New York University's Department of History offers a Ph.D. in East Asian History in a field that builds on the strengths of its core faculty, and in close connection with faculties in related departments (East Asian Studies, Religious Studies, Art History, Anthropology, Sociology, and so on). Focusing on the early-modern to modern period of Chinese and Japanese history (17th century onwards), the field locates East Asia within a larger global framework. We encourage students to engage broadly with historical questions that emerged from within and that have helped shape the various East Asian societies, in their interactions with each other, and in the larger worlds of global diplomacy, culture, and capitalism.
Specific course guidelines are flexible and are tailored to the needs and abilities of each student. To qualify as a Ph.D. candidate, students normally take exams in three fields: a major field, a minor field, and a thematic field. The major and minor can be two separate chronologies of the same national history (e.g. Ming/Qing China, modern China), or two national histories (e.g. modern China and modern Japan). The thematic field should be a theoretical area of interest (e.g. gender studies, social theory, theories of nationalism, etc.); this latter field can be created in accordance with student interests and in consultation with the primary faculty advisor. The qualifying exam committee normally consists of three faculty members, two of whom must be from the History Department and one can be from a closely affiliated Department or another University (if necessary). The dissertation committee is normally comprised of five faculty members, two of whom, at most, can be from outside the Department or from another University.
All East Asian History candidates need to demonstrate proficiency in the East Asian language of their primary research (e.g. Chinese, Japanese, or Korean). Students should pass the language exam offered by GSAS or an equivalent body in the first year, if possible. While a language exam is sufficient for the GSAS requirement, the East Asian History faculty believe that a high level of fluency is better. We encourage students to attain a high level of spoken, written, and reading fluency.
A second research language is highly recommended. The second language can be another East Asian language, or any other modern or classical language that might be useful for the student’s research project. Individual students should consult with their advisors on the desirability of a second language.