Honors Program in Asian Studies, Chinese Language and Culture, and  Japanese Language & Culture


The honors program in Asian Languages and Cultures Department gives students an opportunity to do advanced work in Asian Studies, Chinese Language & Culture, or Japanese Language & Culture and through this work to make an original contribution to the field. The honors program involves a year of intensive writing and research in which students work closely with a faculty affiliate of the department to write a thesis. Students may take up to six credits of independent work in order to write the thesis.

Students normally begin in the spring of their junior year by selecting an honors advisor in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures who will help develop an honors proposal.

The Honors Thesis

While honors theses in Asian Studies, Chinese Language & Culture,  and Japanese Language and Cultures vary, typically theses are focused on a single scholarly issue. They usually have an introduction and several sections. The introduction does three things: provides an explanation of the issue and discusses why the issue is important, states the original thesis to be defended, and states what the various sections are about. There is also typically a section that considers previous attempts to deal with the issue and reviews the relevant scholarly literature. Finally, of course, there is a section devoted to defending the main position or thesis. Most honors theses are between 40 and 50 pages in length.

The Oral Exam

When the honors thesis is completed, the student defends it at an oral examination conducted by the Honors Examination Committee. The committee will be made up of the advisor (a faculty affiliate of the Asian Languages & Cultures Department) and two other faculty, one of whom may be from another institution. At the conclusion of the oral examination, the committee may accept the thesis, reject the thesis or ask that the thesis be further revised and resubmitted.


Students who are declared majors or minors, have a grade point average of at least 3.3, who have four Asia-related, China-related, or Japan-related courses taken or in progress may apply for the honors program either in Asian Studies, Chinese Language and Culture, or Japanese Language and Culture.


If any of the dates listed below fall on a weekend, the deadline will be the following Monday.

May 1: The honors proposal is due (see form). The proposals should state the nature of the thesis, and the student’s background for pursuing the project. The proposal must be submitted to the department chair and the advisor and be approved by both. Forms are available from the chair of the Asian Languages and Cultures department. (December graduates should turn in their proposals December 1 of their junior year.)

October 1: A full thesis proposal and an annotated bibliography must be submitted to the advisor. The bibliography should be based on research done over the summer as well as any research done the previous spring. The names of students whose projects have been approved by the chair and advisor will be forwarded to the Dean of Academic Programs. (For December graduates, the due date is March 15.)

December 1: A report on the work completed for the honors thesis must be submitted to the advisor. The report should review the research that has been completed, update the annotated bibliography, and set out a timetable for completion of the honors thesis. In addition, the report should contain a draft of a chapter of the thesis. (For December graduates, the due date is September 1.)

January 31: The honors advisor submits to the chair the names of students who are approved to continue work on the honors thesis. By this date, the student and the advisor should agree on the members of the student’s Honors Examination Committee. (For December graduates, the due date is September 15.)

April 1: The completed thesis should be submitted to the members of the student’s Honors Examination Committee and a date for the oral examination will be set. (For December graduates, the due date is November 1.)

April 20: The Honors Advisor will inform the Dean of Academic Programs whether the student will be graduating with honors. (For December graduates, the due date is December 1.)

Honors Proposal form

Some Honors Papers Presented in The Last Ten Years:

Tareen, Sherali. (2005) The rhetoric of religious revival in 17th century India; a hermeneutical investigation into the life and writings of Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi (1564-1624).

Mangan, Ashley. (2013) Imagining Female tongzhi: The Social Significance of Female Same-sex Desire in Contemporary Chinese Literature”

Steininger, Brian. (2003) The Kokinshu era: Contending poetics in 10th century Japan.

Broughton, Roland. (2000) The shadow of the past in China’s foreign policy.

Kosinski, Eric. (2001) Determinants of the Japanese foreign-domestic price differentials.

Bernotas, Dave. (1999) Ownership structure and firm profitability in the Japanese Keiretsu.

Ku, Scott. (1999) Discrimination against foreigners in Japanese society.

Prainsack, Lea Anna. (1998) The “Comfort Women”: A study of cultural, political and legal issues.

Tamura, Elisha F. (1998) Pink plastic cups and cardboard boxes: a case study of San’ya, Japan.

Schlesinger, Heather. (1997) Rushing the doughnut hole: an examination of Japan’s commuter culture.