Courses & Requirements

The Department of Chinese and Japanese offers a major and a correlate sequence (minor) in both Chinese and Japanese. The department provides four years of language instruction in each of the languages and a wide range of literature and culture courses on poetry, fiction, drama, film, popular culture, and linguistics.

Students who are considering a major or double major in Chinese or Japanese are strongly urged to begin their language study in their first year, continuing with intermediate or advanced language courses in their sophomore and junior years. We also recommend taking Chinese-Japanese 120 as early as possible. Students who have taken Chinese or Japanese in high school or have grown up in a home where the language was spoken may take an Advanced Placement test to determine the appropriate level at which they should enroll.

The department administers the Vassar Summer Program in China and the Vassar Summer Program in Tokyo, Japan. The department also places students in strong Junior Year Abroad study programs. It organizes annual events such as Chinese and Japanese Culture Day, Chinese New Year Celebration, and Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival to enrich the students’ language and cultural experiences.

Process for Declaring a Major / Correlate in Chinese or Japanese

Students may declare a major or correlate offered by our department after the completion of their first year.

Contact a faculty member in the department about serving as your major/correlate advisor. If you have trouble finding a major/correlate advisor, contact the department chair for advice.

Meet with your new advisor to discuss the major/correlate requirements and to complete a Chinese /Japanese Major Study Plan Worksheet together with your new advisor. You can also find a copy of the form in the department office.

Submit your completed planning form to the department chair for review.

Next, complete the major declaration form, found on the Registrar’s website. Your advisor and the department chair will approve your declaration form after reviewing your plan.

Note that all Chinese or Japanese majors must complete a minimum total of 16 units outside the major field of concentration and at least 8 units of coursework outside the curricular division of the major field of concentration. AP or IB transfers cannot count towards this requirement but approved courses transferred in from another school can (e.g. courses taken during study abroad approved by the department).

Academic Requirements

Academic requirements and courses are available in the Vassar College Catalogue.


Correlate Sequences

Approved Courses


Chinese and Japanese Certification Programs

The Chinese and Japanese Department, jointly with the Department of Education, offers programs leading to the New York State Initial Adolescent Education Certificate (grades 7–12) in both Chinese and Japanese. Students who choose to obtain the credential must major in Chinese or Japanese and complete 9.5 units in education. Upon successful completion of the program, candidates will be eligible to teach in any secondary school in New York, as well as many other states that have signed reciprocity agreements with the State of New York.

Study Away

The department encourages students to attend approved summer language programs such as the Chinese program at Qingdao University in China, Princeton in Ishikawa, and Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies in Japan. Students can study the language, experience Chinese and Japanese culture, and tour the country for Vassar credits by enrolling in some of these programs. The department also supports and recommends students to Junior Year Abroad programs in China and Japan. For Vassar’s exchange schools, please visit the Office of International Programs.