Asian Studies

Starting a major

  • Most students will begin their major in Asian Studies with either Chinese or Japanese language courses or subject area courses related to Asia such as those found within Asian Studies as well as within the departments of anthropology, art history, economics, history, literature, political science, and religion.
  • In the case of a student with prior experience studying Chinese or Japanese, he or she should consult their placement recommendation. If they have not taken the online placement test, they should contact the Asian Studies Department Chair.

Are there courses students MUST, SHOULD, CAN take their First Year?

  • Must: There are no courses that absolutely must be taken in the first year.
  • Should: Potential majors ideally should consider beginning the two years of required language work in their first year. If that is not possible, they should consider taking at least one non-language course related to Asia in their first year. Please see the department’s online list of approved available courses.
  • Can: Potential majors can enroll in both 100-level and 200-level non-language courses related to Asia as well as specific courses related to China and Japan. Please see the department’s online list of approved available courses.

Credit for previous coursework

  • One elective credit is given for a score of 4 or 5 on AP Chinese or Japanese, a score of 5-7 on IB, or an A on Cambridge A-Level. To fulfill the FOL requirement, students must successfully complete either CHN 231 or above [score of 4] or CHN 301 or above [score of 5].
  • Credit for transfer courses or other programs are done in consultation with the Registrar, the language Program Directors and the Asian Studies Dept Chair.


  • Students are encouraged to follow their language placement results provided by the department and found on the Student Information System (SIS).
  • Students needing placement help should contact the Asian Studies Dept Chair, Professor Rika Ito (

Informational Events

  • The Asian Studies Dept. hosts an informational event outlining Asian Studies and the study of Chinese and Japanese at St Olaf College in late September in conjunction with Confucius’ Birthday. An email invitation will be sent to all those who express interest or are in Asian Studies classes fall term. Email Laurel Brook (contact info below) to sign up for the “asia_interest” email alias to receive occasional emails from the department about fun and interesting events!
  • Week One Information Sessions