Tango Builder: Academic Subjects

 This is a relatively comprehensive list of academic subjects in Japanese. Most people learn words for the basic school subjects like math and history at some point, but I’ve never found a good complete list anywhere, so I decided to make one.

The character 学 (gaku), which means “learn” or “study”, appears in many subject names. (In this use, it’s equivalent to the suffix “-logy” in English.) Longer subject names are often abbreviated by leaving off the gaku.

人文学 / Humanities (i.e. Non-sciences) 

  Kanji Kana Romaji English
  哲学 てつがく tetsugaku philosophy
  歴史 れきし rekishi history
  文学 ぶんがく bungaku literature
1 語学 ごがく gogaku language study

1 Not to be confused with 言語学 (gengogaku) “linguistics” (the study of language in general).

社会科学 / Social Sciences

  心理学 しんりがく  shinrigaku psychology
  社会学 しゃかいがく  shakaigaku sociology
1 言語学 げんごがく  gengogaku linguistics
2 人類学 じんるいがく  jinruigaku anthropology
  地理(学) ちり(がく)  chiri(gaku) geography
3 経済(学) けいざい(がく)  keizai(gaku) economics
4 政治学 せいじがく  seijigaku political science

1 Not to be confused with 語学 (gogaku) “language study” (learning a particular language).

2 人類 (jinrui) = mankind

3 経済 (keizai) = economy

4 政治 (seiji) = government/politics

自然科学 / Natural Sciences

1 生物(学) せいぶつ(がく) seibutsu(gaku) biology
2 化学 かがく kagaku  chemistry
  物理(学) ぶつり(がく) butsuri(gaku) physics
  天文(学) てんもん(がく) tenmon(gaku) astronomy
  地質(学) ちしつ(がく) chishitsu(gaku) geology
3 環境科学 かんきょうかがく kankyou kagaku environmental science

1 生物 (seibutsu) = living things

2 科学, also pronounced kagaku, means “science”

3 環境 (kankyou) = environment

その他 / Other Subjects

  数学 すうがく suugaku mathematics
1 統計(学) とうけい(がく) toukei(gaku) statistics 
  工学 こうがく kougaku engineering
  医学 いがく igaku medical science

1 統計 (toukei) = statistics (the actual numbers, rather than the subject)

See Also

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