Asian Literature, Religion, and Culture Ph.D. (Ithaca)

Field of Study

Asian Literature, Religion and Culture

Program Description

The Field of Asian Literature, Religion and Culture offers students interested in pursuing advanced studies of the literature, culture, religion(s), and intellectual history of any given region in East Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia.

Students are required to take, for credit, twelve to fourteen courses (six or seven during the first year) and complete an M.A. thesis by the end of the second year. Students who wrote an M.A. thesis (in English) in their major subject before matriculation at Cornell may request a waiver of the thesis requirement. Each student then chooses three areas of specialization (usually two in the major discipline and one in another literature, theoretical field, or a different discipline) and chooses one faculty member to represent each concentration. The student works with this faculty committee to define the three areas and prepare appropriate reading lists. By the end of the third year the student must pass written and oral examinations in each subject (these are called Admission to Candidacy Exams or A Exams). By the time of the A Exams, students must be fluent in their major language and have at least a reading knowledge of a second Asian language and one non-English European language. Doctoral students are encouraged to spend a year in Asia for advanced language training or dissertation research. Teacher training and one year of classroom teaching are part of the professional preparation.

Contact Information

Phone: 607 255-9099

350 Rockefeller Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY  14853

Concentrations by Subject

  • Asian religions
  • East Asian literature and culture
  • South Asian literature and culture
  • Southeast Asian literature and culture
  • theory and method (minor)


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Application Requirements and Deadlines

Application Deadlines:

Fall, Jan. 10

Requirements Summary:

Applicants are required to hold, at minimum, an undergraduate degree from an accredited university or college. Applicants are generally expected to have significant language preparation before application (at least three years’ competency for those interested in an East Asian literature). Prior work in literature, culture, religious studies, or the intellectual history of an Asian area is desirable.

Learning Outcomes

  • Develop appropriate competence in the language(s) necessary for access to primary sources in the original languages.
  • Demonstrate in-depth scholarly knowledge of a literary/cultural, religious, or intellectual tradition within a recognized Asian regional or national zone.
  • Demonstrate breadth of study by subspecializing in one or more genre, tradition, period, or discipline ancillary to their major field.
  • Demonstrate the ability address major contemporary scholarly debates through their knowledge of one or more theoretical orientations appropriate to their fields of study.
  • Communicate effectively in written and spoken scholarly presentations.
  • Demonstrate competency in teaching in the undergraduate classroom.
  • Uphold standards of academic integrity in research and teaching.