Ph.D. in Japanese

The Ph.D. program in Japanese is designed to prepare students for a doctoral degree in Japanese literature or cultural history.

Students should consult the most up-to-date version of the degree plan on the Stanford Bulletin as well as the EALC Graduate Handbook. Each student should meet with their faculty advisor at least once per quarter to discuss the degree requirements and their progress.

Applicants must have a minimum of three years of Japanese language study at Stanford or the equivalent to be considered for admission. On the way to advancing to Ph.D. candidacy, Ph.D. students must complete an M.A. thesis, or with the permission of their primary advisor, an extended seminar paper 25-30 pages in length (not including bibliography).

The majority of required course work for Ph.D. students demands the ability to read primary and secondary materials in Japanese. Advanced standing may be considered for students entering the Ph.D. program who have already completed an M.A. in Japanese literature or linguistics elsewhere only in cases when the level of prior course work and research is deemed equivalent to departmental requirements for the Ph.D. 

All courses must be taken for a letter grade. Prior to advancing to Terminal Graduate Registration (TGR) status, graduate students must complete all requirements except passing the University Oral Exam (i.e., dissertation defense), and submitting the final dissertation.

Please refer to the Stanford Bulletin for full details on Admission to Candidacy and other requirements.

Degree Requirements for the Ph.D. in Japanese

Admission to Candidacy

Candidacy is the most important University milestone on the way to the Ph.D. degree. Admission to candidacy rests both on the fulfillment of department requirements and on an assessment by department faculty that the student has the potential to successfully complete the Ph.D.

Following University policy (GAP 4.6.1), students are expected to complete the candidacy requirements by Spring Quarter of the second year of graduate study.

Pre-Candidacy Requirements

  1. Demonstrate proficiency in both modern and classical Japanese by completing the following courses, or by demonstrating an equivalent level or linguistic attainment by passing the appropriate certifying examinations:
    • Fourth-Year Japanese (take the entire sequence through to the following):
      • JAPANLNG 213 - Fourth-Year Japanese, Third Quarter (2-4 units)
    • Classical Japanese (take both of the following):
      • JAPAN 264 - Introduction to Premodern Japanese (3-5 units)
      • JAPAN 265 - Readings in Premodern Japanese (2-5 units)
  2. Proseminar sequence: Complete the following courses for a letter grade of 'B' or higher:
    • EALC 201 - Proseminar in East Asian Humanities I: Skills and Methodologies (3 units) - required for literature students, optional for linguistics students
    • EALC 202 - Proseminar in East Asian Humanities II: Current Scholarship (1 unit) - required for literature students, optional for linguistics students
    • JAPAN 279 - Research in Japanese Linguistics (3 units) - required for linguistics students in lieu of or in addition to EALC 201
  3. Additional course requirements:
    • Complete eight advisor-approved courses numbered above 200 from among the offerings of the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures. At least four of these eight courses must be advanced seminars numbered above 300. At least one of these eight courses must deal with Japanese linguistics. For students focusing on modern literature, at least two of these eight courses must deal with premodern material, and for students focusing on premodern literature, at least two of the eight courses must deal with modern material.
    • Complete two upper-division or graduate-level courses in two supporting fields, for a total of four courses outside of Japanese literature or linguistics. Supporting fields, to be determined in consultation with the student's primary advisor, may include Japanese anthropology, art, art history, history, philosophy, political science, religious studies, Chinese literature, Korean literature, comparative literature, etc.

  4. Qualifying paper
    • All Doctoral students must complete a qualifying paper. An M.A. thesis is accepted in lieu of qualifying paper for students who were initially admitted as an EALC M.A. student. An M.A. thesis is required of doctoral students who have been approved by the DGS to receive an M.A.
    • The qualifying paper or M.A. thesis must be submitted to the DGS by April 15 of Year 2 with an accompanying note from the seminar instructor (if different from the DGS) for the purpose of the candidacy review.
    • Students may complete a qualifying paper by enrolling in JAPAN 299 - Master's Thesis or Qualifying Paper (1-3 units).
    • Students have the option of enrolling in a two-quarter course sequence to produce a Master's Thesis or qualifying paper (25-30 pages) in the quarter immediately after taking a 200/300 level seminar, in which the second quarter course is devoted exclusively to research and write-up of the thesis or qualifying paper.
    • Students who plan to take JAPAN 299 as a continuation course will have their grade for the relevant seminar marked with an 'N' and then changed to a letter grade upon completion of the paper in the second quarter. Upon completion, the grades for both courses will be the same.

Post-Candidacy Requirements

  1. Demonstrate proficiency in at least one supporting language, to be chosen in consultation with the primary advisor according to the candidate’s specific research goals. For the second language, students must be proficient at the second-year level, at the minimum; a higher level of proficiency may be required depending on the advisor’s recommendation. Reading proficiency must be certified through a written examination or an appropriate amount of course work, to be determined on a case-by-case basis. When deemed necessary by the student's advisor(s), working knowledge of a third language may also be required. Reading proficiency must be certified through a written examination or an appropriate amount of course work, to be determined on a case-by-case basis. When deemed necessary by the student's advisor(s), working knowledge of a third language may also be required. Students concentrating in classical Japanese literature are normally expected to fulfill this requirement by completing kanbun, JAPAN 265 - Readings in Premodern Japanese (2-5 units).

  2. Demonstrate pedagogical proficiency by serving as a teaching assistant for a minimum of one quarter and taking DLCL 301 - The Learning and Teaching of Second Languages (3 units).

  3. At least 3 units of coursework must be taken with each of four Stanford faculty members.

  4. Pass a comprehensive qualifying examination that tests the candidate's breadth and depth in the primary field of research and methodological competence in the relevant discipline before advancing to Terminal Graduate Registration (TGR) status.

  5. Submit and pass a prospectus defense before advancing to Terminal Graduate Registration (TGR) status. Students should work with their primary advisor to identify a topic, and if necessary, additional exam committee members.

  6. Pass the University Oral Examination. General regulations governing the oral examination are found in Graduate Academic Policies and Procedures (GAP 4.7.1). The candidate is examined on questions related to the dissertation after acceptable parts of it have been completed in draft form.

  7. Submit a dissertation demonstrating ability to undertake original research based on primary and secondary materials in Japanese.

Qualifying Paper

Japanese Ph.D. students must complete a Qualifying Paper by Spring quarter of the second year as part of the Candidacy evaluation process. The Qualifying Paper should be 25-30 pages in length not including bibliography and must demonstrate the ability to develop and carry out an original research project using primary and secondary materials in Japanese. The Qualifying Paper can be an extension of a seminar paper, but its topic should be discussed with the student’s primary advisor prior to writing.

Dissertation Prospectus Defense

The Dissertation Prospectus Defense constitutes the first step toward faculty approval for the student’s proposed dissertation project and should be completed before the student begins to apply for external funding to conduct doctoral research in Japan – typically by Spring quarter of the third year, but sometimes in Spring or Summer quarter of the second year if the student’s research agenda is already well defined by that time. The defense is a two-hour oral exam conducted by the student’s dissertation reading committee (minimum of three faculty members, including the primary advisor). The prospectus, 12-15 pages not including bibliography, must be submitted to committee members at least two weeks prior to the defense.

Comprehensive Exam

The Comprehensive Exam is a two-hour oral exam on Japanese literature with three examiners. The reading list (maximum 150 titles) must be approved by them at least one quarter in advance. The list must include primary texts in Japanese literature as well as core texts in methodology; students may also add a subfield and a fourth examiner if deemed necessary by their primary advisor for their research and credentialing. To pass the exam students must demonstrate conversancy in literary history and critical issues for the field of Japanese literary studies, selected methodologies, and key issues in any subfield. The Comprehensive Exam must be completed by the end of the fourth year.