East Asian Studies

East Asian studies majors and faculty

East Asian Studies Department Website

Why Major in East Asian Studies at K?

Home to some of the world’s most ancient and complex cultures, East Asia is a powerful influencer of global trade, finance, and popular culture, as well as a region of significant geopolitical interest.

As an East Asian studies major, you will explore the culture, politics, and history of the region, with a special focus on China, Japan, and Korea. In addition to becoming proficient in either Chinese or Japanese, you will gain an extensive knowledge of the region, an appreciation for its cultures, and an understanding of modern global relations.  

You will complete courses in either Japanese or Chinese language as well as take East Asian culture classes taught in English, such as Urban China; China from the Borders; Occupiers and Occupied in Postwar East Asia; Japanese Sci-Fi; and Japanese Language and Society. The department also takes a deeply interdisciplinary approach to education, allowing students to fulfill some major requirements through select courses in the history, religion, theatre, and anthropology and sociology departments.  

As an East Asian studies major, you will also have the opportunity to study abroad—for six to nine months—in East Asia, with programs in China, Japan, and South Korea.  

While at K, you will be closely mentored by faculty in the department, who will help you plan out your studies to best match your personal and professional interests. This personal mentorship, along with the skills and cross-cultural expertise gained throughout the program, has prepared our graduates for successful careers in education, business, government, law, communications, and other fields.

Note: Students can only major in East Asian Studies; if they would prefer a minor, they can choose to study Chinese or Japanese—both of which are housed within the Department of East Asian Studies. However, due to the significant overlap in their programs, a student cannot major in East Asian Studies and minor in Chinese or Japanese.

What can you do with an East Asian Studies major?

Below are some of the careers, employers, and graduate schools of our East Asian studies alumni.


  • Teacher
  • Software Engineer
  • Policy Analyst
  • Grant Writer


  • Fulbright
  • Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme (JET)
  • United Nations
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Graduate Schools

  • Capital Normal University, Beijing
  • John Hopkins University
  • George Washington University
  • University of Michigan

Program Spotlights

Two K students teaching English at a Japanese elementary school

Immerse Yourself by Studying Abroad in Japan, China or South Korea

Experience first-hand the cultures you have been studying by taking advantage of the College’s study abroad programs across Japan, China and South Korea, with options to live in Tokyo, Kyoto, Nagasaki, or Hikone, Japan; Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, or Harbin, China; or Seoul, South Korea. During the one to three terms you are abroad, you will have the chance to attend a local university, travel across the region, and integrate yourself into the community for complete cultural and linguistic immersion. 

Celebrate the Lunar New Year

As you complete your East Asian Studies major, you will develop close relationships with the students with whom you advance through your courses and the professors who go out of their way to offer personalized mentorship. This camaraderie is exemplified by the department’s annual Lunar New Year celebration, where everyone comes together to usher in a year of happiness and prosperity through an evening filled with food, music and conversation.

four K students eating homemade onigiri
Poster for the Nagai Kafu Lecture

Take a Deep Dive into Japanese Studies at the Nagai Kafu Lecture 

Named after the esteemed Japanese author who briefly attended Kalamazoo College in the early nineteen hundreds, the Nagai Kafu Lecture is an annual celebration of Japanese studies with guest speakers coming to campus to share their scholarship. The lecture provides you the opportunity to learn about aspects of Japanese culture, history, and writing from the field’s leading scholars. In 2022 Dr. Christina Laffin from the University of British Columbia spoke about Japanese women’s poetry in the tenth and twelfth centuries.

Meet the Current Departmental Student Advisor

Indigo Corvidae

Indigo Corvidae(She/Her)

Major: East Asian Studies

Minors: Mathematics and Studio Art

What is the best thing about being part of this department?

The friends I’ve met and the way it changes the way I view the world.

What has been your favorite class at K? Why?

I think my favorite class has probably been Modern Japanese Literature in Translation with Dr. White. It was a fun class with unique engaging projects and the readings really opened my eyes to how much the way we view the world has changed over time and how drastically literature interacts with and affects changes in the world.

What experiential education opportunities have you participated in?

For me, the biggest one has probably been working at K’s library in the Archives and the Rare Book Room. I will also have an internship in Fall 2023. I also have worked in the leadership of Cirque du K and the Chinese Language and Culture Club.

What is your Senior Integrated Project (SIP)?

I am doing research on bookbinding and book history in East Asia. I will be hand binding several books and putting together an exhibit in the Rare Book Room based on my research.

What are your career aspirations/next steps after K?

I would love to go into bookbinding professionally. I’ll try to take opportunities towards that end for a few years while I figure out the best next steps afterward.

East Asian Studies Department News