East Asian Languages and Cultures

Program Category: PhD Programs
Chair: Haruo Shirane
Director of Graduate Studies: Feng Li
Website: ealac.columbia.edu
Degree Programs: Full-Time: MA, MPhil, PhD

The Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures offers a PhD (MA/MPhil/PhD) program with an interdisciplinary approach to the literature, culture, history, and languages of East Asia (China, Japan, Korea, and Tibet) and a particular emphasis on critical methodology and comparative study. An array of East Asian courses in other areas such as political science, sociology, anthropology, art, law, history, and business is also available, as are interdisciplinary programs with the departments of Religion and History and the Interdepartmental Committee in Comparative Literature and Society. The department’s close ties with various East Asian institutions in New York City and abroad provide a stimulating cultural environment.

Columbia's C.V. Starr East Asian Library, with more than a half million volumes of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean languages books, is one of the largest East Asian library collections outside East Asia and a premier center for East Asian research in the United States. The collection, which is particularly strong in literature, philosophy (especially Buddhism and neo-Confucianism), and history, is supported by more than 1.1 million volumes of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Tibetan Books. As well as 2.5 million E-Book titles, 40,000 E-Journals, and 90,000 volumes of secondary materials in Western languages on all aspects of East Asia, past and present.

Fellowships are awarded in recognition of academic achievement and in expectation of scholarly success. Teaching and research experience are considered an important aspect of the training of doctoral students; accordingly, fellowships for PhD students include some teaching and research apprenticeship.

Certificate in Comparative Literature and Society

The Institute for Comparative Literature and Society (ICLS) awards a certificate in Comparative Literature and Society. For more information, see the ICLS website.

Special Admissions Requirements: 

In addition to the requirements listed below, all students must submit one transcript showing courses and grades per school attended, a statement of academic purpose, a writing sample (a course paper, term paper, etc.), and three letters of evaluation from academic sources.

All international students whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate degree is from an institution in a country whose official language is not English must submit scores of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or IELTS.

For more information, refer to our Admissions Information and Frequently Asked Questions pages.

Deadline for Fall Admission: Thursday, December 12, 2019
Resume Requirement: Yes
Writing Sample: Yes
Writing Sample Number of Pages: 15-20
GRE General: Yes
Degree Programs: Full Time
Letters of Recommendation: 3


We expect students applying to the MA/MPhil/PhD programs to have had a minimum of three years of the modern form of either Japanese, Chinese, or Korean.

If applying for Tibetan Studies, previous training in Tibetan language, classical and/or modern, is highly desirable, and training in Chinese language may strengthen an application as well, but applicants' language training and needs will be considered on a case-by-case basis.