East Asian Studies

Japanese painting of people walking along a forest street by Hiroshige
Japanese painting of people walking along a forest street by Hiroshige

Welcome to the Department of East Asian Studies!

The Department of East Asian Studies is an interdisciplinary home for research and education about the societies and cultures of China, Korea and Japan, run by scholars working in the social sciences, humanities and fine arts. Our undergraduate program emphasizes giving students high levels of language proficiency in Chinese, Korean and Japanese language, while also giving them the cultural understanding to be effective professionals in a variety of business and government careers relating to Asia. At the graduate level, our MA program gives students intensive scholarly training in field-specific research methods, and has an excellent success rate placing them in top PhD programs in Canada and the United States.

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East Asian Studies Degree Program

East Asian Studies majors are able to choose from a wide array of fascinating and lucrative career paths, both in Asia and in Canada. East Asian nations occupy positions of critical importance to the world economy, international relations and cultural exchange. Therefore, employers understand the value of having employees with advanced language skills in Chinese, Japanese and Korean, as well as the cultural and historical knowledge necessary for effective engagement.

East Asian Studies Honors Degree Program

Our honors program is designed for students who want to go on to research Asia in graduate school. In addition to their coursework, students do a major research project in collaboration with one of our professors; this gives our honors students a unique opportunity to learn research skills and supercharge their graduate school applications.

Chinese Language

Like almost all university Chinese programs, we teach Mandarin, the standard dialect for business communication across China. In addition to being a critical language for business whose importance will only grow in the 21st century, Chinese is actually much easier than you think! There’s no conjugating verbs, no tenses or moods, not even singular and plural! Even the writing system is easier than it looks–and our award-winning teachers know exactly how to introduce it in a way that makes sense to Canadians.

Korean Language

Korea has its own amazing and distinct Asian culture for millennia – and until recently, almost no one outside the peninsula noticed. But now K-pop and K-drama have taken the world by storm, and Korean is one of the fastest growing world languages. In our program, we have designed our classes to encourage pop culture fans to learn Korean in a way that deepens their understanding of Korean society. We designed our own textbooks from the ground up to make the language as easy and fun as possible, and our instructors have been recognized by the South Korean government as among the best in the world.

Japanese Language

Year after year, Japanese is one of the most popular languages on campus – no matter how many classes we open, they always fill up. (We are guessing there are a lot of anime fans? But it’s not required!) If you want to register, be sure to jump on Bear Tracks as soon as the system opens!

Graduate Program - MA in East Asian Studies

The two-year master's thesis-based degree program in East Asian Studies aims at providing graduate students with advanced disciplinary training and a profound understanding of research methods in Asian cultures. Accommodating a diverse array of research interests in linguistics, literature, art history, religion and cultural studies, we maintain individual attention and direction for students.

Fall Term
MWF 10-10:50 A.M.

EASIA 101: Understanding East Asia

This course introduces the study of East Asian civilizations, considering phenomena from China, Korea, and Japan from ancient times to the present, and reflecting on our means of understanding them. Rather than attempting to provide a comprehensive overview of the histories of these regions, cultures, and states, the course employs a selective approach. After an introduction to the discipline and research methods of area studies, we will undertake a series of narrowly focused case studies of East Asian histories and cultures. Each case study will introduce analytical techniques and skills employed by scholars in East Asian Studies. No prerequisites.

Dr. Evan Nicoll-Johnson

Fall Term
TR 9:30 - 10:50 A.M.

EASIA 338: China’s Politics and Chinese Foreign Relations

From the last years of the Empire to the present day, the Chinese state has experienced a succession of dramatic shifts in regime orientation, and the major sectors of Chinese society have undergone a series of changes no less significant. This Level Three course focuses on the state and society in the People’s Republic of China. It will specifically consider two closely interrelated themes: how China’s state and society have evolved, and how they have interacted over the course of the 20th and 21st centuries. One of EASIA, or consent of the department.

Dr. Ye Xue

News + Events


93rd TOPIK (Test of Proficiency in Korean) on April 13, 2024

We are pleased to announce that the 93rd TOPIK (Test of Proficiency in Korean) will be held at the University of Alberta for all students interested in certifying their proficiency in the Korean language. 

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