East Asian Religions

The contents of this page reflect requirements and guideilnes for students entering the doctoral program before September 2018. Please contact an appropriate faculty member to learn more about current requirements, and check back soon for an update!

This field seeks to train the specialist in the major religious traditions of East Asia. Emphasis is placed on the study of Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism on the one hand, and their interactions with popular religious traditions. Those students who plan to specialize in the religions of Korea must consult with the examination committee member(s) for appropriate alterations of the regular examination topics.

First Field Exam


The first field examination is intended to test the student's ability in the following three areas: 1. knowledge of specialized religious traditions(s); 2. the research skill in the secondary sources in both appropriate western and Asian languages; 3. the mastery of appropriate method(s) to study the subject field.

Scope of Examination

The student is provided with the following two options with regard to the scope of examination:

  1. Concentration in a single religious tradition. The student concentrating in either Taoism or Confucianism must demonstrate his/her mastery of knowledge in one of these traditions in both China and Japan. The student is also encouraged to acquire the essential knowledge of the chosen religious tradition in Korea. Students intending to be specialists of Japanese and Chinese Buddhism must pursue their goal in the appropriate subprograms in the Buddhist Studies Program of our department.
  2. The specialization in Chinese or Japanese religions.

    The student who intends to be a specialist in the religions of China or Japan must demonstrate an equal degree of mastery in at least two of the four subfields described below:

    Chinese religions: Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism, popular religions

    Japanese religions: Shinto, Buddhism, Confucianism, popular religions

    The student must demonstrate not only his/her grasp of individual subfields but also his/her mastery of issues concerning the interactions between the selected religious traditions.

Examination Format

The first field examination comprises two parts. In the first part the student takes three one-week take-home examinations in the areas of i) history, ii) doctrine and iii) method of study. In response to the questions in each of the three areas, the student produces three written essays, about 15 pages in length respectively. The second part is a two-hour oral examination, which serves as the defense of the student's three written essays. Based upon the student's selected fields and methods of study, three faculty members, including his/her advisor, are chosen to serve on the examination committee


First Field Examination

Students are strongly recommended to take "Introduction to Japanese Thought" and "Introduction to Chinese Thought," both offered in conjunction with the EALAC department, as well as courses in Anthropology, Art History and History as relevant to one's training. Upon completion of the relevant course work, in consultation with the members of the examination committee, the student produces a bibliography of essential monographs and articles. The bibliography must be topically arranged according to the selected field and subfields and be approximately ten pages in length. Based upon the proposed bibliography, members of the examination committee formulate questions for the take-home exams. The student is expected to complete the first field exam by the end of the third academic year.

Second Field Examination

The second field exam is intended to test the student's knowledge of primary Chinese and Japanese materials and prepare him/her for advanced research required for the doctoral dissertation. Under the guidance of one of the members of the examination committee, the student writes an essay of approximately fifty pages in length. The essay should be closely related to the student's potential dissertation topic. Based upon the submitted essay, the examination committee comprising three faculty members orally examines the student's linguistic and analytic abilities. The oral examination is approximately two hours in length. The student must complete the second field examination by the end of the fourth academic year.  The examination committee may decide on one of three courses of action: (a) pass a student, (b) terminate a student from the program, or (c) allow the student to retake the exams.

Language Requirements

By the time of the completion of the first field exam, the student should acquire at least either three years of modern Chinese plus two year of modern Japanese or three years of modern Japanese plus two years of modern Chinese. Before the completion of the second field exam, students must fulfill at least two of the following three requirements: one year of classical Chinese; one year of classical Japanese; one year of Kanbun.