Starting a major

Most students will begin with JPN 111. In the case of a student with prior experience studying Japanese, he or she should consult their Japanese placement recommendation. If they have not taken the online placement test, they should contact the Japanese Program Director or Asian Studies Department Chair.

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

  • Must: Students with no prior Japanese language experience must begin the Japanese major in the first semester of their first year. For those with prior language experience, they need to be aware that they cannot begin studying the language in the second semester because Japanese 231 [first semester second year] and Japanese 301 [first semester third year] are only offered in fall term. However, if they have been placed into Japanese 232 or 302, they can begin in second semester.
  • Should: Potential majors ideally should take at least one non-language course related to Japan or 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 or 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 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 JPN 231 or above [score of 4] or JPN 301 or above [score of 5].
  • Credit for transfer courses or other programs are done in consultation with the Registrar, the Japanese Program Director and the Asian Studies Department 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 Japanese Program Director, Professor Hiroe Akimoto (akimoto@stolaf.edu).

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.
  • Week One Information Sessions