Major in Asian Studies

Revamped Major

Why Asian Studies?

If anime and K-pop weren’t already enough of a reason for you to want to study Asian languages and cultures,

  1. Asian economies are booming. Asia is now Canada’s second largest trading partner and China and India will soon make up almost half the world’s GDP and one-third of its population.
  2. You can better connect with your friends and neighbours. If you haven’t already noticed, one in every 8 Canadians is of Asian background. The Asian visible minority group is the fastest growing group in Canada and learning more about Asia is going to make you a more open and understanding citizen.
  3. Asian cultures are amazing and are taking over the world. From traditions like Buddhism, samurai and Confucian thought to modern phenomena like Kung Fu movies, Bollywood, K-pop and sushi.
  4. Asian history is more action packed than your best movies. From epic battles, to court intrigue and political revolutions, Asian history will never be boring.

Through a major in Asian Studies you can start taking advantage of all the opportunities Asia presents to you and the rest of Canada.


Our Program

Leader in Canada Asia Interface

We have nearly 60 full-time teaching faculty members that specialize in the literature, religion, thought, and history of East and South Asia and offer  instruction in the following Asian languages:

We currently offer two undergraduate majors

Asian Language and Culture, which combines advanced language study with a concentration in one of five areas (China, Chinese Literature, Japan, Korea, South Asia)

Asian Area Studies, which promotes a comparative approach with less emphasis on advanced language study.

If you are curious about what your degree could look like, click on one of the sample degree paths below:

1st year:

  • CHIN 134 (6): Intensive Basic Chinese I (Non-Heritage)
  • CHIN 234 (6): Intensive Basic Chinese II (Non-Heritage)

2nd Year:

  • 6 Credits ASIA 200 Level
  • CHIN 331: Intermediate Chinese I: Part 1 (Non-Heritage)
  • CHIN 333: Intermediate Chinese I: Part 2 (Non-Heritage)

3rd Year:

  • 12 credits of ASIA 300 level

4th year:

  • 3 Credits ASIA Research Intensive Course
  • 9 Credits of ASIA 400 level

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1st year:

  • JAPN 100: Beginning Japanese IA
  • JAPN 101: Beginning Japanese IB
  • 6 Credits ASIA 200 Level

2nd year:

  • JAPN 200: Beginning Japanese II A
  • JAPN 201: Beginning Japanese II B
  • 6 credits of ASIA 300 level

3rd year:

  • Go on a Go-Global Exchange: Take 12 Credits of Japanese at one of our many partner universities!
  • 6 credits of ASIA 300 level

4th year:

  • 3 Credits of ASIA Research Intensive Course
  • 9 credits of ASIA 300 level
  • JAPN 400 (3) Advanced Modern Japanese: Reading and Writing I
  • JAPN 401 (3) Advanced Modern Japanese: Reading and Writing II
  • JAPN 422 (3) Classical Japanese I

1st year:

  • 6 Credits ASIA 200 Level
  • CHIN 491 (3) Classical Chinese I (Heritage)

2nd year:

  • 6 Credits ASIA 300 level
  • CHIN 481 (3) Modern Chinese Literature I (Heritage)
  • CHIN 483 (3) Modern Chinese Literature II (Heritage)
  • CLCH 401 (3) Advanced Readings in Classical Chinese
  • Summer: CHIN 464 (6) Early Classical Chinese Poetry (Intensive)

3rd year:

  • 6 Credits of ASIA 300 level
  • CHIN 471 (3) Later Classical Chinese Poetry (Tang)
  • Co-op Term 1
  • Summer: Co-op Term 2

4th year:

  • 6 credits: ASIA Research Intensive Courses
  • 3 Credits of ASIA 400 level
  • Co-op Term 3

Go here to find out more about our Majors and Minors >>


What Can You Do with a Degree in Asian Studies?

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Career Possibilities

Jennifer Ward, BA ’12, is currently self-employed as a freelance Japanese to English translator. She is currently translating three light novel series and has worked on dozens of manga for Yen Press, Seven Seas, Kodansha, and other publishers.

"I got my dream job as a professional otaku, and I love the freedom and control of self-employment. Learning Japanese has also given me friends, and I still visit Japan as often as I can    (and obviously knowing Japanese facilitates that). I still read manga in Japanese every day and I surf the Japanese web regularly. Even if I’d never gotten the job, I’d still have received   a lot of personal fulfillment out of this skill."

Read Jennifer Ward's full interview >>

Melody Pan, BA 14, did translation work for Bandai Namco Studios Vancouver after graduating. She is currently a coordinator/translator at an animation studio called Waterproof Studios.

"I attended the Annual BC Japanese Speech Contest in March, 2014 (thanks Kim-sensei) and just happened to be sitting next to someone who worked at Bandai Namco Studios Vancouver. We spoke briefly about video games and connected on Facebook. A few months later, he approached me and asked if I would be interested in applying for their new bilingual office assistant position."

Read Melody Pan's full interview >>

James Mutter, BA ’05 in Japanese Language and International Relations. Mr. Mutter is currently Vice-Consul at the Consulate General of Canada in Hong Kong.

"After a total of eight years in Japan, I moved to Taiwan where I began learning Mandarin and continued working in the business development and marketing sphere. During this time, I also became involved in the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan, which was an excellent way to get to know prominent Canadians actively contributing to the local community."


Read James Mutter's full interview >>

Michelle Kim, BA ’02, studied at Asian Studies with a focus in Korean language, cinema, and literature. Kim, now a writer-actor-director-producer, owns Hapaness Media, a multidisciplinary, multimedia company.

"I think the best thing I did as an undergrad was to explore and take a wide variety of courses as it somehow made me believe that it was possible to have a career working with various mediums. My first job out of university was as a journalist for the BBC in London. Because I wanted to do something more creative, I transitioned into film making and writing fiction."


Read Michelle Kim's full interview >>

Austin Bonner, BA '06, after graduating UBC moved to Japan and spent one year on the JET Programme as a CIR (Coordinator of International Relations). His job required doing event planning, some interpreting/translation and occasional school visits for a small town in Ishikawa Prefecture.

"My UBC degree in Japanese with minor studies in International Relations first qualified me for the CIR role in the JET Programme, which in turn qualified me for my next role that built the learning foundation for what I currently do. Much of what I studied, particularly some amazing courses in IR and Ihhwa Kim’s Advanced Newspaper Japanese course, have helped inform many of my conversations over the years and really was just a gift that kept on giving."

Read Austin Bonner's full interview >>

Allison Winters, BA 86 & MA 89, worked at the Canada China Business Council (CCBC) Vancouver Office. Canada China Business Council for over 20 years before starting her own consulting company specializing in Event Management, Marketing, and Canada China business and relations.

"Upon graduation, there was an opening at the David Lam Centre (DLC) for International Communication at Simon Fraser University at Harbour Centre. I applied for the job right away... The fact that I understand, speak, and write Chinese (including Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese) and some Japanese helped secure the job."

Drew Wallin, BA ’11, Mr. is currently a Program Manager at Google.  He was also involved in start of the company AppBridge, a software company focused on enterprise data migration to Google Drive, focused in Japan.

"I work very closely with the team at Google Japan, where I often visit to meet internal teams, partners, customers, and present at conferences, such as Google Atmosphere Tokyo 2016, and Google NEXT Tokyo 2017, where I presented in Japanese, and Japanese/English respectively."


Read Drew Wallin's full interview here >>

Michael Zipursky, BA'04,  is the CEO of, an international company that supports businesses in marketing, service offerings, messaging and scaling their consulting businesses. Zipursky has advised organizations like Financial Times, Dow Jones, RBC, Omron, Sumitomo and helped Panasonic launch new products into global markets

"When I did a year of exchange in Japan, I had the opportunity to begin building the business there. As soon as I graduated, I went back to Japan where we continued to build that business and work with some amazing companies. Today, we have a very international business. At, we work with consultants all around the world helping them with their marketing, their service offerings, messaging, and scaling their consulting businesses. I really believe that my education played a huge role in supporting and deepening my appreciation, respect, and interest in people from other countries and cultures."

Read Michael Zipursky's full interview >>

Laura Sparks, BA ’09, is currently works in Bogotá, Colombia as a Foreign Service Officer at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

"When I got the job offer for the Foreign Service, I had to make a choice between a career I knew I enjoyed and a new opportunity in a completely different field. But after my Go Global exchange, I knew that I wanted to live abroad again and discover new countries, so I decided to go for it."

Read Laura Spark's full interview >>

Gary Towne, BA '93, works in ESL for Asian immigrants. After graduation, he taught in Indonesia for a year, and much later, in China for 3 years.

"Although it is not a prerequisite, I think any language teacher should first have been a language student and traveler in order both to better understand and explain one’s own language, as well as to better respect and sympathize with the students."

Read Gary Towne's full interview >>

Kayla Black, BA ‘14, works with First Steps, a Christian charity based in Vancouver that is commited to preventing child malnutrition in North Korea.

Valentine Ostaszewski, BA ’12 & MA ‘14, works at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada as a Research Analyst. By partnering with both the private and public sector, the Asia Pacific Foundation is Canada’s catalyst for engagement with Asia and Asia’s bridge to Canada.

Taylor Sadler BA ‘15, worked as a Cultural Ambassador for the Labo International Exchange Foundation in Japan after graduating. Her job involves going to different community groups and giving children a chance to interact with a foreigner, learn about a foreign culture, and practice their English.

And many more possibilities!! Check out the page for a longer list of job options.

Asian Studies – What can I do with my major?  >>

Our degree in Asian Studies will also prepare you at the highest level for further studies at the graduate level.

Learn more about our graduate program >>


Supplementary Opportunities

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Go on exchange to Asia

Nothing is going to help you go super saiyan – I mean master your Asian language faster than studying it in its native country. Luckily, UBC has an amazing program that can help you get that immersion. Don’t even think about it. Just do it!

Learn about doing an exchange abroad in Asia through Go Global >>

Get a job!

The biggest criticism of a degree in Arts is that it doesn’t make you employable. This is NOT true but if you are still worried about it, 90% of students that do UBC Arts Co-op during their undergrad receive job offers within 1 month after graduation.

Learn more about Coop NOW >>

Make some friends and be engaged with UBC’s community

It should go without saying that a big chunk of your university experience will be flavoured by the people you surround yourself with. So go be social, join a club and attend as many university events as your time allows.

We recommend meeting other people that share your interest in Asia through different UBC clubs, improving your language skills with UBC Tandem and, of course, staying up-to-date with all your favorite Asian Studies department’s news and events.

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Ready to take on these opportunities and experiences? Click here to learn more about our Asian Studies Major and Minor requirements!