Asian Studies Program

Office: Sturm Hall, Room 346A
Mail Code: 2000 E. Asbury Ave, Denver, CO 80208
Phone: 303-871-2554
Web Site:

The Asian Studies Program takes a multi-disciplinary approach to the cultures, history, literature and languages of East Asia, with an additional focus on South Asian music and religion.  We train students to think and write critically about Asian cultures; to conduct original research on issues that are relevant to one or more parts of Asia; and to develop international and intercultural knowledges and skills that are necessary in order to engage meaningfully with people and issues relevant to Asia.  

Majors may find their training valuable in a wide range of careers, given that the tiny minority of graduates of American universities who are skilled in Asian languages and cultures rank among the most desirable employees for many public- and private-sector organizations. Careers for majors include government service, education, journalism, international business and any other job requiring knowledge of and cultural understandings about Japan or China.  The academic training that majors receive is competitive with similar programs at peer institutions across the United States, providing a firm basis for applying to graduate programs.

Students are required to take at least two years of Japanese or Chinese, or another approved Asian language by special arrangement.  First-year language courses may not be used to fulfill this requirement.  However, the requirement may be waived for transfer students who have already had at least three years of Asian language training or for students who demonstrate competency in the language.  The requirement is also waived for native speakers of Japanese, Chinese or another approved Asian language; such students complete 60 credits of non-language study instead.

Asian Studies majors are strongly encouraged to study in Asia for up to one year; excellent programs exist in several Asian countries; the largest program offerings are in Japan. In many cases, students can use their financial aid and receive University of Denver course credit for successfully completing study abroad programs. Interested students should consult with their Asian Studies advisor and the Study Abroad Office.

A student wishing to pursue an Asian studies major must make an appointment with the program director, Orna Shaughnessy, who will serve as advisor to the student’s main interests. The student meets quarterly with their advisor for approval of courses taken for the major.