Distinction in Asian Studies, Chinese, Japanese

Distinction is a formal academic honor that the Department of Asian Studies may vote to bestow upon seniors majoring in Asian Studies, Chinese or Japanese who have demonstrated high academic achievement and an ability to produce independently a work of the highest standard.  The Department of Asian Studies invites senior majors who seek a significant and satisfying experience as a capstone of their work in Asian Studies to apply for Distinction.



A candidate for distinction must have an overall grade point average of 3.6 and a 3.75 grade point average in Asian Studies, Chinese or Japanese courses per their major. The grade point average will be initially calculated based on work through the student’s junior year. Asian Studies, Chinese or Japanese courses include language and non-language courses taught by the Department of Asian Studies and courses related to Asia, China and Japan taught in other departments. Students eligible to apply for distinction will be notified by the chair of the Department of Asian Studies in the fall of their senior year. Candidacy for distinction will be allowed only if the above mentioned minimum grade averages are maintained through fall semester of the senior year.

Criteria for distinction portfolio

Candidates for distinction will assemble a portfolio representing their best work in their Asian Studies, Chinese or Japanese major.  The portfolio will normally consist of four papers or equivalent work in other formats:

  • A substantive Level III original work in any media, such as a scholarly paper, artistic endeavor, or musical composition
  • Two additional projects at Level II or Level III, each from a different discipline
  • Student work from language courses at the second year or higher level, or equivalent.  This work may be written or audiovisual, and need not necessarily be assigned work in a course (e.g., a blog in Chinese or Japanese based on experiences studying overseas or an edited photographic essay with commentary in the target language).
  • A reflective essay, approximately 1500 words,  on the student’s major, including thoughts on how the student has developed within the major, how the student’s study and experiences have shaped the student’s evolving understanding of Asia, and how the student may apply study of Asia to future plans, whether or not the career will involve Asia.  This essay will form the core of the student presentation if granted distinction (see below).


Students applying for distinction shall inform the chair of the Department of Asian Studies by November 10.  (December graduates should consult the Chair about relevant deadlines.)  Students will meet with the Distinction Committee to discuss the process.

The candidate shall submit their portfolio to the chair of the Department of Asian Studies by March 1.  The department’s Distinction Committee will make a recommendation to the Department of Asian Studies.  The department shall vote whether or not to award distinction no later than two weeks after spring break.  The chair of the department shall inform the candidate in writing of the department’s decision.

If approved for distinction, the student will present their work before Asian Studies students and faculty by the end of spring semester.

Click this link to see 2020 distinction recipients.