Application and Admissions Information

Thank you for your interest in our programs. The Department of Asian Languages and Cultures (ALC) offers a graduate program in Asian Languages and Cultures, Chinese and Japanese.

Prior to submitting application and materials, applicants should carefully review the information regarding the program of interest and the faculty’ expertise to determine the fit between their interest and the program.  To this extent, prospective applicants may contact a specific faculty to discuss their research interest prior to submitting applications.

To apply to the Ph.D. program, you must either have already received your M.A. or expect to receive it before you enroll at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In any case, students with an M.A. from outside this department are required to pass a Ph.D. Qualifying Examination within one year of entering the program.

Applicants should also review the Graduate School’s admission processGraduate School’s minimum requirements, and program requirements and information (see below) prior to submitting the online application and fee. The application fee cannot be waived or refunded.


We accept applications for the fall term only.

In order to be considered for Fellowships, Project Assistantships, and Teaching Assistantships, all application materials must be in by January 10th.

If you do not need any funding support, you may submit applications by April 15th.

Application Process

New applicants to UW-Madison apply to programs through the Graduate School application process.  Complete the online Graduate application and select the Asian Languages and Cultures (major code 597) or Chinese (major code 171) or Japanese (major code 583) program.

If you are a currently enrolled UW-Madison graduate student and would like to add or change your current graduate program to one of the programs within our department, you do not need to fill out the online application. You will need to submit the following to the ALC Graduate Program Coordinator (1244 Van Hise):

  • ALC Departmental Application form
  • Grad School “Add/Change Program” form (click on link and look for form in the “Academic Forms” box);
  • Everything stated below except for 4, 5, and 7, which we will have access through the Graduate School once we receive your information

The applications from current UW-Madison graduate students will be reviewed every spring, together with new applications submitted.

Application Materials

Please upload documents in PDF format. All correspondence must be in English. Please note that if possible, it is best to upload all your documents at once. Once you submit your materials, you will not be able to upload additional materials, only edit the materials that you have already uploaded.

1.  Graduate School Application and Application Fee.  Our department only reviews completed applications submitted through the Graduate School online application process. The application fee is required and is non-refundable. If you previously applied in a prior academic year, you will need to resubmit your Graduate School application and pay the application fee again.

Included in the online application is the departmental supplemental application. Please indicate your degree option when filling out the supplemental application.

2.  Reasons for Graduate Study or Statement of Purpose.  While there is no required minimum or maximum word length, most applicants will write a personal statement of approximately 800-1000 words (3-4 double-spaced pages). Use your personal statement to address why you wish to pursue graduate study in Asian Languages and Cultures at UW-Madison, how your previous study and/or work experience prepares you for graduate study, and what you wish to gain as a scholar and/or practitioner from graduate study. Please upload (PDF document preferred) your statement of purpose to your online application.

3.  Letters of Recommendation. The department requires three letters of recommendation for each applicant. Letters should be written in English by people qualified to judge the applicant’s academic ability. There are no special forms for this. It will be your responsibility to contact recommenders and ask them to submit the letters online at the Graduate School application website. If you are applying for Teaching Assistantship, please make sure that at least one of your letters of recommendation for your graduate school application address your experience teaching. If none of the three recommendations address this aspect of your abilities, you may upload one additional letter of recommendation that speaks to your teaching experience.

4.  GRE Scores. GRE scores are required for admission to our programs. The Admissions Committee will accept GRE scores taken within the last five years.  Please request Educational Testing Service (ETS) send your test scores electronically to the Graduate School (Institution Code RA 1846).  There is no department code.

5.  English Proficiency Test Scores. Applicants with a native language other than English must follow the Graduate School’s guidelines for proof of English proficiency. Although a waiver may be granted for applicants who meet the Graduate School’s English proficiency requirement, please note that many fellowships and scholarships require English proficiency test scores. Please note that non-native English speakers applying to the Japanese Linguistics program are still required to submit English proficiency test scores even if the applicant meets the Graduate School guidelines for meeting the English proficiency requirement.

6.  Academic Writing Sample. If applying to a Ph.D. program, an academic writing sample, or MA thesis, should be uploaded to the Graduate School on-line application. You may submit a seminar paper, thesis chapter, or journal article. There is no required minimum or maximum length, but most applicants submit a writing ample of approximately 15-30 double-spaced pages. In addition, applicants to MA programs in Chinese Literature and Japanese Literature Programs are required to submit a writing sample (it is optional for Chinese Linguistics and Japanese Linguistics). This paper should be in English, and may either be published or unpublished. For those applying to the Ph.D. program in Chinese, a thesis in Chinese of exceptional quality may be accepted with the approval of the department.

7.  OfficiaTranscripts. U.S. transcripts should be requested and sent through the Graduate School online application system. International transcripts can be scanned and uploaded with your supplemental application. International academic records must be in the original language accompanied by an official English translation. Please check the Graduate School web site for requirements for specific information on academic records required from a specific country. Upon acceptance for admission, applicants will need to provide two official transcripts or academic records from each institution attended. Documents must be issued by the School with the official seal/stamp and an official signature.

8. CV or resume

9. Supplemental Materials. If you are applying for Teaching Assistantships in our language courses, you will be asked to submit the following additional materials, in the Supplemental App section:

  • Written autobiography (1-2 pages).  If you have any teaching experience (language or area studies), please discuss the experience as part of the autobiography.
  • Optional:  Please make sure that at least one of your letters of recommendation for your graduate school application addresses your experience teaching.  If none of the three recommendations address this aspect of your abilities, you may upload one additional letter of recommendation that speaks to your teaching experience.
  • Optional:  If you have a video recording of your teaching, please provide a link to a video such as YouTube or some other online space.

Admissions Decisions

After the deadline, the Admissions Committee will review the materials submitted online and begin the deliberation process. After the initial screening, applicants may be contacted via email to arrange interviews via phone or video conferencing software.  The deliberation process typically takes several weeks. While the department tries to communicate our decision as soon as possible, we thank you for your patience.