East Asian Languages & Cultures Major

We engage students in a broad and deep exploration of culture and society in East Asia, particularly China and Japan. Majors undertake rigorous language training and comprehensive study of the region’s culture and society. Though our minors need not study a language, we encourage them to enroll in our Chinese and Japanese language courses which span beginner to highly advanced levels.

Curriculum & Courses

Our demanding language program embraces the full range of communication skills—speaking, listening, reading, and writing—in Chinese or Japanese. Majors must attain third-year-level competence in Chinese or Japanese, though we encourage and enable them to move well beyond this level.

Our cultural studies curriculum begins with entry-level EALC courses on China and Japan. Majors then go on to EALC classes that reflect their specific interests at more advanced levels. We also draw upon the Bi-College’s broader academic resources by requiring majors to pursue relevant coursework in other departments. Many fulfill this requirement with classes that illuminate East Asia from the perspectives of Anthropology, Economics, Political Science, Sociology, and Growth and Structure of Cities.

  • Major Requirements

    I. Language requirement (2 credits)

    EALC majors are required to have completed the third year level of either Chinese or Japanese by the time of graduation. We require EALC majors to take two semesters of either Chinese or Japanese on campus, at a level appropriate to their in-coming language abilities. Students who have already fulfilled this requirement, as confirmed by the language placement test will substitute two EALC courses approved by their major advisor.

    II. Three core courses (3 credits)

    EALC majors must take THREE core courses from the following:

    • One 100-level course on China: EALC B131 (Chinese Civilization)
    • One 100-level course on Japan: EALC H132 (Japanese Civilization); and
    • EALC B200 (Methods and Approaches to East Asian Cultures).

    EALC B200 is required of all EALC majors and is recommended for Asian Studies minors. We urge majors to take 200 in the spring of their JUNIOR year. Majors who plan to be abroad in spring term junior year must take EALC B200 spring term sophomore year.

    EALC B200 is the designated departmental Writing Intensive (WI) course for Bryn Mawr’s WI requirement.

    Students must earn a grade of 2.0 or higher in each of these courses to continue in the major and be eligible to write a senior thesis.

    III. Three departmental elective courses (3 credits)

    Majors must take THREE additional non-language courses offered by members of the Bi-Co EALC Department.

    • One of these courses must be at the 300-level;
    • One of the 200-level electives may be fulfilled with an advanced topics course in Chinese or Japanese.
    • Majors cannot satisfy the departmental electives with courses outside the department, or by taking courses abroad.

    IV. Two non-departmental courses related to global Asia (2 credits)

    Majors must choose two non-Departmental electives at the 200 or 300 level that are related to their study of East Asia or the wider Asian world. These two courses may be in a department or program in the Quaker Consortium (Tri-Co plus Penn), or an approved study abroad program.

    V. The Senior Thesis (1 credit)

    In the capstone experience undertaken in the Fall term of the senior year, students employ their skills and undertake a scholarly investigation. The aim is to create and execute an extended research project centered on a  Chinese or Japanese primary written or visual “text,” be that a written, a visual or other type of text.  in Chinese or Japanese. The senior thesis brings together threads of conversations among scholars on the student’s chosen topic. The student combines language and research skills to think about and interpret the meanings of sources in context. At the end of the term, seniors present their findings to the faculty and other students in final oral presentations.

    Requirements for Honors

    The departmental faculty awards honors on the basis of superior performance in two areas: coursework in major-related courses (including language classes), and the senior thesis. The faculty requires a minimum 3.7 average in major-related coursework to consider a student for honors.

    Senior Prizes

    Graduating Seniors in EALC are eligible for the “Margaret Mayeda Petersson Prize,” which recognizes a spirit of engagement and enthusiasm through the major and the thesis project. EALC-sponsored Prizes

    Graduating Seniors from any department who have studied Chinese are eligible for the “Hu Shih Prize in Chinese” which recognizes excellence and dedication in the study of the Chinese language.

Associated Programs and Concentrations

Research & Outreach

EALC majors produce a thesis, a work of original research, on a topic that falls within an EALC faculty member’s area of expertise. By the close of junior year, each student prepares a thesis proposal. That summer, many conduct primary research while studying abroad. Students focus on writing during the fall of senior year and submit a final draft early in the spring. The Department’s senior seminar course, which combines group sessions and one-on-one meetings with faculty advisors, offers our majors critical guidance and support as they produce this capstone work.

After Graduation

EALC majors graduate having honed general communication and analytical skills as well those specific to comprehending and thriving in China and Japan. Prepared to enter graduate programs in East Asian Studies or related areas, they are also equipped to enter a range of careers in China and Japan and those in the U.S. that require a deep understanding of East Asian culture and its languages.

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You can find detailed instructions and information on the Application Instructions page. If you need to contact us directly, please send an email to admission@haverford.edu.

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