With ancient traditions, diverse religious beliefs and political philosophies, and rich histories, the countries of East Asia offer unique opportunities to study cultures that continue to grow in importance. The rise of this region emphasizes the significance of East Asian studies as an academic discipline—something Colby anticipated when it founded the department almost 50 years ago.


The East Asian Studies Department offers a multidisciplinary approach to understanding Japan, China, and Korea. Students in the major build language competency in Japanese or Chinese and learn to communicate effectively in English and an East Asian language. They critically interpret texts, artistic masterpieces, and cultural materials, and they develop research skills using primary sources and data. Through course work—in a wide variety of courses across the humanistic and social science disciplines—and an immersion experience in an East Asian country, students acquire a comparative understanding of the region and become well versed in traditional and contemporary East Asia.

The department offers a major and minor in East Asian studies, as well as minors in Chinese and Japanese languages.