The Master's Degree

The Graduate Group in EALC administers a Masters of Arts degree in the East Asian Humanities. The degree is both an entry into higher-level graduate study and preparation for careers in teaching, administration, some professions, and the public and private sector. This degree is extremely valuable to students who plan to seek employment in East Asia. The program offers flexibility for students who desire to combine this degree with another Masters of Arts at Penn or who would like to pursue the degree on a part-time basis. The Masters in EALC focuses on humanistic disciplines such as literature, philosophy, religion, art, and archaeology of East Asia, and often the more rigorous language requirements such as classical Chinese or Japanese in addition to the modern languages.

Students who are able to pass the language examination (in either Chinese or Japanese) on admission and who are prepared to produce a research paper of superior quality in courses offered by the School of Arts and Sciences (SAS) may normally expect to receive their degrees in one year. Those unable to speak and read modern Chinese or Japanese must expect to spend more than one year (probably two, with summer work) in the program.

Applicants must present the results of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and demonstrate proficiency in written and spoken English at the graduate level. Foreign students must be fully prepared to understand lectures and write papers in acceptable English. For a non-native speaker of English, TOEFL scores should accompany applications. Since admission to the Masters program depends on the GRE and/or TOEFL scores, as well as a student’s grade point average and letters of recommendation, the prerequisite tests should be taken well in advance of application. Applicants may be accepted as part-time students but normally will not be eligible for fellowships in that status.

Requirements for the Masters of Arts in EALC

  • 8 c.u. of courses at the University of Pennsylvania at the 400 level or above on East Asian subject matter, including at least two seminars. For the MA in Chinese, no more than 4 c.u. may be taken from the following: Readings in Modern Chinese: Literature; Readings in Modern Chinese: Documents; Advanced Commercial Chinese. Familiarity with pre-modern Chinese or Japanese culture must be demonstrated by either courses completed or examination.
  • In addition to the 8 basic courses mentioned above, language skill in speaking and reading modern Chinese, Japanese or Korean equivalent to the third-year level of instruction at Penn is required. Proficiency may be demonstrated by coursework or examination, which may be taken upon entry to the program or at any time during it. Students who need elementary or intermediate language study may take it as part of the Masters program, but no courses in first or second year modern East Asian languages may be counted toward the Masters degree. Students who need these courses should expect to take them in the summer or to be enrolled in the program longer than students who enter with higher-levels of language skills.
  • An acceptable Masters thesis in which the student demonstrates the ability to do graduate-level research OR two research papers which can be independent work or papers written for classes taken and approved by the instructors.  The thesis must reflect familiarity with scholarly format (references and bibliography) and the use of Chinese, Japanese or Korean research tools. The thesis must be on a topic approved by a faculty advisor early in the semester preceding the one in which the student plans to graduate. It is standard for a Masters thesis to be more than 50 pages in length (20,000-25,000 words). In most cases, this length will be necessary to explicate or argue the subject fully. It is also standard for a student to spend a full semester on research, prior to beginning the writing of the Masters thesis. The completed thesis must be approved by the candidate's main faculty advisor and read by a second member of the Graduate Group in EALC.