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Distinguished Majors Program

The Distinguished Majors Program (DMP) in East Asian Languages, Literatures, and Cultures offers students with superior academic performance and accomplishment an opportunity to do advanced work beyond the ordinary undergraduate level in the form of a thesis based on independent research. DMP is intended for students who want to work with tenure-stream faculty in their areas of scholarly expertise. Sources from the target language are an essential component. If a translation is the centerpiece of the thesis, it must be annotated and accompanied by an extensive analysis. The thesis will normally take the form of a 30 to 50 page research paper, but depending on the nature of the project, other forms will be accepted. A final draft should be submitted to the first reader, second reader, and the Director of Undergraduate Studies no later than April 30. Theses cannot be counted towards a second major.

To qualify, students must have a grade point average of 3.4 or better, both cumulatively and in the major, at the time of application and graduation. They must also take a two-semester sequence in their final year: EAST 4998-4999 if they are an East Asian Studies major, or EALC 4998-4999 if they are a Chinese or Japanese major. Expectations for completing these courses are described in more detail below.

For FORM related to the DMP program, please click here. Please note that applications are always due in the spring semester of the student's third year.

Application and Admission:

Applications are submitted to the Chair of the Department. Materials should include:

1.  A page-long proposal for the project that includes:

  • Preliminary title
  • Brief explanation of: the topic’s significance, how you came to be interested in it, the questions you want to apply to it, and the means by which you will try to answer them
  • Propose 2 readers for your thesis from faculty you have already taken courses with: a primary reader who will submit your final grade for both semesters, and a secondary reader who will participate in your defense of the thesis; be sure to justify your selection sufficiently, as approval is contingent upon the agreement of both readers
  • Brief description of how the project fits with your post-graduation plans

2.  One writing sample in the form of a research paper from a course that the student has taken;

3.  One copy of the student’s most recent transcript.  A minimum GPA of 3.4 is required at the time of application.


In order to receive full credit for each half of the DMP sequence EALC 4998-4999 in the case of East Asian Languages and Literatures majors, or EAST 4998-4999 in the case of East Asian Studies majors, the following grading criteria are used:

  • EALC/EAST 4998 mid-term grade: based on a bibliography of relevant secondary language materials that briefly describes each entry’s topic, and a detailed description of the nature and sources of the primary materials in the target language that are being used. These should follow an established format with a table of contents that incorporates East Asian script after keywords, bibliographical entries, and other generic conventions particular to the topic under study and the methodology used;
  • EALC/EAST 4998 final grade: based on a research paper (thesis) as a working draft and an evaluation of all of the secondary scholarship from the bibliography completed in the prior stage;
  • EALC/EAST 4999 final grade: based on a final draft of at least 20 pages incorporating all the feedback from the first and second readers and submitted on May 3.

The Deadline for submitting a bibliography with a Table of Contents in EALC/EAST 4998:  October 31

The Deadline for submitting a working draft of a research paper (thesis) in EALC/EAST 4998:  by the first week of December 

The Deadline for submitting a first draft for the thesis in EALC/EAST 4999:  by the week of March 15

The Deadline for submitting a final draft of the thesis in EALC/EAST 4999:  April 30

All DMP students are also automatically eligible for the annual Mastercard Fellowship, established by Ms. Rebecca George and Mr. H. Eugene Lockhardt, Jr. to encourage the study of Asia. Receipt of the fellowship is based on merit with a successful candidate showing excellence in language study and creative approaches to topics relating to Asia. The award will go toward the payment of tuition or fees.

Commencement honors of Distinction, High Distinction and Highest Distinction require a minimum GPA of 3.4 as well as timely completion of the senior thesis. Honors are awarded on the basis of overall academic performance as well as at the recommendation of the first and second readers of the thesis.