You are here


The Japanese civilization extends back more than 1,200 years; its contributions to global culture include art, poetry and the world's first novel. Today Japan is the world's second-largest economy, making vital contributions to science and technology. As a Japanese major, you will first build a strong foundation in the Japanese language, then cultivate an understanding of Japanese literature and civilization. You will gain perspective and context about Japanese culture from classes in Japanese history and anthropology.


From Michelangelo, DaVinci, Galileo, Machiavelli, Dante and Petrarch to Federico Fellini and Umberto Eco, Italian speakers and the Italian culture have shaped how we view ourselves and the world. A major in Italian explores the people, culture, linguistics, film and literature of Italy. You will study Italy's historical importance and its contemporary society. Most classes are small and provide individual attention from instructors. A knowledge of Italian also allows you to study abroad in a wide range of subjects and cities across Italy.


The influence of German language and culture reaches far beyond the boundaries of Germany itself. Bach, Hegel, Goethe and Einstein are only a few of the prominent artists, musicians, philosophers and scientists to come from Germany. As a German major, you will explore the myriad aspects of the German-speaking world. The major is designed to cultivate deeper understanding of the society and institutions beyond the language. With Germany's influence within the European Union steadily growing, opportunities abound for internships and study abroad.


French is spoken in several European countries; Tahiti; parts of Canada, Africa, the Caribbean and South America; and as a diplomatic or second language by much of the educated world. The French major cultivates critical, analytical thinking; a historical perspective; and an appreciation of cultural difference. As a French major at UC Davis, you will study with distinguished, well-published faculty enhanced by frequent guest lecturers. You can participate in education abroad programs in France and in other countries.

East Asian Studies

East Asian countries play important roles in today's global culture and economy. As the U.S. increasingly "pivots toward Asia," understanding the history, culture, and day-to-day workings of these regions becomes ever more important. The East Asian Studies major offers comparative studies of a region that has been integrally linked for centuries by trade and the exchange of philosophical ideas, religion, literature and art.

Comparative Literature

Through the study of writings from authors of different cultures, backgrounds and periods of history, we learn to appreciate the commonalities all humans share as well as the differences that give rise to our diversity. From Aesop's fables and Lady Murasaki's early Japanese novels to the contemporary work of such writers as Morrison and Garcia Marquez, comparative literature majors explore a broad range of genres, styles and themes.

Classical Civilization

Democracy, individualism, monotheism, architectural proportion, musical harmony: all these concepts were first developed by the classical civilizations of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Israel, Greece and Rome. As a classics major, you will examine ancient literature, art, philosophy and government, focusing on how ideas dating from classical times still affect the modern world; you will also have the opportunity to study the Greek, Latin and Hebrew languages.


A major in Chinese is the gateway to the world's most widely spoken language, the historical traditions of Chinese society and the modern culture of almost one-fourth of the world's population. Even if you have no prior knowledge of Chinese, you will achieve fluency in written and spoken Mandarin. Small classes, advanced teaching methods and educational technology help you perfect your language skills and gain knowledge of China's literary and cultural heritage. You may also study abroad in China, Taiwan or Hong Kong for first-hand experience.