East Asian Languages and Civilization (Chinese), PhD

The doctoral program in East Asian Languages and Civilizations with a concentration in Chinese is designed to train researchers with a high level of cultural and linguistic knowledge. Students will receive an extensive experience in a local vernacular environment and the ability to think critically and deal with complex ideas. Our students combine their high academic achievement with a commitment to civic responsibility allowing for interpersonal development in a cross-cultural setting.

In the East Asian Languages and Civilization (Chinese) PhD program, you will work closely with academic experts in the field to rethink and reimagine cultural history, literature, religious texts and other topics. You will work alongside brilliant faculty who are experts in the field and are dedicated to ensuring your success in a well-rounded and intensive education. Working alongside students who, like you, see the importance of studying research intensive and transdisciplinary studies will foster a passionate love for the language and culture.

20 Core Faculty
84% funded
84 credits

Degree Overview

The School of International Letters and Cultures offers a program leading to a PhD in East Asian Languages and Civilizations (Chinese). The PhD program in East Asian Languages and Civilizations (Chinese) is a research-intensive, transdisciplinary, area-based degree in the study of traditional and modern languages and cultures of China and Japan. Students may focus on:

  • literature
  • Thoughts and religion
  • literary criticism
  • cultural history or linguistics
  • comparative cultural studies

In every case, students will be expected to acquire a solid grounding in the classical and modern versions in the primary language of their area.


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. Please visit here to learn about what materials are needed to apply.

Students who wish to be considered for a teaching assistant position must apply by January 15, for the Fall semester. All other applications for the Fall semester are also due by January 15.

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"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


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’sAdmitted with a Bachelor’s
Other Requirements3939
Total Semester Hours Required5484

Courses and electives

Training in East Asian Languages and Civilizations (Chinese) program encourages students to work closely with a committee of faculty. Depending on the student’s interests, however, 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.

Core Course

  • CHI 501 Proseminar: East Asian Humanities (3)

Required Concentration Course

  • CHI 514 Advanced Classical Chinese (3) (taken twice within program)

Other Requirements

  • CHI 598 Topic: History of Chinese Literature (I or II) (3)
  • CHI 598 Topic: History of the Chinese Languages (3)
  • CHI 598 Special Topics* (18)
  • CHI 591 Seminar** (15)

*Completion of at least 6 graduate-level readings courses. Must be approved by faculty advisor. Examples of readings include:

  • Medieval Chinese Poetry,
  • Religious Texts,
  • Chinese Prose,
  • Traditional Xiaoshuo,
  • Traditional Performance Literature, Modern Literature and Culture, Chinese Thought

**Completion of 5 seminars. Must be approved by faculty advisor. Examples include:

  • Literary History
  • Chinese Religions
  • Poetry and Poetics
  • Literary Prose
  • Traditional Vernacular Literature
  • Modern Literature and Culture
  • Chinese Linguistics
  • Chinese Thought


  • Electives should be chosen in consultation with the student’s committee. Electives can be taken outside of the School of International Letters and Cultures.

Culminating Experience

  • CHI 799 Dissertation

Pass written and oral comprehensive examinations in four fields, three of which must be selected from areas that are well-represented within the East Asian languages and civilizations (Chinese) doctoral graduate curriculum.