Undergraduate Studies in Japanese

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.

Our program is considered one of the most comprehensive Japanese language programs in the US. We offer a well-articulated sequence of courses from beginning to upper-intermediate levels and a variety of advanced courses that further enhance a specific area of proficiency. Although these courses may seem 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.

Japanese Professional Communication Certificate
Please refer to certificate requirements in the Guide.

As of summer 2019 the structure of our Japanese language courses will change in the following ways:

1) 1st through 4th Semester Japanese 8 hours / 6 credits –> 5 hours / 4 credits

2) 5th Semester Japanese –as is (no change)

3) 6th through 8th Semester Japanese

These courses will be replaced by advanced languages courses that emphasize specific skills and topics in order to meet the diverse student needs and to increase flexibility.

To be more specific, the department offers the following language courses that count towards Japanese Major and Japanese Professional Communication Certificate:

Summer 2019

  •             ASIALANG 203 Third Semester Japanese
  •             ASIALANG 204 Fourth Semester Japanese

Fall 2019

  •             ASIALANG 103 First Semester Japanese
  •             ASIALANG 203 Third Semester Japanese
  •             ASIALANG 303 Fifth Semester Japanese
  •             ASIALANG 376 Japanese Conversation (requisite course: ASIALANG 204)
  •             ASIALANG 450 Advanced Reading in Japanese II (requisite course: ASIALANG 304)

Spring 2020

  •             ASIALANG 104 Second Semester Japanese
  •             ASIALANG 204 Fourth Semester Japanese
  •             ASIALANG 377 Business Japanese (requisite course: ASIALANG 204)
  •             Tentative: ASIALANG 373 Advanced Reading in Japanese I (requisite course: ASIALANG 303)
  •             Tentative: ASIALANG 475 Advanced Topics in Asian Translation-Japanese

After 304 (6th Semester Japanese), if you were planning to take 7th and 8th Semester Japanese on campus in 2019-2020 to complete the major requirements, there are two options to fulfill the language portion of the requirements:

  • Following old requirements: take ASIALANG 450 and 475 and count them replacing 7th and 8th Semester Japanese
  • Following new requirements: choose 2 courses from ASIALANG376, 450, 373, 377, and 475.
  • Whether it would make sense to you to consider following the old or new requirements may depend of what literature, culture and/or linguistics courses you have taken. Please consult with the undergraduate advisor, Rachel Weiss, to make the decision most suitable for you.

If you are studying abroad after completing 6th Semester Japanese, you can transfer credits you earn from a Japanese university as 7th and 8th Semester Japanese to complete the old major requirements.

After 204 (or if you are planning to take 203-204 in summer 2019), you can take ASIALANG 303 5th Semester Japanese (required for Japanese major) and/or ASIALANG 376 (one of the advanced language elective) in fall 2019, followed by 373, 377 or 475 in spring 2020.

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.

Please refer to this Major Advising Page for Japanese majors.This information is geared towards helping students consider which study abroad program in Japan is a good fit.

Declaring the Major or Certificate
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 via Starfish.
Phone: (608) 890-0138

Other Certificate Programs

East Asian Studies Certificate in the Center for East Asian Studies.