Exploring the Harvard East Asian Studies Program

June 29, 2023
By AdmissionSight

Exploring the Harvard East Asian Studies Program

Harvard University, known for its world-class higher education, offers an outstanding program in East Asian Studies that covers the history, culture, and language. In this article, we’ll dive deep into the Harvard East Asian Studies Program and explore its history, uniqueness, and contributions to the academic world.

Portrait of smiling asian male student sitting at desk in classroom at university,

History and Overview of the Harvard East Asian Studies Program

The Harvard East Asian Studies Program, founded in 1947, is one of the oldest and most prestigious programs in East Asian studies in the United States. The program offers undergraduate and graduate programs covering Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese studies and attracts a diverse student body worldwide. The Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences administers the program. It draws on the resources of various Harvard schools, such as the Harvard Law School, the Harvard Business School, and the Harvard Divinity School.

Over the years, the Harvard East Asian Studies Program has produced numerous scholars and experts in East Asian studies. Many of its alumni have become prominent figures in academia, government, and business. The program has also established partnerships with leading universities in East Asia, providing students with opportunities to study abroad and engage in research collaborations.

In recent years, the Harvard East Asian Studies Program has expanded its focus to include contemporary issues in East Asia, such as economic development, environmental sustainability, and social justice. The program has also embraced interdisciplinary approaches, collaborating with other Harvard departments and programs to explore the intersections between East Asian studies and fields such as history, literature, anthropology, and sociology.

What is Covered in Harvard’s East Asian Studies Program?

The Harvard East Asian Studies Program offers a comprehensive study of East Asia, including its history, culture, literature, politics, economics, and language. The program’s curriculum is designed to provide students with a broad understanding of the region’s complex societies and equip them with the skills necessary to navigate and understand today’s world. Students can take courses on Chinese art and antiquities, Japanese literature, Korean politics, Vietnamese society, etc.

In addition to the courses mentioned above, the East Asian Studies Program at Harvard also offers classes on the history of East Asian religions, including Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism. Students can explore the philosophical and spiritual traditions of the region and gain a deeper understanding of their impact on East Asian societies.

Furthermore, the program provides opportunities for students to study abroad in East Asia, allowing them to immerse themselves in the cultures they are studying and gain firsthand experience. Students can participate in language immersion programs, internships, and research projects while earning credit toward their degree.

Faculty Members and Expertise in the Program

The faculty members of the Harvard East Asian Studies Program are leading scholars in their respective fields and bring expertise and experience to the classroom. The program has over 40 full-time faculty members, visiting professors, emeritus professors, and affiliated scholars. The program’s faculty includes experts in Chinese intellectual history, Japanese literature, Korean politics, Vietnamese culture, and more. Students can work closely with these scholars and engage in rigorous academic discussions in and out of the classroom.

Many of the faculty members in the program have published widely acclaimed books and articles and received numerous awards and honors for their contributions to East Asian studies. They are also actively involved in research projects and collaborations with scholars from around the world, which allows them to bring the latest developments and insights to their teaching.

In addition to their academic credentials, the program’s faculty members are also dedicated mentors and advisors to their students. They guide and support students throughout their academic journey, from course selection to research projects and career planning. Many students have formed close relationships with their professors and have gone on to pursue successful careers in academia, government, business, and other fields.

Unique Opportunities Offered by the Program

The Harvard East Asian Studies Program offers several unique opportunities that set it apart from other East Asian studies programs. The program’s language-intensive courses and study abroad programs allow students to immerse themselves in East Asian cultures and languages. The program also offers various research opportunities, such as thesis writing and independent study projects, which allow students to delve deeper into their areas of interest. Other unique opportunities include internships with East Asian companies and organizations and extracurricular activities through student organizations and events, such as the annual Harvard East Asia Society Conference.

a male student and a female student shaking hands

Additionally, the program has a strong network of alumni who are leaders in various fields related to East Asia, including business, government, and academia. This network provides students with valuable connections and opportunities for mentorship and career development. The program also regularly invites guest speakers and hosts conferences and workshops, providing students access to leading scholars and experts in the field. Overall, the Harvard East Asian Studies Program offers a comprehensive and immersive educational experience that prepares students for a wide range of careers and opportunities related to East Asia.

Importance of East Asian Studies in Today’s World

Studying East Asia is increasingly important in today’s globalized world. East Asia is an economic powerhouse, containing some of the world’s fastest-growing and most competitive economies. East Asia also plays a crucial role in international relations, with countries like China, Japan, and Korea being increasingly influential and interconnected with other parts of the world. Studying East Asian cultures and languages can be value-adding for students’ future careers, and the Harvard East Asian Studies Program provides a robust foundation for pursuing such careers.

Moreover, East Asia has a rich history and cultural heritage that has influenced the world in various ways. East Asia has contributed significantly to the global cultural landscape, from ancient Chinese philosophy to Japanese art and literature. Studying East Asian history and culture can help students better understand the world and its diverse cultures. It can also foster cross-cultural communication and promote mutual understanding between different societies.

Life as an East Asian Studies Student at Harvard

Life as a student in the Harvard East Asian Studies Program is rigorous but rich and fulfilling. From language-intensive courses and seminars to extracurricular activities and events, students of the program experience a well-rounded academic life. The program’s faculty and staff are dedicated to providing a supportive and inclusive environment for all students, and the program has a strong sense of community, with students often forming lasting friendships and professional relationships with their peers and professors.

One of the unique aspects of the East Asian Studies Program at Harvard is the opportunity for students to study abroad in East Asia. The program offers a variety of study abroad programs in countries such as China, Japan, and South Korea, allowing students to immerse themselves in the language and culture they are studying. This firsthand experience enhances their language skills and provides a deeper understanding of the region’s history, politics, and society.

Additionally, the program offers a wide range of research opportunities for students. From working with faculty on research projects to conducting independent research, students can explore their interests and contribute to the field of East Asian Studies. The program also hosts an annual research symposium, where students can present their research to their peers and faculty members, providing valuable experience in presenting and communicating their ideas.

Career Opportunities for Graduates of the Program

Graduates of the Harvard East Asian Studies Program have a wide range of career opportunities available to them, from academia to business to government. Alumni of the program have gone on to become professors, business leaders, diplomats, journalists, and more. The program’s rigorous curriculum and challenging academic environment provide students with the skills and knowledge needed to excel in various careers. The program also offers strong career support through its various alumni networks and career counseling services.

3 MBA students talking to each other

One of the unique advantages of the Harvard East Asian Studies Program is its emphasis on language proficiency. Graduates of the program are not only well-versed in East Asia’s history, culture, and politics, but they are also proficient in one or more East Asian languages. This language proficiency opens up additional career opportunities in translation, interpretation, and international business.

Another benefit of the program is its emphasis on interdisciplinary studies. Students are encouraged to take courses in various fields, including history, literature, economics, and political science. This interdisciplinary approach prepares graduates for careers that require a broad range of skills and knowledge, such as international development, public policy, and cultural exchange programs.

Student and Alumni Success Stories from the Program

Many students and alumni of the Harvard East Asian Studies Program have gone on to achieve great success in their careers. One notable example is the former Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, who earned a degree in political science from the program in 1979. Other success stories include Margaret C. Pearson, who became a professor of Korean literature and film, and Wang Dan, a Chinese dissident and pro-democracy activist. These and many other alumni exemplify the success that the Harvard East Asian Studies Program can foster.

Funding and Scholarship Options for East Asian Studies Students at Harvard

The Harvard East Asian Studies Program offers various funding and scholarship options to support student’s academic pursuits. The program provides need-based and merit-based financial aid for undergraduate and graduate students. Additionally, the program offers research funding, language study awards, and travel grants for students conducting research or participating in study abroad programs. Numerous external funding opportunities are also available to students, such as Fulbright scholarships and foreign language and area studies fellowships.

One of the unique funding opportunities available to East Asian Studies students at Harvard is the Harvard-Yenching Institute Fellowship. This fellowship provides full tuition and living expenses for students pursuing a master’s degree in East Asian Studies. The program also offers language study and research opportunities in China, Japan, and Korea.

Furthermore, the East Asian Studies Program at Harvard has partnerships with various organizations and institutions in East Asia, which provide additional funding and scholarship opportunities for students. For example, the Korea Foundation offers scholarships for Korean language and culture students, while the Japan Foundation funds research and language study in Japan.

Collaborative Programs and Partnerships with Other Universities and Institutions

The Harvard East Asian Studies Program collaborates with various universities and institutions to provide students with additional resources and opportunities. The program partners with the Korea Institute at Harvard, the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, and the Asia Center at Harvard. These collaborations give students access to field experts and additional resources for research and study abroad programs.

Future of the Harvard East Asian Studies Program: Plans and Vision

The Harvard East Asian Studies Program is dedicated to expanding its programs and offerings to meet the needs of today’s ever-changing world. The program explores new areas, such as digital humanities and environmental studies, and broadens its curriculum to include additional languages and cultures. The program is also working to enhance its partnerships and collaborations with universities and institutions. The program’s future is bright, and it is committed to continuing to provide excellent education and opportunities for students interested in East Asia.

One of the key goals of the Harvard East Asian Studies Program is to increase its engagement with East Asian communities both locally and globally. The program seeks to establish partnerships with community organizations and businesses to provide students with opportunities to gain practical experience and develop cultural competency. Additionally, the program explores opportunities for students to study abroad in East Asia and participate in immersive language and cultural programs. By fostering these connections and experiences, the program aims to prepare students to become global citizens and leaders in their fields.

How to Apply to the Harvard East Asian Studies Program

If you are considering applying to the Harvard East Asian Studies Program, visit the program’s website for more information on the admissions process. The program has separate application procedures for undergraduate and graduate students. Prospective students are encouraged to contact the program’s admissions office for additional information and to schedule a visit to the campus.

a female student walking in a pathway

In conclusion, the Harvard East Asian Studies Program provides an excellent education in East Asian studies. Whether you are interested in the history, culture, language, or politics of East Asia, the program offers a diverse and rigorous curriculum. It provides unique opportunities to immerse yourself in the region’s culture and languages. The program’s commitment to excellence and innovation ensures that it remains at the forefront of East Asian studies education and provides students with the tools and skills they need to succeed in today’s world.

One of the unique aspects of the Harvard East Asian Studies Program is its emphasis on interdisciplinary studies. Students can take courses in various fields, including history, literature, anthropology, and political science, among others. This interdisciplinary approach allows students to comprehensively understand East Asia and its place in the world.

Additionally, the program offers several study-abroad opportunities in East Asia. These programs allow students to immerse themselves in the culture and language of the region and gain firsthand experience in their field of study. The program also offers funding opportunities for students to conduct research or participate in internships in East Asia, further enhancing their education and career prospects.



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