The University of Washington maintains one of the oldest programs in the United States providing undergraduate and graduate training in Korean studies in a variety of disciplines. Courses are offered in Korean language, literature, history, social organization, and politics. The language program consists of three years of modern language and advanced reading. The history courses cover the full range of the Korean experience, from the origins of the Korean people in the archaeological record to contemporary times. Undergraduate and graduate courses on Korean history and society cover the period under Japanese colonial rule in the first half of the twentieth century, the liberation of Korea after 1945, the Korean War, and the political, economic, social, and cultural development of both South Korea and North Korea. Graduate seminars provide opportunities for research in Korean and other non-Western languages on a variety of topics in the political, social, economic, and intellectual history of the country. Regular course offerings are supplemented by visiting faculty from political science, economics and economic development, law, folklore, and literature. The objective of the program is to provide students at the BA and MA degree levels with a broad background for use in a variety of professions.
Over the past decade, graduates from the master's degree program have gone on to successful careers in business, banking, government, law, social work, and education. For others, the MA degree is a first step toward a doctorate in history, political science, sociology, anthropology, Korean literature, or comparative literature. The program emphasizes the study of Korea in the context of East Asian civilization and the modern world economy, not simply as a single country isolated from its neighbors. Students are encouraged to take related courses on China, Japan, and international studies, so that they will emerge from their experience at the University with comprehensive training.