Graduate Programs

The Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures offers a Master of Arts degree in the area of Korean language and culture. Other M.A. Ph.D. degrees are also offered in Korean, with specialties including history, literature, linguistics, buddhist studies, musicology and the social science.

For information on:

Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures

The Masters of Arts Degree


you are expected to:

  1. meet general University requirement for the undergraduate major,
  2. present a B.A. degree from a department of East Asian Languages and Cultures similar to UCLA's department,
  3. have taken a minimum of three years of modern Korean.

If you have a B.A. in another field or from a department whose requirement is less rigorous, you will be admitted only if you can meet the requisite standards within one year. Selection will be based on

  1. prior scholastic performance (at least the junior, senior, and/or graduate levels)
  2. recommendations by professors
  3. score on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
  4. statement of purpose focusing on your research interests,
  5. an undergraduate term paper or comparable writing sample in English.

*All these materials must be complete before the application will be considered. Students from other department must fulfill these requirements.*

If you are a foreign students, you are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) administered by the Educational Testing Service, unless this test is not offered in your country of residence. You must also take a test in translation from Korean into English, either with the comprehensive examinations or earlier.

Language Requirement:

Students majoring in Korean must have completed one year of Chinese or Japanese with a grade of S or better. This requirement can be fulfilled before admission to the M.A. program.

M.A. Thesis Plan

This plan is recommended for students intending to proceed to the Ph.D. If you have completed at least one year of graduate work with excellence, you may petition to the department to present a thesis for the M.A. degree. If you choose this plan, you must have a letter of support from a faculty member who will serve as thesis director. The remaining members for the thesis committee will be selected in consultation with the graduate adviser. Final acceptance of the thesis plan is contingent upon the approval of a thesis proposal. The thesis must be 40-60 pages in length and follow the rules and style set by the University. Information on these regulations is available from the Graduate Division. Upon acceptance of the thesis, there will be an oral examination related to the thesis. You will be required to take an examination in translation in your area of specialization.

Comprehensive Examination Plan

Comprehensive examinations are offered in the literature and cultural history of Korea.

You must take an examination in three fields within your area of specialization. In all areas of specialization, you are required to take one examination in a literature field. In consultation with the graduate adviser, you may replace one field with an outside field, either within the department, or from another department.

For the M.A. in Korean, you must take comprehensive examinations in three of the following five fields:

  1. Korean culture,
  2. Korean Buddhism,
  3. classical Korean poetry,
  4. classical Korean fiction,
  5. modern Korean literature.

*You will be required to take an examination in translation in your area of specialization. In addition, you will be required to present two seminar research papers. The results of the examination and the quality of the papers will determine whether or not you will be admitted to the Ph.D. program.*

The Ph.D. Degree


An M.A. degree in the the field or in a related field is required for admission to the doctoral program. Selection among qualified applicants from outside the department will be based on the following:

  1. prior scholastic performance,
  2. three letters of recommendation,
  3. score on the Graduate Record Examination,
  4. statement of purpose focusing on your research interests,
  5. a recent research paper in English.

*Applicants with an M.A. in the department will be judged on their M.A. record.*

Students applying from foreign institutions are encouraged to complete an M.A. in the department before proceeding to the Ph.D. program.

Area of Study

The department offers two Korean-related major fields at the Ph.D. level:

  1. Korean language and literature with the subdisciplines of culture, Buddhism, classical poetry and fiction and modern literature,
  2. Buddhist Studies with the subdisciplines of Chinese Buddhism, Japanese Buddhism, and Korean Buddhism.

A comparative or interdisciplinary field may be incorporated into an area of specialization.

Foreign Language Requirement

You must demonstrate a reading knowledge of French or German by passing

  1. a reading examination administered by the department's Foreign Language Examination Committee;
  2. the Educational Testing Service (ETS) Graduate School Foreign Language Test (GSFLT) with a score of 500 or better; or
  3. a level 5 course, with a grade of B or better, (or S.)

With the consent of the department, Russian may be substituted.

Qualification Examinations

You must take written examinations as follows:

  • For the Major in Korean Literature:
    1. A general examination in Korean Literature.
    2. Examinations in three approved fields which must be chosen from at least two of the following groups:
      1. Korean poetry, Korean fiction, modern Korean literature;
      2. Korean Buddhism, Korean thought;
      3. Chinese or Japanese literature; or
      4. a field offered in another department or interdepartmental program.
  • For the major in Buddhist Studies:
    1. A general examination in your major field.
    2. An examination in an approved subfield within your major field.
    3. A general examination in another approved field inside or outside the department.


Within three years after you have advanced to candidacy, you are expected to present a dissertation embodying the results of independent investigation. If you fail to meet the University five-year limit for the completion of the dissertation, you will be required to take the written qualifying examinations again.

Final Oral Examination

A final oral defense of the dissertation will be optional at the discretion of the doctoral committee.

For more information regarding Korean-related major fields, please contact the following departments:

For more information, please visit the UCLA Home Page