Asian Languages and Cultures

pdf icon Download PDF


All academic programs offered at the UM help students develop valuable transferable skills. Students majoring in Asian Languages and Cultures will gain proficiency in a foreign language, understand the structure and use of languages, and become familiar with the literature, history, and culture of this emerging region.

Whether specializing in East, Southeast, or South Asia, concentrators have established themselves in careers ranging from government to human services to the arts. The Bachelor’s degree also provides a firm basis for graduate work in the humanities, social sciences, law, or business. For students focusing their programs on a particular field, coursework in such areas as Asian religions, literature, cultural studies, or linguistics offers additional knowledge and abilities applicable across a wide range of professions.

Related fields include Linguistics, Political Science, History, Archaeology, Museum Studies, International Studies, and Anthropology.



Communication Skills

Reading and writing a second language
Reading for content and structure
Understanding historical language change
Writing clearly and carefully
Explaining complex concepts
Speaking to groups

Analytical Skills

Weighing values
Interpreting data
Reading critically
Comparing interpretations
Evaluating evidence

Interpersonal / Cross-Cultural Skills

Communicating between cultures
Adapting to other cultures
Working as part of a team
Understanding foreign value systems
Listening carefully
Interviewing nonjudgmentally
Developing flexibility

Research / Project Development Skills

Gathering information
Summarizing ideas
Using original sources
Compiling/recording data
Working with research subjects
Establishing hypotheses
Evaluating research results



Employers seek out individuals who can demonstrate excellent verbal and written communication skills, teamwork and interpersonal skills, initiative, and a strong work ethic. Student organizations or campus employment offer valuable opportunities to add to the skills you are developing in your classes. Other options include off-campus employment or volunteering in the community. Study abroad experiences are particularly helpful to foreign language concentrators to improve proficiency and gain intercultural skills. Finally, a summer internship may be the best way of all to test out a career field and develop marketable skills.



ALC concentrators develop both general and technical skills applicable to a wide range of careers. For example, cross-cultural skills may be equally useful whether working as a language teacher, a corporate recruiter, or a freelance journalist.

Many concentrators go on to graduate or professional school. The list below is a sample of careers undertaken by Asian Languages and Cultures graduates.

Communication Skills

Foreign correspondent
Professional association editor
Film critic
Technical writer
Academic press editor
K-12 teacher
College instructor open book icon
Language lecturer open book icon

Analytical Skills

Trade lawyer/broker open book icon
Grants and contract manager
National Security Agency analyst
Legislative committee staff person
Trade development officer
State Department officer

Interpersonal / Cross-Cultural Skills

Overseas business representative
Tour director
Manager of translation/language service
Manager, language school
Immigration officer
Student exchange program coordinator
Bilingual program teacher
International student advisor

Research / Project Development Skills

Market researcher
Corporate travel planner
Information manager open book icon
Special events coordinator
Museum/gallery curator
City cultural events planner
Special collections librarian

open book icon = Further Study Required

For more career information, see O*Net at



An intermediate level of language study is a requirement of the concentration; undergraduates with native or near-native ability are not encouraged to concentrate in their respective languages. The core courses in the modern languages of East, South, and Southeast Asia are designed to develop basic proficiency of reading, writing, aural comprehension, and speaking.

Complete information on course offerings and requirements may be found in the LSA Bulletin. Languages taught in ALC include:

  • Chinese
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Thai
  • Indonesian
  • Javanese
  • Vietnamese
  • Filipino
  • Hindi
  • Sanskrit
  • Tibetan
  • Urdu
  • Punjabi

Department of Asian Languages and Cultures
202 S. Thayer Street, Suite 6111

Newnan Advising Center
1255 Angell Hall



To explore opportunities for overseas study and work, go to: or

To begin connecting to professionals in fields that interest you, create your own LinkedIn account:

To identify internships or job opportunities, visit Handshake:

The Maize Pages list hundreds of organizations for students to get involved in:

On campus jobs (work-study and non work-study jobs) are listed at:

The Career Center
3200 Student Activities Building

The Career Guide series was developed by the University of Michigan Career Center, Division of Student Affairs, in cooperation with the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. ©2011 Regents of the University of Michigan