PHD East Asian Languages and Civilization

Learn how to research with a high level of cultural and linguistic knowledge in this program in which you receive extensive experience in a local vernacular environment and develop the abilities to think critically and deal with complex ideas.

Program Description

Degree Awarded: PHD East Asian Languages and Civilization

The PhD program in East Asian languages and civilizations is a research-intensive, transdisciplinary, area-based degree in the study of traditional and modern languages and cultures of China. Students may focus on:

  • Comparative cultural studies
  • Cultural history
  • Linguistics
  • Literary criticism
  • Literary thought

In every case, students are expected to acquire a solid grounding in the classical and modern versions of Chinese.


The program requires a minimum of 84 credit hours. Up to 30 hours earned in a Master’s degree program that is directly relevant to the degree may be counted toward that number.  Students who enter directly from the BA can be granted an MA in passing after completing the Comprehensive Examinations.

Admitted with a master’s Admitted with a bachelor’s
Core 3 3
Concentration 6 6
Other requirements 39 39
Electives 0 24
Dissertation 12 12
Total semester hours required 54 84

Courses and electives

Training in East Asian Languages and Civilizations (Chinese) program encourages students to work closely with a committee of faculty. However, depending on the student’s interests, the student may participate in several subject areas within East Asian Languages and Civilizations. The goals of the program are to train students through a series of projects and courses and to become independent and creative professionals.

At a Glance: program details

Degree Requirements

84 credit hours, two foreign language exams, a written comprehensive exam, an oral comprehensive exam, a prospectus and a dissertation

Required core (3 credit hours)
CHI 501 Proseminar: East Asian Humanities (3)

Concentration (6 credit hours)
CHI 514 Advanced Classical Chinese (6)

Other requirements (39 credit hours)
CHI 502 Academic Writing (3)
CHI 598 Topic: Proseminar: Chinese Literary History (3)
CHI 598 Topic: History of the Chinese Language (3)
CHI 598 Special Topics (15)
CHI 691 Seminar (15)

Electives (24 credit hours)

Culminating experience (12 credit hours)
CHI 799 Dissertation (12)

Additional curriculum information
15 credit hours of CHI 598 Special Topics must be comprised of five courses, and 15 credit hours of CHI 691 must be comprised of five seminar courses. Other requirements and elective coursework for the degree are to be chosen in consultation with the program chair.

Courses for the other requirements may be substituted with the approval of the academic unit.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must fulfill the requirements of both the Graduate College and The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Applicants are eligible to apply to the program if they have earned a bachelor's or master's degree, in any field, from a regionally accredited institution. Applicants specializing in Chinese should have completed at least three years of modern Chinese and one year of classical Chinese.

Applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.30 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in the last 60 hours of their first bachelor's degree program, or applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.30 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in an applicable master's degree program.

All applicants must submit:

  1. graduate admission application and application fee
  2. official transcripts
  3. personal statement
  4. writing sample
  5. speech sample in Chinese or Japanese
  6. resume or curriculum vitae
  7. GRE scores
  8. three letters of recommendation
  9. proof of English proficiency

Additional application information
An applicant whose native language is not English must provide proof of English proficiency regardless of current residency.

The writing sample, which should be no more than 15 pages, should represent the applicant's thinking as well as writing skills, and it should be on a topic connected with Chinese, Japanese or East Asian culture.

The speech sample is required if the applicant is applying for teaching assistantship funding. The speech sample should be a recorded message approximately four minutes in length, in Chinese or Japanese, on a topic of the applicant's choosing. (Applicants are asked to not read the message. This is to help the committee evaluate the level of proficiency, and the message should realistically reflect the applicant's spoken Chinese or Japanese). Recordings should be emailed to

Applicants should see the department website for more information.

How to apply

All candidates for the PhD in East Asian Languages and Civilizations (Chinese) must fulfill the general requirements of the Graduate College concerning admission and residence. 

Students who wish to be considered for a teaching assistant position must apply by Jan. 1, for the fall semester. All other applications for the fall semester are due by April 15.

Application fee waiver

We are no longer accepting requests for application fee waivers for this admission cycle. We may offer waivers again after Sept. 1 when the admission cycle for fall 2024 opens.

Applicants facing financial hardship may request a waiver for their application fee. Please complete the online application up to the fee payment page. Please send both Monica Hopkins ( and Francoise Mirguet ( a brief essay (about 150 words) describing why paying the application fee is difficult in your situation, along with your application ID number. If your request is accepted, we will let you know that you can submit your application without paying the fee. The School of International Letters and Cultures has established a limited budget for these waivers. Requests will be considered as they are received until the budget is spent.

Career opportunities

Professionals with this degree can confidently move into academic, business and international fields. Skills developed through this program are valued for teaching positions, translation work or work in a larger sector such as governmental, diplomatic and international business career opportunities.

Career examples include:

  • Area, ethnic and cultural studies teachers or professors
  • Foreign language and literature teachers or professors
  • Historians
  • Interpreters and translators
  • Lawyers
  • Reporters and correspondents
  • Social and community service managers


Under-represented minorities


Students in PhD programs


International students


"My professors have provided plenty of opportunities to develop professionally (especially in the classroom) and autonomy to choose for myself what routes to take toward that development while being available to provide guidance and direction when desired. Equally important is that I have greatly enhanced my skills in reading texts closely (especially in literary Chinese) and evaluating and devising arguments while gaining familiarity with my field."
John (Sam) Billing, PhD


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