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Major and Minor in Japanese

The Japanese programs provide students with an opportunity to concentrate on acquiring expertise in an important modern language and its culture. As Penn State's first major in a non-European language, the Japanese major or minor will strengthen a student's overall skills in internationalism and provide a focus on one of the world's most important nations.

The Japanese programs allow students to acquire a strong working knowledge of the Japanese language, and to understand important aspects of Japanese culture, with an emphasis on contemporary Japan. The program can help prepare students for graduate study in Japan-related fields, for work in contexts where the language and culture are pertinent, or to live and work in Japan; as informed and capable individuals equipped with appropriate intercultural skills and awareness.

Japanese majors may seek employment in government service, domestic and foreign offices, the United Nations, the Peace Corps, the U.S. Information Agency, or other international agencies. Employment may also be available with import and export trade organizations, international banking houses, or U.S. companies abroad. In addition, an increasing number of domestic and multinational companies are seeking employees who have backgrounds in multicultural studies as a way of dealing with the global market.

Study Abroad in Japan: We strongly encourage all Japanese majors and minors to study abroad during their junior year (ideally, after completing JAPNS 401 on campus). Penn State's stated goal is to make studying abroad no more expensive for students and their families than a semester studying at the University Park campus. For information on scholarships and education abroad programs, please visit the Global Programs Website at:

Our Director of Undergraduate Studies has developed a presentation that outlines options for Penn State undergraduates who want to major or minor in Japanese and go abroad. Find it here.


Requirements for the major


Recommended Academic Plan for Japanese:

The Japanese major requires 35 credits of study (this includes 0-9 credits of General Education GA, GH, or GS courses). At least 22 credits must be at the 400 level. Students are strongly encouraged to take at least 12 of their credits as part of a study abroad program in a Japanese-speaking location. For curricular sequencing, the program encourages students to pursue this Education Abroad experience following the completion of JAPNS 401.  Students must earn a C or better in all courses applied to their major.

Prescribed courses (20 credits):
JAPNS 110 IL(4) (Sem: 3-4)
JAPNS 401 IL(4) (Sem: 5-6)
JAPNS 402 IL(4) (Sem: 5-6)
JAPNS 403Y IL(4) (Sem: 7-8)
JAPNS 404 IL(4) (Sem: 7-8)

Additional courses (9 credits):
Select 3 credits from JAPNS 120 (3) or JAPNS 121N (3) (Sem: 1-6)
Select 3 credits from the JAPNS 430-39 level (3)
Select 3 credits from the JAPNS 450-59 level (3) (Sem: 7-8)

Supporting courses and related areas (6 credits):
Select 6 credits pertaining to Japan, such as courses in art history, Asian studies, Japanese, comparative literature, economics, geography, history, philosophy, political science, religious studies, theatre arts, or other fields, selected from departmental list below. (Sem: 1-8)

Courses not on this list may also count with approval from the Japanese adviser. This approval process is not complex and can be done via e-mail.

ARCH 317 Theory of Modern Japanese Architecture
ART H 120 (GH; IL) Survey of Eastern Art

ASIA 003 (GH;US;IL) (RL ST 003) Introduction to the Religions of the East
ASIA 004 (GH;IL) (CMLIT 004) Introduction to Asian Literatures
ASIA 083S Asian Studies First Year Seminar
ASIA 100 (GH;IL) What is Asia? 
ASIA 101N (GH;GS;IL) Sports in Asia
ASIA 102 (GH;IL) Asian Popular Culture
ASIA 172 (GH;IL) (HIST 172) Survey of Japanese Civilization
ASIA 174 (GH;IL) (HIST 174) The History of Traditional East Asia
ASIA 175 (GH;IL) (HIST 175) The History of Modern East Asia
ASIA 181 (GH;IL) Introduction to the Religions of China and Japan
ASIA 197 Special topics (if topic pertains to Japan)
ASIA 200 (GH;IL) What Are Asian Languages? 
ASIA 400 (IL) (PLSC 486) International Culture in East Asia
ASIA 401 (IL) (HIST 401) Technology & Society in Modern Asia
ASIA 402 (IL) Language, Culture and Cognition in East Asian Context
ASIA 404 (IL) (CMLIT 404) Topics in Asian Literature
ASIA 404Y (IL) (CMLIT 404Y) Topics in Asian Literature 
ASIA 405Y (IL) Seminar in Asian Studies (if topic pertains to Japan)
ASIA 457 (IL) (HIST 457, JST 474) Hiroshima & the Holocaust in History and Memory
ASIA 474 (HIST 474, JAPNS 426) Early Modern Japan
ASIA 480 (IL) (HIST 480) Japan in the Age of Warriors
ASIA 481 (IL) (HIST 481) Modern Japan Since 1800
ASIA 487 (IL) Zen Buddhism

CMLIT 448 (IL) Literary Cultures of Buddhism

JAPNS 120 (GH;IL) Japanese Literature in Its Cultural Context
JAPNS 120W (GH;IL) Japanese Literature in its Cultural Context
JAPNS 121 (GH;IL) Japanese Film and New Media
JAPNS 122 (GH:IL) (ASIA 122) Gods to Godzilla: A Survey of Japanese Culture

JAPNS 410 (IL) Japanese Through Manga
JAPNS 426 Early Modern Japan 
JAPNS 430 (IL) (ASIA 430) Japan in the World
JAPNS 431 (IL) (ASIA 431) Courtly Japan 
JAPNS 432 (IL) (ASIA 432) War and the Warrior in Japan  
JAPNS 433 (IL) (ASIA 433) Traveling Voices  
JAPNS 434 (IL) (ASIA 434) Beyond Anime 
JAPNS 450 (IL) Introduction to Classical Japanese
JAPNS 452 (IL) Contemporary Japan: Cultures, Lifestyles, Trends
JAPNS 453 (IL) Japanese Film
JAPNS 454 (IL) Japanese Literature

PHIL 007 (GH;IL) Asian Philosophy
PHIL 439 (IL) Asian Philosophies and Issues
PL SC 458 Government and Politics of East Asia


Requirements for the minor

You can declare the minor by selecting the “Update Academics” option on Lionpath.

Students must earn a C or better in all courses applied to the minor.


JAPNS 002(4), JAPNS 003(4) (Sem: 1-4)

Select 4 credits from JAPNS 110 IL(4), JAPNS 296(1-9), JAPNS 297(1-9), or JAPNS 299 IL(1-12) (Sem: 1-8)
Select 6-8 credits from JAPNS 401 IL(4), JAPNS 402 IL(4), JAPNS 403Y(4), JAPNS 404 IL(4), JAPNS 410 IL(3), JAPNS 426(3), JAPNS 430 IL(3), JAPNS 431 IL(3), JAPNS 432 IL(3), JAPNS 433 IL(3), JAPNS 434(3), JAPNS 450 IL(3), JAPNS 452 IL(3), JAPNS 453 IL(3-6), JAPNS 454 IL(3-6), JAPNS 496(1-18), JAPNS 497(1-9), or JAPNS 499 IL(1-15) (Sem: 5-8)


Tom Spencer () is the undergraduate adviser for the major and minor in Asian Studies, Chinese and Japanese.  To make an appointment, visit: Select “Appointments” and click the “Advisers” link at the top of the page to view his hours for the week.

Please make an appointment if you need help with:
• your next semester schedule (language pre-majors and majors)
• concurrent major planning (feasibility, courses needed)
• academic difficulty
• Faculty Senate petitions (retroactive withdrawal or registration, etc.)
You may schedule an appointment through the following website: