Best Colleges in California to Major in Japanese

The Japanese culture is fascinating: the cuisine, anime, and many other aspects of it’s popular culture are known outside of Japan. Currently, Japan is the world’s second-largest economy making significant contributions to science and technology.

A major in Japanese is therefore useful, especially one that immerses the student into Japanese language and practices. California College Bound has established that a student who majors in Japanese will learn the three kinds of Japanese writing:

  • Kanji
  • Hiragana
  • Katakana

A variety of career opportunities exist for a student who graduates with a major in Japanese. Some graduates become foreign language teachers or translators. Others go on to work for multinational corporations that require Japanese speaking employees in their marketing or public relations departments. Often, to unlock the true potential of studying a foreign language it is important to double major in the target language along with a specialization where you can apply the language after graduation. With any foreign language, it is important that after graduation you use the language either for professional purposes or spend a considerable time in the target country. If you don’t use it, you will defiantly loose it!

So, where in California can you study a Japanese major? The following institutions offer comprehensive Japanese majors.

Major in Japanese at University of California, Davis

A Japanese major at the University of California, Davis is offered at the East Asia majors department. The foundation level of Japanese language program at the University of California, Davis offers three years of study. Successful completion of this coursework or an equivalent proficiency, enables students to qualify for any of the fourth-year Japanese language courses offered at the college.

Students at the University of California, Davis can also complete the equivalent of one year of study through the intensive program that is offered by the department during the summer session. Students who major in Japanese must complete:

  • A core language through their third year of Japanese studies
  • Upper-division Japanese literature, from ancient times to the modern

University of California, Davis features several extracurricular groups and clubs for students with an interest in Japanese:

  • A Facebook group for Japanese alumni, majors, and minors to get together and discuss Japanese language and culture.
  • Japanese Language and Culture Connection is a club that promotes an interest in Japanese language and culture. The organization uses movie nights, cultural workshops, and networking events with Japanese exchange students and guest speakers to strengthen Japanese language skills and cultural knowledge.
  • Kalwa hour: A weekly event where Japanese speaking students and exchange students get together for a chat.

Major in Japanese at Pomona College

A Japanese major at Pomona College is offered in the Asian languages and literature department. Courses offered in English are interdisciplinary in approach, introducing the historical, social philosophical, and political background of the Japanese culture. Three main resources are used to enhance the learning of Japanese.

  • The Foreign Language Resource Center features technology appliances and an extensive film collection.
  • The Pacific Basin Institute hosts an extensive audiovisual library and is mandated to organize and support Asia – related residence, lecturers and student
  • Oldenburg Center is Pomona colleges international residence which features a dining hall that hosts language tablets during the lunch hour.

All Japanese majors at Pomona College are required to participate in a study abroad program that is endorsed by the department. The Japanese majors have a choice between the International Christian University Program in Tokyo or the Associated Kyoto Program at Do Shisha University in Kyoto.

Major in Japanese at Occidental College

A Japanese major at Occidental College is intended for student’s primarily interested in Japanese language and literature. The major help students attain a high degree of fluency in Japanese and much of the coursework is done in Japanese.

A degree in Japanese features four courses:

  • Intermediate Japanese
  • An additional language course
  • One method or theory course
  • Three other Japan-related courses

A student who scores a GPA of 3.25 and a major GPA of 3.50 may hand in an honors research proposal at the end of the fall semester of their senior year. If two faculty advisors support the project, the student will enroll in a unit independent study in the spring to expand comprehensive senior paper into a distinguished 40-page paper.

Major in Japanese at Stanford University

Stanford University offers a Japanese major through the Bachelor of Arts in East Asian Studies. The major is aimed at students who wish to become fully proficient in Japanese. The major is a 5-unit track which utilizes the student’s four skills in daily instruction.

Stanford University also offers Master of Arts in Japanese. The M.A program is designed for students with high academic records and who have an interest in pursuing postgraduate research in Japanese literature, linguistics or cultural history.

The Department of East Asian languages and cultures offers Japanese study abroad programs in 12 cities around the world, including Beijing and Kyoto. Some of the alumni of Stanford University with a Japanese Major include:

  • Paul Stephen Atkins: Associate professor, University of Washington
  • Christopher Bolton; Associate Professor, Williams College
  • Julia Claire Bullock: Associate professor, Emory University
  • Chi-Ning Chang: Professor, University of California, Davis
  • Michael Foster: Professor, University of California, Davis


An excellent Japanese Major program should enable a student to learn the language well enough to read Japanese poetry in the original, Japanese language. The program should also feature masterpieces of Japanese literature from as early as 600.  The program should also offer a study abroad program.

So, where is this ideal Japanese major program to be found? California College Bound will lead you there. California College Bound will help you explore the California universities that offer a comprehensive Japanese Major program.

In fact: We will organize for you to visit the universities and pick the winning program that is the right fit for your career aspirations.

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