Ph.D. Program (China and Japan Area Ph.D.)


The same general conditions regarding preparation and admission noted for the MA program apply to the doctoral program. However, candidates for admission to the doctoral program must have a 3.5 GPA. Candidates for admission to the doctoral program must have the support of one faculty member within whose general area the student proposes to work.

General Information

The PhD program must be designed with care, in discussions between the student, the student’s advisor, and the graduate advisor. The design of the major and minor fields should be approved by the student’s major academic advisor. All requirements established by the Graduate College must be satisfied. Any academic deficiencies identified by the advisors and the student’s Comprehensive Examination Committee must be remedied.

The Graduate Catalog explains the basic academic unit and residence requirements for PhD students. The completion of the program requires passing the Comprehensive examination and the preparation and defense of a dissertation.


The equivalent of at least six semesters of full-time graduate study is required for the PhD.  A minimum of 36 units of coursework in the area of the major subject, 9 units in the minor subject (or 12 units in a split minor), and 18 units of dissertation must be completed.

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


Students in the China-Area or Japan-Area Program must attain fluency in Chinese or Japanese language. Depending on the student’s course of study, attainment of proficiency in another language may also be required.


With departmental approval, a student’s MA units earned here or at another approved institution may be applied toward the PhD requirements up to 30 units. Students should be advised that the Graduate College requires that 30 units of graduate credit (at least 12 regular graded units plus 18 dissertation units) must be earned at the University of Arizona. PhD students must also meet residence requirements.


At the end of the first year if possible, but not later than the completion of the second year of residence in the PhD program, the student and the student’s academic advisor will select, on a tentative basis, three additional members to serve on the Doctoral Committee. These committee members will represent the proposed fields of study of the candidate. The student will obtain the consent of each faculty member, along with initial suggestions for the student’s development in each of his or her fields. The academic advisor will serve as chair of his or her committee. The committee chair (or one co-chair) must be a member of the EAS faculty.

The student must submit the “Comp Exam Committee Appointment” form on GradPath. The Committee members will approve the form to formally indicate their willingness to serve as the continuing doctoral committee of the student.

The Committee for both the written and oral portions of the exam will be composed of four faculty in the student’s major and minor area of concentration. The Comprehensive Committee must be approved by both the academic advisor and the graduate advisor. The “Comp Exam Committee Appointment Form” must be filed with the Graduate College via GradPath.


During the fifth semester in residence, students must file the “Doctoral Plan of Study” form via GradPath, which lists the courses that will comprise the student’s program.


These include the Comprehensive Examination and the Final Defense. All doctoral oral examinations are conducted in English.


The PhD Qualifying Examination may be given if it is necessary to determine if students are equipped with sufficient analytical abilities and background knowledge in the field and to allow them to pursue studies in the PhD program. 


Both the written and the oral portions of the Comprehensive Examination for the PhD Program have a two-fold purpose: (1) to determine students’ competence in their major and minor areas of specialization and (2), their readiness to undertake dissertation research.It is expected that the Comprehensive Examination will be completed within four years of enrollment in the program. Students ordinarily will have completed all required course work prior to taking the exam, or be in their last semester of classes. The language proficiency requirements must also be completed before the Comprehensive Examination is scheduled.

Before the Comprehensive Examinations are to be taken, the candidate should get approval of the programs of study from the committee in major and minor areas of specialization within East Asian Studies. If the minor is outside East Asian Studies, the candidate is responsible for getting approval for the minor course of study from the minor department.

Each member of the student’s committee will prepare written questions for the student to answer as parts of this examination. The written portions of the examination must have been substantially completed before the student can schedule the oral portion of the exam.

In practice, after taking the first examination students usually space the remaining exams out over several months, the rule being that all written exams must be completed within the two semester deadline set by the Graduate College for elapsed time between written and oral comprehensive examination.

The candidate will have seven days (including Saturday and Sunday) to complete each EAS exam as a take-home. Unless instructed otherwise by the Committee Chair, the candidate may have access to books and notes during the exams, but may not discuss the questions with anyone. If procedural questions arise, the candidate should address them to the Chair of the Committee or to the Head. EAS allows no more than one re-take of the written exam.

The oral portion of the Comprehensive Examination is to be scheduled no sooner than three weeks and no later than six months after the completion of the written portion. The candidate has the responsibility for scheduling both written and oral portions of the examination with the Committee. The “Announcement of Doctoral Comprehensive Exam” form must be filed with the Graduate College via GradPath. 

The candidate is normally informed of the results of the examination at the end of the oral. The Graduate College allows no more than one re-take of the oral exam.


In the selection of the dissertation topic, the same procedure described above for the development of the MA thesis/departmental paper topic should be followed. The dissertation proposal is a 10-20 page double-spaced document laying out the nature of the problem the student intends to focus on for the doctoral dissertation. The proposal demonstrates that (a) the problem selected is of the appropriate scope, importance, and relevance for a dissertation; (b) the student controls the core literature for the topic selected; and (c) the student has selected a reasonable approach (theoretical and methodological) to follow in solving the problem, at least in the initial stages of the research. The proposal should be completed and approved within one year of the successful completion of the oral comprehensive examination.


The PhD program must be completed within 10 years of the earliest course work listed on the student’s “Plan of Study.” The department must formally review any student in the program for four years who has not yet completed the comprehensive exams before allowing the student to continue. Those who do not have an approved dissertation topic within one year of passing the comprehensive exam will be reviewed by the faculty before being allowed to continue.

China-Area PhD Program

This PhD program is offered in Chinese Cultural Anthropology, History, Linguistics, Literature, and Religion and Thought.

The Chinese Cultural Anthropology Major

  • Chinese Anthropology
  • Popular Culture

The Chinese History Major

  • Pre-Modern
  • Ming-Ch'ing
  • Modern China

The Chinese Linguistics Major

  • Chinese Linguistics
  • Chinese Sociolinguistics
  • Second Language Acquisition of Chinese

The Chinese Literature Major

  • Criticism and Theory
  • Classical
  • Modern

The Chinese Religion and Thought Major

  • Pre-Ch'in and Han Thought
  • Buddhism in China
  • Neo-Confucianism

Minor Requirements

The minor field(s) must be chosen from any of the fields of study acceptable to the Graduate College. (See the College's list, "Major Fields for Doctoral Degrees”. The minor must be drawn from the same list). The minor could be taken from a department other than the student's home department and it must be discipline based. The minor department/program sets the minimum number of units of work required. 

Two doctoral fields constitute a split minor. The minor fields must be chosen from any of the fields of study acceptable to the Graduate College. See the College’s list, “Graduate Catalog and Programs Descriptions: Doctorate”. The minor is often taken from a department other than the student’s home department, and it must be discipline based. The minor department sets the minimum number of units of work required.

Japan-Area PhD Program

This PhD program is offered in Japanese Anthropology, History, Linguistics, Literature and Religion.

The Japanese Anthropology Major

  • Japanese anthropology
  • Popular culture

The Japanese History Major

  • Early Modern history
  • Modern history

The Japanese Linguistics Major

  • Discourse Analysis/Conversation Analysis
  • Sociolinguistics
  • Second Language Acquisition and Teaching

Format and procedures for Japanese Linguistics Comprehensive Examination:
For the written part of the Japanese Linguistics comprehensive examination students must submit four papers to the committee. One of them should be a publishable quality research paper in the student’s area of specialization. It can be a stand-alone research paper or a pilot study for their dissertation. It may be a paper newly written for the exam, or it may represent further exploration of a topic about which the student has previously written. The paper may include material from an MA thesis or papers written for courses, but it cannot be merely a resubmission of earlier material.
The other three papers should be response papers in which students answer written questions which each member of the committee writes. Two of them should be in the student’s major field and one should be in their minor field. Each of the three papers should be at least 2500 words in length (generally 10 double spaced pages, excluding references). If the minor is outside of Japanese linguistics, there may be an examination format imposed by the minor department or program, and that exam will replace one of the three response papers.
Students (must) should turn in their research paper at least two weeks before they write the three response papers.  After that students will have two weeks to complete three response papers after questions are given.  Students will prepare the written portion of the examination, i.e., a research topic of a research paper and a reading list and potential questions for each response paper, in close consultation with their committee members.  No later than 30 days before the exam begins, the student will provide the committee with a finalized reading list for each response paper.
Each of the four papers must receive a grade of “pass” (on a scale of “high pass,” “pass,” “resubmit” or “fail”) for the student to continue with the oral portion of the exam. The oral portion of the comprehensive examination is to be scheduled no sooner than three weeks and no later than six months after the completion of the written portion.

The Japanese Literature Major

  • Pre-modern literature
  • Modern literature
Core Curriculum for all students

(Substitutions to this core curriculum may be made only with the approval of the chair of the student’s Committee.)

  • 4 survey courses in Japanese literature (2 in modern, 2 in pre-modern: JPN 546a, JPN 546b, JPN 547a, JPN 547b)
  • 3 seminars in Japanese literature (JPN 596a [rpt/3]. Modern specialists will take 2 modern lit. seminars and 1 pre-modern lit. seminar; pre-modern lit. specialists will take 2 pre-modern lit. seminars and 1 modern lit. seminar.)
  • For modern lit. specialists: 1 course from the following: ENG 515 or ENG 554.
  • 1 course in Japanese religion: JPN 585, JPN 586, or JPN 589.
  • 2 courses in Modern Japanese Reading [JPN 521, JPN 522]; for native speakers this requirement is waived; the same holds true for non-native speakers who have fulfilled this requirement through testing or previous course work.
  • Other language requirements: All students are required to take 1 semester of classical Japanese language. Pre-modern students will take one further semester of classical Japanese language, and may be required to demonstrate mastery of either classical Chinese or Kanbun. This can be met by completing 2 semesters of classical Chinese or 2 courses requiring the reading of Kanbun texts. Modern literature students must demonstrate mastery of one approved European language (usually French or German), or modern Chinese. This can be met by demonstrating ability equivalent to 4 semesters of study either through completion of course work or through testing.