What is Japanese?

By studying Japanese, students achieve a greater awareness of East Asia’s rich and ancient civilizations. They begin to understand those cultures’ tremendous influence, both past and present, in shaping artistic expression and religious and philosophic thought. And in studying Japanese, students enhance their work in other humanities and social sciences such as anthropology, art history, history, linguistics, philosophy, religious studies, and political science.

At UCSB, the Department of East Asian Languages offers the Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Japanese. Through the major, students:

• Undertake concentrated study of the standard language of the Tokyo area;
• Become acquainted with the foundations of the modern language, namely, Classical Japanese and Classical Chinese;
• Conduct a thorough survey of the literature; and,
• Focus on the language and literature within their historical and social contexts.

General Major Information

How Can I Tell If I Would Like Japanese?

Students who enjoyed foreign languages in high school are natural candidates for this major. The knowledge of multiple foreign languages is helpful when students seek careers in the Foreign Service, in international companies, and in teaching. To understand a foreign language, the student must have excellent knowledge of English, as well. The study of other languages and cultures offers students communicative skills and understanding that are increasingly valuable in many fields: business, education, government, law enforcement, media, social services and the service industry, among others. Many students choose a double or secondary major and combine a foreign language with a complementary field like English, history, international studies, journalism, political science, business, international marketing or education.

What Are Potential Topics Within This Major?

Although the following list can provide students with topics that may be covered in this major, look at the UCSB catalog and consult with the undergraduate advisor for more detailed information about requirements and course offerings.

  • Religion in Japanese Culture
  • Samurai Japan
  • Popular Culture in Japan
  • Survey of Modern Japanese Literature
  • Traditional Japanese Drama
  • Anthropology
  • Art History
  • History
  • Political Science

To learn more about whether you might enjoy this major, check with a peer in the Career Resource Room for details on:

- Focus 2 to explore college majors and careers.

- The Strong Interest Inventory®, an assessment that compares your interests against six broad categories of work. This assessment helps match your interests and suggests potential careers to explore.

What Can I Do To Make My Major More Marketable?

  • Pursue relevant work, internship, volunteer, and/or research experience.
  • Choose a complementary minor.
  • Specialize in an area; take courses in related fields.
  • Develop your computer skills.
  • Learn a foreign language.
  • Study abroad.
  • Join professional associations.
  • Get involved in student clubs.
  • Participate in community organizations.
  • Seek out leadership positions.
  • Research specific prerequisites for different positions.
  • Network with others in fields that interest you.

General Career Information

What Are Some Possible Career Options?

Note: On its own, your major does not dictate what your job will be.  The following list provides only a handful of possibilities.  Japanese majors with strong liberal arts background may pursue career options in many fields.  Depending on experience, specialized coursework, and possible graduate study options include:

  • Translating and interpreting
  • Journalism
  • Foreign correspondence
  • International relations.
  • Travel and tourism industry.
  • International business and trade
  • International law
To learn more about these and other occupations, please visit:

Come visit the Career Resource Room to see our vast collection of career books and resources.

See what other UCSB alumni are doing with their major on LinkedIn

Graduate and Professional Schools

The most comprehensive source of graduate school information.

This is a database to help find where graduate programs are offered throughout the U.S.


Come to the Career Resources Room to view the CHOICES lab version of graduate schools.

Experience Search Strategies

Interesse International Inc.
Interesse International provides recruiting services to companies throughout the U.S. and Japan. Specialize in placements within Japanese companies for applicants who have an interest in Japanese culture. They have successfully placed candidates in full-time positions from entry- to executive-level in a wide variety of industries. Among those placed are recent graduates whom Interesse has helped to obtain working authorizations.

Career Forum
A career site for Japanese-English Bilinguals.

Bilingual Jobs
Similar to Gaucho Link, with a focus on bilingual careers.

Job search for language professionals worldwide
Another database to search for jobs that will allow you to utilize your language abilities.

UCSB Career Services “Job Links” section
Check out job links in the following categories: Local/CA, National, International, Industry Specific, UCSB Careers By Majors and Diversity.

When you join LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, you get access to people, jobs, news, updates, and insights that help you be great at what you do.

Professional Associations

The Association for Japanese-Language Teaching
This association is dedicated to improving Japanese language education and global understanding of the culture.

The Association of Teachers of Japanese
This organization includes scholars, teachers, and students of the Japanese language.

Japan Studies Association

Association for Asian Studies

The Association of Japanese Business Studies



UCSB Resources

UCSB Japanese Departmental Web Page
Learn about the Japanese program offered here at UCSB.

Information Resources of East Asian Studies
Here you can find electronic journals and books through UCSB’s East Asian library catalog as well as other university’s catalogs.

Japanese Student Association
Provide Japanese students with opportunities to socialize, fundraise and network with each other.

Career Resource Room

UCSB General Catalog

UCSB Office of Student Life

UCSB Minors