East Asian Studies minor / Program Certificate

AY 2023-24 will be the last year that the East Asian Studies Program offers the Program Certificate.  From AY 2024-25, the East Asian Studies minor will replace the Program Certificate. If you have any questions about the requirements outlined below, please write to Program Coordinator Chao-Hui Jenny Liu at [email protected].

Minor/Certificate Requirements

  1. Two years of study in Chinese, Japanese, or Korean - four courses, at least two of which must be at the second-year level or higher.
  2. Three East Asia content courses, one of them a 200-level course.
  3. Written work, which may be a senior thesis, a junior paper, or an independent research paper with an East Asian topical component.  The standard way to meet the requirement for independent work is by writing a senior thesis on an East Asian topic. "East Asian Topic" means the thesis is more than half about East Asia. The use of East Asian language sources - Chinese, Japanese, or Korean - is strongly recommended. They can be either primary or secondary sources, and can be written, or, if appropriate, oral. While the work does not have to be based entirely on such sources, their use must not be trivial, i.e., it must be shown that something important was learned from the Asian language sources that reach beyond the insights gained from English language materials. Only senior theses using a significant amount of East Asian language sources will be considered for the Leigh Buchanan Bienen and Henry S. Bienen Senior Thesis Prize awarded by the program.

If students cannot write a senior thesis meeting these criteriaeither a junior paper or an independent research paper can be substituted, assuming the criteria for an East Asian topic and East Asian language sources, as stated above, are met. The paper will need to be a substantial research paper. That is, it must report the results of an independent investigation of a scholarly question. Essays, book reports, and papers submitted to satisfy course requirements are not acceptable. A length of about 20 pages or more is expected. The Program Director must approve of the proposed substitution. 

Students can obtain an application from the Program Office in 219 Frist Campus Center or download the application form. This application may be turned in any time before the deadline in the spring of senior year. However, applying earlier, ideally by the end of the spring term of junior year, will allow the Program Coordinator to notify students of their progress and any deadlines. 

Final Submission

Students must turn in by email to [email protected] by April 30, 2024:

  1. their application form,
  2. their most recent transcript, detailing the courses being applied toward the certificate,
  3. a copy of their written work, as outlined above.

Applications will then be reviewed and candidates notified regarding their certification by mid-to-late May. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Choice of Applicable Courses
Any departmental course and cognate course in related departments listed under “East Asian Studies” in the Undergraduate Announcement can be applied to the certificate. Any other courses, including courses taken abroad or courses that are not cross-listed, will have to be approved by the Program Director.

Earning both Program and Language & Culture Certificates
Students seeking to earn the Program in East Asian Studies minor may also earn a Chinese, Japanese, or Korean minor, but may not double count course credits and independent work towards both minors.

Independent Paper
Students pursuing a major that prevents writing a long paper on an East Asian topic, but who would like to pursue the certificate, have the option of writing a paper independent of a course. He or she would need to find a faculty member in the East Asian Studies Department to advise the writing of the paper, or to consult with the Program Director on their outline. Students should be aware that they will not be awarded credit through the University for this independent work; it will count only in terms of attainment of the East Asian Studies minor.

Is It Necessary to Take a 200-Level Content Course?
Yes. The 200-level course is a “gateway” that provides a solid framework of East Asian Studies upon which you can build.

Summer Language Courses / Courses Taken Abroad
Candidates should get pre-approval from the Program Director for language or content courses taken over the summer or during a semester abroad to be certain that they will count toward the attainment of the minor. Up to two courses of the seven required courses may be non-Princeton University courses. This does not apply to language courses taken with Princeton in Beijing (PIB) or Princeton in Ishikawa (PII). PIB and PII can each be considered as the equivalent of one year of language classes toward the Program Certificate.

Heritage/Advanced Speakers and Course Requirements
Students with advanced language ability who are pursuing the East Asian Studies minor and placed into advanced language courses can meet the minor course requirement by taking content courses to replace the beginning-level language courses.  In individual cases, it is possible to fulfill the course requirements with seven content courses, assuming proficiency, both oral and written, in the selected language is proven. Please consult with the Program coordinator on how to achieve this. If a second language is studied, two semesters of that language are a minimum requirement.

Heritage/Advanced Speakers and Written Work
It is acceptable, for instance, if an advanced speaker of Chinese studies Korean or Japanese to fulfill the minor language requirements, but chooses to write a thesis concerning China and using Chinese language sources.

Advanced Language Courses Can Count as either a Language or Content Course.

The list of language courses that can count either as a Language or Content Course is here.


Normally, candidates may take only one-course P/D/F toward Certificate requirements. In light of the shifting of classes online occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, there are no limits on courses taken P/D/F for courses during Spring 2020, Fall 2020, and Spring 2021. P/D/F grades from courses taken during these semesters will also count toward Certificate requirements.

** The East Asian Studies Department Certificate (Chinese, Japanese, and Korean) is administered by the East Asian Studies Department Undergraduate Administrator. See https://eas.princeton.edu/undergraduate/language-minors.