Chinese Studies

More people in the world speak Chinese than any other language. In an increasingly integrated and globalized economy and political order, China and the U.S. have become inextricably linked in their common economic and political interests. Therefore, the U.S. government has identified Chinese as a“critical-need language” that is crucial to maintaining the interests of peace and prosperity both here and abroad. 

However, China and its Sinophone communities around the world are also home to one of the longest continuing civilizations, a heritage that has been kept alive through a love of and reverence for received texts and culture. This engagement with tradition has contributed to an unbroken sense of cultural identity despite periods of war, foreign conquest and turmoil. China is thus an entryway to one of humanity’s richest troves of cultural, literary and philosophical ideas, artifacts and debates.

Our undergraduate program in Chinese trains students in all levels of Chinese language so they can become proficient and freely use the language in conversation, research and professional communication. In addition, our content courses aim to immerse students in all facets of Chinese culture and civilization, both across the deep time of millennia and in the pressing challenges of the modern era. We believe that students who wish to engage with China, either economically, politically or academically, are best served when they have been trained in both language and culture.

Our undergraduate major has steadily grown with each passing year, and many of our students combine a concentration in Chinese with a major in another field, such as International Relations, English, Government and the sciences. We also offer a minor, and many of our offerings fulfill requirements for the East Asian Studies major.

To broaden face-to-face cultural understanding, we facilitate study abroad programs to China for both the summer and the year. Our Chinese Language House, a residence for students interested in practicing Chinese year round, hosts a number of cultural events for the campus community at large.

We are a growing, vibrant and increasingly vital component of academic and cultural life here at William & Mary. We hope that you will join us for a rewarding period of study and mutual understanding.