Asian Studies (ASIAN)

The Asian studies major allows students to gain competence in either Chinese or Japanese language and the understanding of Asian societies through a selection of courses in language, linguistics, literature, economics, film, history, religion, art history, political science, sociology/anthropology, philosophy, and psychology as well as special interdisciplinary courses on Asia.

Watch a Departmental Video ➤

Typical First Year Schedule

  • WRIT 111 or REL 121 or Conversation Program
  • CHIN 111 or JAPAN 111*
  • GE/Elective
  • GE/Elective
  • GE/Elective
  • WRIT 111 or REL 121 or Conversation Program
  • CHIN 112 or JAPAN 112*
  • GE/Elective
  • GE/Elective
Additional Information

*Assumes that the individual has no prior experience in Chinese or Japanese; higher coursework can be taken based on the result so f the placement test or if prerequisites are met.

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.

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. (On “Class & lab schedule,” select “Asian Studies” and “all departments” to see the courses count Asian Studies in the fall of 2020. Currently, AS/RE 253: Hindusim, ASIAN 200: Arts of Korea, ASIAN 235: Modern Japanese literature, and PHIL 249: Asian philosphy are open.

  • 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 (or JPN) 231 or above [score of 4] or CHN (or JPN) 301 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 Chinese, Japanese, and 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!


Chair, Department of Asian Studies – Rika Ito (