The major you choose can have a big impact on your career so it’s important to weigh your options carefully when deciding which major is right for you.
If you’re interested in pursuing a Japanese major, use this guide to find all of the information you need to know about the degree and where it can take you in the future.
What is a Japanese Major?
A Japanese major is a four-year degree that typically covers both the Japanese language and the culture of the country.
That means you can expect to learn how to read, write, and speak in Japanese while also studying grammar and linguistics and digging deeper into the history of the country. Japanese literature and media may play an important role in the course as well.
This degree is a good fit for students who want to work in Japan or in companies with close ties to the country.
What Classes Can You Expect to Take?
Through the course of a Japanese degree program, students will take core classes in language, linguistics, history, and culture. Then, students can choose a more specialized track with electives that take a closer look at Japan through the lens of anthropology, religion, political science, economics, and more. A Japanese major may also require an exchange program to live and work in the country for a few months before graduation.
What Job Opportunities Does a Japanese Major Provide?
Speaking Japanese can translate to a significant income boost in the US.
In fact, an article on Inverse reported that “If you know a language used in a powerful economy or one that’s involved in business innovation and you’ll likely be paid more.’ The same study found that those with Japanese language skills in America typically made around $95,000 per year. They also continued to state that “Those looking to make the most of their skills will find themselves in particularly high demand in Illinois.”
Graduating with a Japanese major and strong grasp of the language can qualify you to become a translator or interpreter, work in international business or with organizations like the US State Department or the United Nations, teach Japanese, and more.
Top Schools for Japanese Majors
A recent article from Universities.com ranked the best schools for Japanese language and literature majors in the US. The top five schools on the list are Stanford University in California, Washington University in St. Louis, Yale University in Connecticut, the University of California-Berkeley, and Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.
Meanwhile, the University of California-Los Angeles, Georgetown University in Washington D.C., the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, Tufts University in Boston, and Williams College in Massachusetts round out the top ten.
How Can You Prepare For a Japanese Major?
The best way to prepare for a Japanese major is by studying the language before you enter the college of your choice. Most programs don’t require any prior knowledge of Japanese before you start, but testing out of the beginner language classes can save both time and money over the course of the degree.
One way to study before you start the major is with Japanese tutoring sessions. You can also look into classes at a nearby language center or browse online course options. In addition, consuming media like books and movies in Japanese can help build a familiarity with the language.
Master’s and Doctorate Degrees in Japanese
After you complete an undergraduate course in Japanese, it’s possible to continue studying for a Master’s degree. A Master’s degree in Kapanese will typically take one to two years and will focus on improving language skills while also learning more about the country. Some universities in the US offer continued education through with PhD programs as well.
Is a Japanese Major Right for You?
Choosing the right major for you career will take a lot of thought and consideration. This guide will help you get on the right track and understand what job opportunities the degree will unlock, learn how to prepare for the program, see salary expectations, and more.
If you want to learn the Japanese language, are interested in the history and culture of the country, or dream of working in Japan or with major Japanese corporations, this major might just be for you!