As a Chinese Major, study abroad will be one of the most important experiences of your academic career. The many differences between Eastern and Western culture along with the difficulty of the Chinese language make study abroad in China an informal requirement of the major.

Many Chinese majors pursue degrees in other fields in order to compete with native speakers in the international job market. If you are considering working abroad after graduation, studying abroad in China will improve your language competency by giving you the opportunity to interact with many native speakers.

Many study abroad programs in China offer language intensive courses that are transferrable for Chinese majors. Depending on your language competency, literature, history, and elective courses may be taken abroad as well.

Many study abroad options are available to you. From 8-week summer programs to full-year enrollment at a Chinese university, there are plenty of opportunities to earn credit toward your degree.

Various scholarships are available for Chinese majors wishing to study abroad including the Cheng/Liu Summer Scholarship and Stanley Summer Scholarships. More information about these awards can be found on the Division of World Language's web page.

As a Chinese Major, it is relatively easy to study abroad at any point during your time at the UI. It is recommended that you complete at least 1 year of language study before studying abroad. The better you speak the language, the more options you’ll have in terms of the courses you can take. If you are interested in taking a variety of courses abroad, you might wait until you have completed your second or third year of language study.

Chinese majors may not take General Education courses abroad. The Fulfilling Academic Requirements section of this MAP will aid you in coordinating your study abroad experience with your major’s 4-year graduation plan.


Your first year is best spent fulfilling General Education requirements and language prerequisites. If you’re interested in getting a head start on your language study, the summer between your first and second year is a good time to study abroad.


Sophomore year is a good time to study abroad. Most language and culture courses taken abroad will count toward your major—just be sure to get your course list approved by a faculty advisor. Refer to your 4-year graduation plan to ensure you’ll be at the right language level and will earn the required number of hours before your seventh semester begins.


Junior year is also a good time to study abroad. Again, most language and culture courses taken abroad will count toward your major. Depending on your language competency, you might be able to get additional courses approved by your faculty advisor.


Your senior year also works for studying abroad—just double-check that all of your requirements will be met for graduation upon your return.


If you can’t seem to fit study abroad in during the school year, consider a short-term summer program like Iowa in Tianjin! 

Studying abroad in the summer is also a great way to get a head start on the language courses you’ll take during the school year.

Chinese Majors

Be sure to review your major requirements before registering for courses abroad. In general, Chinese majors may earn up to 6 credits for language courses taken abroad and 3 credits for culture studies courses. Language prerequisites for entrance into the major may be fulfilled abroad as well. Chinese literature, history, and elective requirements are best fulfilled at the UI, although this restriction is negotiable depending on your language competency.

General Education and Electives

Because most of the courses offered abroad will be taught in Chinese, general education courses should be fulfilled at the UI.

The courses you take abroad need to be approved by a faculty advisor prior to your departure. Again, the courses you’ll be able to take are dependent on your language competency, so be sure to check with your advisor about this. Helen Shen approves study abroad courses for Chinese Minors.

After reading through this MAP, make sure to check out our Steps to Studying Abroad page to learn about our Discover Study Abroad sessions and how to start planning your time abroad. Ideally, you should begin to plan your study abroad experience at least two semesters in advance of your departure date. Be in touch with a Study Abroad advisor and your academic advisor early in the planning process.

All students who study abroad must be in good academic and disciplinary standing. Each program listed has coursework taught in English unless otherwise stated. In addition, each program has specific eligibility requirements that may include GPA, prerequisites, and/or class standing. Please see the specific program page on the Study Abroad website at



Iowa in Tianjin

The Iowa in Tianjin summer program was developed by the University of Iowa Department of Asian Languages and Literature and the School of Chinese Language and Culture housed within Tianjin University of Technology (TUT). This eight-week program is open to students who have completed 1-3 years of college-level Chinese and is designed to improve language proficiency. UI students enroll in an intensive Chinese language course, a Chinese area studies course, and a Chinese folk art course.

CIEE Beijing Intensive Chinese Language
Fall, Spring, Academic Year, Summer

This program is open to students who have completed at least two semesters of college-level Chinese and is designed to enable intermediate and advanced language students to increase their Mandarin proficiency. Students take classes at Peking University (PKU) and enroll in two Chinese language courses and one or two elective courses. The required courses are Intensive Chinese and Spoken Chinese. Chinese language electives at PKU include Intermediate Business Chinese, Chinese Pronunciation Correction, Intermediate Chinese Characters, Advanced Chinese Writing, and Ancient Chinese.

CIEE Beijing Advanced Chinese Studies
Fall, Spring, Academic Year

This program is open to juniors or seniors who have superior-level Chinese language skills, typically defined as eight semesters of college-level Chinese language courses. Students take classes in Chinese at Peking University. Students can enroll in classes offered by various departments and schools such as the Department of Chinese Language and Literature, the Department of History, or the School of International Studies. Courses relevant to the Chinese major include Ancient Chinese History, Contemporary Chinese Literature, Ancient Chinese Culture, Chinese Film Studies, and Introduction to Chinese Politics.

CIEE Shanghai Accelerated Chinese Language
Fall, Spring, Academic Year, Summer

This program is open to students who do not have any Chinese language experience, as well as those with higher-level proficiency. Students take courses at the CIEE Shanghai Center and enroll in two consecutive accelerated Chinese language courses that focus on rapid language acquisition. Student also enroll in an additional elective course, organizational internship, or directed independent research. Examples of elective courses include Modern Chinese History, Chinese Film and Society, Issues in Chinese Society, and China’s International Relations.