The core requirements for the EALC major allow students flexibility in designing their own course of study. Majors typically select one language and cultural area (Chinese, Japanese, or Korean) in which they do most of their course work. For this reason, one frequently hears students on campus speaking about "majoring" in Japanese, Chinese, or Korean, though strictly speaking all these students are actually majoring in EALC. Majors are encouraged to explore beyond their individual language focus by enrolling in the full range of EALC courses available in literature, film, history, media, and other aspects of East Asian cultures.
Core requirements for EALC majors consist of a cross-cultural survey course, a cultural studies course, and a language requirement that may be waived by placement test. Students then also take four upper-division elective courses (16 units), one of which can be replaced by a fourth-year language course. In addition, one upper-division course on East Asia from another department may be used to count toward the 16 units, if approved by the adviser.