Japanese Studies, BA

103 Guilford House
Beth M. Carter, Section Head

Degree: Bachelor of Arts (BA)
Major: Japanese Studies

Program Overview

Today’s students find themselves in a world of increasingly multi-ethnic, multi-religious, and multicultural contexts. Through a long history of receiving, reworking, and incorporating influences from nearby cultural centers on the Asian mainland, from surrounding Pacific islands, and from the world beyond (including Europe and the Americas), Japan has developed a tradition of multiculturalism—a tradition that is best understood through interdisciplinary study. Following this thread, the Japanese Studies Program seeks to foster the student’s global and interdisciplinary perspectives, while at the same time maintaining a flexibility that allows individuals to pursue their own areas of interest. To further foster the students’ linguistic and cultural development, the Japanese Studies Program strongly encourages study abroad in Japan for a year, a semester, or a summer.

Students may pursue a major in Japanese Studies or a minor in Japanese. The program offers a variety of courses to fulfill the requirements, ranging from five levels of the Japanese language to courses about Japanese cinema, literature, and pop culture. Besides these core courses, we encourage the student to take related courses in such interdisciplinary areas as Asian art, cinema, comparative literature of Japan and the West, Japanese religion and history, and international business. Taking advantage of the varied resources of the university and University Circle institutions, the Japanese Studies Program makes the study of Japanese culture an integral part of the student’s undergraduate education. Furthermore, the Japanese Studies Program provides an excellent foundation for graduate or professional school or for careers in international business and finance, careers involving technological or medical exchange, and careers in law, journalism, foreign service, or the arts.

All courses in modern languages and literatures are taught primarily in the target language, unless the course is cross-listed with the World Literature Program or other interdisciplinary programs. In addition to scheduled class meetings, elementary and intermediate language courses require that students work with audio or audiovisual materials outside of class.

Career opportunities for students majoring in these areas exist in college and university teaching, translation and interpretation, diplomatic and other government service, business, international nonprofit agencies, and the arts, and can be enhanced by a double major or a secondary major.

Majors in Japanese Studies are expected to acquire the ability to understand, speak, read, and write in Japanese and to develop a sound understanding of the relevant literatures and cultures.

Learning Outcomes

  • Students will be able to demonstrate proficiency in the Japanese language: listening and speaking; writing and reading; and be able to express abstract thoughts in the acquired language.
  • Students will be able to demonstrate translingual and transcultural competence, by perfecting their ability to operate between languages and global cultures.
  • Students will be able to analyze texts written in Japanese as well as in translation, such as but not limited to literature, including cinema and other types of cultural productions and non-fiction writings.
  • Students will be able to utilize the knowledge and skills acquired to conduct research in a foreign language and practice academic and professional standards.

Placement Procedure

Students with prior experience in Japanese, however acquired (e.g., in high school, at another institution, or via study abroad), work with department faculty members to determine an appropriate level at which to start. In general, one year of high school language instruction is the equivalent to one university-level course. Students who have taken four years or more of one language in high school are generally eligible to take 300-level language courses at CWRU, but the department recommends starting with a course numbered under 320.

Study Abroad

Study abroad in Japan is highly recommended, preferably for a year, a semester, or even short term (see JAPN 235). Every effort is made to grant appropriate credit for courses taken at a Japanese university during the study abroad experience.  

Undergraduate Policies

For undergraduate policies and procedures, please review the Undergraduate Academics section of the General Bulletin.

Accelerated Master's Programs

Undergraduate students may participate in accelerated programs toward graduate or professional degrees. For more information and details of the policies and procedures related to accelerated studies, please visit the Undergraduate Academics section of the General Bulletin.

Program Faculty

Beth M. Carter, PhD
(University of Pennsylvania)
Assistant Professor, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures; Section Head, Japanese Studies Program; Undergraduate Studies Advisor, Japanese Studies Program
Premodern Japanese literature

Takao Hagiwara, PhD
(University of British Columbia)
Associate Professor, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures
Modern Japanese literature


Lai Jiang, MA
(Indiana University)
Lecturer of Japanese, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures
Japanese language pedagogy

Yukie Miura, MA
(Purdue University)
Lecturer of Japanese, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures
Japanese language pedagogy

Kosuke Ogaki, MEd
(Auburn University)
Lecturer of Japanese, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures
English for speakers of other languages

Yukiko (Nishida) Onitsuka, EdD
(University of Cincinnati)
Lecturer of Japanese, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures
Literacy and second-language studies