East Asian Languages and Cultures: Language and Culture B.A.

Are you interested in learning Chinese (Mandarin), Japanese, or Korean? Do you have a particular fascination with the culture and history of China, Japan, or Korea? If so, you might want to pursue the East Asian Language and Culture (EALC) major.

East Asian Language and Culture majors choose an East Asian country and its related language to study, gaining an intermediate or higher command of its language (through at least the third year). EALC majors focus their culture courses in one of two concentrations: History, Literature, Culture or Politics, Social Sciences, Business.

Highly motivated students who are considering Chinese might want to declare the Chinese Flagship track of the EALC major, taking Chinese language classes beyond the fourth year level. Chinese Flagship track students spend at least a year studying in China, where they also complete an internship. These EALC majors almost always integrate the Chinese Flagship Program into their studies.

The Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures is part of the Indiana University Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies, with faculty drawn from a wide range of disciplines.

The department also offers a degree in East Asian Studies. This degree emphasizes the comparative study of the region and requires a basic command of Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. A minor in East Asian Languages or East Asian Studies is also an option.


Getting started

Your starting point in the East Asian Language and Culture major is language study. Please check your requirements to see if you can count a 100 level EALC-E course toward your major.

As an EALC major, you can study Chinese (Mandarin), Japanese, or Korean. Start with a 100-level introductory course in the fall semester. If you have prior language experience in your chosen language, you should take the online placement exam before enrolling in classes to determine which course is the best fit for your skills.

Tracks and concentrations

As an East Asian Language and Culture major you focus on one East Asian country, choosing between a humanities or a social sciences approach to the non-language coursework for the major.

  • The History, Literature, Culture concentration considers your chosen country through the lens of the humanities. You learn about its historical, literary, and cultural achievements, gaining a depth of knowledge and utilizing relevant methods of analysis and interpretation.
  • The Politics, Social Sciences, Business concentration focuses on the social sciences. You use statistical evidence, theoretical models, and other methods to investigate political behavior, educational structures, economic activity, and additional aspects of your chosen country.

Upper level coursework

East Asian Language and Culture 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.

EALC majors also must complete the sixth semester level or higher in their chosen East Asian language.

As you plan your courses, remember that you must focus on one of the two concentrations, which cover such fields as economics, politics, history, and literature. The course lists for the two EALC concentrations, found in the EALC/EAST Major Subject Area Course Lists, can help you identify relevant courses.

Commonly pursued majors, minors and certificates

Students pursuing the EALC major often study other fields while completing their bachelor's degree. Work with the academic advisor if you wish to pair your major with another course of study.

The most common subjects paired with the EALC major (by language track) are:

Frequently completed minors (by language track) include:

The Liberal Arts Management Program (LAMP) is the primary certificate pursued by EALC majors in each of the three language tracks.

Enhance your major

Working with faculty

When pursuing a degree in East Asian Languages and Cultures, 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.

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. 

If you become interested in a particular topic that requires specialized study or research, you might want to enroll in EALC-X 490 Individual Readings. Your academic advisor can discuss this option with you and help you find a professor to lead this independent study.


The honors thesis sequence offers high achieving students a chance to deepen their command of an area of interest while demonstrating expertise in the field. Under faculty supervision, students produce a research paper or project in order to earn departmental honors. If you are interested, discuss this option with your academic advisor.

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

The Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures offers six different scholarships to East Asian Language and Culture majors:

  • Uehara Scholarships
  • 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 options for pursuing scholarships and awards that relate to the EALC major 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-X373.

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

A way to enhance your language skills beyond the classroom is by joining one of the East Asian Conversation Clubs. Practice Chinese, Korean, or Japanese with fellow language students and native speakers 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 Languages and Cultures students often pursue language study and other coursework through the following exchange programs

The College of Arts + 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 Languages and Cultures faculty, your academic advisor, and through the Office of Overseas Study.

Student groups

Student associations that can enrich your East Asian Language and Culture 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 Language and Culture 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

The following are examples of the professional organizations with interests in East Asia:

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 Languages and Cultures provides you with a set of skills and qualities that are relevant and transferable to many areas of study and work. These include:

  • Regional and international expertise: understand and describe several features of your chosen East Asian country through the lens of politics, economics, education, literature, cinema, and/or history
  • Language competence: speak, read, listen, and write in Chinese, Japanese, or Korean at the higher intermediate level, comparing the linguistic structures of that language with English
  • Methods of analysis: interpret sources from your chosen East Asian country 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 your chosen East Asian country, 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 advancingprofessionally 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
  • Abilityto 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 starting point for exploring your career options is an appointment with the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies career coach.

The Walter Center for Career Achievement 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 Language and Culture majors should consider enrolling in ASCS-Q296 College to Career II: Navigate Your Arts and Sciences Experience. The section dedicated to the 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 Language and Culture majors reflects this fact.

Specialized, focused knowledge of China, Japan, or the Koreas, combined with an ability to use one of their languages at the higher intermediate level, will position you to launch a post-graduation life in politics, education, international trade, or other ventures involving your chosen East Asian country.

Students with the EALC major take their education in many career directions. They are prepared to work for federal and state government, non-governmental organizations, non-profits, cooperatives, international businesses, banking, the military, and the private sector.

EALC majors become researchers, information analysts, linguists, policy advisors, educators, translators, tourism advisors, businesspersons, security personnel, journalists, or aid workers, among many other options.

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

  • Investment analyst
  • High school language teacher
  • Marketer/purchaser
  • Associate publisher at major publishing house
  • Computational linguist for a technology company
  • Educational instructor in Japan
  • Vice president of development for an advertising firm
  • Translator
  • Business consultant
  • Sales representative for a telecommunications company
  • Assistant director of languages and communications for an airline company
  • Assistant director of a Living Learning Center at a university

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 EALC faculty, the academic advisor, career coach 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:

These following resources can be of assistance to you if you are interested in teaching English abroad:

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

Fellowships for post-graduate study

Fellowships are temporary opportunities to conduct research, work in a field or fund your education. 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.

An East Asian Language and Culture degree will prepare you for entry into graduate programs in a wide variety of fields at Indiana University and other institutions, such as Central Eurasian Studies, East Asian Studies, East Asian Languages, History, Anthropology, Political Science, Religious Studies, International Studies, Business*, or Public Affairs*.

* 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 professional programs.

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

Alumni connections

Talk with East Asian Languages and Cultures faculty, the academic advisorcareer coach and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates of this degree.

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 and Sciences Alumni, and let others know where your path takes you.

Is it for you?

The East Asian Language and Culture major attracts students from a variety of backgrounds and interests. They typically possess some of the following qualities:

  • Motivation to study an East Asian language through at least the intermediate (third year) level
  • Interest in the literature, society, culture, and history of China, Japan, or the Koreas
  • Concern about the politics and economies of East Asia
  • Desire to teach English as a second language in an East Asian country
  • Wish to start preparing for a career as a translator or interpreter
  • Work with a company or organization with ties to East Asia
  • Awareness of geopolitical issues in an increasingly globalized world
  • Interest in gaining expertise by working with others who have studied, lived, or traveled in East Asia

Learn more

Contact the academic advisor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures 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