Intensive Chinese Language

For students whose primary goal is Chinese language acquisition, the Alliance offers intensive language instruction in China’s most cosmopolitan city. With a language pledge that requires students to speak only Chinese, plus 20 hours of language instruction per week, students make rapid gains in their language skills—and put them to immediate use while exploring one of China’s most vibrant urban centers.

Program Terms Fall Semester, Spring Semester
Credit Hours 15 - 18
Subjects Offered Chinese
Language Pre-Requisites Two Semesters of Chinese Language Study
Housing Homestay
Excursions Week-Long Field Study Trip
Application Deadlines April 15 (Fall), November 1 (Spring)

All students are encouraged to consider studying abroad for an academic year in China, whether continuing in their current program to deepen their knowledge of Shanghai, or at a different Alliance program to broaden their understanding of China’s regional diversity. 

The Intensive Chinese Language program offers 20 hours per week of Chinese language instruction for students who wish to focus on improving their Chinese language skills. To enroll students must have completed two semesters of prior Chinese language study.

Students also have the option to take one of the 21st Century City elective courses taught in English, bringing their courseload to a total of 18 credits. Not all electives may be offered in a given semester depending on enrollment and faculty availability.

Required Courses

Intensive Chinese Language (15 credits)

A placement exam during on-site orientation determines each student's appropriate language level.

CHIN 200 Intensive Intermediate Chinese I
CHIN 201 Intensive Intermediate Chinese II
CHIN 300 Intensive Advanced Chinese I
CHIN 301 Intensive Advanced Chinese II
CHIN 400 Intensive Advanced Chinese III
CHIN 401 Intensive Advanced Chinese IV
CHIN 600 Advanced Readings in Chinese

Language classes taught by full-time language faculty selected and trained by the Alliance.

Area studies courses are taught by faculty from various universities in Shanghai. See the 21st Century City program’s faculty page to review area studies course faculty information.

A study abroad experience is first and foremost an academic experience. All Alliance for Global Education courses have undergone a faculty review and approval process, and are transcripted by Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana. While in most cases students who have received approval from their home institution to study on an Alliance program can be assured of credits transferring, it is each student’s responsibility to work with the home school study abroad advisor and faculty or academic departments to ensure credit transfer for specific courses.  

Credits and Accreditation

Credits granted for Alliance courses are identified in course listings on the Curriculum page for each program, and appear on the official transcript issued at the completion of a student's term. Credit is issued in U.S. semester hours, ensuring that students continue to make progress toward their degrees and verifying the full-time course load they completed while abroad.

All Alliance courses have been reviewed and approved by Butler University’s Undergraduate Academic Programs Committee. Butler University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Programs approved by the Butler University College of Business—which include the Alliance’s International Business in China Program—are accredited by AACSB International, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.


Students receive a letter grade on a scale from A to F for every course taken while enrolled on an Alliance program. Withdrawals may be granted due to exceptional circumstances. Although policies at students' home institutions may differ, the Alliance does not permit students to take courses on a credit/no credit or pass/fail basis. Student grades are determined by criteria set forth in course syllabi. The grading scale used in determining letter grades is as follows:

Excellent      A+ 97-100% Acceptable C+ 77-79%
A 93-96% C 73-76%
A- 90-92% C- 70-72%
Good    B+ 87-89% Unsatisfactory D+ 67-69%
B 83-86% D 63-66%
B- 80-82% D- 60-62%
Failing F < 60%


At the conclusion of a program, an official transcript is sent to the participant's home school, with an unofficial copy forwarded to the participant. 

Because timelines for final evaluation may vary due to respective program calendars or administrative structures of partner universities abroad, transcripts may take longer to issue than they do at U.S. institutions. While the timeline varies by program, a general timeline for issuing transcripts is:

  • Fall programs - transcript issued in late February
  • Spring and Summer programs - transcript issued in late September

Transcripts are not released for students with an outstanding balance of program fees or other charge incurred while on the program. Students enrolling in consecutive terms with the Alliance do not receive their first term transcript until their second term fees are paid in full.

Students in Alliance programs from Summer 2014 and beyond can request additional transcripts of their transcripts online at any time from Butler University's online transcript ordering service provided by the National Student Clearinghouse, a nonprofit organization serving the higher education community. 

For all Alliance programs through Spring 2014, transcripts were issued by Arcadia University. Students enrolled during that time can request additional copies of transcripts online or in writing from the Arcadia University Registrar's Office.

If you have a question about the transcripting process or timeline, you may contact your Student Services Manager.

Academic Calendar

  • Fall 2015 term: August 26 - December 21
  • Spring 2016 term: February 12 - June 4

The Alliance orientation is mandatory. You should make your travel plans accordingly. More details can be found in the Pre-Departure Information section.

Given the program’s busy academic schedule, weekly local activities and excursions, and field study trips, the Alliance strongly discourages students from hosting visitors until the end of the semester. Please encourage family and/or friends to visit after the program has ended.


  • Suggested flight departure: February 11
  • Arrival in Shanghai: February 12
  • Orientation: February 13-15
  • Classes begin: February 16
  • Independent Travel*: March 16-20
  • Field Study Trip*: April 16-23
  • Final exams: May 30 - June 3
  • Program ends (students must depart by 12:00pm): June 4

* Organized trip dates are subject to change at any time.

2015 Fall Shanghai Program Calendar

  • Suggested flight departure: August 25
  • Arrival in Shanghai: August 26
  • Orientation: August 27-29
  • Classes begin: August 31
  • Independent Travel*: November 7-14
  • Field Study Trip*: October 4-11
  • Final exams: December 14-18
  • Students may depart: December 19
  • Students must move out of housing (by 12:00pm): December 21

* Organized trip dates are subject to change at any time.

For the first half of the semester students are housed with roommates in Tonghe International Apartments, across the street from the north gate of the university and a 10-15 minute walk from Alliance classrooms. 

The apartments include a bathroom, kitchen, and furnished bedrooms with desk, desk lamp, closet space, and a remote control heating/air-conditioning unit. The bedrooms also include sheets, pillows, and a comforter. Towels are not provided. The furnished common areas include a TV, filtered water dispenser, refrigerator, stove-top gas burners or a hotplate in the kitchen, and a balcony. Some apartments also have a small washing machine. Filtered water is replenished at student expense (12 RMB/$1.80 per tank) with the help of the Tonghe front desk staff. No kitchen utensils or other supplies are provided. During orientation all students are required to pay a 500 RMB (approximately $74 US dollars) housing deposit. If there is no damage to the room at the end of the program, this deposit will be refunded in full.

Students spend the second half of the semester with their Chinese host family.

All students in the Intensive Chinese Language program are required to live with a host family for the second half of the semester.

In homestays students gain an in-depth understanding of Chinese family dynamics and traditions through sharing meals and participating in other family activities.

Homestays provide students with an excellent opportunity to develop a more intimate understanding of Chinese culture and language through discussing and witnessing topics on Chinese culture, tradition and social life raised in the classroom with locals working and living in Shanghai up close. Moreover, during their homestays students find countless opportunities to improve their Chinese language skills.

Certain meals are provided by students’ host families. See the Food and Meals section for more information on which meals are included in the program fee.

Each student on the Intensive Chinese Language program is paired with a local Shanghai University of Finance and Economics (SUFE) student. Alliance students and language partners meet one-on-one for Chinese and language activities for two hours each week. However, students and their language partners often meet more regularly than the minimum requirement to explore Shanghai together. Language partners provide Alliance students with additional opportunities practice their Chinese in an informal setting, pick up popular Mandarin slang, and deepen their cultural understanding. In addition to tutoring, language partners help orient Alliance students to campus life. A consistently popular component of the program, language partners serve as valuable linguistic and cultural resources for the Intensive Chinese Language students throughout the term.

While living in the Tonghe International Student Dorms, students are responsible for providing their own meals. Many students eat in the new cafeteria on campus. Meals are inexpensive (about $1-3 per meal). Many students also eat in local restaurants, especially those on the street adjacent to the campus. Students should budget $15 per day for meals, which will allow them to eat some meals off campus at local restaurants if desired.

Midway through the semester, once students move into their homestay, breakfast and dinner are provided by the Chinese host family, while students are responsible for their own lunches throughout the week. Host families provide all three meals on the weekends unless students attend organized excursions or choose not to dine with the family due to other plans.

Vegetarians will find that good food is available in China. Most restaurants serve lots of vegetables, tofu dishes, and staples such as rice, noodles, or dumplings. Note that some restaurants may use animal fat in preparing dishes.

Throughout the semester, students are invited to take part in a full schedule of excursions, events, and lectures - all designed to enhance their understanding of China and the historical and modern influences that impact its culture and people. Students explore the famous Yuyuan Park, the historic Bund along the Huangpu River, and the former French concession. Field visits may include cultural performances, museum visits, special lectures, visits to artists' studios, architectural walking tours, and many opportunities to meet locals, including students from other campuses. Below is a sampling of activities from previous semesters. Specific activities for future terms are subject to change.

Lantern Festival

The Chinese Lantern Festival marks the end of Spring Festival (Chinese New Year). People usually celebrate with colorful lanterns, glutinous rice dumplings (tang yuan) and riddles.

Beijing Opera: The Story of the White Snake

The story is adapted from a famous classical Chinese novel and is an example of how the spiritual world often plays a role in the lives of the Chinese.

Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Center

The art center exhibits selected propaganda posters displayed across China from 1949 to 1979. Founder and owner Mr. Yang Peiming hosts the tour of the facilities and provides an introduction to his poster collection.

Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center

Students learn about Shanghai’s history and development and its ambitious plans for the future.

Visit to Baosteel in Baoshan District

A site visit to the largest iron and steel conglomerate in China. Baosteel is the sixth-largest steel producer in the world with revenues of $21.5 billion.

Yueju (Shaoxing) Opera Performance

This type of opera has a history of about 800 years and was derived from a kind of story-singing. At first, it was performed with a small drum and hardwood clappers for rhythm and later, choral and orchestral accompaniment was added.

Xintiandi and the Chinese Communist Party Museum

The excursion is led by the Fudan instructors of the "Issues in Contemporary Society and Culture" and "Contemporary Chinese Politics" courses. Students are encouraged to consider questions about tradition, modernization, and history and to pay attention to the ironies of their setting. Students are also asked to situate "Chinese culture" into a historical context of encountering the west.

World AIDS Day Discussion

Shao Jing, author of a very powerful academic article on the politics of HIV / AIDS and the value of bodies under a neoliberal regime, speaks to the Society and Culture class. Shao Jing completed his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago and is now a professor at Nanjing University. Simon Tang, Office Director of the Chi Heng Foundation, also speaks on the work of the Foundation with children affected by AIDS in China.

"My Shanghai" Migrant Students’ Photography Exhibit

“My Shanghai” is an exhibit showcasing photographs taken by sixth grade students from Jin Hu Primary School.

Acrobatics Show: Pu Jiang Qing

Acrobatics is a pearl in the treasure house of the traditional Chinese performing arts and has existed in China for more than two thousand years.

Independent Film: Gold of Bund

A contemporary drama directed by Wei Wu about recent university graduates seeking jobs.

Visit to the Shouchun Migrant School in Pudong

Students visit classrooms in small groups and communicate with migrant students in Chinese to understand their experiences.

Chinese Singing Competition (Final Activity of Chinese Week)

Students are divided into four groups to compete in singing Chinese songs.

Visit to Shanghai Roots and Shoots

Participants of this activity get a detailed picture of how an environmental NGO works in Shanghai. Some students have even begun volunteering for Roots and Shoots programs. 

Student Cooking Contest

Each semester, students participate in a Chinese cooking contest organized by the Chinese language teachers. The teachers take their groups shopping and then each group prepares their favorite dishes.

Chinese Salon

Students go from room to room, where they learn calligraphy, the Chinese equivalent of the game Mafia, Chinese chess, basic phrases in Shanghai dialect and other cultural activities. 

The Alliance arranges extra-curricular classes which may include Chinese painting, calligraphy, cooking, taiji or other martial arts, pottery, seal carving, or paper cutting. These classes offer a wonderful opportunity to learn more about traditional Chinese culture.

Program fees

Spring 2016 Program   $ 14,950
Fall 2015 Program   $ 14,950

What's Included

The program price includes tuition and fees, housing, pre-departure materials and advising, student visa authorization documents, orientation, organized activities, field study trips, course materials and basic stationary supplies, phone and internet set-up assistance, the services of a full-time resident staff, and medical/evacuation insurance.

what's not included

The program price does not include airfare to China, the cost of your student visa, meals, transportation, phone and internet, deposits required for local services, independent travel, and other items not mentioned as included.

out of pocket expenses

When making your budget, think about your spending habits – are you a “Just the Essentials” Traveler, happy to eat all meals with your host family and exploring the city on foot? Or are you more of the “Everything Extra” Traveler, who wants to experience everything – nights out at the clubs, shopping at boutiques, and traveling every weekend?

Estimated Out of Pocket Expenses for One Semester

Roundtrip airfare to China $ 1,300-1,800
Visa processing and shipping $ 260
Meals $ 750-1,000
Local transportation (varies by distance) $ 700-1,000
Phone usage (varies with data plan) $ 80
Internet usage $ 80
Incidentals and personal care items $ 50
Independent travel week $ 300-500
Entertainment $ 100-500
Weekend travel $ 100-500
Estimated Total $ 3,720-5,770

*Estimated in-country expenses based on 1.00 US Dollar = 6.36 Yuan Renminbi


Remember to check in with your home university and visit our Finances pages to learn more about financial aid and study abroad scholarships.

Our Shanghai program center sits just around the corner from Shanghai University of Finance and Economics (SUFE), within the center of Shanghai’s university district. Meet our on-site staff!


The Shanghai programs are located just outside of Shanghai University of Finance and Economics’ (SUFE) main campus within the center of Shanghai’s university district. The neighborhood is lined with numerous small shops and restaurants to serve the transient student population. Within two blocks of student housing, you can find many small shops and cafes as well as the cuisines of Xinjiang, Hunan, Sichuan, Korea, Japan, Mexico, the U.S.A., and more. Several parks and recreational facilities located on campus just blocks from students’ dorms serve as great places for Chinese and international students alike to study, relax, or play frisbee.

Just a short distance from campus is Wujiaochang (五角场), a long-standing commercial node that has undergone a dramatic makeover in recent years. Today you will find two large shopping malls with scores of shops and restaurants of all kinds, including electronics, books, clothing, a movie theater, KTV, numerous bakeries, Starbucks, Wal-Mart, Watson’s, and a Shanghai No. 1 Food Mart. You’ll also find H&M, Haagen Daz, and Sephora all in a row, as well as The Bank of China, ICBC, and ATM machines for China Construction Bank, Merchants Bank, and others. You can explore beyond this area’s student hangouts and cultural activities by easily catching metro line 10 downtown at Wujiaochang to experience the rest of what this exciting metropolis has to offer.

Shanghai University of Finance and Economics

The Shanghai University of Finance and Economics (上海财经大学), founded in 1917, is a multi-dimensional university with a core focus on applied economics and management and offering majors in law, philosophy, as well as humanities. SUFE, home to 24,000 students on two campuses, is administered by the Chinese Ministry of Education and has recently been selected as one of the "21st Century's Key Universities in China." It is the number one ranked finance and economics university in China. 

Check out this interactive map of the Alliance's resources across Shanghai:

View Alliance On Location: Shanghai in a larger map.

The Alliance organizes a one-week field study trip for students during the fall and spring semesters. Destinations may vary but usually include Yunnan or Qinghai province. Through exposure to China’s social, economic, and geographic diversity, as well as regional and ethnic inflections to the Chinese language that has been a focus of their studies, students gain a richly textured sense of the many realities that exist within China.

Yunnan Province

Yunnan province in southwestern China offers China's most diverse ethnic minority population, stunning scenery, and a rich history. Students gain deep insight into Yunnan's local culture and artistic heritage. They have the opportunity to experience urban life in Kunming, visit small Yi and Miao minority villages, and hike in the gorgeous, mountainous areas of this province. Participants of the trip may also explore the great natural beauty of the Stone Forest, the rain forest of Xishuangbanna, or participate in an extensive encounter with the Bai minority culture in the ancient town of Dali.

Alliance alumna Richelle shared her Field Study Trip experience on her blog in a six-part series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Part 6.

Qinghai Province

Located on the Tibetan Plateau, Qinghai is considered one of the most beautiful regions in China. Students may visit Ta'er Monastery, one of the six most famous Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in the world, travel to Qinghai Lake, the largest salt water lake in China and one of China’s best bird watching sites, or explore the ancient tombs of Liuwan. Students behold the breathtaking scenery, witness the contrast in development in the region versus the coast, and gain a deeper understanding of Qinghai’s minority nationalities.

Alliance alumna Rebecca shared her Field Study Trip experience on her blog in a two-part series: Part 1 and Part 2. You can also watch a past Qinghai trip video here.

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