Center Mission


To educate the American scholarly community and the broader American and Korean public about Korean civilization in all its diversity.

The Center supports UCLA’s academic and research programs on Korea through the following activities:

  • supporting a dynamic research environment in Korean Studies and helping to disseminate that research to a wide audience, both nationally and internationally;
  • coordinating curricular development in Korean Studies at UCLA and expanding Koreanist faculty in departments throughout the university;
  • promoting research exchanges among scholars from the United States, Korea, and other nations;
  • training the next generation of scholars for academic careers in Korean Studies both in the United States and abroad;
  • preparing students for careers in the public and private sectors in positions related to Korea;

Over 3,300 students of Korean heritage study at UCLA, the most of any university in the United States.

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) houses the largest and most prestigious Korean program of any university in the continental United States. Starting in 1985, Korean Studies at UCLA has grown rapidly into a program with:

  • the largest permanent faculty specializing in Korean Studies of any university on the American mainland (10 tenured and tenure-track faculty);
  • the most students of Korean heritage of any university in the United States (3,300 in 1999);
  • the widest array of courses in both the humanities and social sciences (40 regularly scheduled courses on Korea);
  • the most Ph.D. specializations of any Korean Studies program in the United States.
  • the first undergraduate major in Korean Language and Culture to be offered by a university on the U.S. mainland, with special features designed to accommodate the unique needs of 1.5- and 2nd-generation Korean-Americans;
  • an innovative program in Bilingual Immersion education with the Los Angeles Unified School District to train a generation of Korean-American students who will be perfectly bilingual and bicultural in any professional setting;
  • regular international conferences, which bring together scholars from Korea, the U.S., and elsewhere in the world;
  • a new publication series published in conjunction with the UCLA Asian Pacific Monograph Series.

"I hope to continue the work of my predecessor, Robert Buswell, in maintaining UCLA as the premier institution for the study of Korea in the West, and at the same time, I also hope to build strong cooperative relations with my colleagues in the centers for Chinese, Japanese and Southeast Asian studies in order to integrate Korea more effectively into research and teaching about Asia and to promote a more comprehensive vision of the region as a whole."

-- John B. Duncan, Director, UCLA Center for Korean Studies

UCLA’s Korean Studies scholars are the most prolific group of Korean Studies researchers in the United States, with over 20 books and scores of articles to their credit.

Ten tenured or tenure-track professors of Korean Studies and two lecturers in Korean language and linguistics teach at UCLA. These scholars are the most prolific group of Korean Studies researchers in the country, with well over 20 books and scores of articles to their credit. Their collective research books and monographs far exceed the publication record of any other university faculty in Korean Studies in the Western world.

Over 2,000 students every year take classes at UCLA dealing with Korea.

UCLA’s Koreanist faculty teach regularly over 40 courses related to Korea, on topics ranging from traditional and modern history, literature, art history, folklore, and religion, to contemporary sociology, anthropology, linguistics, and social welfare. Over 2,000 students every year take classes on Korea at UCLA.

The Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures (EALC) at UCLA offers a comprehensive curriculum in Korean language, including four years of instruction in modern Korean and extensive training in traditional literary, historical, and religious texts written in classical Chinese and Sino-Korean. UCLA is in fact the only university in the United States that offers a regular curriculum in Korean classical language.

UCLA has the largest enrollment of students of Korean heritage of any university in the country--over 3,300 students in 1999 out of a total UCLA enrollment of 35,000. For this reason, the university has designed the first program in Korean language instruction that caters specifically to the unique needs of 1.5- and 2nd-generation Korean-Americans.

The Center for Korean Studies has also collaborated over the last four years with the Los Angeles Unified School District to develop a Korean-English Bilingual Immersion Program, in which students in elementary school are being taught to use both English and Korean in all academic subjects. We hope through this innovative program to train a generation of Korean-American students who will be perfectly bilingual and bi-cultural and able to function effortlessly in any professional setting in either the United States or Korea.

UCLA offers 40 courses in the Humanities and Social Sciences focusing on Korea, the widest array of courses in any university curriculum.

UCLA offers two undergraduate degrees in Korean Studies: a B.A. in Korean Language and Culture and an interdisciplinary B.A. in East Asian Studies (Korea Emphasis). M.A. and Ph.D. degrees are also offered in Korean Studies, with specialties including history, literature, linguistics, religious studies, art history, folklore, and the social sciences. In 1998, nearly 100 UCLA students were undergraduate majors in Korean, and over 50 students were pursuing graduate degrees in various fields of Korean Studies. UCLA’s first generation of doctoral students in Korean Studies has now graduated. These exceptional alumni are now occupying academic positions at several major universities, and have begun to establish themselves as leaders in the field of Korean Studies both in the United States and abroad.

The Center for Korean Studies also maintains exchange agreements with 11 major Korean universities, which allows sharing of faculty and research projects between our campuses. About 15 scholars from Korean institutions of higher education visit the Center on an annual basis, substantially enriching the Center’s programs.

Faculty in Korean Studies

Faculty in Korean Studies (tenured and tenure-track)


  • UCLA: 10
  • Harvard: 3
  • Columbia: 2
  • Chicago: 2
  • Washington, Seattle: 1
  • UC Berkeley: 2
  • USC: 4

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Welcome

Welcome to the UCLA Center for Korean Studies.

The UCLA Center for Korean Studies was established in 1993 to coordinate development of UCLA's burgeoning programs in this field of research.

Despite its short history, the Center now presides over the biggest Korean Studies program on the mainland of the United States, with the most specialists dedicated to Korea on its faculty and the largest number of students studying Korean subjects, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.