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University of Pittsburgh

Japanese: Overview

About 200 students study in the Japanese language program in a term. For the size of language faculty (seven full-time and several part-time instructors), we have a large number of students and majors (about 70). Despite a trend in the opposite direction at some schools, our enrollment has been growing. Along with this, we are attracting more high-caliber students.

How our program is run

The Japanese language program is offered in five proficiency levels and it offers appropriate courses for students to progress from beginning to advanced level. Fifth year Japanese is offered for those who have special needs in reading or speaking, such as graduate students with specific research requirements. Many of our students are double majors.

At the beginning of our curriculum, we have more emphasis on speaking. As you make progress in our program, you will be spending increasingly more time on how to read and write and how to integrate all language skills.

Class is divided into two components—lecture (fact class) and recitation (act class). In lecture class, you will learn about grammar, word usage, and culture. Recitation (act) classes are kept small (about a dozen or fewer students) so that you can practice using language in real and simulated situations with native speaker instructors.

In the first two years, class meets seven times a week, two for lecture and five for recitation. In third year Japanese, class meets five times a week, 1 1/2 for lecture and 3 1/2 for recitation. Fourth year Japanese meets four times a week.

If you have a question about our language program, contact Professor David Mills.

Evening courses on language

In order to meet your needs to learn the language and obtain a fundamental understanding of Japanese culture, we offer courses in these areas regularly.

The Japanese Language Program offers language courses in the evening that meet twice a week for a total of four hours. This is a great opportunity to learn the language if you are a non-traditional student who has obligations during the day. Traditional students who cannot take the day class for some reason may also find this program attractive. Since it meets less frequently than the daytime language program, the curriculum is set for a slower pace of progress. This option is less time intensive, but the same level of performance is expected.

Study abroad and internships

Currently we maintain direct exchange programs with Ritsumeikan and Kitakyushu Universities. We have also an institutional tie with Kobe University. We are a charter member of the Konan-Illinois Year-in-Japan Program to which qualified Pitt students are guaranteed admittance. Of course you can go to any good program in Japan and the credits you earned there usually transfer back without any trouble. For program details, contact Leslie Smedley at the Study Abroad Office.

Internships will give you a chance to apply your language skills and obtain job experience at the same time. Internships in the United States and in Japan, both paid and unpaid, are available. For more information about internships, contact Brenda Jordan at the Asian Studies Center.

For scholarship information, visit our scholarship page on this web site.

Major and minor requirement

To obtain a major in Japanese, you must complete six semesters of Japanese language (or equivalent), an additional course beyond the third year level, three courses from departmental courses in literature, drama, film, and linguistics, and three Japan-related courses in other departments.

To obtain a minor in Japanese, you need either (1) one year of Japanese language study and three from departmental courses in literature, drama, film, and linguistics; or (2) five departmental courses in literature, drama, film, and linguistics.

Students interested in a major or minor in our department should consult with Stephen Luft.

Certificate in Asian Studies

To obtain a certificate in Asian Studies, you need two years of an East Asian language, and four courses (12 credits) on Asia in at least two departments outside the major and one course (3 credits) on Asia in the major department. If the major department does not have options for an Asian focus (e.g., chemistry, English), the student must take an additional Asia-related course in a third department. For more information, contact Katherine Carlitz at the Asian Studies Center or read details about certificate programs.

Summer school through SEALS Japan

We offer three levels of 10-week (for first year and second year) or 8-week (for advanced) intensive Japanese courses. Each level is equivalent to one academic year of Japanese at Pitt. There are a number of tuition remission scholarships earmarked for summer language study. Contact Professor Mills for further details.

Scholarships and financial aid

We award arround five tuition remission scholarships for summer language students. We are also very happy to tell you that many of our study abroad students are funded through a grant administered by the Asian Studies Center. A good number of out students have won the Nationality Room Scholarships, ATJ’s Bridging Scholarships, JASSO scholarships, Pittsburgh Foundation Scholarship, and a number of others. For information on scholarships and financial aid, visit the Asian Studies Center or contact Paula Locante.

Advanced Placement

AP score 4 means you will get 3 credit hours for JPNSE1908 Independent Study. If you received an AP score 5, you will receive 5 credit hours for JPNSE1908 Independent Study. In all cases, you will be interviewed to determine which class is appropriate to continue the language study. Contact Professor David Mills for more information.

Life after EALL

Advanced skill in Japanese has long created a very favorable edge when looking for work. We have placed many students in various federal agencies and departments and private corporations. A sizeable number of students gets into the JET Program or other similar programs to further their language skills and to gain work experience in Japan. Some students also go on to pursue graduate degrees at Pitt and other institutions in such areas as computer science, medicine, law, linguistics, government, social sciences, and other humanities. The excellence of EALL’s undergraduate programs shows up in the success of its students.

Visit us

We welcome prospective students/parents to meet our faculty and learn more about our program. Contact:

Professor David Mills for the Japanese program

During summer months, not every faculty member is available for meeting new students. We will tr to make arrangements so that you can meet our faculty face to face, though, so give us a call.