MA – Japan Studies

The M.A. in Japan Studies  is an interdisciplinary program that provides coursework and research opportunities about Japan primarily through the social sciences and history.  The core curriculum is offered by Japan faculty in the Jackson School and is supplemented by Japanese language coursework and numerous elective courses in Political Science, History, Law, Business, Architecture, Literature, Linguistics, Art, and Art History. This opportunity for well-rounded study is enhanced by specialized training in areas of individual interest, allowing students to develop their academic skills and to pursue their professional goals.

The MAIS degree in Japan Studies gives students in-depth knowledge of many facets of Japan and familiarity with Japanese government, economies, history, and society. Coursework helps prepare students for careers in business, government, communications, secondary-school teaching, and a variety of other professional fields. The Japan Studies Master’s program is specifically designed for students with BAs who need language and interdisciplinary training on Japan to pursue their career goals, as well as for preparation for Ph.D. work in an academic discipline involving Japan for students who have had little or no training on Japan or in the language. The MAIS in Japan Studies may also be pursued concurrently with a Master of Business Administration or a Master of Public Affairs. Japan Studies MAIS students are encouraged to explore the QUAL Initiative to expand qualitative research design and methods in their graduate training.

Because of the crucial importance of language skills in understanding Japan, students in the Japan Studies program are strongly encouraged to study Japanese to as advanced a level as possible.

Variety and depth are added to regular coursework by Japan Colloquia and by occasional special symposia, where recent research findings and discussions of significant contemporary topics are presented by specialists from the United States, Japan and elsewhere. The program strives to offer students the opportunity to study all aspects of Japan—through the number and variety of courses offered, the research activities of faculty members, Japan Colloquia, and in the fact that the most important academic journal in the field, The Journal of Japanese Studies, is published here at the University of Washington. These contribute further to the intellectual environment of the program, giving students the benefit of learning about research done by scholars at the forefront of the Japan field.

The University of Washington has a long-standing commitment to the study of Japan, and its programs on East Asia are consistently ranked among the best in the nation. Japan-related curricula are offered in many of the University’s departments and professional schools. Similarly active programs focusing on other world regions make the University of Washington a rich environment for study and enable students to gain a comparative international perspective.

Marie Anchordoguy, GPC


A summary of the curriculum is provided below. A detailed description of the entire program curriculum, policies and procedures can be found in the Japan Studies handbook.

JSIS A 555 Introduction to Modern Japanese Studies (5 credits) Introduction to the study of Japan, analysis of primary and secondary materials, and writing.

1 modern Japanese history course (5 cr.) You can choose one of the following classes:

  • JSIS A 423 Origins of Modern Japan
  • JSIS A 424 Japan Since the Early 20th Century
  • JSIS 584 Special Topics: Modern Japanese History

42 elective credits You must take forty two additional credits to complete your degree.  Twenty-five of these credits must come from Core Courses (see Appendix A in handbook) and the remaining seventeen credits can come from either Core Courses or Electives (see Appendix B in handbook).

Capstone Research Project

You must complete either a long paper (35-50 pages not including notes, bibliography, etc.) or two papers (at least 20 pages each not including notes, bibliography, etc.) under the guidance of your Masters Supervisory Committee.

Comprehensive Oral Exam Your Masters Supervisory Committee will examine your capstone research project and conduct your oral exam during your graduation quarter.


Language proficiency is not required for admission.

Language study is an essential part of the program. Courses in Japanese language and literature are offered by the Department of Asian Languages and Literature (AL&L). Students must attain competency in the Japanese language through at least the second-year level. This competency may be demonstrated either by results from the UW proficiency test or through coursework.


M.A. in Japan Studies Handbook 2023-24

M.A. in Japan Studies Handbook 2022-23

M.A. in Japan Studies Handbook 2021-22


Applications must be submitted by January 31 for admittance to the autumn quarter cohort. We only accept students into the M.A. program during autumn quarter.

You can find information about the application requirements and process on our website.



The Jackson School houses 14 outreach centers. These centers provide opportunities for educators, students, and the community to learn about the world. Some of them have specific scholarship opportunities and other resources that may be useful. Here are those you might find particularly useful:



The Japanese collection at the UW’s Tateuchi East Asia Library consists of over 168,829 volumes, plus a large collection of audio visual material, periodicals, graphical materials, and e-resources such as online databases. The library continues to emphasize the acquisition of materials in traditional formats while at the same time expanding the acquisition of electronic resources and increasingly providing access to databases related to Japan Studies. Materials relating to Japan in English and other Western languages are located throughout the university library system. The Gallagher Law Library has one of the most extensive collections on East Asia Law in North America. Other specialized materials on Japan are found in the Engineering Library, the Foster Business Library, and the Art Library.