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Japanese Major

The Japanese program at the University of Maryland offers a wide range of courses on the language, literature and linguistics of Japan.

The program features Japanese language instruction from beginning to advanced levels and provides training in both spoken and written Japanese. Additionally, several courses in Japanese language for special purposes are offered on a rotating basis, including business Japanese, translation and classical Japanese. We welcome students with no prior exposure to Japanese as well as those with extensive backgrounds, including heritage speakers.




Program Requirements


All students new to SLLC courses must take the online Foreign Language Placement Test (FLPT) before registering for classes. Click here for more specific information about the Japanese language placement assessment.

Prerequisite Courses for the Japanese Major (12 Credits)
Course #    Course Name                  Credits     Prerequisites
JAPN101    Elementary Japanese II    6            None
JAPN102    Elementary Japanese II    6            JAPN101

Language Acquisition Courses (24 Credits)

Students who place at a level above JAPN201 must take additional courses in Japanese language, and/or other Japan-related topics, to earn the equivalent total of 24 credits. Please consult with the major advisor for specifics.

Civilization & History Courses (6 Credits)

Students must take a total of two courses; one must be a pre-modern history and one a modern history course. Of these, one must be an East Asian civilization course, and one a Japanese history course. Possible combinations are outlined below.

Electives at 300-level or above (12 Credits)

One class (3 credits) must be in Japanese literature or cultural studies, and one class (3 credits) in Japanese linguistics. The remaining two classes (6 credits) must be on a Japan-related topic, although EALL300 can count toward the requirement. Note that linguistics courses typically have JAPN201 as a prerequisite. Courses on Japan in departments outside of ours, such as HIST or ARTH, may count toward the non-literature, non-linguistics electives, with permission of the advisor.

See TESTUDO for the current list of JAPN course offerings.

While many courses are not open to fluent or native speakers of Japanese, others may be. Please talk to the program advisor before registering.

Declaring a Japanese Major

We recommend that interested students declare their major as early as possible.

Step 1
Download the JAPN Major Requirements handout and the Major Sign-Up Form from our website and carefully read all requirements.

Step 2
Read through all information carefully and pencil in a sequence of courses to discuss with the current program advisor, Ms. Makiko Inoue ( Make an appointment to meet with the advisor and complete paperwork, including the 4-year-plan form, which you will receive and go over at your appointment.

Step 3
Contact the Office of Student Affairs at the College of Arts and Humanities (301-405-2108) to make an appointment to discuss the non-Japanese aspects of your 4-year-plan (bring signed form from previous step), including CORE or General Education courses. Walk-in hours are also available.

Step 4
If you are adding Japanese as an additional major, check with your home department and college to identify paperwork you may need to complete.

Waitlist, Holdfile, and Placement Test Policies


If you are interested in taking a course in the Japanese program but the class is full, please add your name to the waitlist. Keep in mind that beginning with the first day of classes and throughout the drop/add period, you must 'check in' DAILY to maintain your name on the list.

To be considered for enrollment in a course, YOU MUST ATTEND THE FIRST DAY OF CLASS AND SUBSEQUENT CLASSES. Japanese language classes are very intensive, and if you miss even one class it will be difficult to make up the work. Therefore students on the waitlist who do not attend the first day are not guaranteed a spot in the class, even should one become available.

Please also note that ALL students who register for Japanese language courses at UMD for the first time at ANY level must first take our online Japanese Language Placement Assessment (JLPA) and receive an appropriate score to be eligible to enroll. This includes JAPN101. More information about the JLPA is available on the "Placement" section of our website.


Holdfile for JAPN 101

Due to heavy demand for seats in our JAPN101 courses, we have placed restrictions on the number of seats available for seniors, juniors, sophomores and current freshmen in order to save room for our incoming freshman and transfer majors. When registering for 101, you may therefore receive a message indicating that you cannot currently sign up for the course. You should then be prompted to put your name on the holdfile, which is a special type of waitlist for the course.

If you are interested in taking the course in the fall, please put your name on the holdfile ONLY for those sections that will work with your schedule. In order to balance section enrollment, we may not be able to oversubscribe you to your first choice. Students are oversubscribed at the department's discretion and due to the demand for seats, we are not likely to be able to oversubscribe all students in the holdfile to the class. Also, you must have taken the JLPA and received placement into 101 to be eligible. We appreciate your understanding about this.

IMPORTANT: If we are able to oversubscribe you, we will contact you by email. Please be sure that your current email address is listed in the UMD system.



In some cases it is possible to be oversubscribed in a course that is full, but keep in mind that classes are oversubscribed at the INSTRUCTOR'S discretion. If you would like to be oversubscribed in a course, pick up a form in Room 1104 Jimenez Hall, fill it out and bring it to the first day of class. If the instructor agrees to oversubscribe you and signs the form, it is your responsibility to bring the completed form back to 1104 Jimenez, request an electronic stamp, and then register yourself for the course.


Japanese Language Placement Assessment (JLPA)

What is the placement assessment?

  • The Japanese Language Placement Assessment (JLPA) is an evaluation that helps students get placed into the appropriate level of Japanese.
  • The assessment usually takes approximately 90 minutes to complete.
  • Listening, reading, grammar and vocabulary skills will be assessed to determine your level of proficiency.

NOTE: This assessment is ONLY for incoming or current University of Maryland, College Park students in order to assess the appropriate level for them to begin study in our curriculum. It may NOT be used for credit by examination or other assessment purposes.

The JLPA at the University of Maryland is NOT the same as the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) given by the Japan Foundation. If you have taken the JLPT, no matter what your score, you still need to take our JLPA in order for us to determine your appropriate level in our curriculum.

The JLPA is governed by the UMD Code of Academic Integrity. Students are expected to perform at their highest level and should not solicit outside help with the assessment. Students’ placement will be assessed for accuracy after they have enrolled in the course. If it is determined that a student has been placed above or below their ability, the department reserves the right to reassign a student to the appropriate course.

Who needs to take the JLPA?

The JLPA is required for ALL students who wish to take Japanese language courses at the University of Maryland. Regardless of whether you have any previous Japanese study in high school or at another university, you must take the online assessment. Students with no previous background in Japanese should indicate that in the background questionnaire that appears at the beginning of the assessment. If students indicate that they are not heritage learners of Japanese (heritage learners are students coming from a background where Japanese was spoken in the home), and if they have no previous study or experience in the Japanese language, they will automatically be placed into Japanese 101 without having to take the remainder of the assessment.

If a student has successfully completed a language course at the University of Maryland and then subsequently studies abroad in Japan, that student will be required to take the JLPA with an instructor upon returning from Japan in order to determine appropriate placement.
In all cases, students placed at the 202 level or higher will need to contact our placement coordinator for further evaluation.

Taking the JLPA

In order to take the online JLPA, you must go to the following website: Once you log in to the site you will be prompted with the test instructions. After the test you will be given a score and a course placement. Students who place above JAPN202 will be given a ‘999’ classification for placement and be told to see an instructor. These students must meet with a Japanese instructor in August for further testing and evaluation in order to determine a higher Japanese course placement. In order to make this appointment see the next section below.

For ‘999’ Students Only: How do I make an appointment for further testing?
These students should contact our placement coordinator to set up an appointment. If you cannot take the test on the arranged date, please contact the placement coordinator to schedule another date.

How long will my placement results be valid?
For students who are placed in JAPN101-202, placement results will be valid for the current/immediately upcoming term and the subsequent semester. Once placement results are a year or more out of date, however, students must retake the JLPA in order to obtain an updated assessment of their ability. Thus, for example, if you take the JLPA in May or August in order to register for Japanese courses in the subsequent academic year, you must enroll during that academic year at the recommended level or retake the JLPA later for placement in the following summer or academic year.

For students who are placed in JAPN301 or above, placement results may be valid for longer than a year; students should consult with their instructor on the first day of class to be sure that they have been placed appropriately.

If you have any questions about the validity period for your placement after taking the test, please contact the placement coordinator for clarification.

What if I want to take classes in the summer?

If you plan to take a Japanese language course in the summer, please be sure to take the online placement prior to May 1 so that your results will be processed in time for you to enroll if necessary in the first summer session, which begins in late May-early June. Note that you will need a Directory ID, assigned to you during the application process to the university, in order to register for the JLPA.

IMPORTANT: All students must take the online JLPA prior to the first day of class. Furthermore if you are on the waitlist, be sure to attend the first day of class. If you take the FLPA and receive a ‘999’ placement, you must contact the placement coordinator and further evaluation should be undertaken by the end of the first week of the class at the latest.

If you have any questions, please contact the placement coordinator.

Study Abroad

About Study Abroad

For information on study abroad programs see the undergraduate advisor and contact UMD Education Abroad. Depending upon the program you select, it is possible to transfer credit back to UMD to your Japanese major.


Students Returning from Study Abroad in Japan

If you are returning from study abroad to Japan and plan to take Japanese language courses you must take the online JLPA prior to the beginning of the next semester that you plan to re-enroll at the university. After taking the JLPA, if you receive a score of placement of '999', follow the directions regarding '999' students below. Keep in mind that if you do receive a score of '999', you will also have to make an appointment for further evaluation of your level prior to the beginning of the semester.

Major Advisor

Makiko Inoue

Senior Lecturer, School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures
Senior Lecturer and Advisor, Japanese

(301) 405-0495