University of Washington

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Master of Arts in International Studies Degree


Program Description - Japan Studies

Japan Studies is an interdisciplinary program that provides concentrated Japanese language and area training. The core curriculum is offered through the Jackson School and is supplemented by numerous classes on Japan in political science, history, literature, linguistics, art, art history, architecture, law, and business. This opportunity for well-rounded study is enhanced by specialized training in areas of individual interest, allowing students to develop their academic skills and to pursue their professional goals.

The MAIS degree in Japan Studies gives students in-depth knowledge of many facets of Japan and familiarity with Japanese society and culture. Coursework helps prepare students for careers in business, government, journalism, secondary-school teaching, and a variety of other professional fields. The Japan Studies master’s program is specifically designed 1) for students with BAs who need language and interdisciplinary training on Japan to pursue their career goals, and 2) as preparation for PhD work in an academic discipline involving Japan for students who have had little or no training on Japan or in the language. The MAIS in Japan Studies may also be pursued concurrently with a Master of Business Administration or a Master of Public Affairs.

Because of the crucial importance of language skills in understanding Japan, students in the Japan Studies program are strongly encouraged to study Japanese to as advanced a level as possible. The opportunity to do so is provided by strong Japanese language teaching in the Department of Asian Languages and Literature, the Technical Japanese Program of the College of Engineering, and the Jackson School. Courses in these departments focus on readings in literature and the humanities, natural and technical sciences, and the social sciences.

Variety and depth are added to regular coursework by Japan Colloquia and by occasional special symposia, where recent research findings and discussions of significant contemporary topics are presented by specialists from the United States, Japan, and elsewhere. The program strives to offer students the opportunity to study all aspects of Japan—through the number and variety of courses offered, the research activities of faculty members, Japan Colloquia, and in the fact that the most important academic journal in the field, The Journal of Japanese Studies, is published at this University. These contribute further to the intellectual environment of the program, giving students the benefit of learning about research done by scholars at the forefront of the Japan field.

The University of Washington has a long-standing commitment to the study of Japan, and its programs on East Asia are consistently ranked among the best in the nation. Japan-related curricula are offered in many of the University’s departments and professional schools. Similarly active programs focusing on other world regions make the University of Washington a rich environment for study and enable students to gain a comparative international perspective.


Admission Requirements

Applicants must meet basic UW Graduate School requirements, which include a 3.00 GPA for the last 90 quarter (60 semester) graded credits, a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution, and submission of test results from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Applicants must also meet all application requirements and deadlines set by the Jackson School and described in its application guidelines. Please visit the Jackson School Graduate Program information pages for details and deadlines. Because this is a competitive program, however, meeting minimum standards does not ensure admission. Those with combined Verbal and Quantitative GRE scores of less than 1200 might want to consider taking the exam again. At least one year of prior training in Japanese language is strongly recommended. Applicants to concurrent degrees must also meet all application requirements and deadlines for the MBA program in the Business School or the MPA program in Public Affairs.

Degree Requirements

All students must complete at least 52 credits in addition to fulfilling the language requirement. Generally, this program is completed within two years. Concurrent programs require at least three years. Those enrolled concurrently in other programs must meet the requirements of both the other program and Japan Studies; however, some course work is counted for both degrees.


Students must attain competency in the Japanese language through at least the third-year level. This competency may be demonstrated either by results from the UW placement test or through coursework. Students are strongly encouraged to take language throughout their studies at the University of Washington. Those who enter the program with proficiency beyond the third-year level may continue language study through classes in fourth-year and classical Japanese, readings in Japanese in the social sciences, technical Japanese, or a variety of literature courses based on Japanese-language texts. Summer courses in intensive language training are offered at lower levels only.

Required Courses

  • JSIS A 555 Introduction to Modern Japanese Studies (5 crs)
    Introduction to the study of Japan, analysis of primary and secondary materials, and writing.
  • JSIS 594 international and Area Studies (2 crs)
  • One modern Japanese history course (5 crs) chosen from JSIS A/HSTAS 423 History of Modern Japan, JSIS A/HSTAS 424 Emergence of Postwar Japan, or JSIS 584/HSTAS 521 Modern Japanese History.
  • Core Courses: minimum of 15 credits of course work chosen from an approved list*

Other Courses: 24 credits of elective course work chosen from approved lists,* including at least 13 credits at 500 or 600 level. Up to 15 credits from advanced Japanese-language courses may be counted toward these 24 additional credits.

*The lists of Japan core courses and electives are maintained by the Japan Studies Program.

Final Papers and Oral Exam

Students take an Oral Exam after having completed two research papers or an Essay of Distinction.

Library Facilities
The University of Washington's Japan collection is one of the most important of its kind in the nation. The East Asia Library and the Law Library together house over 140,000 volumes of Japanese-language materials. The libraries on campus maintain an up-to-date collection of English- and European-language works in the humanities, social sciences, and art and a good collection of prewar and nineteenth-century books and periodicals.

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African Studies Program
University of Washington
326 Thomson Hall
Box 353650
Seattle, WA 98195

Joel Ngugi / Chair
Associate Professor, School of Law

Mary Kay Gugerty/Adjunct Director
Associate Professor, Evans School of Public Affairs

Erin Murphy/Program Assistant
Autumn Quarter Office Hours: Tues/Thurs 9-12, or by appt.
206.616.0998 office
206.685.0668 fax

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