The study of Asia provides a broad understanding of civilizations that extend back thousands of years. It includes ancient and modern languages and the history, art, literature, politics, anthropology, geography, religion, and drama of China, India, Japan, Korea, and Russia. 

Why Study at Iowa

Programs in the Department of Asian and Slavic Languages and Literatures allow students to focus on all aspects of an Asian culture while building skills in a related language.

Areas of study include:

  • Chinese
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Sanskrit

You'll be able to expand your opportunities for professional careers or advanced study by supplementing your major with a Certificate in International Business.

You may add a second major or an emphasis in any number of subjects, such as anthropology, art, art history, cinema, history, comparative literature, international studies, political science, pre-law, or religious studies.

Course Work

The Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Asian Languages and Literature is designed for students who want to achieve proficiency in understanding, speaking, reading, and writing Chinese, Japanese, or Korean, or in reading Sanskrit. You will study one language for three to four years as you learn about the culture and history of China, Japan, or South Asia.

See Asian and Slavic Languages and Literatures in the UI General Catalog to learn more about this major and graduating with honors.

Minor in Asian Languages

See Asian and Slavic Languages and Literatures in the UI General Catalog to learn more about earning a minor in this area.

Teaching Licensure

Students interested in teaching Chinese or Japanese at the secondary school level will need to complete the College of Education's Teacher Education Program.

Admission Requirements

Asian Languages and Literature majors need to meet the requirements for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Admission Requirements Tabs

Student Opportunities

In addition to nearly 600 student organizations, Iowa students choose from multiple Study Abroad programs and Undergraduate Research opportunities

You'll also have the opportunity to participate in any of several student groups or community organizations related to your major. These include the Asian American Coalition, Chinese Students and Scholars Association, Indian Student Alliance, Japanese Students and Scholars Club, Korean UIowa Students Association, Thai Student Association, Taiwanese Student Association, Vietnamese Student Association, and Amnesty International.

Group activities include holiday celebrations, international movie screenings, and other cultural events organized by each program; field trips; helping international students make the transition to Iowa; and promoting language learning.

Study Abroad

Iowa has an extensive Study Abroad Program, and the department strongly encourages study abroad in Asia. Agreements with several universities and institutes in China, India, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan will give you a choice of programs to consider.

Well-established Chinese language study abroad programs are offered by the Iowa Tianjin Summer Study Abroad Program and the East China Normal University Exchange Program. We have summer and semester-based exchange programs at Ewha Woman's University, Kyung Hee University, University of Seoul, and Korea University.

Students can find a complete listing of study abroad options in Asia by searching the Study Abroad program database.

The Pomerantz Career Center also maintains lists of internships in Asia and the United States.

Faculty, Facilities, and Resources

The university’s Main Library contains approximately 80,000 volumes in Asian languages and 140,000 Western-language volumes on Asian subjects, as well as periodicals, films, and a Chinese-Japanese computer terminal that gives students and faculty access to the growing Research Libraries Information Network in Asian languages. Since 1975, the University of Iowa has been a member of the Library of Congress acquisition program for Indian books and periodicals. The Language Media Center in Phillips Hall offers programs to help you learn the language of your choice.


The Pomerantz Career Center is a great resource for students researching internships and careers.

Asian Languages and Literature graduates pursue careers in education, government, communication, business, and other fields in the United States and beyond. The programs also provide an excellent background for advanced study in the humanities or social sciences and in professional schools.

The number of Americans who can speak Asian languages is still small, so many career opportunities exist for individuals trained in these areas.


Consult multiple sources for scholarship information, including the Office of Admissions, the Office of Student Financial Aid, and departmental websites.

Application Process

Application Process Tabs

Apply to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.


Asian Languages and Literature (BA)
Asian Languages
Teaching Licensure
in Chinese and Japanese
Honors Courses
Four-Year Graduation Plan