Log in



The Department encourages highly qualified applicants in modern Japanese history. Successful applicants are expected to have excellent undergraduate educations as evidenced by GPA, GRE scores, letters of recommendation and, when appropriate, samples of historical research. In addition, students should have a firm start (three years) in the Japanese language.

Prospective students are encouraged to consider those areas in which the Department's faculty are particularly suited to training, and should consult the faculty web pages for examples of our faculty’s scholarship. Associate Professor William Marotti currently acts as field coordinator; his specialization is in broadly-construed cultural history, with an emphasis on the post-WWII era (and a related interest in global history and critical social theory). Professor Herman Ooms, an expert on early modern or Tokugawa intellectual, social and legal history, with additional expertise in Nara-period politics and ideology, and critical social theory, will be retiring at the end of 2012 from full-time teaching. While he is not taking new students, we expect him to continue to offer an albeit reduced set of courses over the next several years. We hope to  commence a search for a new faculty member for the Japan field shortly.

The study of Japanese history at UCLA is enhanced by the existence of strong programs in a variety of related fields both within the department and across the university. We work closely with colleagues in Chinese history, and with our excellent program of Korean studies in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures (which also includes numerous specialists in Japanese and Chinese history, language, and culture.)  Japan specialists are also featured in the faculty of the departments of Anthropology, Art History, Geography, and Political Science (to name but a few; a more complete list may be found on the Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies’ website).

UCLA’s Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies greatly enhances the intellectual climate by sponsoring visiting professors, workshops, conferences, and research projects in all areas of Japanese history, society and culture. It also provides fellowships and research assistantships to graduate students on a competitive basis at all levels of their training.

Foreign Language Requirements:

For the M.A. degree, two years of Japanese. For the Ph.D., French, German or another pertinent European language; four years of Japanese coursework (or its equivalent--demonstrated ability in specialized Japanese that will allow one to read source materials (e.g. coursework or its equivalent in Kanbun, sorobun, bungotai, Meiji documents). Admission to candidacy for the Ph.D. in the Japanese field requires the completion of a research seminar in the major field. You are advised that successful completion of this seminar usually requires the equivalent of a least four years of superior college-level language work in Japanese.

Course Requirements:

As a candidate for the Ph.D., you must meet (a) the special requirements for admission to the doctoral program listed above; and (b) the general requirements set forth under the Graduate Division. An excellent command of English, spoken and written, the ability to read at least two foreign languages, and an acquaintance with general history are expected of all candidates. You are required to complete at least one continuing two-or three-quarter seminar, or alternatively, a continuing sequence of at least two graduate courses approved by the GGCC. This seminar, or its alternative, must include completion of a substantial research paper based at least in part on primary sources.

All students must write a dissertation prospectus (which could be written for credit as a history 596 or 597) expected to contain: (a) a full statement of the dissertation topic; (b) an historiographical discussion of the literature bearing on the topic; (c) a statement of the methodology to be employed; and (d) a survey of the sources sufficient to demonstrate the viability of the topic. The prospectus must be approved by the dissertation adviser prior to the oral part of the qualifying examinations. After approval, copies will be given to each member of the examining committee.

Faculty serving on doctoral committees may require such courses as they deem necessary for preparation for qualifying examinations. Courses taken to fulfill M.A. degree requirements may also be used to satisfy Ph.D. requirements.

Written and Oral Qualifying Examinations:

Before admission to candidacy, you must pass written and oral examinations. Students with outstanding incompletes may not be permitted to sit for these exams.

In the written qualifying examinations, you are expected to show not only a mastery of your special subject, but also an adequate grasp of the wider field of historical knowledge and an ability to correlate historical data and to explain their significance. These examinations are designed to test not merely factual knowledge, but also your power of historical analysis and synthesis, critical ability, and capacity for reflective thinking. A knowledge of the history of any area includes a reasonable knowledge of its historiography and bibliography; of its geography; and of its political, cultural, economic, and other historical aspects.

In the oral examination, you are to be examined in four fields, one of which may be an approved field in anthropology, economics, geography, language and literature, philosophy, political science, or other allied subjects. This allied field must be comparable in size and scope to the history fields listed above. You should select the fields in consultation with your faculty adviser and must receive the Department's approval of all four fields not less than three months before the written qualifying examination is taken. You will need to obtain the "Field Committee Orals" form (orals committee) from the Graduate Office. A copy of "Steps for the Orals" can be obtained from the Graduate Office. A full-time graduate student must begin the written qualifying examinations not later than the end of the ninth quarter of graduate work (See Time-to-Degree).

The written qualifying examination normally includes the major field only. The oral examination will cover all four fields and will normally be held after the written examination. In most fields, the oral examination will be held shortly after the written examination or, at the discretion of the doctoral committee, as late as six months after the written examination. Both the written and oral examinations are to be considered by the committee as a whole in arriving at a judgment of your performance. The written qualifying examination is normally prepared and administered by the chair of the committee and read by the entire committee before the oral qualifying examination.

The written qualifying examination must be passed before the oral qualifying examination can be taken. The members of the doctoral committee determine whether or not an examination may be repeated (normally only once), based on their prognosis of your potential for successfully completing both the written and oral examinations within a specified period of time to be designated by the doctoral committee, but not to exceed one calendar year. The written qualifying examination is not to exceed eight (8) hours and must be turned in to the Graduate Adviser's Office no later than 5:00 pm of the day of the examination.