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Top 12 East Asian Studies Programs for High School Students  

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

facade of a building bearing the name Toshiba with red letters

Top 12 East Asian Studies Programs for High School Students

High school students increasingly focus on the Far East, seeking programs that can comprehensively dive into the languages, cultures, histories, and contemporary dynamics of East Asian countries. Top East Asian studies programs for high school students are pathways to becoming global citizens equipped with knowledge and skills.

These programs stand out for their academic rigor and commitment to fostering a deep, nuanced understanding of the region. Whether through language immersion, cultural activities, or direct engagement with the region through study abroad opportunities, these programs offer a holistic educational experience that prepares students for a future in an increasingly interconnected world.

Top 12 East Asian Studies Programs for High School Students

1. Harvard Summer School Kyoto Program

  • Location: Kyoto, Japan
  • Estimated Cost: $10,350
  • Eligibility: High school students interested in East Asian religions and cultural history
  • Important Dates: Two-month summer program: June 7, 2024 to August 3, 2024.

The Harvard Summer School Kyoto Program stands out among the top East Asian studies programs for high school students. It offers an immersive educational experience in one of Japan’s most culturally rich cities.

japanese parasols

This program is designed to deepen students’ understanding of East Asian cultures, histories, and societies, focusing on Japan. Situated in the historical heart of Kyoto, the program leverages the city’s unique cultural heritage, from ancient temples to contemporary art scenes, providing students with an unparalleled opportunity to explore and learn.

Participants engage in rigorous academic coursework led by esteemed Harvard faculty, complemented by various field excursions that bring theoretical knowledge to life. These excursions range from visits to significant cultural and historical sites to interactions with local communities, fostering a profound connection with the material studied.

The program exemplifies Harvard’s commitment to providing high-quality, immersive educational experiences, making it a cornerstone for high school students seeking to explore East Asian studies at an advanced level.

2. Sophia University Summer Session in East Asian Studies

  • Location: Tokyo, Japan
  • Estimated Cost: Not specified; check the program website for details
  • Eligibility: Students worldwide with an interest in East Asian culture and society
  • Important Dates: Three-week academic program; specific dates not provided.

Sophia University’s Summer Session in East Asian Studies stands out as one of the top East Asian studies programs for high school students, offering a unique blend of rigorous academic study and cultural immersion.

This program, located in the heart of Tokyo, Japan, provides students from around the globe with the opportunity to delve into the complexities and diversities of East Asian cultures, societies, and languages.

Over three weeks, participants are engaged in a comprehensive curriculum that covers a wide array of subjects related to East Asia, from its historical foundations and economic development to contemporary social issues and international relations.

What sets this program apart is its academic rigor and commitment to providing students with a firsthand understanding of Japanese culture through excursions, cultural activities, and interaction with local students.

By offering a platform where high school students can enhance their knowledge, develop new perspectives, and forge international friendships, Sophia University’s Summer Session significantly contributes to nurturing the next generation’s interest and expertise in East Asia.

3. Asia Exchange Summer School Programs

  • Location: Multiple locations in East Asia, including Japan, China, Taiwan, and more
  • Estimated Cost: Varies by program; please visit the Asia Exchange website for detailed information
  • Eligibility: Open to students interested in experiencing East Asian cultures and societies
  • Important Dates: Varies by program; check the Asia Exchange website for specific dates.

The Asia Exchange Summer School Programs are highly recognized among the top East Asian studies programs for high school students, offering a remarkable opportunity to immerse themselves in East Asia’s rich cultures, languages, and academic studies.

A student smiling on a front of camera.

Through partnerships with esteemed universities across the region, these programs provide a wide-ranging curriculum that encompasses everything from language acquisition and cultural immersion to business and economics, tailored to provide a comprehensive understanding of East Asian societies.

Students participate in various courses that challenge their perspectives and expand their knowledge, all while gaining valuable international experience in countries such as Japan, China, South Korea, and Taiwan.

These summer school programs are a testament to the organization’s commitment to facilitating accessible, high-quality educational experiences abroad, making them a standout choice for students eager to explore East Asian studies.

4. Stanford Center for East Asian Studies Programs

  • Location: Stanford, CA, USA (with potential for online and overseas learning opportunities)
  • Estimated Cost: Not specified; check the CEAS website for details
  • Eligibility: High school students interested in East Asian studies, including Chinese studies
  • Important Dates: Various events and opportunities throughout the year; check the CEAS website for specifics.

The Stanford Center for East Asian Studies offers a range of programs recognized as some of the top East Asian studies programs for high school students. This prestigious institution is dedicated to providing profound insights and a comprehensive understanding of East Asia’s diverse cultures, histories, economies, and political systems.

Through its various educational initiatives, Stanford CEAS focuses on fostering a rich learning environment where high school students can gain a nuanced perspective on the complexities of East Asia.

The programs encourage critical thinking, cross-cultural communication, and a global outlook among participants. By integrating academic rigor with practical learning experiences, such as seminars led by distinguished faculty, workshops, and cultural activities, Stanford CEAS ensures that students are academically challenged and culturally engaged.

This holistic approach equips students with the knowledge and skills necessary to pursue further studies and careers related to East Asia, making the Center a pillar among institutions offering specialized education in the region for high school students.

5. Boston University Summer Programs

  • Location: Boston, MA, USA
  • Estimated Cost: Laboratory usage fee of $2,700 plus a non-refundable registration fee of $50
  • Eligibility: Students at least 16 years old with a GPA of 95/100 (3.8/4.0) and above 60% in standardized tests
  • Important Dates: Six-week summer program from July 5th to August 14th.

Boston University’s Summer Programs are prominent among the top East Asian studies programs for high school students. They deliver an exceptional educational experience that combines academic rigor and cultural immersion.

An Asian woman looking for her university

These programs cater to the intellectual curiosity and diverse interests of high school students who are passionate about delving into East Asian cultures, languages, and societies. Through a curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study, participants are invited to explore various topics, from historical events that have shaped the region to contemporary issues facing East Asian communities today.

What makes these programs particularly appealing is the opportunity for students to engage directly with Boston University’s esteemed faculty, who bring a wealth of knowledge and research expertise to the classroom.

By fostering an environment of inquiry and dialogue, Boston University’s Summer Programs aim to prepare students not only for academic success in East Asian studies but also for global citizenship in an increasingly interconnected world.

6. Harvard Summer School Programs for High School Students

  • Location: Cambridge, MA, USA
  • Estimated Cost: $5,550 + $75 application fee
  • Eligibility: High school students interested in a range of academic subjects, including East Asian studies
  • Important Dates: 4-week and 7-week programs are available.

Harvard Summer School Programs for High School Students are among the top East Asian studies programs for high school students. They offer an unparalleled opportunity to explore the complexities of East Asian languages, cultures, and societies within a rigorous academic setting.

This program stands out for its comprehensive approach, blending intensive language instruction with a broad exploration of East Asian historical, political, and socio-economic landscapes. High school students are allowed to learn from esteemed Harvard faculty and engage with diverse peers from around the globe, fostering a dynamic and enriching learning environment.

Participants can choose courses that cater to their specific interests and academic goals, whether beginners looking to lay a foundation in East Asian studies or advanced students seeking to deepen their knowledge.

Beyond the classroom, the program incorporates a series of cultural activities and field trips designed to enhance students’ understanding of East Asia through direct experience.

7. Johns Hopkins University Program in East Asian Studies

  • Location: Baltimore, MD, USA
  • Estimated Cost: Not specified; check the Johns Hopkins University website for details
  • Eligibility: Students interested in major or minor in East Asian Studies with opportunities for language and cultural immersion
  • Important Dates: Various events and seminars throughout the year; specific dates not provided.

The Johns Hopkins University Program in East Asian Studies is renowned for its comprehensive curriculum and dynamic approach to studying East Asia. It is one of the top East Asian studies programs for high school students interested in delving into the region’s complexities.

college student holding her books

Positioned within a globally recognized research university, this program leverages its vast resources and expert faculty to offer students an immersive educational experience that spans the historical, cultural, political, and economic dimensions of East Asian countries.

The program encourages students to develop a nuanced understanding of East Asia’s role in global affairs by integrating traditional academic learning with interactive workshops, seminars, and cultural exchanges.

The program’s commitment to fostering critical thinking, cross-cultural communication, and analytical skills among its participants underscores its status as a leader in providing high-quality education on East Asian studies to high school students.

8. University of Kansas – Teaching East Asia

  • Location: Various, including online resources
  • Estimated Cost: Varies by program
  • Eligibility: Primarily educators; some resources available for student use
  • Important Dates: Varies by workshop and program

The University of Kansas – Teaching East Asia program distinguishes itself as one of the top East Asian studies programs for high school students, offering an expansive view of the region’s dynamic cultures, languages, and historical contexts.

This initiative enhances educational frameworks by providing educators with comprehensive resources, workshops, and seminars to integrate East Asian studies into K-12 curricula. Through its focus on developing critical thinking, cultural understanding, and global awareness among students, the program supports educators in creating engaging learning experiences beyond conventional textbook education.

By prioritizing a multidimensional approach to teaching East Asia, the University of Kansas ensures that high school students receive a nuanced and in-depth exploration of East Asian societies, contributing significantly to preparing students for a globally interconnected world.

This program stands out for its dedication to fostering an academic community that appreciates the complexity and richness of East Asian histories and cultures. It is a pivotal resource for educators and students exploring East Asian studies.

9. Ohio State University – SPEAC: Summer Programs in East Asian Concentration

  • Location: Columbus, OH
  • Estimated Cost: Not specified; application materials for detailed costs can be obtained via contact email
  • Eligibility: Offers Intensive Language Study courses in Japanese for Level II and Level IV; Korean program offers summer Individualized Instruction courses – Distance Learning for various levels
  • Important Dates: June 3 – July 26, 2024, for Intensive Language Study

Ohio State University’s SPEAC: Summer Programs in East Asian Concentration distinctly places itself among the top East Asian studies programs for high school students, offering an intensive linguistic and cultural immersion experience.

A man reading his book

This program is meticulously designed to provide participants with an in-depth understanding of East Asian languages and cultures, mainly focusing on Chinese and Japanese. SPEAC stands out for its comprehensive approach, combining rigorous language instruction with cultural education and activities that enrich students’ learning experience beyond the conventional classroom setting.

The curriculum is tailored to foster language proficiency and a profound appreciation for East Asia’s cultural nuances and historical contexts. The program’s commitment to excellence and immersive learning environment make it an exceptional opportunity for high school students passionate about deepening their East Asian knowledge.

By participating in SPEAC, students are set on a path to global citizenship, equipped with the linguistic skills and cultural insights essential for navigating the complexities of our interconnected world.

10. University of Virginia – KCJS Semester and Summer Programs

  • Location: Kyoto, Japan
  • Estimated Cost: Not specified; check the program website for details
  • Eligibility: For the semester/year program, students must have completed two full years of college-level Japanese language instruction or equivalent. The summer program focuses on courses in classical Japanese and advanced modern Japanese.
  • Important Dates: Not specified for the summer program; check the website for updates.

The University of Virginia’s Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies (KCJS) Semester and Summer Programs are celebrated as some of the top East Asian programs for high school students looking to immerse themselves deeply in Japanese culture and language.

These programs offer a unique blend of intensive language instruction and cultural exploration in Kyoto, Japan’s ancient capital, renowned for its rich history and cultural heritage. Participants in the summer program can expect to delve into advanced studies of classical and modern Japanese Japanese, catering to students ready to push their language skills beyond the intermediate level.

The immersive experience is further enriched by organized excursions and cultural activities highlighting Kyoto’s significance and Japan’s broader cultural context. This blend of rigorous academic focus, cultural immersion, and the picturesque setting of Kyoto makes the KCJS programs an exceptional opportunity for high school students aiming to advance their understanding of the Japanese language and culture.

11. University of Virginia – UVA in Shanghai Summer Language Program

  • Location: Shanghai, China
  • Estimated Cost: Not specified; refer to the program’s webpage for further details
  • Eligibility: Students serious about studying the Chinese language in a total immersion environment aiming to cover a year’s worth of material
  • Important Dates: Not specified; refer to the program’s webpage for more information.

The University of Virginia’s UVA in Shanghai Summer Language Program is recognized as one of the top East Asian studies programs for high school students seeking an immersive learning experience in Chinese language and culture.

woman packing books for her dorms

Hosted in collaboration with East China Normal University, this program is designed to simulate a total immersion environment, enabling students to accelerate their Chinese language skills significantly over the summer.

Participants are plunged into a rigorous yet rewarding academic schedule that aims to cover an entire year’s worth of university-level Chinese language curriculum, granting them eight UVA credits upon completion.

This program stands out for its academic intensity and commitment to real-world application. It provides students ample opportunities to practice their language skills in daily interactions and cultural explorations in Shanghai, one of China’s most vibrant cities.

12. University of Virginia – Summer Language Institute

  • Location: Charlottesville, VA
  • Estimated Cost: Not specified; visit the program’s webpage for details
  • Eligibility: Beginning level program in Modern Standard Mandarin Chinese for students with no or little prior language experience
  • Important Dates: Not specified; visit the program’s webpage for more information.

The University of Virginia’s Summer Language Institute ranks among the top East Asian studies programs for high school students, particularly those interested in exploring East Asia’s linguistic and cultural fabric.

Such programs are specifically designed to offer an accelerated learning curve in languages like Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, or Korean, often enabling students to complete a year’s worth of university language instruction over a summer session.

The Summer Language Institute’s hallmark is its immersive learning experience, which combines intensive classroom instruction with cultural workshops, guest lectures, and potentially even local excursions. These activities aim to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the language and the rich cultural contexts from which it arises.

How to Find the Best East Asian Studies Program for You?

Discovering the best East Asian studies program requires a multifaceted approach, focusing on aligning the program’s offerings with your academic interests, career aspirations, and personal growth goals.

  1. Assess Program Recognition and Curriculum Quality. Start by exploring the top East Asian studies programs for high school students. Evaluate the curriculum’s scope, ensuring it comprehensively covers languages, cultures, histories, and current issues pertinent to East Asia.
  2. Look for Comprehensive Study Areas. Seek programs that provide a broad and in-depth study of East Asian languages, culture, history, and contemporary societal issues, offering a well-rounded educational experience.
  3. Evaluate Faculty Expertise. The quality of instruction is crucial. Research the faculty’s background and expertise in East Asian studies to ensure you’re learning from knowledgeable and experienced educators.
  4. Consider Cultural Immersion Opportunities. Programs that offer cultural immersion through activities, field trips, and study abroad options can significantly enhance your understanding and appreciation of East Asian cultures.
  5. Check for Advanced Learning Resources. Investigate whether the program offers access to advanced technology and resources that support interactive learning and deeper engagement with the material.
  6. Examine Alumni Outcomes. Look into the program’s alumni success stories and career paths to gauge its effectiveness and how it might open doors for your future.
  7. Seek Engagement with the Region. Programs that provide direct engagement opportunities with East Asian countries, such as study abroad experiences or partnerships with local institutions, can offer invaluable real-world insights.
  8. Connect with Current Students and Alumni. For a firsthand perspective on the program, contact current participants or alumni. Their experiences can shed light on the program’s strengths and how it supports student goals.

By following these steps, you’ll be better positioned to choose an East Asian studies program that aligns with your academic interests, career aspirations, and personal development goals, setting you on a rewarding educational journey in East Asian studies.

How Can High School Students Benefit from Top East Asian Studies Programs?

Enrolling in top East Asian studies programs can benefit high school students, as these programs equip students with a comprehensive understanding of East Asian cultures, languages, and societies.

Beginner Japanese language learner writing Hello word in Japanese kanji characters on a notebook close-up shot

Firstly, these programs enhance students’ global awareness and cultural sensitivity, which are crucial skills in today’s interconnected world. Students gain linguistic proficiency, cognitive flexibility, and a deeper appreciation for linguistic diversity by studying languages such as Mandarin, Japanese, or Korean.

Furthermore, exploring East Asian histories, literature, and contemporary issues fosters critical thinking and analytical skills. These programs often include experiential learning opportunities, from cultural workshops to study abroad experiences, which can profoundly impact personal development, self-confidence, and independence.

Participation in such rigorous academic environments also bolsters college applications, demonstrating a commitment to academic excellence and a readiness for the challenges of higher education.

What Opportunities Do Top East Asian Studies Programs Offer High School Students?

Top East Asian studies programs for high school students open many opportunities beyond conventional classroom learning.

  1. Language Immersion Courses for Fluency Mastery. Dive deep into language immersion classes, the backbone of mastering fluency and understanding the subtle nuances of languages such as Mandarin, Japanese, or Korean. These courses are crucial stepping stones towards achieving linguistic proficiency.
  2. Specialized Seminars and Workshops. Participate in specialized seminars and workshops that explore the intricate art, rich history, complex politics, and dynamic economics of East Asian countries. Such academic sessions provide a rounded perspective on the diverse and vibrant region.
  3. Cultural Immersion Activities. Engage in various cultural immersion activities, from martial arts to calligraphy and traditional cooking classes. These hands-on experiences are vital for fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of East Asian cultural practices.
  4. Interactions with Scholars and Experts. Benefit from interactions with scholars, experts, and students from East Asia. These meaningful exchanges are instrumental in developing international networks and gaining insights into the region’s academic and cultural landscapes.
  5. Internships and Volunteer Opportunities. Seek internships or volunteer positions with organizations focusing on East Asian affairs. Practical experiences like these are invaluable for applying your knowledge in real-world settings and enhancing your professional skills.

By engaging with these diverse opportunities offered by top East Asian studies programs for high school students, you can expand your educational horizons beyond traditional classroom boundaries. This multifaceted approach to learning not only prepares you academically but also enriches your personal growth and global outlook.

Conclusion

Top East Asian studies programs open doors to new languages and cultures and forge lasting connections across continents, preparing students for a lifetime of exploration and discovery. As students delve into the art, history, politics, and languages of East Asia, they build a foundation that not only enriches their high school experience but also sets the stage for future academic and professional pursuits.

The profound impact of these programs extends beyond the classroom, instilling in students a profound appreciation for cultural diversity and a passion for lifelong learning. In pursuing an education in East Asian studies, students are not just preparing for their future—they’re shaping the future of global understanding.

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