Ground-based telescopes equipped with adaptive-optics (AO) systems and specialized science cameras are now capable of directly detecting extrasolar planets. We present the expected scientific capabilities of CHARIS, the Coronagraphic High Angular Resolution Imaging Spectrograph, which is being built for the Subaru 8.2 m telescope of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. CHARIS will be implemented behind the new extreme adaptive optics system at Subaru, SCExAO, and the existing 188-actuator system AO188. CHARIS will offer three observing modes over near-infrared wavelengths from 0.9 to 2.4 μm (the y-, J-, H-, and K-bands), including a low-spectral-resolution mode covering this entire wavelength range and a high-resolution mode within a single band. With these capabilities, CHARIS will offer exceptional sensitivity for discovering giant exoplanets, and will enable detailed characterization of their atmospheres. CHARIS, the only planned high-contrast integral field spectrograph on an 8m-class telescope in the Northern Hemisphere, will complement the similar instruments such as Project 1640 at Palomar, and GPI and SPHERE in Chile.