Degree Requirements

1. Course Requirements: minimum 15 credits, as follows:

Regardless of geographic area or discipline, all PhD students in Asian Studies are required to take at least one course in each of the following four categories before proceeding to prepare for their Comprehensive Exams (“Comps”):

  1. Asia 570A 001, usually taken in your first year. There are several other Asia 570 courses, but 570A 001 is the only one that can fulfill this requirement.
  2. ASIA 570B 001, usually taken in your first year, in the second term (following ASIA 570A 001). This is a professional development course. Students must complete this course for credit before proceeding to comps, but may—and are encouraged to—come back and audit it again in the final years of the PhD program, to polish professional development skills and job search portfolio.
  3. A pan-Asia theory course within the department. A list of eligible courses can be found on the Department website. Other courses may be offered that meet the requirement in certain years.
  4. A region-specific theory/methodology course within the department, such as Asia 581A (Research Methods and Source Materials in Korean Studies); Asia 501 (Research Methods and Source Materials in Classical Chinese Studies); or Asia 590 (Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion), etc. These courses are not offered every year for every region, so please plan ahead.
  5. A theory/methodology course outside the department, usually in the student’s discipline, such as HIST 560 (Readings in Chinese History), ENGL 533A (Studies in Literary Theory), and a host of others. Please consult the Graduate Secretary or Graduate Advisor if you are unsure whether a particular courses qualifies.

Additional courses from these categories taken after the initial requirement has been fulfilled will still count toward the degree.

As soon as you have been accepted into the Asian Studies PhD program and have your UBC student number you should register for Asia 699 (thesis courses, both terms) on the Student Service Site (SSC).

Incoming students should meet as soon as possible with their supervisor to discuss PhD language requirements (see below), when/how other PhD requirements will be fulfilled, and the coursework necessary for the student’s specific research area and topic.

Students who entered the program in 2015-16 or earlier are required to take five content courses (i.e., courses other than language courses) for credit in their first year (within twelve months of entering the program, normally September to August).

Students entering the program in 2016-17 and subsequent years are required to take eight courses each year in their first two years (within 24 months of entering the program). At least five of these must be content courses (i.e., courses other than language courses). We encourage students to take language courses as an auditor, but content courses should be taken for credit. (A maximum of one content course taken as an auditor can be counted toward this total.)

Exceptions to the above requirements may be made for students with extraordinary circumstances, such as family commitments, extra language requirements, etc. Please consult the Graduate Advisor if you have questions.

Note on eligible content courses

Undergraduate courses at the 300 and 400 levels may be taken for PhD credit (up to a limit of 6 credits), and non-language courses may be included among your five required content courses. 100- and 200-level courses may not be counted for PhD credit.

Some upper division undergraduate courses can, with the permission of the instructor, be taken as 500 level courses if the student agrees to do extra work. If you have already received permission from your instructor to convert an undergraduate course to a graduate number (500 level), please consult the Graduate Secretary about how to register.

You are required to get your supervisor’s approval of the courses you sign up for each term, so discuss your plans with him/her early. By the beginning of each term, your supervisor should send an email to the Graduate Program Assistant and Graduate Advisor indicating their approval of your course list.

For incoming students, once the language requirements and coursework plan are settled, the student should send an email reporting the decisions to the Graduate Advisor and the Graduate Program Assistant. This information is important in helping us keep track of your graduate progress, so it is vital that you send it to us as soon as the decisions are made and update it if there are changes.

An Orientation session in early September may answer most of your questions, but feel free to consult the Graduate Advisor and/or the Graduate Program Assistant at any time for advice, clarification or more information.

2. Language Requirements:

All PhD candidates will be required to have a reading knowledge of a language relevant to their research, in addition to English, and the language of their primary Asian research materials. In effect, this means: English + primary target language + secondary research language (+ optional additional European research language) Passing of language requirement(s) is a precondition for taking comps. Language requirements details vary according to the field and supervisor. The supervisor will determine which language(s) is/are necessary for student’s research program, and the level of ability student needs to reach to fulfill that program. That decision about language requirements must be communicated to the Graduate Advisor and Graduate Program Assistant in the  first term of a new PhD student’s program.

Normally students need to demonstrate the ability to read and understand texts in the target language sufficient for conducting research in that language. (In some cases, speaking ability may also be required, at the discretion of the supervisor.) That can be achieved in two ways:

1) completing the 300 (or higher) level of that language at UBC (e.g. completing Japanese 301 or Japanese 310)
OR
2) taking a challenge exam in which the student translates a passage of scholarly prose into English

Challenge exam procedure: The supervisor finds a faculty member in Asian Studies who reads the chosen language well enough to mark the exam and informs the Graduate Advisor. Then student and the supervisor find three scholarly texts in the language–articles or books–on student’s research topic and ask the examiner to choose from them one section that can s/he thinks appropriate for this test–usually 2-4 pages of material of a reasonable degree of difficulty. Student is given the passage by the Grad secretary or the examiner on a specified date and time, and student is to return the translation to the Graduate Program Assistant/the examiner 24 hours later. The timing of when all this happens is up to student and the examiner.