Japanese, Bachelor of Arts College of Letters & Science

The department offers a core language program in Japanese, and courses in literature and culture.

The Program

Practical language skills are taught using contemporary methods and materials so that upon entering the upper division a student will have attained substantial fluency in the spoken language (listening and speaking) and the written language (reading and writing). Upper division courses balance the need to further develop language skills with the need to understand and appreciate the richness and diversity of Japanese culture. All students are encouraged to combine their study of language and literature with courses in related fields, and to study abroad through the Education Abroad Program, the UC Davis Study Abroad Program or through internships in Japan.

Career Opportunities

UC Davis graduates have learned that a major in Japanese is a meaningful, earned distinction that facilitates entrance to graduate programs and professional schools. In addition, job opportunities abound in virtually all career paths, especially for graduates who have completed study abroad.

Honors Program

To be eligible to receive high or highest honors in the Japanese major, students must complete a senior thesis project. A student interested in pursuing a senior thesis project must enroll in JPN 194H and complete a scholarly paper or similar research project under the direction of a senate faculty member. The thesis project will have a minimum duration of two quarters and carry a minimum of 6 units of credit. To qualify to undertake the senior thesis project, a student must have completed at least 135 units with a minimum GPA of 3.500 in courses counted toward the major. Interested students should consult with faculty in their field of interest by the quarter before they hope to commence work on the project (in most cases this will be the Spring Quarter of their junior year). Students who complete the senior thesis project and have an overall GPA that qualifies them for honors may be recommended by the faculty for honors, high honors, or highest honors at graduation.

Education Abroad Program

The university maintains study abroad programs in Japan. They offer excellent opportunities for students to polish their language skills and experience Asian cultures firsthand. Students are encouraged to participate. Appropriate courses taken abroad can be applied toward the major or the minor. For details, see the department's undergraduate advisor or the Global Learning Hub.

Related Courses

See East Asian Studies (EAS) course list.

Prerequisite Credit

No student may repeat a course if that course is a prerequisite for a course that has already been completed with a grade of C– or better.


JPN 001 is intended for beginning students with no prior knowledge of the Japanese language. Students who do have some knowledge but wish to improve their skills should meet with one of the advisors to discuss appropriate placement. Students must follow departmental guidelines for placement in all language courses and instructor approval is required for enrollment.


Satisfactory completion of a language course is evidence that a student’s language skills are beyond the level of those expected in its prerequisite courses. Accordingly, students who have completed a language course cannot go back and take its prerequisites. If the prerequisite courses are required for the major, students may substitute other courses. Students who are not sure how this requirement applies to them should speak to the undergraduate advisor.

Waived Language Courses

Students with exceptional language ability may waive required language courses. If lower division courses have been waived, students will not have to take courses in their place. If upper division courses have been waived, students can use other appropriate courses to earn the units they need to complete the major. Consult the undergraduate advisor regarding the selection of appropriate courses.

The major requirements below are in addition to meeting University Degree Requirements & College Degree Requirements; unless otherwise noted. The minimum number of units required for the Japanese Bachelor of Arts is 40.

Preparatory Subject Matter
Choose 0-30 units:0-30
Elementary Japanese
and Elementary Japanese
and Elementary Japanese
and Intermediate Japanese
and Intermediate Japanese
and Intermediate Japanese
Equivalent as determined by a language placement exam.
Recommended but not required:
Modern Chinese Literature (In English)
Great Books of China (in English)
Introduction to the Literature of China & Japan
History of East Asian Civilization
Masterworks of Japanese Literature (in English)
Japanese Language & Culture (in English)
Introduction to Linguistics
Introduction to Linguistics
Preparatory Subject Matter Subtotal0-30
Depth Subject Matter
Grading. Students may take up to two and no more than two (regular, letter-graded) courses for the major on a P/NP basis. Courses which are only offered on a P/NP basis do not count toward these limits.
JPN 101Japanese Literature in Translation: The Early Period4
JPN 102Japanese Literature in Translation: The Middle Period4
JPN 103Japanese Literature in Translation: The Modern Period4
JPN 111Modern Japanese: Reading & Discussion4
JPN 112Modern Japanese: Reading & Discussion4
JPN 113Modern Japanese: Reading & Discussion4
JPN 151Japanese Linguistics4
Note: With prior approval of the undergraduate advisor, students already proficient in Japanese at any third-year level1 must take other upper division Japanese (JPN) courses to replace language course(s).
Choose three; at least 12 units:12
Modern Japanese Literature: War & Revolution
Modern Japanese Literature: Hero & Anti-Hero
Japanese Culture Through Film
Modern Japanese Autobiographies (in English)
Poetry of China & Japan (in English)
Japanese Popular Culture
Spoken Japanese
Spoken Japanese
Spoken Japanese
Japanese Composition
Culture & History in Kyoto
Advanced Japanese I
Advanced Japanese II
Advanced Japanese III
Readings in Modern Japanese Literature to 1926
Readings in Modern Japanese Literature: 1920-1945
Readings in Modern Japanese Literature: 1945-1970
Readings in Modern Japanese Literature: 1970-Present
Readings in the Humanities: Traditional Culture
Readings in the Humanities: The Modern Period
Readings in Japanese Newspapers
Readings in Contemporary Japanese Literature
Readings in the Humanities: Japan Today
Introduction to Classical Japanese
Traditional Japanese Drama
Love, Sexuality & the Family in Modern Japanese Literature
Tourism & Heritage in Japan
Introduction to Japanese Folklore
Japanese Literature on Film
Japanese Women Writers
The Supernatural in Japan
The Culture of Japanese Food
Japan Travelogue: Ethnographic Writing on Japanese Culture & People
Up to 4 units:
Special Thesis Honors Project
Up to 4 units:
Directed Group Study
and Special Study for Advanced Undergraduates
Special Study for Advanced Undergraduates
Up to two (8 units) upper division Chinese courses 2
The Arts of Japan
Japanese Cinema
Economy of East Asia
Aristocratic & Feudal Japan
Early Modern Japan
Modern Japan
Business & Labor in Modern Japan
Government & Politics in East Asia: Japan
RST 170
Ch'an (Zen) Buddhism
Other advanced literature and culture courses selected in consultation with the undergraduate advisor.
Depth Subject Matter Subtotal40
Total Units40-70

JPN 111-JPN 112-JPN 113


Excluding CHN 111, CHN 112, CHN 113, CHN 120, CHN 150, CHN 192, CHN 194H, CHN 197T, CHN 198, CHN 199