Masters Programs

General Information

The Department of East Asian Studies offers two types of Master’s degrees, Area Master's degrees and General Master’s degrees. Area Master’s degrees may focus on either China or Japan and are intended to prepare graduates for doctoral study (though graduates may of course use these as terminal degrees). They require the writing of a thesis, except for students majoring in linguistics, who may elect to take an examination instead. The General Master’s degrees may also focus on China or Japan or may involve study of both areas. General Master’s candidates may write a thesis or a departmental paper. The General Master’s degree is designed for candidates who do not intend to study for a doctorate.


Appropriate preparation is required of students who apply for admission to the M.A. program. If deficiencies are identified by the Admissions Committee, the student will be expected to remove them. A limited number of deficiencies in language or disciplinary areas may be remedied after a student is admitted. However, if deficiencies are extensive (as would be the case if a student lacked any prior work in the discipline underlying a M.A. program), the student may have to complete a sufficient number of undergraduate courses before admission to graduate work. The departmental Admission Committee will evaluate the applicant’s academic preparation and determine his/her status. For other general requirements for admission into graduate programs in the department, please refer to the Graduate Catalog of the University of Arizona and admissions materials from the Department of East Asian Studies.

Program requirements

Minimum credit units   33

Students may pursue either an area or a general Master’s degree. Both have several shared requirements. The department requires that a minimum of 24 units be completed in the East Asian Studies Department. All the student’s required course work must be taken at the 500 level or above; at least one-half must be taken in courses assigning “A”, “B”, and “C” grades. Graduate credit is not allowed for pass/fail or audited courses.

For students admitted to the master’s program prior to Fall 2014, no more than 6 units of University of Arizona undergraduate coursework at the 400 level can be accepted into a master's program, and only if they were not used toward the undergraduate degree. Students admitted Fall 2014 and later may not use any 400 level coursework.

Students pursuing either an Area or a General Master’s degree must consult with the Graduate Advisor concerning their major concentration, language study, and supporting electives and must have written approval of their selections. They should also carefully study Graduate College requirements. The student is ultimately responsible for meeting such obligations in order to complete his/her graduate program.

Students should be forewarned that failure to consult the Graduate Advisor in a timely fashion may delay their graduation by one or more semesters.

M.A. Committee

No later than the end of the student’s second semester of M.A. study, the student should, in consultation with the primary academic advisor, constitute a three-member M.A. Committee. The members of this body will be those with whom the student has done or will do the majority of his/her graduate work. The primary academic advisor will be the Committee’s chair. The Committee will ultimately conduct the M.A. Final Examination. During the semester the Committee is constituted it will convene for the evaluation described below in the “Academic Progress” section.

Members of this committee must be kept apprised of the student’s work on the thesis or paper. Again, failure to consult on a regular basis with committee members on the status and progress of the paper or thesis may result in delayed graduation.

Academic Progress

M.A. students may not remain in the program for more than one semester beyond completion of their degree requirements. The department will formally review any student in the program for three years who has not yet completed the M.A. before allowing that student to continue.

Language Requirements

Area Masters students are required to have competence in at least one of the languages taught in the department, relevant to their field of study. Competence may be demonstrated by examination or by the completion of course work, with a grade of at least “B”. If a student does not complete course work with a GPA of at least 3.0 the student’s committee is responsible for deciding whether the student should be allowed to remain in the program.

Native speakers of an East Asian language relevant to their academic major may have the language requirement waived. However, they are required to attain a command of English adequate to perform at a professional level in their academic discipline. They must also satisfy English requirements established by the Graduate College and the East Asian Studies Department. Evaluation of a student’s English language ability is the responsibility of the student’s M.A. committee.

Independent Studies

Although the Graduate College permits students to complete up to half of their graduate work in independent study units, the department places several conditions on this situation. An Independent Study Form must be completed by the student prior to beginning study. The forms are also available from the EAS Graduate Coordinator. Independent study units are restricted to the following:

  • Independent study must not be taken in lieu of a course listed in the catalog even though the course is not offered in a particular semester.
  • The student must be qualified to undertake an independent project, that is, to work with much less faculty supervision than would be involved in a regular class.
  • Independent studies are taken after at least half the student’s graduate program has been completed, at either the M.A. or Ph.D. level.
  • Independent study will result in a written product of the student’s effort.
  • Specific degree programs may have additional restrictions.

M.A. Thesis/Departmental Paper

The development of the topic for either of these requires several formal steps:

  1. The student is primarily responsible for the identification of his/her topic, but its development should be in consultation with the student’s primary academic advisor. Normally the chair of the M.A. committee will supervise the work.
  2. After the topic has been formulated, the student is to prepare a written proposal describing the topic, the preliminary objective (or hypothesis), and the feasibility of the project in regard to methodology and research materials.
  3. This proposal is to be circulated, by the student, to the members of his/her M.A. Committee for their comments and approval.
  4. It is then to be kept on file in the EAS departmental office. A “Thesis/Departmental Paper/Dissertation Proposal” cover sheet with signatures is required. The form can be downloaded from the EAS Graduate Handbook. 

Students who are doing a Master’s degree in either the Japan area or the China area must present an acceptable thesis in partial fulfillment of the degree requirements. A departmental paper cannot be used to fulfill the requirements of a China area or Japan area Master’s degree.

If the committee for a Master’s student in the China or Japan area finds that the written work submitted is not acceptable as a thesis, the student in question may ask that the work be considered as a departmental paper. If it is found acceptable as a departmental paper, the student may use it in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a general Master’s degree, or with the committee’s approval the student may be permitted to revise the work and resubmit it for consideration as a thesis.

Students doing a general M.A. may elect to present either a thesis or a departmental paper in partial fulfillment of their requirements, subject to approval of their M.A. committee. Students whose area of study is Japanese linguistics also have the option of taking an exam in lieu of writing a thesis or departmental paper.

A thesis, whether submitted in the general M.A. track or in one of the area M.A. tracks, must involve the use of sources in Chinese or Japanese language and must meet the appropriate level of scholarly presentation. Theses must also be prepared in accord with the guidelines of the Graduate College.

Students who have had a thesis accepted by the department have the option of having that thesis placed in the University of Arizona library. (See Graduate College requirements.)

MA Final Examination

Candidates for the M.A. degree must pass a final oral examination administered by the student’s M.A. Committee of three faculty members, at least two of whom are tenured or tenure-track members of the Department of East Asian Studies. The primary focus of this examination will be the student’s master’s paper, thesis or exam. The student will be asked to explain and defend the work. Committee members may also ask the student to explain the relationship between the final project and course materials covered during study for the Master’s degree. When the student has adequately incorporated in the paper or thesis the changes suggested as a result of the examination, and the principal advisor has signed to certify that the thesis or paper is acceptable as fulfilling departmental requirements, then a copy of the student’s completed thesis or paper will be presented for the files of the department. See the Graduate College for further information.

Time Limitation

Generally, graduate credit applied for full value toward the M.A. degree must be earned not more than six years prior to the completion of the program. See the Graduate College for further information.

MA Program (China/Japan Area MA and General MA)


Ideally, students applying for the master's program in East Asian Studies with a China/Japan-area will meet the following criteria: 1) they will have completed at least three years of Chinese/Japanese language study, or will have attained an equivalent level of proficiency; 2) they will have adequate proficiency in English to pursue a Master's degree; and 3) they will have done previous course work in Chinese/Japanese studies. Students with language deficiencies may be admitted, but they must make up for them while in the program.  Any course work to satisfy deficiencies will not count toward the degree.


The department requires 33 units for the MA degree and that a minimum of 24 units be completed in the East Asian Studies Department.  No more than 3 units of independent studies may be counted. All the student's required course work must be taken at the 500 level or above; at least one-half must be taken in courses assigning "A", "B", and "C" grades. Graduate credit is not allowed for pass/fail or audited courses.

Students must fulfill the following requirements:

*    6 units of the three-part EAS 595a Graduate Colloquium, to be taken in the first two semesters if possible.

*     One introductory course in three of the following five fields (3 units per course adding to 9 units total): history, linguistics, literature, thought/religion, and anthropology.  One of these courses must be in the student's field of study.

*    6 units of advanced-level courses within the department which are relevant to the student's field of study. These courses must enhance the programmatic integrity of the course of study.

*    3 units of courses either from other departments or within the department which are relevant to the student's course of study.

*    3 units of CHN/JPN 910 (Thesis) for students who are writing a thesis.

 *    Language requirements: 6 units of fourth year Chinese/Japanese, or one semester of classical Chinese/Japanese and a related seminar (if students have equivalent Chinese/Japanese language ability).

Students writing a thesis should include the use of relevant materials in Chinese/Japanese. These materials are to be chosen in consultation with the student's advisor. Theses should be based on original research and should conform to departmental guidelines concerning scope and quality. Near the end of their program, there is an oral final examination which focuses on, but is not limited to, the student's thesis. The student will be asked to explain and defend the thesis. Committee members may also ask the student to explain the relationship between the thesis project and other course materials covered during study for the Master's degree.

Students in the linguistics track of Chinese/Japanese may elect to take an examination in lieu of writing a thesis. In that case, they may take 3 units of CHN 900/JPN 599 in their 3rd or 4th semester for examination preparation.  Based on the student's performance on the written part of the examination, an oral examination may be waived.

Students in the general MA track may choose to submit in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a Master's degree either a thesis or a departmental paper. A departmental paper will only need to be signed off by the student's major advisor, and the student will take a 3-unit elective course, research (900), or independent study (599) in consultation with the student's advisor. 


Students must develop their programs of study in consultation with the China/Japan area Graduate Director and other advisors in their field(s). It is important that students get approval for their programs and for the specific courses they wish to take. They should also study Graduate College requirements carefully. It is the student who is ultimately responsible for meeting such obligation in order to complete the graduate program.

Accelerated Master's Program in East Asian Studies

The Accelerated Masters of Arts in East Asian Studies (AMP in EAS) is offered only to academically talented University of Arizona undergraduates majoring in East Asian Studies (including double- or triple-majoring).

Like the regular MA, the AMP in EAS requires a minimum of 33 units. What distinguishes the AMP from our regular MA is the timeline: rather than completing 33 units of coursework over a period of two years after receiving their BA, AMP students may take up to 12 units of graduate coursework (500 level) during their senior year which will count toward both the BA and the MA in EAS.  To count these units toward both degrees, you must be enrolled as an AMP student, and fill out this form (for each graduate level class that you take as an undergraduate), and submit it to the Graduate College. 


Completion of a minimum of 75 undergraduate credit hours will be required at the time of application; a minimum 0f 90 undergraduate credit hours will required at the time of entry into the AMP.  If the student's GPA falls below 3.3 at the time they have completed 90 units, the student will not be admitted into the program.  Courses taken for audit may not be included in the total number of units counted for eligibility or admission.

A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.5 on a minimum of 12 units of undergraduate credits at the University of Arizona.

Completion of at least 12 earned undergraduate credits in their major at the University of Arizona's main campus. Units still graded Incomplete, units graded Pass/Fail, or units taken as audit will not count toward the requirement of the 12 undergraduate units.

Completion or near completion of general education requirements at the time of application.

Submission of a graduate application and payment of a graduate application fee.

Demonstration of the maturity necessary for success in an accelerated, highly competitive program.

Expectation to complete the undergraduate degree within four years. The undergraduate degree requirements must be completed before the student is eligible to have the Master's degree awarded.

Admission by the established process in EAS, with a deadline of January 15th.

Other requirements:

*     Two letters of recommendation from professors with whom they have studied at the University of Arizona.

*     A writing sample.

*    A statement of purpose.

*    Transcripts.

*     A recommended minimum GPA of 3.5.

            Note that the Accelerated Masters in East Asian Studies is a 'stand-alone program,' and students are not automatically considered for promotion to the PhD program.  Those AMP graduates seeking admission to the PhD program are eligible to apply to it through the regular application procedures, and their application will be considered alongside the other applications to the PhD program.