Degree Programs

Students have the opportunity to choose from a number of strong programs at the University of Hawai’i which allow them to focus on Japan. Asian Studies offers undergraduate, graduate, and graduate certificate programs in Japanese Studies while fifteen other departments also offer degrees with a specialization in Japanese Studies.

Asian Studies
East Asian Languages and Literatures
Political Science
Theater and Dance

ASIAN STUDIES (School of Pacific & Asian Studies)

BA in Asian Studies

The undergraduate program in Asian Studies is for students desiring a liberal arts education and a broad background in traditional and contemporary Asia. Students seeking a bachelor’s degree in Asian Studies with a focus on Japan must meet all the requirements for admission established by the School of Pacific & Asian Studies at the University of Hawai’i.

Major Requirements

  • Thirty-six credit hours of Asia-related course work are required for the BA in Asian Studies.
  • All Asian Studies majors must take: ASAN 201-202, ASAN 310 or 312, and six credits of ASAN courses at the 300 or 400 level (fifteen credits).

Students can choose from one of the following plans:

Plan 1

  1. Twelve credit hours, predominantly Asia-related, from one of the following disciplines: anthropology, art, economics, geography, history, linguistics, literature, music, philosophy, political science, religion, sociology, speech, or theatre and dance.
  2. Nine credit hours of Asia-related courses outside the primary field of concentration, as approved by the adviser.

Plan 2

  1. Twelve credit hours of course work on one Asian country or region.
  2. Nine credit hours focused on one or more additional Asian countries or regions.

Minor Requirements

For the Asian Studies minor, students must complete 15 credit hours including: ASAN 310 Asian Humanities or ASAN 312 Contemporary Asian Civilization, ASAN courses numbered 300 and above (minimum of 6 credits), Asia-related courses in disciplines other than the major field numbered 300 and above (maximum of 6 credits). The Asian Studies undergraduate adviser identifies Asia-related courses in various disciplines and assists in planning schedules and preparing minor forms.

The formal declaration is made through the Office of Student Academic Services in SPAS. New and transfer students may apply directly to the Asian Studies Program for admission. The undergraduate adviser is:

Ms. Patricia Dunn

School of Pacific & Asian Studies

Moore 416

tel: 956-0827; fax: 956-2682;


web: BA in Asian Studies.

MA in Asian Studies (Japanese Studies)

The Asian Studies program focuses study on a particular geographical and cultural region in Asia from several disciplinary viewpoints. The master’s degree in Asian Studies is offered with an option of a thesis (Plan A) or non-thesis (Plan B) program, but the thesis option is strongly recommended. The Director of the Center for Japanese Studies and other faculty members serve as graduate student advisors for students concentrating on Japan.

The MA degree in Asian Studies requires:

Plan A (Thesis)

  1. A minimum of thirty-six credit hours. Of these, at least eighteen must be earned in courses numbered 600 or higher (including six credit hours in ASAN 700 Thesis Research).
  2. A minimum of two semesters (full-time) academic study, or four six-week summer sessions.
  3. At least six credit hours (excluding pedagogy courses) in the Japanese language beyond the 401-402 level (entering students who have achieved this level and can demonstrate proficiency through examination may select alternate courses equaling six credit hours with the consent of their area advisor).
  4. Two core seminars on Japan (ASAN 600 and ASAN 750) that prepare students for interdisciplinary work.
  5. At least three credit hours in Asian Studies (in addition to ASAN 600, 750, and 700).
  6. Enrollment in ASAN 700 (Thesis Research) for six credits.
  7. A minimum of eighteen credits of interdisciplinary study related to Japan, with at least three credits taken in each major field (Humanities, Social Science, and Arts), with no more than nine concentrated in any one discipline.
  8. Satisfactory completion of a master’s thesis and an oral examination on the thesis by the student’s three-member faculty committee.

Plan B (Non-Thesis)

  • The same as Plan A, except: a) Six additional credits of area course work in lieu of ASAN 700 (Thesis Research). b) A presentation of an integrated portfolio of two seminar papers and satisfactory completion of an oral examination based on the papers by the student’s three-member faculty committee.


The Department of Anthropology allows students to concentrate in the anthropology of Japan and Japanese culture at the BA, MA, and PhD levels. An undergraduate major may take the regular anthropology method and theory courses, the two semester course ANTH 483-484 (Japanese Culture and Behavior), and electives from other departments (as approved by the undergraduate adviser). ANTH 720 (Anthropology of Japan) is a course offered approximately every 2-3 years for graduate students focusing on Japan. Master’s and doctoral students may concentrate directly on Japan related interests. Web:

Faculty: Christine Yano (Professor).


The Art Department offers a BA in Art History under which one may take a number of courses in Japanese art. It also offers an MA in Pacific and/or Asian Art History within which students may concentrate their studies on Japan. The Department has six courses specifically related to the arts, applied arts, and architecture of Japan, plus a range of other Asian topics. Web:

Faculty: John Szostak (Assistant Professor).


Students have several opportunities to combine Japanese studies with their business curriculum. They may concentrate on Japan while pursuing an international business major for the Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), and the Masters of Business Administration (MBA). It is also possible to complete both the MBA and MA in Asian Studies with an emphasis on Japan. Six credits from Business can be used to fulfill Asian Studies requirements, and nine credits from Asian Studies can be used to fulfill MBA requirements.

The Japan-focused Master of Business Administration (JEMBA) is a cooperative educational program between the Shidler College of Business and the Hawaii-based Japan-America Institute of Management Science (JAIMS). JEMBA allows students to engage in an intensive twenty one-month study program which includes Japanese language and culture courses and an internship with a major corporation in Japan. Web:


Central to the study of Japan is the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures. The Department has approximately forty Japan specialists (lecturers, instructors and professors) on its faculty. They teach approximately 100 undergraduate and graduate sections in Japanese language and literature each semester with a total enrollment of close to 1,500 students per semester.

The Department offers a variety of approaches to language learning. In addition to a standard track that emphasizes the four skills in the first three years of instruction, there is a two-year performance-centered track that concentrates on speaking and listening in specific JSL situations. At the fourth-year level and above, the Department offers specialized reading courses in literature, the humanities, social sciences, periodicals and newspapers, and special types of texts, plus courses in classical Japanese grammar, contemporary linguistic analysis, pedagogy, composition, and translation. The Department also offers bilingual/heritage language courses (including specialized fourth-year courses in oral/aural and composition) and courses with an Okinawan focus. Beginning at the third-year level, students with specialized needs can arrange independent reading courses. Most core language courses through the fourth level and some content courses are offered during the two six-week summer sessions.

In addition to its language offerings, which support students in various disciplines throughout the University, the Department has its own degree programs at the BA, MA, and PhD levels. These programs, which have an extensive language requirement, offer a focus in literature (pre-modern and modern) or linguistics (structure, history, sociolinguistics, pedagogy), guided by 17 professorial faculty in the Department who specialize in these areas. Minor and Certificate programs are also offered. Web:

Faculty: David Ashworth (Associate Professor), Joel Cohn (Associate Professor), Haruko Cook (Professor), Shinichiro Fukuda (Assistant Professor), John Haig (Associate Professor), Robert Huey (Professor), Kazue Kanno (Associate Professor), Terry Klafehn (Assistant Professor), Kimi Kondo-Brown (Associate Professor), Nobuko Ochner (Associate Professor), Katsuhiro Ota (Assistant Professor), Katsue Reynolds (Professor), Leon Serafim (Associate Professor), Arthur Thornhill (Associate Professor), Alexander Vovin (Professor), Dina Yoshimi (Associate Professor).


The UHM graduate program in Economics is consciously directed toward policy challenges in the Asia-Pacific region. Many of the faculty maintain expertise in Asian economies and pursue Asia-related research. Graduate students with an interest in Japan may take an economics course specifically on Japan as well as courses on Asian economic development, international monetary economics, and international trade and welfare. These courses cover issues that are particularly relevant to the Japanese economy. Given the geographic location of UHM and the interests of the faculty in the Department of Economics, students may write their theses and dissertations on Japanese topics. Web:

Faculty: Theresa Greaney (Associate Professor).


The Geography Department gives one undergraduate course and one graduate seminar course on the geography of Japan, which may be repeated for credit. Undergraduate geography majors may write honors theses on Japan, and may participate in the University’s Study Abroad programs in Japan. Graduate students in the Geography Department with a regional interest in Japan may specialize in a variety of systematic perspectives in physical geography and human geography. Theses and dissertations have addressed Pacific tsunami, the medical geography of rural Japan, Korean communities in Japanese cities, Japan’s forest resources, transported Japanese garden landscapes, sacred space of new religions, planning for the Nagano Olympics, and nature tourism on Yakushima. Non-majors as well as geography majors with interests in regional change within contemporary Japan are especially welcome. Web:

Faculty: Mary McDonald (Associate Professor).


In the History Department, undergraduate students may focus their course work on Asia with a special concentration on Japan, and write their senior tutorial papers on some aspect of Japanese history. At the MA level, students may write their theses on topics of Japanese history under Plan A (thesis) or may specialize in East Asia under Plan B (comprehensive exams). The History Department has a PhD program in which candidates may concentrate on Japanese history (pre-modern or modern). Web:

Faculty: William Wayne Farris (Soshitsu Sen XV Distinguished Professor), Mark McNally (Associate Professor), Yuma Totani (Associate Professor).


The William S Richardson School of Law offers three types of opportunities for students interested in pursuing studies in Japanese law. First, for classified graduate students, graduate certificate candidates and East-West Center grantees, students may enroll in elective law classes including courses such as Law and Society in Japan and US-Japan Commercial Transactions. For students pursuing a law degree, the school has established a Pacific Asian Legal Studies certificate program, leading to a law degree with special emphasis in Asian and/or Pacific Island law. Additionally, students enrolled in law school may pursue a “dual degree” with other graduate programs on campus, including an MA in Asian Studies. Web:

Faculty: Mark Levin (Associate Professor).


Graduate students in linguistics must specialize in three areas, one of which can be Japanese linguistics. The Department is particularly strong in the areas of Austronesian linguistics, Pidgin and Creole studies, children’s acquisition of language, sociolinguistics, syntax, and phonology. The Department relies on the faculty and courses in Japanese linguistics offered by the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures to assist its students in their study of Japanese linguistics. Web:


The Pacific Asian Management Institute (PAMI) of the Shidler College of Business offers short-term credit certificate programs during the summer (two six-week sessions), field study opportunities, a lecture series, and conferences for students and business people. For additional information, please see description under “Business” in this section and “PAMI” under “Campus Resources”. Web:


Graduate students in the Music Department may pursue an MA or PhD in Ethnomusicology or Music History of Japan. The Ethnomusicology Program enjoys an international reputation in the study of Asian and Pacific music and dance, including theoretical studies and practical applications. Japanese performing arts are a major component of this program. The University of Hawai’i is the only American university providing instruction in the Okinawan traditions. Music students may also specialize in a particular Japanese musical instrument or vocal style, including the traditions of chamber, court, and theatre music. Web:

Faculty: Ricardo Trimillos (Chair of Asian Studies).


The Philosophy Department offers both an MA and a PhD in comparative philosophy as well as in Asian philosophy. Graduate students within the Department can focus their research on 20th century Japanese philosophy, traditional Japanese Buddhism, Japanese aesthetics, Bushido, or aspects of Japanese culture as they relate to philosophy. Web:

Faculty: Masato Ishida (Associate Professor), Steve Odin (Professor).


Within the Political Science Department, it is possible to concentrate on the study of various aspects of Japanese political life at the MA and PhD levels. Graduate students may take courses and/or pursue research in the following areas: Japan’s future, Japan’s international relations, international law in Japan. Web:

Faculty: Petrice Flowers (Assistant Professor).


The Religion Department offers an MA in Asian Religions with an area concentration in East Asian religions. The study of Japanese religions covers the early, medieval, and modern periods, and focuses on Buddhism, Shinto, Christianity, and the New Religions. Through its active relationships with major Buddhist universities in Japan, the Department arranges conferences, exchange programs, research projects, publications, and study abroad opportunities. Web:

Faculty: Helen Baroni (Associate Professor). Michel Mohr (Associate Professor)


The Sociology Department offers opportunities to specialize in the study of Japan at both the MA and PhD levels. The sociology program brings together a unique concentration of Asian area specialists on its faculty and has developed a specialty in the comparative sociology of East Asia. Students interested in Japan take the regular departmental course sequence in theory and methods, and then develop expertise in specific sub-fields of sociology while working on Japan-related research projects of their own choosing. At the MA level, the culmination of the research is the thesis while the doctoral program encourages presentation of papers at professional meetings and publication in professional journals along with preparation of the dissertation. Web:

Faculty: David Johnson (Professor), Hiro Saito (Assistant Professor), Patricia Steinhoff (Professor).


The Department of Theatre and Dance offers MA, MFA, and PhD degrees which can include some specialization in Japanese Theatre. On the master’s level, students should consult the UHM catalog for curriculum requirements. In general, it is possible to do the equivalent of fifteen to twenty credits in Japanese Theatre within a general or Asian Theatre study program. On the PhD level, a student can chose a program in Asian Theatre or Asian-Western Comparative Theatre, with the area of focus, and the dissertation in Japanese Theatre.

The Department provides Japanese Theatre courses in history, literature, performance analysis, theory, and acting open to all UHM students. It has an international reputation for producing Kabuki plays in English in authentic performance style, as well as No, Kyogen, and contemporary Japanese drama in English. Master artists from Japan, including Nakamura Matagoro, Nakamura Ganjiro, Yoshida Minosuke, Nomura Mansaku Nomura Shiro and Shigeyama Akira have taught courses in the Department. The Department possesses a large collection of audio-visual materials for the study of performance, including more than 1,000 videotapes, especially Noh, Kabuki, Bunraku, and contemporary avant-garde performances. Web:

Faculty: Julie A. Iezzi (Professor).