East Asian Culture

East Asian studies, which typically encompass the countries of Japan, China and Korea, explore the histories and societies of these interconnected cultures. Read on for more information about what you could study in an East Asian cultural program and what you could do with your degree.

Is East Asian Culture for Me?

Overview of the Field

East Asian culture studies is an interdisciplinary field that explores the language, history, religions and social institutions of the countries comprising this region. Programs leading to bachelor's, master's or doctoral degrees in East Asian studies may focus on one topic across multiple East Asian cultures or go more deeply into the integrative factors of a single culture.

Career Options

As a graduate of an East Asian cultural studies program, you may pursue a career as an interpreter or translator. With an undergraduate degree and a teaching certificate, you might also find a job in a high school. Completion of a master's degree program might land you community college or part-time university work; however, you'll want to earn a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) to have the best job prospects and tenure opportunities.

In addition, advanced studies in East Asian culture might prepare you for a job in journalism, archival work or public policy. Combined studies in business and culture might also pave the way for a career in international business.

Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in May 2013, postsecondary teachers of area, ethnic and cultural studies earned a mean annual wage of $77,550. Translators and interpreters earned an average of $47,920 that same year (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Work in East Asian Culture?

Undergraduate Programs

Undergraduate East Asian cultural programs are interdisciplinary courses of study that include topics in art history, architecture, philosophy and political science. You might also have the chance to study Asian music, contemporary Chinese society, folk culture or theatre. At least two years of instruction in an East Asian language are also required, such as Chinese, Japanese or Korean.

Some schools offer study abroad options and the chance to immerse yourself in both the language and culture of the region. Upon graduation, you may choose to pursue studies in a different field, like business or law, or continue on to a graduate program in East Asian culture.

Graduate Programs

Master's degree programs usually require competency in at least one East Asian language. By the end of a Ph.D. program, you may be required to exhibit proficiency in French and German, in addition to multiple East Asian languages. Advanced-level coursework can include topics in cultural history, comparative studies, literary criticism and linguistics. You may also study Chinese technology and Japanese literature. Most master's degree programs culminate in a written thesis; be prepared to complete and defend a dissertation in order to earn your doctoral degree.

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