The Field of East Asian Literature offers students the opportunity to study one literature (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, or Vietnamese) in depth and to do comparative study with another literature.
Students normally take twelve to fourteen courses for credit (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 East Asian language and one non-English European language. Doctoral students are encouraged to spend a year in East Asia for advanced language training or dissertation research. Teacher training and one year of classroom teaching are part of the professional preparation.