East Asian Languages and Cultures: East Asian Studies B.A.

If you have interests in the history, languages, and cultures of China, Japan, and the Koreas, this may be the major for you. Students majoring in East Asian Studies gain a broad comparative understanding of these complex nations though coursework covering at least two of the three national areas. They also develop a basic command of Chinese (Mandarin), Korean, or Japanese.

The major gives you the skills and content knowledge to think about East Asia in interdisciplinary and comparative ways. The ability to distinguish between what is broadly shared among East Asian cultures and what differentiates them is especially valuable to many internationally oriented jobs and graduate programs. The Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures is part of the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies, with faculty drawn from a wide range of disciplines.

If you want to focus your studies on one East Asian country, you may wish to pursue a major in East Asian Language and Culture (EALC). Minors in either East Asian Languages or East Asian Studies are also options.


Getting started

Your starting point in East Asian Studies is language study and an East Asian Lanugages and Cultures or approved culture course. Please see the your academic bulletin to see if a 100-level EALC-E course can count toward your major.

Most students start in the first semester of their chosen language (Chinese, Japanese, or Korean). If you have reason to believe that you might be able to start at a higher level, you may take the online placement exam.

Tracks and concentrations

A goal of the East Asian Studies major is to help you develop a general and wide-reaching understanding of China, the Koreas, and Japan. Therefore, no official concentrations exist for the major.

The East Asian Studies major offers flexibility in choosing courses and a language of specialization, allowing you to personalize the curriculum. The academic advisor will help you select the best courses to suit your interests. While personalizing the major, you may wish to craft an unofficial concentration.

One concentration option is to forge a geographical focus. For instance, you might devote the majority of the culture coursework to the Koreas and the remainder to one of the other two nations. This approach would provide you with a broader understanding of a single cultural zone while still developing the comparative edge that is distinctive to the East Asian Studies major.

Another concentration option would be to adopt a transnational comparative version of the History, Literature, and Culture or Politics, Social Science, and Business concentrations offered within the Language and Culture major. The course lists for the East Asian Languages and Cultures (EALC) concentrations, found in the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin, can help you identify relevant courses.

Upper level coursework

Majors are required to take EALC-E 310 Intro to East Asian Studies. The department recommends that students take this course in their sophomore year or as soon as possible thereafter.

East Asian Studies students also must complete the fourth semester level or higher in their chosen East Asian language.

The remainder of the coursework can be selected to fit your interests, but must touch upon at least two of the three East Asian cultural zones (China, Japan, and the Koreas).

Commonly pursued majors, minors and certificates

You might wish to complement your East Asian Studies coursework with a major or minor in a complementary subject area, depending on your areas of interest. Talk with academic advisor to consider your options.

The five most common majors paired with the East Asian Studies major are: History, English, Political Science, Economics, and the Media School.

Frequently completed minors include: Studio Art, History, India Studies, the Media School, Second Language Studies.

The Liberal Arts Management Program (LAMP) is the primary certificate East Asian Studies majors pursue.

Enhance your major

Working with faculty

When pursuing a degree in East Asian Studies, you have the opportunity to work with faculty who have expertise and experience in the field. Take advantage of office hours to talk with your instructors about your performance in class, the content of assignments, and how the course helps you work toward your goals.

Students interested in a topic not covered through standard coursework or who want to go into greater depth in a subject should consider enrolling in EALC-X 490 Individual Readings. The academic advisor can help you find the appropriate professor for your project.

You can get involved in research as early as your freshman year. Many incoming freshmen apply to the Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Experience (ASURE) program. ASURE students experience project-based learning enhanced by a community of supportive faculty and peers. Choose an ASURE path in the arts and humanities, social and historical studies, or natural and mathematical sciences. Consider joining one that will deepen your skills and knowledge in an area related to your major or a different one to become a more well-rounded thinker. 


Researching and writing an honors thesis offers high achieving students a way to deepen their command of an area of interest. Interested students are encouraged to develop and refine their research interests early in their study, selecting courses that will provide a strong foundation for the thesis. Completing an honors thesis is a particularly good exercise if you are considering graduate school.

High achieving students may be recognized for Academic Excellence in the College of Arts and Sciences, or be eligible for admission to the Hutton Honors College.

Undergraduate scholarships and awards

East Asian Languages and Cultures offers six different scholarships to East Asian Studies majors:

  • Uehara Scholarhips
  • Yasuda Scholarship
  • Gines Scholarship
  • Paul Nutter Memorial Scholarship
  • Korean Visiting Scholars' Award
  • East Asian Studies Center Prizes for Excellence in Asian Studies:
    • SOFOKS Award for Korean Studies
    • Alpine Prize for Japanese Studies
    • Undergraduate Award for Chinese Studies

Other scholarships and awards that relate to East Asian Studies include:


Internships offer you a chance to develop both technical and transferable skills while making vital professional contacts with others in the field. Many students begin exploring internship opportunities, including overseas study programs with internships, as early as their freshman year.

Students wanting to apply their studies in an employment setting should consider doing an approved internship project through EALC-X 473. It may also be possible to earn academic credit for an internship by enrolling in ASCS-X 373 or SGIS-X 373.

Organizations offering internships relevant to EALC majors' studies include:

Learn more about internships, including the possibility of receiving credit, through The Walter Center for Career Achievement, where you’ll find many resources for both domestic and international internships.

Foreign language study

One way to enhance your language skills outside of the classroom is by joining an East Asian Conversation Club. Joining a club lets you practice Chinese, Korean, or Japanese in a relaxed, low-pressure environment.

As one of the premier institutions in the U.S. for the study of languages, IU Bloomington offers courses and resources in over 80 languages.

Below is a sampling of language study resources available to students at IU Bloomington.

Overseas study

Study abroad is an important part of undergraduate education in our increasingly interconnected world. East Asian Studies students often pursue language study and other coursework through the following exchange programs:

The College of Arts and Sciences also directly hosts a variety of study abroad programs, some even featuring IU faculty, that might be right for you. Learn more about study abroad opportunities and locations through conversation with East Asian Studies faculty, your academic advisor, and through the Office of Overseas Study.

Student groups

Student associations that can enrich your East Asian Studies experience include:

Sigma Iota Rho is an honor society for students in the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies. Members are eligible for scholarships and research grants, and have the opportunity to publish work and serve on the Editorial Board for the Journal of International Relations.

The Hamilton Lugar School Living Learning Center and the Global Living Learning Community are two Living Learning Centers that often appeal to East Asian Studies majors. In different ways, they integrate formal and informal residential learning for motivated undergraduates with international interests.

Explore beINvolved to connect with any of the 750+ student organizations that already exist, or to start a new one.

Volunteer opportunities

There are numerous opportunities for volunteer engagement, allowing you to give back to your surrounding community while developing useful employment skills. The organizations below can help you connect with others from the university and beyond.

Sign up to receive weekly emails from the Bloomington Volunteer Network to learn about local opportunities and organizations.

Professional organizations

Professional associations of interest to East Asian Studies majors include:

Use the Indiana University Library system to search for Associations Unlimited, an online directory of associations, professional societies, non-profit organizations, and much more.

Build your skills

Through the major

The major in East Asian Studies provides you with a set of skills and qualities that are relevant and transferable to many areas of study and work. These include:

  • Regional expertise: understand and describe several features of East Asian societies and their variations, in relation to politics, economics, literature, cinema, and/or history
  • Language competence: speak, read, listen, and write in Chinese, Japanese, or Korean at the lower intermediate level
  • Methods of analysis: be able to interpret information about East Asian through multiple disciplinary lenses
  • Research synthesis: gain skills to develop evidence-based arguments, assess the strengths of the arguments of others, and defend your own position
  • Communication: the ability to communicate knowledge-facts, concepts, arguments-about East Asia, both orally and in writing, with experts and non-specialists

Through a College of Arts and Sciences degree

Your coursework provides many opportunities to develop the following five foundational skills that will serve you well in every career path:  

  • Question critically
  • Think logically
  • Communicate clearly
  • Act creatively
  • Live ethically

These foundational skills will aid you in landing your first job and advancing professionally throughout your working life. Not only are these the skills that employers say they value most in the workplace, they provide the best preparation for lifelong success in a world of complexity, uncertainty, and change.

Skills desired by employers

Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers asks employers what key skills and qualities they are looking for in recent college graduates.

The following are some of the most commonly desired attributes across many employment sectors:

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Written and verbal communication skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Strong work ethic
  • Analytical and quantitative skills
  • Ability to take Initiative
  • Being detail oriented
  • Demonstrating adaptability
  • Technical skills relevant to the field
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Computer skills
  • Organizational ability

As you explore various career fields, pay attention to specific job descriptions and requirements. If there are areas where your skills or knowledge are lacking, talk with your academic advisor and career coach about how you can develop in those areas while you are at Indiana University.

Your academic advisor and career coach can also help you find ways to strengthen and deepen the knowledge you already have, becoming more prepared for whatever path you select after College.


Launch your career

Plan your search

A good career exploration starting point is an appointment with the School of Global and International Studies career coach.

The Walter Center for Career Achievement also offers job search resources, career courses, job fairs, information about internships and full-time jobs, and help with social media networking through professional organizations. Get advice about how to write your resume,  ask for letters of recommendation from faculty and workplace supervisors, and prepare for job interviews, too.

Explore and enroll in Career Communities to learn more about industries relevant to your interests. These offer unique information about each field, including alumni spotlights, opportunities and resources, and in-person events.

Maximize your career preparation with a career course. East Asian Studies majors should consider enrolling in ASCS-Q296 College to Career II: Navigate Your Arts and Sciences Experience. The section dedicated to Hamilton Lugar School students provides the opportunity for you to explore the relationship between your field of study and life after graduation, while developing an academic and career development plan for post-collegiate success. If you are considering continuing your studies after graduation, you may wish to enroll instead in the section dedicated to graduate school preparation. Regardless of the section you select, you will leave the class with your resume, a cover letter or personal statement, and a LinkedIn profile ready to go!

The job market

East Asian countries increasingly influence the economies, politics, social dimensions and cultural life of nations worldwide. The positive employment outlook for East Asian Studies majors reflects this fact.

Knowledge of East Asian countries and an ability to use one of their languages at the lower intermediate level positions you to launch a post-graduation life in business, politics, education, international relations, cultural exchanges, or other occupations with a focus on East Asia.

East Asian Studies majors become consultants, sales associates, researchers, educators, tourism advisors, translators, journalists, or communications specialists, among many other options.

Initial and long-term destinations for graduates include positions in many job sectors:

  • Security clearance officer (U.S. Marines)
  • Information technology consultant
  • Business consultant
  • Business analyst
  • Associate product manager
  • Broker at an investment firm
  • English teacher abroad
  • Magazine writer/copy editor

Want to see where your fellow majors go right after graduating from IU? Check out the Walter Center’s First Destinations survey!

Need more ideas? The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers career information about hundreds of occupations.

Talk with East Asian Studies faculty, the academic advisor, career advisor and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates with this degree.

Post-graduate short-term experiences

After graduation, a short-term experience or internship can help you make connections, gain life skills, and assess your interest in future careers. Talk with your career coach and use these and other resources to find opportunities that are a good fit with your educational experience and career goals:

Teaching positions give you a chance to hone language and communication skills. Find international English teaching jobs through organizations such as:

Using these and other resources, your career coach can help you craft a unique short-term experience, whether in the United States or abroad.

Fellowships for post-graduate study

Fellowships are temporary post-graduate opportunities to conduct research, work in a field or fund graduate school. Most opportunities can be found through universities, non-profit and government organizations.

Good resources for finding fellowship opportunities include:

Graduate and professional study

When applying to graduate or professional schools, you'll need letters of recommendation from faculty members who are familiar with your work. Make a practice of attending office hours early in your academic career, to get to know your professors and discuss your options for advanced study in the field.

Students with the East Asian Studies degree have enrolled in graduate programs in a wide variety of fields, at Indiana University and other institutions, such as:

East Asian Studies, Business*, Chinese, Japanese, Linguistics, Psychological and Brain Sciences, Public and Environmental Affairs*, Religious Studies, College + Kelley program.

* includes the option of a dual masters with East Asian Studies.

With careful planning, and in consultation with the Health Professions and Prelaw Center, you could also prepare to enter law school, medical school, or other programs in the health professions.

Students who pursue graduate studies in East Asian Studies have gone into careers with top academic and research institutions, the United Nations, World Bank, non-governmental organizations, media, private entrepreneurship, and the military and intelligence communities.

Alumni connections

The College of Arts and Sciences has thousands of active alumni. Check out the College Luminaries program, which connects students with the College's most influential, successful, and inspiring alumni.

Join the Walter Center Success Network to remain in touch, network directly with College of Arts +Sciences Alumni, and let others know where your path takes you.

Is it for you?

The major in East Asian Studies attracts students from a variety of backgrounds and interests. They typically have some of the following qualities:

  • Desire to acquire at least a basic command of an East Asian language
  • Interest in the comparative study of China, Japan, and Korea
  • Awareness of international issues in an increasingly globalized world
  • Curiosity about the cultures, politics and economies of China, Japan, and the Koreas
  • Wish to gain expertise working with others who have studied, lived, or traveled in East Asia

Learn more

Contact the East Asian Languages and Cultures academic advisor and schedule an appointment to explore your options. Complete information about the requirements of the major can be found in the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin.

Department website
Advisor email address