Prospective Students


To be successful in today’s world, cultural readiness is essential. In the International Learning Community (ILC), located in Adams Hall, we consider the global perspective. In our pursuit to develop global leaders, we offer students a variety of opportunities from listening to international speakers and connecting with faculty from campus language departments to offering undergraduates a chance to qualify for a research award. Our global focus makes the ILC stand apart! Quench your curiosity for learning about other cultures and bring your enthusiasm to our inclusive community. And yes, learning about other cultures certainly involves eating lots of traditional meals. The ILC living experience is ideal for students studying foreign languages, students interested in world affairs, students in exchange programs, and students who are planning to study abroad, returning from study abroad, or are unable to go abroad during their college careers. Live in the ILC where you will enhance your cross-cultural understanding and your language proficiency by connecting with your neighbors. In addition to joining the general International Learning Community, students should also consider applying to live in one of the seven Language Immersion Houses within the ILC, including:

4th Floor of LaFollette House in Adams Residence Hall

The Japanese-language floor is an enthusiastic group who speak Japanese together, cook Japanese food, watch Japanese movies, and experiment with “living in Japanese” here in Madison. Living in Nihongo Hausu is a great way to get better at spoken Japanese and is an opportunity to live with people who share an interest in Japan. Faculty Director: Charo D’Etcheverry

4th Floors of Faville & Richardson Houses in Adams Residence Hall

Tiandi (literally “Chinese heaven-and-earth”) is a community of students devoted to learning Chinese language and culture and sharing them with the campus, the state of Wisconsin, and beyond. With the support of a Graduate Language Program Coordinator, Chinese language learners of all levels, including native speakers, will share in meals, cultural activities, film screenings, and casual conversation. 欢迎光临中文天地! Faculty Director: Rania Huntington

For more information, and application instructions, visit:


First-Year Interest Groups (FIGs) are clusters of (usually) three UW courses, linked together to explore a common theme, and offered to incoming freshmen who attend these classes together as a cohort.

A First-Year Interest Group (FIG) is a kind of academic learning community designed specifically for first year students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Each FIG is a unique cluster of UW courses, linked together to explore a common theme or topic. All FIGs are based on a small seminar and most FIG seminars are connected to two other courses. Each fall there are approximately 60 different FIGs available. Some are designed for specific groups of students (those in a certain major or college, for instance), while many are open to any interested student. When a student decides to take a FIG, they enroll in all of the linked courses as a set. Most FIGs are limited to only 20 students, and all of the students in each FIG enroll in all of the courses in the set—this forms the basis of their “cohort” or “interest group.” The purpose of the FIGs Program is to provide an interesting, intimate, and interdisciplinary experience that helps students make a successful academic and social transition to the university.

Learn more about the FIGs:


Prospective undergraduate students should apply to the University of Wisconsin through the online application. The Office of Admissions and Recruitment provides detailed information on the admissions process. If you are a Junior or Senior in high school we encourage you to visit UW-Madison and take a tour with Visit Bucky. If you would like to meet with the department advisor, meet with a current student, visit a language class, or talk to a professor, please contact the department at least two weeks prior to your visit to make arrangements.

You can view requirements for the Asian Languages & Cultures undergraduate programs on the UW Guide page. Each program in Guide also has a sample Four-Year Plan so that students can see how to fit the requirements in four years.

Many students in our programs are able to complete an additional major. With pre-planning and good communication with your advisors, students can be successful in more than one program at UW-Madison.

If you have specific questions about the academic programs in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, the undergraduate advisor is happy to meet with you. Please schedule a meeting via e-mail. Meetings will take place in room 1244 Van Hise Hall.


We require students with prior knowledge of the languages taught in our department to take a placement test before enrolling in a course (  All tests are administered by our department either on campus, or by Skype appointment. Contact Rachel Weiss for help with arrangements ( Pre-registration is required. For Summer 2020 all placement tests will be conducted remotely.

The Chinese Placement Test is a computer-based test and administered through Canvas and will evaluate students reading, writing, speaking and comprehension. Students have two hours to complete the test. Students will get an email following the review of their test to know what class they may enroll in at UW-Madison.

The Japanese Placement Test is a 30-min appointment with a faculty member one-on-one. Following the evaluation the faculty will discuss what class they may enroll in at UW-Madison.

The Korean Placement Test is a 1-hr appointment with a faculty member one-on-one. Following the evaluation the faculty will discuss what class they may enroll in at UW-Madison.

If you have studied any of the other languages we offer during the academic year (Filipino, Hindi, Hmong, Indonesian, Persian, Thai, Tibetan, Sanskrit, Urdu or Vietnamese) please email the undergraduate advisor for assistance with a language evaluation.


For the purposes of the department and placement into a language course, the scores from an AP exam are not indicative of what class you may start at UW-Madison. Curriculum from high school to high school, or other language exposure, varies so greatly, that is why an evaluation is the best way to make sure incoming students are placed into the best language class at UW: a class where they can be successful and challenged and yet not too hard (or too easy).


Beginning students are encouraged to explore the many languages we offer in the department. Students may enroll directly into all of the following classes:

Chinese – ASIALANG 101: First Semester Chinese
Heritage Chinese – ASIALANG 211: Heritage Chinese I (placement required contact Dr. Tianlu Zhang)
Filipino – ASIALANG 123: First Semester Filipino
– ASIALANG 133: First Semester Hindi
– ASIALANG 125: First Semester Hmong
– ASIALANG 127: First Semester Indonesian 
– ASIALANG 103: First Semester Japanese 
– ASIALANG 105: Elementary Korean I
Pashto – ASIALANG 121: First Semester Asian Language: Pashto 
– ASIALANG 137: First Semester Persian 
– ASIALANG 129: First Semester Thai 
– ASIALANG 135: First Semester Tibetan
Sanskrit – ASIALANG 133: First Semester Sanskrit
– ASIALANG 139: First Semester Urdu
– ASIALANG 131: First Semester Vietnamese


All of these courses would be a great exposure to the field of Asian Studies, and introduction to our faculty and topics:

ASIAN 100: Gateway to Asia: Revolutionary Asia (3 credits) Offers a comparative and interdisciplinary introduction to multiple cultures of Asia. The course will be taught by Professor Tyrell Haberkorn. Level/Breadth: E, H

ASIAN 120: The Art And Science Of Human Flourishing (3 credits) Explore perspectives related to human flourishing from the sciences and humanities; investigate themes such as transformation, resilience, compassion, diversity, gratitude, community; expand self-awareness, enhanced social connectivity, and ability to change; formulate a sense of what it means to lead a flourishing life that sustains meaningful and fulfilling engagement with studies, relationships, community, and career. This course will be taught by Professor John Dunne. Level/Breadth: E/H/Z

ASIAN 236: Asia Enchanted: Ghosts, Gods and Monsters (3 credits) Explores how different cultures in Asia conceive of and relate to the monstrous, ghostly, and divine, both in the past and in the contemporary world. These themes are approached from a range of different disciplinary perspectives, including religious studies, literature, anthropology, and history. The course will be taught by Professor Charo D’Etcheverry. Level/Breadth: E, H, Com B 

ASIAN 244: Introduction to Southeast Asia: Vietnam to the Philippines (4 credits) As an introduction to Southeast Asia, covers the ethnic, cultural, religious, and political histories of the region from the classical states period to the present, with an emphasis on colonialism, nationalism, decolonization, and the emergence of modern political and social systems into the 21st century, including an exposure to region’s contemporary literature. This course is taught by Dr. Mike Cullinane. Level/Breadth: E, H, Z

ASIAN 274: Religion in South Asia (3 credits) Introductory survey of Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Sikhism, etc., and an examination of the cultural, historical, ritual, and philosophical foundations of South Asian religion. This course is taught by Professor Anthony Cerulli. Level/Breadth: E, H


The Parent Program, a service provided by Visitor & Information Programs, helps you stay connected to campus and serves as your ongoing resource throughout your student’s college career.

Many parents wonder how a major in Asian Languages & Cultures, Chinese or Japanese will equip their child for a successful future. The knowledge and skills students gain with a liberal arts degree are valuable in the workplace, and they can prepare your child to succeed in a career that they are passionate about. Some of the great benefits of a strong liberal arts degree are learning how to communicate effectively, improving critical thinking skills, earning a well-rounded education, and gaining inter personal skills. Moreover, students graduating with one of our majors or certificates (“minor”) are also developing cross cultural competencies and proficiency in a critical need language. Language skills complement any subject matter and give graduates a competitive advantage across all job sectors.


Please contact Rachel Weiss(, undergraduate advisor, with any questions you may have about language or content courses; majors and certificates; or placement test registration. 


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