Translation
The Languages of East Asia
Pertinent courses at the 3xx or 4xx level in History and Art History can be applied toward the general elective requirements. JAPN courses in literature/cultural studies or linguistics at the 3xx or 4xx level which are not being applied to those categories may also be applied to the general elective category.3
Total Credits42

Electives must be in Japanese language, literature, linguistics, or other East Asian subjects (one must be in the area of Japanese linguistics and one in the area of Japanese literature), and are subject to approval by the student's advisor.

Students must earn a grade of "C-" or higher in each course applied toward a major or minor in the School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures. Additionally, an overall GPA of 2.0 in a major or minor is required for graduation.

Click here for roadmaps for graduation plans in the College of Arts and Humanities.

Additional information on developing a graduation plan can be found on the following pages:


Students in the Japanese program have successfully applied for a number of internship opportunities through the Japanese Information and Cultural Center (JICC), The Japan-America Society of Washington, D.C. (JASWDC), and other local organizations. For more information, please see the program advisor.

Study Abroad

The Japanese program offers a number of exchange program opportunities on a semester or yearlong basis with Japanese universities including Keio and Waseda in Tokyo, as well as study abroad opportunities through programs such as the University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC) in Osaka, Japan. For more information on study abroad programs, see the program advisor and/or the Education Abroad website http://globalmaryland.umd.edu/offices/education-abroad/

Scholarships and Financial Assistance

Students are encouraged to pursue scholarship funding through the Bridging, Gilman, Watanabe, Freeman, Boren and Critical Language Scholarship programs. We also urge you to seek advice when applying to such programs from UMD's National Scholarships Office; the staff there offer helpful workshops which can help you to prepare a successful application.