The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Graduate Studies

The Master of Arts degrees in East Asian Languages & Cultures at the University of Massachusetts Amherst prepares students for a variety of career options in both the public and private sectors. Among these, three popular paths prepare students for Ph.D. programs, language teaching, and translation and interpretation. As a destination for prospective Ph.D. students, we are unique among public institutions in that we offer classical, manuscript and modern language training in both Japanese and Chinese (giving us an Ivy League profile). To this, we add expertise in both modern and pre-modern literatures and cultures. Recent students have been accepted at high profile Ph.D. programs such as Harvard, Cornell, Stanford, Ohio State, and the University of British Columbia. A second cohort goes on to work as professional translators and interpreters. Given that China and Japan are the second and third largest economies in the world, there is continual demand for translators and interpreters, and we work to provide our students with translation opportunities that reflect the nature of the translation and interpreting work available. Our students have translated novels and short stories, and gone on to careers in translation and interpretation. We also have courses in Chinese and Japanese linguistics and pedagogy, and routinely place students in universities, colleges, and high schools to teach both Chinese and Japanese. Other students use the M.A. as a springboard to a wide range of other paths such as journalism, business, or government.

Degrees Offered

The program offers M.A.s in both Chinese and Japanese, and a teacher licensure program in Chinese.


The graduate faculty in the East Asian Languages & Cultures program is dedicated to both teaching and research, and believes that one informs the other, and that both are necessary to train graduate students in the skills required for the twenty-first century. In the past several years, our faculty has made several documentaries, and authored seven books and numerous articles in diverse fields such as Chinese and Japanese performance, Chinese linguistics, and Chinese and Japanese literature. One of our books was listed for the International Convention of Asian Scholars Book Prize. We are the recipients of Fulbright and Japan Society for the Promotion of Science fellowships, as well as the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature.

Studying in the Pioneer Valley

From the time when Dr. William S. Clark left his position as President of Massachusetts Agricultural College (present day University of Massachussetts Amherst) in 1876 to go to Japan and establish the Sapporo Agricultural College (present day Hokkaido University), the Amherst region and its colleges have had a special relationship with Asia. The current Five Colleges continue that relationship with vibrant Asian language and culture programs and outreach programs to the community.