East Asian Languages and Civilization, PhD

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 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.


As approved by the student’s supervisory committee, the program can allow 30 credit hours from a previously awarded master's degree to be used for the East Asian Languages and Civilizations PhD.

If admitted with a bachelor’s degree, students must complete a minimum of 84 semester hours. If admitted with a master’s degree, they must complete a minimum of 54 hours.


Second Language Proficiency Requirement

Students will demonstrate reading knowledge in a pertinent Asian language (other than Chinese) and a pertinent European language (other than English) prior to the administration of the comprehensive exam.

Written and Oral Comprehensive Exam

The comprehensive examination will be given at the completion of the student’s course work. It will cover principally, but not exclusively, the four fields of study that the student has chosen to pursue in consultation with their faculty advisor.

Dissertation Prospectus

Within one semester after passing the comprehensive examination, the student presents a dissertation prospectus to his or her dissertation advisor. The dissertation prospectus is normally closely related  to  one  of  the field  examinations.


After  approval of  the  prospectus, the student writes the dissertation under the direction of the adviser. Please note that in the US, dissertations on Chinese and Japanese topics are uniformly written in English. This increases the readership and makes it easier for would-be employers to judge the students’ work.


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

The deadline for applications is January 15, 2018.

GRE requirements: Students applying for admission to the East Asian Languages and Civilizations PhD program must submit scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). GRE scores give the committee a better understanding of an applicant’s abilities. There is no specific GRE score requirement for applicants who have taken or plan to take the exam.

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

Degree requirements: 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 to the Chinese concentration should have completed at least three years of modern Chinese and one year of classical Chinese. Applicants to the Japanese concentration should have completed at least three years of modern Japanese and one semester of classical Japanese.


Proof of English proficiency (International students only):

  • If you are from a country whose native language is not English (regardless of where you may now reside), you must provide proof of English proficiency. For more information including additional requirements for international students, visit the ASU Graduate Admission Services website.

  • Applicants to Non-Certification Masters, Graduate Certificates, and Doctoral Programs must meet the English Proficiency score established by ASU Graduate Education.

Teaching/Research Assistant Positions: Students who wish to apply for a Teaching Assistant or Associate position should also submit the following items:

  • Application for SILC Teaching or Research Assistantship (see https://silc.asu.edu/content/graduate-faqs)

  • Recorded speech sample, approximately four minutes in length, in Chinese, on a topic of the applicant’s choosing. (Applicants are asked to please 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.) Recordings should be emailed to SILC@asu.edu.

Items needed to apply: All applicants must submit:

  1. graduate admission application and application fee

  2. official transcripts

  3. writing sample: The writing sample should represent the applicant's thinking as well as writing skills in English (on a topic connected with Chinese literature, language, thoughts, religion, or culture in general, no more than 15 pages).

  4. personal statement: The personal statement should address the applicant’s educational background, plan for his/her PhD research, and educational and career goals.

  5. Resumé or curriculum vitae

  6. GRE scores

  7. three letters of recommendation (At least two letters of recommendation should be academic recommendations)

  8. proof of English proficiency

There are multiple funding opportunities available to current and prospective SILC graduate students.

Teaching Assistant positions

The department offers funding in the form of Teaching Assistant positions to support students throughout their graduate degree program. TA positions include tuition remission, student health insurance, and a stipend ($16,000 for the 2018-19 academic year). TA positions are highly competitive, and only offered to the most qualified applicants. SILC does not hire TAs who are not enrolled in one of its graduate programs.


Students may be eligible for internships through the Connected Academics initiative at ASU. Arizona State University is one of three universities nationally chosen by the Modern Language Association and the Mellon Foundation to re-imagine PhD education in the humanities for the twenty-first century. Through the MLA-Mellon Connected Academics Grant, we have designed programs that advances your career goals. Connected Academics enriches the experience of earning a doctoral degree in languages and literatures through augmented curricula, expanded para-curricular development, and extensive mentoring.

As you develop your areas of expertise, you may pursue an internship opportunity within an organization outside your academic program. Internships may involve work in other disciplinary areas at ASU, partner educational institutions (K12, community college, or four-year), cultural organizations, other non-profits, or industry.

Internships are designed to extend learning opportunities beyond the classroom as they allow you to gain hands-on experience in professional work environments related to your academic and career interests. An internship will provide you with a breadth and depth of experience, opportunities for you to apply principles learned in and outside the classroom, observe professionals in action, develop specific skills, and better understand structures of structures of diverse work environments.

School of International Letters and Cultures Fellowships and Awards

Visit SILC’s Scholarships and Awards page for more information.

Graduate College Fellowships and Awards

The ASU Graduate College offers a variety of opportunities for students to fund their graduate education. Awards that SILC students have previously received include:

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Fellowships and Awards

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is proud to offer a variety of fellowships and awards to our graduate students. These fellowships may be awarded based on merit, financial need or specific academic criteria. Unlike loans, scholarships do not have to be repaid.

Study Abroad Assistantships

Each study abroad program in SILC selects one graduate teaching assistant to assist the program director. For more information about these programs, visit SILC’s study abroad page.

ASU Financial Aid office

There are a variety of other ways to pay for your graduate education. ASU’s Financial Aid office website outlines information about Loans, Grants, Federal Work Study, and other on-campus jobs.

Other Sources

Many SILC graduate students receive funds from other sources like nonprofit groups and private organizations.

There are a variety of funding opportunities in varying scales and forms, and students are encouraged to use these resources as well as conduct their own research for opportunities.


How long will it take to complete the program?

Full-time students typically take 5-7 years to complete the East Asian Languages and Cultures PhD. It may vary depending on the student’s linguistic and/or educational background.

What is the profile of the successful Chinese PhD applicant?

Students in SILC’s graduate program represent diverse cultural, educational, and experiential backgrounds. Successful applicants will demonstrate advanced proficiency in Chinese and show that they have developed sophisticated writing skills, intellectual depth, and logical minds. Many applicants have obtained an undergraduate or graduate degree in Asian Studies or a related subject, however students with related minors are also admitted.

Do I need to take the GRE?

Yes. The GRE is required as part of the application. There is no recommended score, as the GRE will be evaluated as portion of the entire application.

What is the GPA requirement?

Students should have achieved a 3.30 cumulative GPA in the final 60 hours of their undergraduate degree, or a 3.30 cumulative GPA in their Master’s degree.

What is the English Proficiency requirement for international students?

Information about English Proficiency requirements may be found here: 

English Proficiency

How much is tuition?

The cost of tuition varies from one student to another based on several factors such as residency status, number of credits, and course load. You may use the link below to learn more about tuition and fees.


Is funding available?

Funding is available in the form of Teaching Assistant Positions or Research Assistant positions. Funding is highly competitive and is limited to the most highly qualified applicants. Fellowships and awards are also available on a competitive basis.


Important Information for International Students

Graduate teaching assistants/associates whose native language is not English are required to take the TSE/SPEAK test or TOEFL iBT test. In order to assume primary teaching responsibilities students must earn a minimum score of 55 on the TSE/SPEAK test or 26 on the TOEFL iBT. A score of 50 on the TSE/SPEAK test is acceptable if the position is for a lab assistant or tutor. International students should apply to the program as early as possible in the fall semester.

Degree Offered

East Asian Languages and Civilization, PhD
Liberal Arts & Sciences, College of


Plan of Study

The Plan of Study is the required curriculum to complete the program.

View Plan of Study

Degree Requirements

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. However, a minimum of 30 credit hours of course work, 12 hours of research and electives, and 12 hours of Dissertation (CHI 799) are required beyond the MA level. If a student already has an equivalent MA, it is not necessary to complete the existing MA in Asian Languages and Civilizations. However, the student is required to satisfy all course requirements for the MA After their first year in the PhD program, all students are evaluated before being permitted to continue. Students who enter directly from the BA can be granted an MA in passing after completing the Comprehensive Examinations.

All students are required to complete SLC 500 Theory and Methodology of East Asian Literature and Culture. Each student must complete the following requirements in the Chinese Concentration: 81 units plus SLC 500 (3)

All students must comply with the following requirements:

  1. Complete a minimum of six courses selected from advanced courses in literature, religions or intellectual history.
  2. Complete five seminars.
  3. Complete SLC 500 Theory and Methodology in East Asian Literature and Culture.
  4. Complete 12 core requirements.
  5. Submit a dissertation and pass an oral defense of that dissertation.
  6. Demonstrate reading knowledge of a second pertinent Asian language and one pertinent European language, aside from English.
  7. 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 doctoral graduate curriculum.

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