Published annually, the Course Catalog sets out the requirements of the academic programs--the majors, minors, and concentrations. Each Bryn Mawr student must declare her major before the end of her sophomore year. Students may also declare a minor or a concentration, but neither is required for the A.B. degree. Students must comply with the requirements published in the Course Catalog at the time when they declare the major, minor and/or concentration.

The Course Catalog also sets out the College requirements. Students must comply with the College requirements published at the time they enter Bryn Mawr College.

For more information, visit the Catalog Homepage to view the current content. To view Catalogs from previous academic years, visit the Catalog Archives page.

East Asian Languages and Cultures (Bi-Co) 

Students of East Asia are inspired by an infinite number of formative encounters, be it with the elegance of a Japanese classic novel like the Tale of Genji or the controlled mayhem of a sumo match; the brashness of a K-pop tune or the intensity of a Korean tv drama; or the succulence of a Chinese meal or the delicacy of a Chinese landscape painting. Whatever it is that first attracts us, once hooked we are drawn into a world of singular cultural richness and historical depth, represented in a variety of languages all unified by the common use of that extraordinary means of communication, the Chinese script. And the deeper in we are drawn, the better we understand how closely the present ‘Rise of East Asia’ – a resurgence that is inexorably moving the demographic, economic, and even political center of gravity back from West to East – is inextricably bound up with the region’s history, culture, and languages. It is those three spheres – history, culture, and language – that we in the Bi-College Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures put at the forefront of our academic mission. Our goal is to couple rigorous language training to the study of East Asian, particularly Chinese and Japanese, culture and society. In addition to our intensive programs in Chinese and Japanese languages, departmental faculty offer courses in East Asian literature, religion, film, art and visual culture, and history.  The intellectual orientation of the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures is centered on primary textual and visual sources; that is, we focus on East Asia’s rich cultural traditions as a way to understand its present, through the study of a wide range of literary and historical texts (in translation and in the original), images, film, and scholarly books and articles. But we also provide a focal point, through the Asian Studies Minor, for students to approach Asia writ large through a variety of disciplines. Although the faculty of our Bi-College department is divided between Bryn Mawr and Haverford, the EALC program is fully integrated: we work as one to provide a complementary curriculum and careful and collaborative student guidance. 

Learning Goals

EALC has four learning goals:

  • Laying the foundations for proficiency in Japanese or Chinese language and culture.

  • Gaining broad knowledge of the East Asian cultural sphere across time and in its global context.

  • Becoming familiar with basic bibliographic skills and protocols and learning how to identify, evaluate, and interpret primary textual and visual sources.

  • Embarking on and completing a major independent research project that pulls together past coursework and demonstrates mastery of a particular aspect of East Asian culture.


Chinese Program

The Bi-Co Chinese Program offers five years of instruction in Mandarin Chinese.

  • First-year Chinese (CNSE 001-002) and Second-year Chinese (CNSE 003–004) both have master and drill sections.

  • First-year Chinese (CNSE 001–002) is a year-long course. Students must complete both semesters to receive credit.

  • We offer Advanced Chinese each semester with a different topic; students can take this as Fourth- or Fifth-year Chinese, with one credit per semester, and repeat the course as long as the topics differ.

  • We offer CNSE 007-008 for students with a background in Chinese, based on results of a placement test. Upon completion of this full-year sequence, students move on to Second-year Chinese.

Japanese Program

The Bi-Co Japanese Program offers five years of instruction in modern Japanese.

  • First-year Japanese (JNSE 001–002) and Second-year Japanese (JNSE 003-004), taught at Haverford, both meet six hours per week, including drill sections.

  • Third and Fourth-year (Advanced) Japanese (JNSE  101–102 and JNSE 201A/B) all meet at Haverford.

  • Advanced Japanese takes a different topic each term; students can take it any term as Fourth- or Fifth-year Japanese, with one credit per semester, and repeat the course with different topic headings.

  • The first-year and second-year courses in Japanese (JNSE 001–002 and 003–004, respectively) meet five days a week.

  • For the first-year courses, students must complete both semesters in order to obtain credit, whereas students earn credit for each semester for the second-year courses and above.

Major Requirements

I. Language requirement (2 credits)

EALC majors are required to have completed the third year level of either Chinese or Japanese by the time of graduation. We require EALC majors to take two semesters of either Chinese or Japanese on campus, at a level appropriate to their in-coming language abilities. Students who have already fulfilled this requirement as confirmed by the language placement test, may forego the two semesters of an East Asian language (they will still have to fulfill their College language requirement), and shall substitute two EALC courses approved by the major advisors. The University of Pennsylvania offers Korean language instruction, but it does not count towards the Bi-Co EALC major language requirement.

II. Three core courses (3 credits)
EALC majors must take THREE core courses from the following:

  • One 100-level course on China from among 110 (Introduction to Chinese Literature), 120 (Confucianizing China), or 131 (Chinese Civilization); and

  • One 100-level course on Japan: either 111 (Myth, Folklore, and Legend in Japan) or 132 (Japanese Civilization); and

  • EALC 200 (Methods and Approaches to East Asian Cultures).

  • EALC 200 is required of all EALC majors and is recommended for Asian Studies minors. We urge majors to take 200 in the spring of their JUNIOR year. Majors who plan to be abroad in spring term junior year must take EALC 200 spring term sophomore year.

  • EALC 200 is the designated departmental Writing Intensive course (30 pages of writing), which Bryn Mawr now requires of all departments.

Students must earn a grade of 2.0 or higher in each of these courses to continue in the major and be eligible to write a senior thesis.

III. Three departmental elective courses (3 credits)

Majors must take THREE additional non-language courses offered by members of the Bi-Co EALC Department.

  • One of these courses must be at the 300-level;

  • One of the 200-level electives may be fulfilled with an advanced topics course in Chinese or Japanese.

Majors cannot satisfy the departmental electives with courses outside the department, or by taking courses abroad.

IV. Two non-departmental courses related to global Asia (2 credits)

Majors must choose two non-Departmental electives at the 200 or 300 level that are related to their study of East Asia or the wider Asian world. These two courses may be in a department or program in the Quaker Consortium (Tri-Co plus Penn), or an approved study abroad program.

V. The Senior Thesis (1 credit)

In the capstone experience undertaken in the Fall term of the senior year, students employ their skills and undertake a scholarly investigation. The aim is to create and execute an extended research project centered on a primary written or visual “text” in Chinese or Japanese. The senior thesis brings together threads of conversations among scholars on the student’s chosen topic. The student combines language and research skills to think about and interpret the meanings of sources in context. At the end of the term, seniors present their findings to the faculty and other students in final oral presentations.

Minor Requirements

The EALC Department certifies three minors: Chinese language, Japanese language, and Asian Studies.

  • The Chinese language and Japanese language minors both require six language courses. Students must take at least four language courses in our Bi-Co programs, and can take at most two at the Quaker Consortium or our approved off-campus domestic or Study Abroad programs. (Please consult the language program directors for details.). Students must maintain a 3.0 or above for each of the six language courses for the minor.

  • The EALC Department hosts an interdisciplinary Asian Studies minor for students who are majoring in other fields but are interested in consolidating their study of Asia or its diasporas from a variety of perspectives. The minor requires six courses centrally concerned with Asia, at least one of which is at the 300 level. They may be drawn from any department in the Quaker Consortium. Each Spring there will be a convocation of graduating Asian Studies minors, each of whom will be expected to give a short presentation based on an Asia-related paper produced in the course of their studies. Those interested in minoring in Asian Studies should consult with the convener (currently Professor Smith at Haverford) no later than the Fall of their senior year.

Senior Project

Students majoring in EALC are required to take EALC 200 (Methods and Approaches to the Study of East Asia), ideally in the spring term of their junior year. This course serves to familiarize majors with our expectations regarding research and writing and criteria for evaluation. Students use the skills acquired in this course in the framing of their senior thesis. A main emphasis of this proseminar is the use of secondary sources to explicate and interpret primary sources, that is, engagement with existing scholarship on a text or artifact to put forward new ideas. Most students should emerge from the seminar in their junior year with a good idea of the sort of topic they will pursue for the senior thesis essay. The main purpose of the thesis is to use a body of secondary literature to situate, analyze, and interpret a primary source or set of primary sources.

The senior thesis is a one-term process that takes place in the fall semester. In EALC 398 (Thesis Seminar), students work closely with an adviser to establish a topic, perform bibliographic research, and write an essay of 30 to 40 pages. Students also present their work in a formal 20-minute talk at the close of the semester. While most majors will have settled on a topic and begun to do some research over the summer, all must commit to a topic approved by their adviser by the second week of the fall term. The order of required work leading up to the final submission of the thesis incremental and builds on itself. The weekly schedule for senior thesis work is available on the departmental website.

You will settle on a topic by the end of the second week and will submit various exercises such as a work schedule, a close reading of a piece of the primary source, annotated bibliography, literature survey, and so on.

We meet four times as a group over the course of the semester. Most of the term consists of individually scheduled meetings with the primary adviser. As explained below, the project and research are independent, but these nearly weekly meetings with the thesis adviser are absolutely essential. The seminar culminates in a public presentation of the student’s project; two bound copies and one electronic copy in PDF format are due at the end of the term. Careful planning and conscientious work during this semester are absolutely essential. A project of this scope requires independence, discipline, and steady, consistent effort. The incremental assignments outlined in the weekly schedule for senior thesis are designed to help enforce that discipline, but the student is ultimately responsible for the success of the final thesis. 

Senior Project Learning Goals

You will learn how to: frame, research, and write a worthwhile research project centered on a primary source and using an array of secondary sources. This involves surveying literature in the field, discerning an interesting topic, and presenting findings or results in writing and in a brief formal talk.

Four Goals of the EALC Senior Experience:

  • Independence
    You will devise your own thesis topic and are responsible for researching it. You will receive guidance from your adviser, from the department members leading your seminar, and from librarians. You will construct your own customized bibliographies appropriate to your topic. The research and writing process, while overseen by faculty, is clearly one that is largely independent in nature.

  • Connection to the Field
    This thesis is your way of joining the scholarly conversation about the text you have chosen. This means reviewing secondary literature in the relevant subfields and engaging it critically.  (Examples of these subfields might be areas of such scope as, for instance, “the history of the family in Song China” or “avant-garde art circles in 1960’s Tokyo.”)

  • Creative use of knowledge and skills acquired in the major
    You will draw on your previous study of East Asian languages and your coursework in specific areas to choose your topic and research and write your thesis. In part two above, we urge you to join a scholarly conversation, here we ask you to make explicit what you have been able to contribute to that conversation. These contributions often involve the reevaluation of earlier scholarship or the application of the existing theoretical insights of others to new source materials. Your contribution might also include the translation of significant portions of your primary source.

  • Sharing the work
    Seniors are required to orally present their work to their fellows and to the department in a panel format based on the academic conference model.  In these public presentations, you will take twenty minutes to introduce your topic, your methodological approach, selected aspects of your bibliography, and some of the particulars of your analysis of the text at hand. Each presentation will be very different from the next as it is uniquely your own. You are required to devise a slideshow with text and images to accompany your oral presentation. It is here that we are able to encourage and assess your ability to communicate the substance of your work to peers and mentors in a clear, concise, and engaging fashion. You will prepare both bound and electronic copies of your final draft and may choose to make the work available on the web. 

Senior Project Assessment

If all of the incremental tasks in the thesis project are done satisfactorily and submitted on time, the student should expect to reach a baseline grade of 3.0. Assuming that all assignments are successfully completed, thesis grades 3.3 and above will be awarded based on merit, with 3.7 being excellent and 4.0 being outstanding. The incremental assignments are there to guide students through the process of researching and writing a long, complex essay, and not to guarantee that students get an “A.” The grade for the semester will therefore be assessed both for the quality of final thesis and for the student’s ability to meet the deadlines, submitting satisfactory work along the way. Please note that successful completion of all incremental assignments is a minimum requirement for passing the class.

The thesis is the student’s chance to demonstrate the skills acquired in four years of college. We expect to see an original contribution to the discussion of a topic, not a mere reiteration of the opinions and findings of others. Students are expected to demonstrate that they have joined the scholarly conversation on a topic. Among other qualities, we are looking for five basic elements in evaluating the theses:

  • Ability to present an articulate and original argument.

  • Accuracy in the use of scholarly conventions of citation and documentation.

  • Clear and effective writing.

  • The critical use of sources.

  • Consultation of scholarship in Japanese or Chinese.

In order to assess the student’s performance in the senior thesis project, the three or four faculty members involved in the seminar gather in late December to discuss three aspects of the students’ work: 1) the quality of the thesis as a finished product (this is the foremost criterion for evaluation); 2) the ability of the student throughout the term to submit satisfactory work in a timely fashion while incorporating feedback from the faculty adviser and peer readers; 3) the content and performance of the final oral presentation. The faculty members typically spend between 30 to 40 minutes on each student in these conversations, so it is often extended into two meetings. During the conversations, the faculty members focus on details of the student’s thesis, including but not limited to: clarity of argument, quality of writing, accuracy of citation style, skill in use of secondary sources. (See supplemental materials for a fuller description.)

Requirements for Honors

The departmental faculty awards honors on the basis of superior performance in two areas: coursework in major-related courses (including language classes), and the senior thesis. The faculty requires a minimum 3.7 average in major-related coursework to consider a student for honors.

Study Abroad

The EALC Department strongly recommends that majors study abroad to maximize their language proficiency and cultural familiarity. We require formal approval by the study abroad adviser prior to the student’s travel. Without this approval, credit for courses taken abroad may not be accepted by EALC. If study abroad is not practical, students may consider attending certain intensive summer schools that EALC has approved. Students must work out these plans in concert with the department’s study abroad adviser and the student’s dean.

Language Placement Tests

The two language programs conduct placement tests for first-time students at all levels in the week before classes start in the fall semester.

  • To qualify for third-year language courses, students need to finish second-year courses with a score of 3.0 or above in all four areas of training: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

  • In the event that students do not meet the minimum grade at the conclusion of second-year language study, they must consult with the director of the respective language program and work out a summer study plan that may include taking summer courses or studying on their own under supervision.

  • Students must take a placement test before starting third-year language study in the fall.