Major Requirements

To major in EAS, students must fulfill requirements in language studies, humanities, and history and social sciences.

Through this combination of breadth and depth, students learn about the historic links between East Asian societies and how ideas, cultures, and policies flow across and shape life in East Asia today.

Goals for the Major

  • To familiarize students generally with the, arts, histories, languages and literatures, religions, and the social, political, and cultural systems of East Asia.
  • To develop fuller expertise in a specific area of study, whether by country, or scholarly discipline.
  • To ensure a firm foundation in at least one of three East Asian languages: Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, or Korean.

Requirements for the Major

Prospective East Asian Studies majors should begin study of an East Asian language as soon as possible in their first year. The program also recommends that students take one or more courses that explore East Asia (such as HIST 274, REL 108, or EALL 225) in their first two years to attain familiarity with the region. The program encourages students to 1) familiarize themselves with several East Asian societies and cultures; 2) choose an area of concentration that is country/culture-based or based on an academic discipline. For example, students may select a focused study of one country or culture (e.g., China, Japan, Korea/s, or select a disciplinary or thematic focus such as the arts, literature, social sciences, media and cinema, etc.

Prospective majors should consult with a member of East Asian Studies faculty as early as possible to discuss their academic plans. Majors devise their own programs of study in consultation with an advisor from the student’s area of concentration. Both the major advisor and the program director must approve proposals for the major. Ten units are required for the major, consisting of the following:

A. Language Courses: Four Units

  All students must complete at least four language courses above the 100-level in the language most appropriate to their area of concentration. (Students will not receive credit towards the major for the first year of language study.) 

  Students who have passed out of the language requirement or have native or near-native language proficiency may replace the 4-course language sequence with EALC 221 (Gateways to East Asia, required); two EALC courses; and one EAS course. Alternatively, they may elect to take four courses in a different East Asian language. Language study beyond what is required for the major is strongly recommended.

  All majors are also encouraged to spend at least a summer or a semester studying abroad in China, Japan, Korea, or Taiwan. The East Asian Languages and Literatures Department, through the Chairperson of EALL, must approve plans for language study taken away from Wellesley and to be applied towards the major.

B. Non-Language Courses: Six Units

  All majors must also take at least one non-language course on East Asia in each of the following categories: (a) Humanities, including Art History, Cinema, Literature, Music, Philosophy; and (b) History and Social Sciences, including Anthropology, Economics, History, Political Science, Religion, Sociology, and Women’s and Gender Studies.

  1. A minimum of three non-language courses are required to fulfill a selected concentration and two must be at the 300 level.
  2. Country/culture-based concentrations may focus on one of the following: China, Japan, Korea/s. Discipline-based concentrations include: arts and visual studies; culture and society; gender studies; historical studies; international relations; literary studies; anthropology; economics, sociology; politics; religion; women’s studies. Under unusual circumstances, and with the approval of her advisor and the program director, a student may design her own disciplinary concentration. Majors will normally declare their concentration no later than the spring semester of the junior year.
  3. A minimum of three non-language courses must be taken at Wellesley, including the required two units of 300-level courses. Of the two required 300-level courses, only one may be a 350, 360, or 370.
  4. A maximum of two non-language courses taken outside Wellesley can count toward the major.
  5. Some courses can count as a language or non-language course for the purpose of fulfilling requirements for the major. Each course unit can be credited only once toward the major. No double-counting (e.g., as a language course AND non-language course) is permitted.

  One course in Asian American studies (e.g., Korean-American Literature, Asian-American Experience) may be counted towards the major, provided that the course addresses a significant aspect of East Asian traditions, culture, or society in its global, cross-cultural contexts. Students should consult with their advisors.

Transfer Credits

In order to obtain Wellesley credit for any EAS-related course taken at another institution during the academic year or summer, the student must obtain approval from the College Registrar’s office and the program director prior to enrolling in the course. First the Registrar’s office must award the appropriate college credit for each unit. Second, the approval of the course/s to be credited to the EAS major must be granted by the program director. Students should present relevant syllabi and other materials about the prospective course to the director. Students, especially those taking EAS courses abroad, may be required to contact the course instructor in order to obtain specific details about the course in cases where the online course description may be insufficient to make an informed decision.


There is no minor in East Asian Studies.