Japanese Language and Literature Degree

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Japanese Language Degree

Japanese language and Literature is an interdisciplinary field of study focused on the history, culture, politics, and art of Japanese people.  The Japanese language is part of the Japonic language family which is related to the Austro-Tai language & is spoken by over 125 million people.  Accredited colleges and Japanese language schools around the U.S. offer Japanese degree programs.

Degrees in Japanese persist as a function of student interest, faculty support, and macroeconomic trends.  Students enrolled in a Japanese major will take classes focused on learning the culture through the lens of Japanese: religion, literature, history, social science, politics, humanities, art, sociology, athletics, environment, and culture.

Top Japanese Degrees

Students wanting to learn Japanese may have the ability to earn a degree via different technology platforms.  More specifically, a student may be able to earn part or all of a degree remotely via an online learning modality.  Exclusively online Japanese degree programs provide students with the ability to log-on and complete required coursework to fit their schedule depending on the teaching model.  Alternatively, you may be able to enroll in a hybrid learning program that blends online learning with classroom-based lectures to provide the best of both teaching modalities.

In addition to the learning modalities, you will have the opportunity to select your degree path of choice.  For example, students may be afforded the opportunity to earn an undergraduate degree such as an Associate’s of Arts (AA) or a Bachelor’s of Arts (BA) in Japanese literature.  Degree paths beyond the undergraduate level will depend on the school yet may include such degree options as the Master of Arts (MA) or Doctorate degree which is often listed in a course catalog as a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).

Each of the degree pathways will require students to take a specific set of classes associated with that degree level.  More specifically, a student enrolled in a PhD degree program will take upper-level classes that require knowledge building upon lower-level coursework found in bachelor degree programs and master degree tracks.  In addition to the core classes, graduate students will typically be required to complete a thesis or dissertation project intended to substantially add to the existing body of knowledge in the field.

Japanese Language Schools

Courses you may find in a Japanese Language and Literature program will not be exactly the same from school to school but will contain many similar classes and core coursework.  In fact, learning how to speak Japanese can be accomplished through different educational pedagogies.  Thus, the best way to speak Japanese is not a singular answer.  With that in mind, you can expect to find the following sets of classes in a Japanese degree program:

  • Introduction to Japan & Japanese Culture
  • Methods and Theories of Japanese Art
  • Urbanism in Japan
  • Japanese Alphabet & Japanese Words
  • Japanese Poetry
  • Social & Cultural Change
  • Economic Analysis
  • Modern Japan
  • English to Japanese Translation
  • The History of Japan
  • Japanese Grammar
  • Globalization & Economic Changes
  • Contemporary Japanese Literature & Language
  • Anthropological Studies in Japan
  • Japanese History & Cultural Studies
  • Japanese Music and Art

Japanese School Requirements

In terms of educational requirements, Japanese Language and Literature degree holders will have typically studied the following courses while in college:

Skills of a Japanese Translator

  1. Effective, Succinct Writing in Japanese
  2. Clarity of Speech with proper Inflection, Tonality, Cadence
  3. Proper Oral Expression & Mastery of Japanese Vocabulary
  4. Speaking Japanese in Small and Large Groups
  5. Instructing Others in Japanese Cultures & Communication
  6. Proficient Reading Comprehension
  7. Active Listening Skills
  8. Oral Comprehension in English and Japanese
  9. Speech Clarity and Recognition
  10. Comprehending the Japanese Written Word

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Employment Outlook for Japanese Majors

Students investing the time and energy to earn a degree in Japanese, will find a large number of career options exist.  Students can take a formal step into academia or work for private, study abroad organizations.  Likewise, you can leverage your major in Japanese to step into a variety of exciting careers.  Vocational paths for graduates from a Japanese language school can include any of the following examples: high school teacher, research analyst, middle school teacher, historian, postsecondary teacher, researcher specialist, historian, blogger, new analyst, or artist.

Job Growth for Japanese Translators

The job growth for Japanese language and literature majors looks bright for the foreseeable future.  National surveys performed by the United States Department of Labor and BLS reveal the expected growth rate of Japanese interpreters and Japanese translators to be exceptional.

Job growth for Japanese translators is set to swell some 18% in the coming decade.  This will create approximately 12,000 new jobs during this time providing vocational opportunities for graduate degree holders and undergraduate students.  The mean annual income for a Japanese translator is currently $51,790 with the top 10% earning just over $82,000 per year on average.  The bottom twenty-five percent of translators will earn over thirty-four thousand dollars per year on average.  Income will vary given factors such as city of residence, organization type, work experience, and job responsibilities.

Additional Resources in Japanese Language & Literature

Rich history of Japan affords teachers and students to earn a general degree or a specialized degree depending on an area of emphasis and the school’s course offerings.  You can learn more about international and domestic organizations by linking up with any of the following associations:

  • American Association of Teachers of Japanese (AATJ)
  • Japanese Language Education Association (JLEA)
  • Japan Association for Language Teaching (JALT)
  • Japanese Language Teacher’s Association (JLTA)

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Career Summary: Japanese language literature Major




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