Beijing: East Asian Civilizations

The Young Du Chung Chin East Asian Civilizations Program in Beijing
The group poses on a bridge on a cloudy day.

Program Term:


Language Requirement:



 Naira Ovsepyan

Application Deadline:


Please note: The program will be on hiatus for Autumn 2023.

The Autumn quarter Beijing program is constructed around a three-quarter civilization sequence, treating aspects of East Asian culture, history, politics, and society.

    This sequence is taught in English by Chicago professors, its emphasis shifting from year to year in accordance with the interests and expertise of that year’s faculty. While China, in keeping with the location of the program, will hold a central position in the sequence, some professors may choose to focus on other Asian countries such as Korea or Japan. In addition to the civilization sequence, students take a fourth course in Chinese language, taught at various levels, designed to facilitate their access to the local culture.

    Beijing itself, the fabled “Northern Capital” of the Ming Dynasty, now the political and cultural capital of modern China, plays a key role in this program, and a series of excursions and site visits helps connect the courses with the physical reality, past and present of China.

    Headquarters for the College’s study abroad programs in Beijing is the University of Chicago Center in Beijing, located in the Haidian District on the campus of Renmin University. The Chicago Center in Beijing features classrooms, offices for faculty, student gathering spaces, computer facilities, and conference areas. For participants in Chicago’s programs the Center in Beijing provides a focus for academic activities, a central meeting place, and a continuing “Chicago presence” within one of the major capitals of Asia.

    Students in the Beijing program reside in the modern and newly renovated international student dormitory on the Renmin University campus, a few minutes’ walk to the Center in Beijing and immediately accessible via the subway line 4. Students live in furnished, shared suites with bath, internet, phone, and television, as well as access to on-site kitchen and laundry facilities. The residence hall also offers a coffee shop, a convenience store, and 24-hour security and reception. With their student ID cards, participants can take advantage of a variety of university facilities including dining halls, a comprehensive gym, and a library.

    It is important to recognize the cultural context of student housing in China and understand that the amenities of the dorms may vary. Although some of these differences may take some getting used to, remember that cultural differences extend to all aspects of your experience abroad. Having realistic expectations for your term in Beijing will help you approach the study abroad experience with a positive attitude.

    Participants in the Beijing program remain registered as full-time students in the College. They take and receive credit for four courses: the three-course East Asian Civilizations sequence and the Chinese in Beijing course, taught by Renmin University language instructors. The civilization sequence meets the College’s civilization requirement. Students who have already met this requirement may use these courses as electives. Their use, partial or total, in a program of study (major) must be approved by the undergraduate chair of the student’s respective major. The language course will normally count as an elective. Please note: this course is not keyed to Chicago’s Chinese language sequences and will not normally be usable toward Chicago’s language requirement. It is possible, however, for a program participant to sit for a Chinese placement examination after returning from Beijing and in this way continue the study of Chinese at Chicago (indeed this is very much encouraged). Course titles, units of credit, and grades are placed on the College transcript.

    Study abroad students pay regular College tuition, a program fee, and a nonrefundable study abroad administrative fee. The tuition and program fee are paid in conformity with the home campus payment schedule, and the nonrefundable study abroad administrative fee is submitted when accepting a place in a program. Precise figures for the Beijing program during the 2022–2023 year are listed below:

    Autumn tuition: as set by the Bursar’s Office

    Study abroad administrative fee: $675

    Beijing program fee: $5,100

    Program fee includes:

    Out-of-pocket expenses include:

    • round-trip airfare to and from the program site
    • transportation on site
    • meals
    • course materials
    • personal entertainment and travel
    • communications (including cell phone usage)
    • health insurance and upfront payments for care
    • other miscellaneous expenses

    Previous program participants report spending in the range of $100 to $125 per week on meals and incidentals while on the program, though frugal students may spend less, and others could spend much more. Bear in mind that while the cost of living in Beijing is relatively low, it is also possible to run short of money if you are unwary. It is therefore essential that you budget your funds prudently, apportioning your resources so that they last for the duration of the program. If you are planning to travel before or after the program or on weekends, you should budget accordingly.

    Study abroad students retain their financial aid eligibility. For more information about financial aid resources, please see our Tuition, Fees, and Funding section.

    The Beijing program is open to University of Chicago undergraduate students only. Applications from outside the University are not accepted.

    The program is designed for undergraduates in good academic and disciplinary standing who are beyond their first year in the College. While the program stipulates no minimum grade-point average, an applicant’s transcript should demonstrate that they are a serious student who will make the most of this opportunity. Because the civilization sequence is taught in English, there is no language prerequisite, although students are encouraged to take Chinese on campus before the program begins.

    Because of the considerable demand for the Chicago civilization programs abroad, no student may participate in more than one of these programs. Each application is examined on the basis of the student’s scholastic record and personal statement. If you are interested in applying for this program please fill out the online application.

    To discuss the Beijing: East Asian Civilizations program and the possibility of participating, please contact Naira Ovsepyan.