Beijing - Contemporary China & Chinese Language

IES Abroad

Program Description

Beijing - Contemporary China & Chinese Language

IES Abroad



Beijing is considered the place to study Chinese in China—it sets the standard pronunciation for the rest of the country. As the political, intellectual, and cultural capital of China, it is also an ideal place to study contemporary China. The people of Beijing are friendly and proud to be from this fascinating city—what a perfect environment to study abroad.

Our Contemporary China & Chinese Language program offers students an array of Chinese language courses, including upper level, topic-based Chinese language electives, and area studies courses taught in English. This program will benefit students who want to rapidly expand their knowledge of written and spoken Chinese, and their knowledge about China in general.

The program is based on the Beijing Foreign Studies University (Bei Wai) campus, one of Beijing’s premier academic universities. Grammar classes, small drill sessions, and hour-long private tutorials (twice a week) combine for an intensive study of Chinese two hours daily, four days a week. Advanced students may select additional 2-credit topical language classes, such as Classical Chinese, Modern Slang & Pop Culture, Personal & Business Communication.

In addition to your Chinese language coursework, you will choose from 3-credit Area Studies courses (taught in English) in disciplines such Asian Studies, Economics, International Relations, Political Science, and Literature to complement your language studies.

Beijing will be your classroom. Visit Beijing’s most significant palaces, the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace, and learn about the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Enjoy local customs, tea tastings, and regional cuisine—like jian bing crepes, zha jiang noodles and an assortment of jiozi dumplings. You can also practice your language skills and witness what you learn in the classroom first-hand by going to local markets and bargaining with vendors for the best deals or simply exploring this magnificent city. Everything you do will be part of your learning experience.

For students interested in education and child development, you have the opportunity to apply to take part in a unique Global Future Leaders (GFL) housing option. If selected for GFL, you will live with a Chinese homestay family for free (16 meals/week included) and will spend at least 20 hours per week teaching English to the child/ren of the homestay. This highly immersive and affordable option is an excellent way to learn in-depth about Chinese culture and customs, and make strong connections through GFL and your homestay family.

We want you to feel at home in Beijing, so we do everything we can to help you integrate into life in the city. With our introduction to Beijing during your orientation and our fun cultural events as a base, you’ll soon become familiar with the Beijing way of life.

Quick Facts

  • Center: IES Abroad Beijing
  • City: Beijing
  • Country: China
  • Program Credits: 15-19 credits
  • Language of Instruction: English, Chinese
  • Language Prerequisites: None

Program Dates

After you are admitted, refer to the Travel Dates section of the Predeparture Information in your MyIESabroad account before booking travel.

Fall 2017

  • Arrival: Friday, August 25, 2017
  • Departure: Friday, December 15, 2017
Spring 2018
  • Arrival: Friday, January 12, 2018
  • Departure: Saturday, May 5, 2018


Our mission is simple: to provide you with the best study abroad program possible—which includes the highest quality academic and cultural experiences. We offer courses that explore Chinese language and area studies through an in-depth and hands-on approach. Our world-class professors enhance your academic experience and provide you with new perspectives each day in class.

Fall, spring, and academic year students must enroll in a minimum of 15 semester credits.

In order to meet the 15-credit requirement, you take a required 6-credit Chinese language course and choose between a combination of the following:

  • 2-4 IES Abroad Area Studies Courses (3 credits each)
  • 2-3 IES Abroad Language Elective Courses (2 credits each; must be placed in 300-level Chinese or above)
Heritage Students

If you are a heritage speaker (you have a background of informal familial learning), you can take advantage of custom-designed programming that focuses on your individual language needs. IES Abroad Beijing reviews the level of each heritage student on a case-by-case basis and creates a program that allows you to progress further in small classes.

Center-Wide Language Pledge

Our Beijing faculty takes great pride in the quality of its language training. In order to create a Chinese language environment and maximize individual proficiency, you are required to observe a language pledge on the Beijing Foreign Studies University campus. “English-friendly weekends” are interspersed throughout the semester to give you a break from the rigors of the language pledge. Students with no prior language experience are expected to join the language pledge six weeks into the semester.




AR 180 - Chinese Calligraphy (Spring, Fall)

Asian Studies

  • AS/EC 312 - Modern Chinese Economy (Fall, Spring)
  • PO/AS/GO 318 - Chinese Government and Politics (Fall, Spring)
  • PO/AS/SO 301 - Contemporary Chinese Society (Fall, Spring)
Chinese Language
  • CN 102 - Chinese Language in Context: Novice Abroad I (Fall, Spring)
  • CN 203 - Chinese Language in Context: Emerging Independent Abroad I (Fall, Spring)
  • CN 320 - Writing Letters & Emails: Personal & Business Communication (Fall, Spring)
  • CN 351 - Chinese Language in Context: Independent Abroad I (Fall, Spring)
  • CN 370 - Modern Slang & Pop Culture (Fall, Spring)
  • CN 380 - Fluency Through Film (Fall, Spring)
  • CN 390 - Current Events Through Newspaper Reading (Fall, Spring)
  • CN 403 - Chinese Language in Context: Emerging Competent Abroad II (Fall, Spring)
  • CN 420 - HSK Preparation (Fall, Spring)
  • CN 520 - Chinese Language in Context: Advanced Chinese II (Fall, Spring)

AS/EC 312 - Modern Chinese Economy (Fall, Spring)


  • PO/AS/GO 318 - Chinese Government and Politics (Fall, Spring)
  • SO/GO 331 - Labor Movement and Social Change in China (Fall, Spring)
  • HS 331 - Late Imperial China (Spring)
  • HS 333 - The History of Beijing (Fall)
Political Science
  • PO/AS/GO 318 - Chinese Government and Politics (Fall, Spring)
  • PO/AS/SO 301 - Contemporary Chinese Society (Fall, Spring)
  • PO/AS/SO 301 - Contemporary Chinese Society (Fall, Spring)
  • SO/GO 331 - Labor Movement and Social Change in China (Fall, Spring)
Partner Institution(s)

Beijing Foreign Studies University

Popularly known as Bei Wai or BFSU, Beijing Foreign Studies University is one of Beijing’s most prestigious academic institutions. A teaching and research university, BFSU has a student body of 7,000 and is one of the 100 universities nationwide selected for priority development into the 21st century. IES Abroad is currently the only resident U.S. program at Bei Wai, giving you a better opportunity to integrate with Chinese students. Some students join the university student union and intramural sports activities, such as ping pong and basketball.


We want to make sure that your greatest challenge is deciding which landmarks to see first or discovering the best café—not finding a place to live where you feel comfortable. We do our best to locate housing that is reflective of how the local community lives. Our goal is that when you leave Beijing, it will feel like home.

All of our housing options present language-immersion environments to support rapid language advancement. Housing options will require a commitment to speaking Chinese as much as possible and adhering to household and residence hall etiquette that is in harmony with Chinese cultural norms and university regulations.


Homestays provide the ideal environment for learning about China and improving your Chinese language skills. Our homestays are usually located within a short walk or bus ride to the Center. All homestays feature a private bedroom. While living in a home may involve making some sacrifices of privacy and personal freedom, our Chinese homestay families are universally eager to get to know you and share their ideas, language, and culture with you.

You are provided breakfast and dinner by your host family, seven days a week, while the program is in session. Homestay opportunities may be limited.

International Student Dormitory with Chinese Roommates

Depending on availability, you have the extraordinary opportunity to live with a Chinese student in BFSU's International Student Dormitory. Although sharing a room with a Chinese roommate may require you to make cultural adjustments and compromises, the rewards are significant.

Students often develop strong friendships with the Chinese students in the dormitory, and enjoy impromptu gatherings both on and off the BFSU campus. Chinese roommates are selected from BFSU’s prestigious Chinese language department and the School of International Business.

The rooms are wired for Internet access and the dormitory includes student lounges, shared bathrooms, washing machines, and kitchen facilities.

Meals are not included, but you can eat at one of several university cafeterias or prepare your own meals in shared kitchens. Take advantage of the many small, inexpensive restaurants near the campus and throughout Beijing.

Student Life


The program begins with a specially- designed, five-day program introducing you to the IES Abroad staff, your fellow students, Beijing Foreign Studies University, and the city of Beijing. Topics such as academics, housing, transportation, cultural adjustment, and health and safety are covered during your orientation. You take an onsite language placement test to determine your appropriate language course level. One-on-one advising sessions on language and area studies classes are arranged, as well as homestay placement.

CORE™, IES Abroad’s Comprehensive Orientation and Re-entry Experience, begins during orientation and continues throughout the semester with activities focusing on cultural adjustment, goal achievement, and preparing for the return home.

Activities include “Explore Beijing” (task-based activities for you to learn the transportation system and to visit historical areas and places frequented by students), and the “Tiananmen Trifecta” (a tour of Tiananmen Square, the Beijing Urban Planning Center, and the Forbidden City).

Extracurricular Activities & Cultural Events

Redefine the way you live and learn in Beijing through our cultural events, such as:

  • Traditional Chinese painting and seal cutting
  • Guest lectures from leading scholars, journalists, and experts on Chinese culture
  • The Chinese Oratory Challenge
  • Karaoke (KTV)
  • Pronunciation and poem recitation club

If you are interested in volunteering while abroad, staff in Beijing can provide you with contact information. In past years, students have taught English and instructed science experiments in elementary and secondary schools. Other volunteer placements have included a women’s call center and an NGO assisting children with various disabilities. Volunteering is a great opportunity for cultural immersion and students find it significantly contributes to their language development and vocabulary expansion.

Additional Cultural Immersion

Looking to gain first-hand experience of Chinese life, customs, and cuisine while making long-lasting friendships? Check out the Global Future Leaders Immersive Homestay option (see Housing)!

Eligibility Requirements

  • 18 years of age
  • In good standing at your home school
  • 2.75 GPA or better on a 4.0 scale (GPAs under 2.75 will be considered on a case-by-case basis)
  • Sophomore, Junior or Senior standing when program begins

Passport & Visa Requirements

A passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the end date of the program, with at least two blank pages is required.

A student visa is required to enter China. Upon admission, you will receive more information about the application process and any related fees. The visa application process for non-U.S. citizens can be extremely lengthy, please contact us for more information.


Fall 2017

  • Tuition: $11,525
  • Housing: $3,175
  • Insurance: $230
  • Total: $14,930
Academic Year
  • Tuition: $20,735
  • Housing: $6,350
  • Insurance: $455
  • Total: $27,540
Consider these prices as a starting point. We encourage you to contact your study abroad office to determine the actual cost to you when factoring in financial aid, scholarships, your home school policies, and other factors.
This school offers programs in:
  • English
  • Chinese
IES Abroad

Last updated February 8, 2018
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Start date
Aug. 2018
Sept. 2018
1 - 2 semesters
Full time
14,930 USD
China - Beijing
Start date: Aug. 2018
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Start date: Jan. 2019
Application deadline Request Info
End date May 5, 2018
Hong Kong - Hong Kong
Start date: Sept. 2018
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Aug. 2018
China - Beijing
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Sept. 2018
Hong Kong - Hong Kong
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Jan. 2019
China - Beijing
Application deadline Request Info
End date May 5, 2018
Program cost Fall 2017