Asian Studies Major, B.A.–Korean Studies Concentration

Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Visit Program Website

New West 113, CB# 3267

(919) 962-4294

I Jonathan Kief, Korean Program Advisor

Morgan Pitelka, Chair

Pamela Lothspeich, Associate Chair and Fall 2020 Director of Undergraduate Studies

Robin Visser, Spring 2021 Director of Undergraduate Studies

Ash Barnes, Student Services Specialist

The Department of Asian Studies offers six major concentrations, nine minors, and instruction in Asian and Middle Eastern languages. Students pursuing the B.A. degree in Asian Studies can complete the interdisciplinary major in Asian Studies, or concentrate in Arab Cultures, Chinese, Japanese, Korean Studies, or South Asian Studies.

Department Programs



Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the Asian studies program, students should be able to:

  • Identify or analyze significant aspects of the target cultures by interpreting texts and media
  • Demonstrate proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills in the target language
  • Demonstrate experience in the use of the target language outside the language classroom


In addition to the program requirements, students must

  • attain a final cumulative GPA of at least 2.0
  • complete a minimum of 45 academic credit hours earned from UNC–Chapel Hill courses
  • take at least half of their major course requirements (courses and credit hours) at UNC–Chapel Hill
  • earn a minimum of 18 hours of C or better in the major core requirements (some majors require 21 hours).

For more information, please consult the degree requirements section of the catalog.

The eight core courses (24 credit hours) consist of two to four language courses and four to six literature and culture courses, as described below. 

Core Requirements
At least two Korean language courses beyond KOR 204. 16-12
Advanced Korean I
Advanced Korean II
Modern Korean Literature and Culture
Changes and Continuities in Korean History
Korean Through Current Affairs
Topics in Korean Language and Literature
At least one introductory-level course chosen from the following list: 23-6
First-Year Seminar: Transnational Korea: Literature, Film, and Popular Culture
History, Memory, and Reality in Contemporary Korea
Education and Social Changes in Contemporary Korea
At least two Korean literature and culture courses chosen from the following list: 6-15
The Asian American Experience
Cold War Culture in East Asia: Transnational and Intermedial Connections
Imagining the City in Modern Korea: Text, Image, Space
Rebel, Lover, Martyr: Gender and Sexuality in North and South Korean Screen Cultures
Korean Diasporas
Body Politics in Modern Korean Literature H
Documenting Diasporas: Korean Diasporas in Films and Documentaries
Other major courses0-9
Asian Economic Systems
Senior Honors Thesis II
Additional Requirements
Korean through level 44
Total Hours28

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Approved courses taken in UNC–Chapel Hill-sponsored study abroad programs or taken from another institution may count in the concentration. No more than one first-year seminar may be counted among the eight major courses. 

Placement credit (PL) may not be used to meet core requirements for the concentration.

With the approval of the associate chair of Asian studies, a student may count a course in directed readings (KOR 496) in the concentration in Korean studies. To register, a student must obtain the approval of the associate chair and the faculty member who will supervise the project.

Of the eight courses in the concentration in Korean studies, at least six must be passed with a grade of C (not C-) or better.

Special Opportunities in Asian Studies

Honors in Asian Studies

A candidate for honors in Asian studies will write a substantial paper under the guidance of a faculty member. While researching and writing the honors paper, the student will enroll in ASIA 691H and ASIA 692H. ASIA 692H may count as one of the interdisciplinary courses for the major; ASIA 691H will count for elective credit only. In the case of the concentrations in Arab cultures, Chinese, Japanese, Korean studies, and South Asian studies, ASIA 692H may count toward the major in the concentration.

A committee composed of at least two faculty members will examine the candidate. To be accepted as an honors candidate, a student must meet the University’s requirement of a minimum overall grade point average of 3.3, secure the consent of a faculty member in the Asian studies field to act as advisor for the project, and submit a proposal to the associate chair of Asian studies for approval.

Departmental Involvement

The department sponsors a variety of cultural events — lectures, film series, performances, and more — as well as social and informational events where students can get to know each other and faculty members in an informal setting. Faculty members in the department serve as advisors to some of the many Asia-related student organizations on campus, such as the Japan Club, Chinese Conversation Club, Hebrew Table, and more.

Languages across the Curriculum

The department participates in the Languages across the Curriculum (LAC) program, offering a one-credit-hour discussion section that is conducted in Arabic or Chinese but associated with a variety of courses offered in English, both in Asian studies and in such other departments as history or religious studies. This LAC recitation section offers students the opportunity to use their Arabic or Chinese language skills in a broader intellectual context.


The University has rich collections of books and periodicals on Asia in the relevant Asian languages, as well as in English and other Western languages. Experts in the collection development department for Davis Library are available to help students locate the materials they need. The University also has an outstanding collection of Asian films and other audiovisual materials, housed in the Media Resource Center at House Library.

Speaker Series

The department sponsors an annual speaker series. These events include lectures by prominent artists, scholars, and writers and are often cosponsored by other units on campus.

Study Abroad

UNC–Chapel Hill sponsors several study programs (summer, semester, and yearlong) in China, Egypt, India, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Korea, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, Oman, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, and Vietnam. Asian studies majors are strongly encouraged to take advantage of these opportunities to live and study in an Asian setting; UNC-approved study abroad programs also satisfy the experiential education requirement. For further information on these programs and other study abroad opportunities in Asia, contact the UNC Study Abroad Office.

Undergraduate Research

The department actively encourages undergraduate student research. Through classes, advising, and office hours, faculty members guide students toward defining areas of interest, conceptualizing research questions, identifying sources, and writing academic papers. Students may pursue research through independent studies, the senior honors thesis, and study abroad research opportunities such as the Burch Fellowship. Asian studies students have received a variety of competitive research support and travel awards, won regional contests for undergraduate papers, published papers in academic journals, and presented their work at such events as the Senior Colloquium in Asian Studies and the campuswide Annual Celebration of Undergraduate Research in the spring.