• KATSUYA HIRANO: Ph.D., University of Chicago, 2004.
    Early modern and modern Japan; Colonialism; Critical Theory; Marxian Theory of History
  • WILLIAM MAROTTI: Ph.D., University of Chicago, 2001.
    Modern Japanese history; Everyday life; Cultural-historical issues
    310-825-4368; marotti@history.ucla.edu

Emeritus Faculty

  • HERMAN OOMS: Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1973.
    Pre-modern Japanese History; Cultural Theory
    310-825-3221; ooms@history.ucla.edu


The UCLA History Department is acknowledged as one of the great centers for the study of history in the world. The Japan field constitutes a vital and respected part of the department, with a long history of distinguished scholarly activity, and dozens of graduates teaching at prestigious institutions throughout the country. Its current faculty (Hirano and Marotti) offer complementary approaches and cutting-edge research and instruction across the early modern and modern periods. Our highly selective graduate students form a collegial and energetic cohort, with a diversity of research interests and backgrounds, and receive flexible and comprehensive training facilitating innovative new work. Beyond the resources within the department, students avail themselves of research, instructional, and collaborative activities across the university and the region through a variety of interdisciplinary, regional and intercollegial institutes and exchanges.

Requirements for the Doctorate in Japanese History


For the M.A. degree, three years of Japanese required. For the Ph.D., four years of Japanese coursework (advanced level) or its equivalent–demonstrated ability in specialized Japanese that will allow one to read source materials, e.g. coursework or its equivalent in kanbun, sorobun, bungotai, and/or Meiji documents. Coursework is permitted in lieu of the specific language exams with faculty advisor’s approval Admission to candidacy for the Ph.D. in the Japanese field requires the completion of a research seminar in the major field. Successful completion of this seminar usually requires the equivalent of at least four years of superior college-level language work in Japanese.


As a candidate for the Ph.D., you must meet (a) the special requirements for admission to the doctoral program listed on the Department’s website under Academics/Graduate/Admission Information; and (b) the general requirements set forth under the Graduate Division. An excellent command of English, spoken and written, the ability to read at least two foreign languages (in our case, earlier forms of Japanese language, such as enumerated above, will be considered acceptable as a second language competence), and an acquaintance with general history are expected of all candidates.  You are further required to complete at least four graduate seminars with the Japan history faculty, which may include independent study courses. These seminars may also include one course with either visiting or extra-departmental faculty, with approval of the Japan field.

All students must write a dissertation prospectus (which could be written for credit as a history 596 or 597) expected to contain: (a) a full statement of the dissertation topic; (b) an historiographical discussion of the literature bearing on the topic; (c) a statement of the methodology to be employed; and (d) a survey of the sources sufficient to demonstrate the viability of the topic. The prospectus must be approved by the dissertation adviser prior to the oral part of the qualifying examinations. After approval, copies will be given to each member of the examining committee.

Courses taken to fulfill M.A. degree requirements may also be used to satisfy Ph.D. requirements.

Doctoral Written and Oral Examinations

Before admission to candidacy, you must pass written and oral examinations. Students with outstanding incompletes may not be permitted to sit for these exams.

  • Written Examination

In the written qualifying examinations, you are expected to demonstrate synthetic and in-depth competence in each of the examining fields. This includes both awareness of broader historiographical and methodological debates, as well as an appreciation of the stakes and issues involved in such analyses. You will be examined on a minimum of three fields, selected in consultation with your faculty advisor. One of the fields may be taken with an examiner from outside of the department, with approval from the advisor.

The written qualifying examination will cover all of the fields. Normally, the exam consists of an eight-hour written essay response for the major field, and either four or eight hour responses for the remaining fields (the time to be agreed upon by the examiners and the student at their option). The written exams may be taken in staggered order, but normally no less than one per week until completion. The written qualifying examination must be passed before the oral qualifying examination can be taken. The members of the doctoral committee determine whether or not an examination may be repeated (normally only once), based on their prognosis of your potential for successfully completing both the written and oral examinations within a specified period of time to be designated by the doctoral committee, but not to exceed one calendar year.

  • Oral Examination

The oral examination will consider the completed prospectus for the student’s dissertation topic. Normally the oral examination of the completed prospectus will follow within six months or less of the written examination. The examining committee will consist of the members of the student’s doctoral committee. For more information on how to form a doctoral committee, please consult the Graduate History Intranet.