Education

Best East Asian Studies Degree Programs of 2022

Learn more about the top East Asian Studies programs, what to expect, job prospects, and how to choose the program that’s right for you.

East Asian studies is the study of the cultures, histories, and societies of East Asia. East Asian studies degrees can prepare students for a variety of careers in business, government, and academia.

East Asian studies degrees offer a broad overview of East Asian cultures, histories, and societies. Students in East Asian studies degree programs learn about the different aspects of East Asian cultures, including language, religion, and the arts. They also learn about the history and politics of East Asia, and the economic and social development of the region.

How to Choose the Right East Asian Studies Program

When choosing an East Asian Studies program, there are many things to consider. The first is what you hope to gain from the degree. Are you looking to learn the language of an East Asian country? Do you want to focus on the history and culture of the region? Or are you interested in the business and economic opportunities in East Asia?

Once you have a good idea of what you want to get out of the degree, you can start to narrow down your choices. If you’re interested in language learning, for example, you’ll want to look for a program that offers intensive language instruction. If you’re more interested in history and culture, on the other hand, you’ll want to look for a program with a strong focus on those areas.

You’ll also want to consider the cost of the program, the location, and the time to degree. Public schools offer a lower tuition rate for in-state residents. Location can also affect the ability to gain internship opportunities and network for jobs after graduation. Finally, the time to degree may make an expensive program less costly if students can transfer in college credits.

By considering these factors, you can find the East Asian Studies program that best fits your interests and career goals.

Best Bachelor’s in East Asian Studies Programs

The best programs for East Asian Studies ranking is based on key statistics and student reviews using data from the U.S. Department of Education. Some of the metrics influencing how the rankings are determined include graduation rate, average salary for graduates, accreditation, retention rate, and cost.

Rank 1
Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, MD

The Bachelor of Arts in East Asian Studies from Johns Hopkins University provides students with a well-rounded education in East Asian culture, language, and history. The curriculum consists of a mix of language and area studies courses, allowing students to develop a strong understanding of the region. All majors must study an East Asian language, and have the opportunity to choose from a variety of content courses. Additionally, students can select from four discipline-based focus areas – history, political science, history of science and technology, or sociology – or create an individualized focus area.

Rank 2
Hamline University
Saint Paul, MN

The Bachelor of Business Administration in Global Business with East Asian Studies degree from Hamline University is an interdisciplinary program that combines the International Business concentration of the School of Business with an East Asian Studies minor from the College of Liberal Arts. The program is designed for business students to obtain a foundational understanding of the language and society of a single East Asian country while also getting concrete international business experience.

Rank 3
University of California-Davis
Davis, CA

The Bachelor of Arts in East Asian Studies from University of California-Davis is a well-rounded program that gives students a deep understanding of East Asian culture, society, and history. The major requires students to take a core of basic courses in East Asian humanities and social sciences, as well as choose from a wide range of more advanced and specialized courses to tailor an individualized program of study.

Rank 4
Brandeis University
Waltham, MA

The Bachelor of Arts in East Asian Studies from Brandeis University is an interdisciplinary program that seeks to give students a broad yet intimate knowledge of East Asian civilization. The program can be taken as a major or minor, and requires a core element of study in an East Asian language, providing the basis for postgraduate study or careers relating to East Asia.

As a regional studies program, the Bachelor of Arts in East Asian Studies also encourages participation in global learning, offering non-Eurocentric approaches to the Creative Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Through exposure to East Asia, students sharpen their critical skills regarding insights and the production of knowledge beyond Western traditions.

Rank 5
University of Wisconsin
Madison, WI

The Bachelor of Arts in Asian Languages and Cultures from University of Wisconsin is a very flexible program that offers students the opportunity to study a wide variety of topics related to East, South, and Southeast Asia. The program is interdisciplinary, and students can choose to specialize in one of three named options: East Asian Studies, South Asian Studies, or Southeast Asian Studies. Students in the program will take courses in language, literature, history, politics, and culture, and will have the opportunity to study abroad and participate in internships and research projects.

Rank 6
Indiana University-Bloomington
Bloomington, IN

The Bachelor of Arts in East Asian Languages and Cultures from Indiana University-Bloomington is a great choice for students interested in the history, languages, and cultures of China, Japan, and Korea. The major gives students the skills and content knowledge to think about East Asia in interdisciplinary and comparative ways. Students learn to distinguish between what is broadly shared among East Asian cultures and what differentiates them, which is valuable for many internationally oriented jobs and graduate programs. The major is flexible, allowing students to personalize their course of study, and provides the opportunity to develop proficiency in Chinese (Mandarin), Korean, or Japanese.

Rank 7
Western Washington University
Bellingham, WA

The Bachelor of Arts in East Asian Studies from Western Washington University is designed to give students a comprehensive understanding of the region, preparing them for careers in business, government, or education. The program requires two years of study in Chinese or Japanese, as well as coursework in East Asian history, culture, and politics. Students also have the option to minor in a related field.

Rank 8
American University
Washington, DC

The Bachelor of Arts in Asia, Pacific, and Diaspora Studies from American University is a interdisciplinary program that provides students with an understanding of Asia in a global context. The coursework for the major includes a variety of topics such as political, economic, cultural, philosophical, and religious aspects of Asia, pacific, and diaspora societies. Students in the program have the opportunity to study abroad in order to gain a first-hand understanding of the cultures and societies they are studying. The program culminates in a capstone research seminar.

Rank 9
University at Buffalo
Buffalo, NY

The Bachelor of Arts in Asian Studies from University at Buffalo is an interdisciplinary degree program that focuses on the history, culture, and economies of Asian countries. Students in the program have the opportunity to study an Asian language and to participate in study abroad programs in Asia. The program also offers a minor in an Asian language.

Rank 10
University of San Francisco
San Francisco, CA

The Bachelor of Arts in Asian Studies from University of San Francisco is an interdisciplinary program that focuses on the cultures, societies, and histories of Asia. The program offers a major, minor, and concentration in Philippine Studies, and students have the opportunity to study abroad in countries such as India, Japan, China, and Taiwan. The program emphasizes the relationship between natural and man-made environments.

What to Expect From a Bachelor’s in East Asian Studies Program

Students in a bachelor’s in East Asian studies program can expect to take classes on the history, politics, religions, and cultures of East Asian countries. Most programs also require students to complete a language requirement, which typically means taking classes in Chinese, Japanese, or Korean.

In addition to coursework, many programs also require students to complete an internship or study abroad experience. These opportunities can help students gain real-world experience and build their professional networks.

Overall, a bachelor’s in East Asian studies can prepare students for careers in fields such as business, government, education, and nonprofit organizations. Students with strong research and writing skills may also pursue careers in academia.

Common East Asian Studies Courses

The coursework for a degree in East Asian studies will vary depending on the student’s focus within the field and the requirements of their chosen program. However, there are some common courses that are often found in East Asian studies degree plans.

Modern East Asian History

This course covers the major political, economic, social, and cultural developments in East Asia from 1600 to the present. Particular attention is paid to the rise of the nation-state, Western imperialism, nationalism, communism, and economic development. The course also examines the impact of these developments on the people of East Asia and the region’s place in the world. Upon completion, students should be able to analyze the major political, economic, social, and cultural developments in East Asia from 1600 to the present and explain their impact on the region and the world.

Culture and Society in East Asia

This course covers the major social institutions and cultural values of East Asian societies. Topics include the family, education, religion, and popular culture. The course also examines the impact of modernization, Westernization, and globalization on East Asian cultures and societies. Upon completion, students should be able to analyze the impact of social change on East Asian cultures and societies and explain the significance of major cultural values in East Asian societies.

Politics in East Asia

This course examines the domestic and foreign policies of East Asian countries with an emphasis on the impact of economic development, nationalism, and international relations on the region as a whole. Topics include the Meiji Restoration, the rise of militarism, decolonization, the Cold War, and economic development. Upon completion, students should be able to compare and contrast the political systems of East Asian countries and analyze the impact of economic and international factors on the region.

Economic Development in East Asia

This course covers the economic development of East Asia since World War II. Emphasis is placed on the major economic, political, and social changes that have occurred in the region. Topics include the historical background of economic development in East Asia, the economic development models of the four “Asian Tigers” (Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan), the 1997 financial crisis in East Asia, and the economic development of China and Japan. Upon completion, students should be able to analyze the factors that have contributed to the economic development of East Asia and compare and contrast the economic development models of the four “Asian Tigers.”

Classical Chinese

This course covers the grammar, vocabulary, and reading of classical Chinese texts. Emphasis is placed on the mastery of basic grammatical structures and the ability to read and understand simple texts. Upon completion, students should be able to read and understand simple classical Chinese texts.

Career Options for East Asian Studies Graduates

Graduates of East Asian Studies programs work in a variety of fields and industries, including business, government, education, and media. They may also work in fields such as international relations, law, and medicine.

Translator

Translators convert written or spoken material from one language into another. They may work with documents, audio recordings, or live speeches. In addition to being bilingual or multilingual, translators must be able to accurately convey the meaning of the original text or conversation while also taking into account the cultural context and any specialized terminology. Translators typically specialize in a particular industry or type of material, such as legal documents or medical reports.

Interpreter

Interpreters facilitate communication between people who speak different languages. In some cases, interpreters work in real time, translating the words of a person who is speaking in one language into the words of another person in a different language, either verbally or by using sign language. In other cases, interpreters convert written materials from one language into another. Interpreters typically specialize in a particular language combination, such as English-Spanish or American Sign Language-English.

Area Studies Specialist

Area studies specialists focus on a specific geographic region, such as the Middle East, Latin America, or East Asia. They may work in the government, at think tanks or research organizations, or in the private sector. Their work might involve everything from analyzing data to writing reports to giving presentations. They might also be responsible for keeping up with current events in their region and tracking how those events might affect their area of focus.

Diplomat

Diplomats represent their country in a foreign country. They work to foster relationships between their home country and the country where they are posted and promote their country’s interests abroad. In order to do this, they engage in a variety of activities, such as attending events and meetings, giving speeches, hosting visitors, and writing reports. They also work with the media to ensure that their country is portrayed in a positive light and keep up with developments in their field by reading research and news reports.

Technical Translator

Technical translators convert written documents from one language to another while ensuring that the original meaning is preserved and that the translated text meets the specific needs of the target audience. Technical translators typically specialize in a particular industry or field, such as engineering, medicine, or law, and they must be able to understand complex concepts in order to accurately convey them in the target language. In addition to being fluent in both the source and target languages, technical translators must have strong writing skills and be able to convey information clearly and concisely.

Insights From an East Asian Studies Graduate

Juliette Shepard is a Senior Manager of Global Communications at Nike. She has a bachelor’s degree in East Asian studies from the University of Oregon. Juliette has over 15 years of experience in global communications and public relations.

ClimbtheLadder: What were the biggest takeaway(s) you got from your East Asian Studies program that you may not have gotten otherwise?

Juliette Shepard: I think the biggest takeaway from my East Asian Studies program is the ability to see the world from multiple perspectives. I was able to learn about the history, culture, and politics of East Asia, which has given me a better understanding of the region. I also gained invaluable skills in language and cross-cultural communication.

ClimbtheLadder: What are the most rewarding aspects of your career? What are the most challenging aspects of your career?

Juliette Shepard: The most rewarding aspect of my career is being able to work with a global team and seeing the impact of our work on a global scale. The most challenging aspect of my career is managing a large team and trying to keep everyone on the same page.

ClimbtheLadder: What was the most challenging course you took? What advice would you give to students who are about to start this course?

Juliette Shepard: The most challenging course I took was my senior seminar on Chinese history. It was a lot of work, but it was also really interesting. I would advise students who are about to start this course to be prepared to do a lot of reading and writing.

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