Asian Languages and Cultures

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Undergraduate Major in Japanese

Students gather for a weekly Japanese language table held at Frank's Place on campus.
Students gather for a weekly Japanese language table held at Frank's Place on campus.

Welcome to the Japanese Program at UW-Madison!
The Japanese program offers students a range of courses and activities which impart an understanding of the culture and civilization of Japan. With the completion of the four basic years of the language, students will be prepared to handle various types of colloquial Japanese. Most of our majors pursue advanced studies in Japanese linguistics or literature, while others combine an interest in Japan with a degree in business, education, engineering or journalism.

We are proud to tell you that our program is considered one of the most comprehensive Japanese language programs in the US. That is because our introductory courses meet more frequently than comparable courses offered at other institutions and require more time for self-study. Although these courses may seem very challenging, if you keep up with the daily preview and review required for the courses, by the end of the semester, you will have attained considerable improvement in your Japanese language proficiency. Please review our Frequently Asked Questions for more information about courses and overall program.

Background Questionnaire
If you are a student with prior experience in Japanese (e.g., self-taught, learned in elementary, middle or high school, or learned from family, relatives or friends, etc.) please fill out this questionnaire in order to receive appropriate advising or guidance about placement into language classes at UW.

Placement Tests
The department requires that students who are new to our program take a placement test before enrolling in a language course beyond the first semester level. 

In order to evaluate your proficiency, a Japanese language faculty member will first converse in Japanese to assess your oral communication skills. Then they will ask you to read aloud some material that includes some kanji characters and answer some comprehension questions. Depending on the results of these first two phases, they may ask you to take a short exam and/or write a short composition. The whole process will take about an hour or less. Because this is a proficiency test, you do not have to do any special preparation. 

Japanese Major Degree Requirements
Please refer to degree requirements in the Guide.

Studying Abroad
Students are encouraged to explore opportunities to use the language outside of the classroom, especially in internships or study abroad programs. Credits earned while on an approved UW-Madison program may count towards the major requirements. 

Declaring the Major
If you have questions about our programs and are exploring your options; or you are ready to declare a major or certificate please make an appointment to meet with Rachel Weiss, Undergraduate Advisor:

Rachel Weiss
E-mail: rweiss@wisc.edu
Office: 1244 Van Hise Hall
Schedule: advising appointment!
Phone: (608) 890-0138