Public Health Policy and Practice

New! Guaranteed $2,000 scholarships for Fall 2017 participants on this featured program. Learn more.

Promoting health and wellness for 1.3 billion Chinese citizens, while considering a rapidly aging population and increasing rural-to-urban migration, is no easy feat. Ground-breaking studies, government ministries, and international diplomacy shape key public health policies and practices as Beijing buzzes with innovation. Launching in Spring 2017, this program examines how public health policy is shaped by social, economic, and political currents and ultimately put into practice in the world’s most populous country. Students also have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in public health and related fields by enrolling in an internship or pursuing a directed research project. 

Program Terms Fall Semester, Spring Semester
Credit Hours 16
Subjects Offered Chinese, Environmental Studies, Nutrition, Political Science, Public Health, Traditional Medicine
Language Pre-Requisites None
Field Components Directed Research, Internships
Housing Dormitory
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 Beijing, or at a different Alliance program center to broaden their understanding of China’s regional diversity.

The Public Health Policy and Practice program invites you to examine how public health policy is shaped by social, economic, and political currents and ultimately put into practice in the world’s most populous country. The 16-credit semester is comprised of a required core course and Chinese language plus three electives, including opportunities for internships and directed research.


PUBH 315 / POLS 315 Public Health Policy and Practice in China (3 credits)

Public health policy in China has been shaped by rapid and profound economic, social, and political currents. This course examines those developments and their implications for public health practice. Contemporary issues in health policy at national and local levels will be explored within the context of the health system. Topics include the former One Child Policy and family planning, caring for an aging population, child and maternal health, health literacy, and regional and urban/rural variations in health.

Chinese Language (4 credits)

No prior language study is required. A placement exam during on-site orientation determines each student's appropriate language level.

CHIN 100 Beginning Chinese I
CHIN 101 Beginning Chinese II
CHIN 200 Intermediate Chinese I
CHIN 201 Intermediate Chinese II
CHIN 300 Advanced Chinese I
CHIN 301 Advanced Chinese II
CHIN 400 Advanced Chinese III
CHIN 401 Advanced Chinese IV
CHIN 600 Advanced Readings in Chinese

Elective COURSES

All area studies courses are taught in English. Not all electives may be offered in a given semester depending on enrollment and faculty availability.

DIRR 380 Directed Research (3 credits)

Students may conduct research in the areas of policy studies, global and public health, human and consumer behavior, education, gerontology, recreational management, psychology, and the social sciences. Guided readings and one-on-one meetings with faculty guides provide instruction pertaining to the development of articulate and comprehensive research that remains respectful to the sensitivities of local culture. The course culminates a specific pilot study in the field.

INTS 380 Internship (3 credits)

Interns are placed in Chinese or international non-profits, corporations, consulting firms, or think-tanks focused on promoting public and environmental health. Placements are highly competitive, and other foreign languages and professional skills assist in the placement process as well. Interns spend approximately 10 hours per week at the internship site and complete a final academic paper with an accompanying oral presentation. Internships are supervised by a faculty advisor who meets with students at least twice individually and three times as a group.

PUBH 350 / ENVI 350 Environmental Health (3 credits)

Environmental health concerns in China, particularly surrounding air and water pollution, are well documented and widely acknowledged on the international stage. Rapid growth in China’s industry and economy have led to increasing health hazards for Chinese people in their communities, homes, schools, and even workplaces. In this course, students explore the various issues policy makers consider when undertaking risk assessment and developing regulatory policies to reduce these negative impacts while maintaining a trajectory of economic growth.

PUBH 330 Nutrition, Food Safety and Security (3 credits)

With the recent development of the China Food and Drug Administration, as well as public demand for improvement in the management of food safety risks, issues of nutrition and food security permeate many Chinese policy agendas. China’s cultural and political landscapes provide an ideal context for exploring these complex and interconnected topics. This course allows students to examine how China’s regional diversity, uneven economic development, and varied dietary consumption patterns impact policy decisions and regulatory standards.

HLSC 300 / TCNM 300 Traditional Chinese Medicine (3 credits)

Over 3,000 years, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has formed a unique system for diagnosing and treating disease as well as cultivating life-long health. A combination of classroom sessions and hands-on TCM practica provides a lens through which students can better understand the Chinese cultural context in which today’s public health policy is implemented. This course introduces basic TCM theories, useful daily diagnostics, and treatment methods including acupressure, Chinese herbs, dietary adjustments, cupping, reflexology, acupuncture, and exercises such as tai chi.

IS379-01 Exploring Community & Culture in a Global Context (3 credits)

In addition to required and elective courses, Alliance students may participate in an exciting online course with a global cohort from IFSA-Butler locations around the world. Enrolling in this course brings your course load to, or above, 18 U.S. semester credit hours and requires approval from your study abroad advisor.

Through a creative online format, this course facilitates active engagement with your host community, exploration of cultural identity and examination of diversity in the context of political, economic and sociocultural structures. Students cover topics such as intercultural communication skills, intercultural learning theories, tools for intercultural analysis and the development of personal strategies for engaging with differences of any kind following the study abroad experience. This course is ideal for students who seek transferable skills and specific competencies for successful work in the global marketplace. The asynchronous course format allows you to take part in online discussions, post responses, review peer contributions, submit your assignments, read materials and watch instructor videos at the time of day (or night) that best suits your personal schedule.

Download the course outline or course syllabus to learn more.

The Public Health Policy and Practice program offers a unique opportunity for undergraduates to delve deeply into meaningful research projects of their own design in the capital of the world’s most populous country. Students conceptualize, conduct, and present a substantial piece of research relevant to the burgeoning field of public health. Each research project takes place within the practical context of a local organization and provides opportunities for community engagement.

Students have regular meetings with faculty guides in their subject area to discuss the formation and execution of their research plans. This inquiry process is supported by the Alliance’s network of local experts, including social activists, health educators, doctors, business leaders, and policymakers – as well as our team of faculty advisors. All directed research projects are subject to the interest and availability of faculty and may require prior relevant coursework.

A detailed syllabus for the Directed Research course is forthcoming. Please check back soon!

Potential Beijing research areas

  • The Effectiveness of Acupuncture in Treating Arthritis and Chronic Pain
  • Birth Control Policy and Women's Social Status in China
  • Air Pollution: How Native Beijingers, Non-Beijing Chinese, and Foreign Residents Cope
  • The Legacy of China’s One-Child Policy and its Consequences for Elderly Welfare
  • Chinese Perceptions of Stem Cell Research
  • Increasing Prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes in Chinese Adults
  • Organ Donation Culture Within China
  • Disability Accommodation in China: Perception Versus Reality
  • How NGOs Engage with Communities, Governments and One Another in a Chinese Context
  • Expectations of Chinese Female University Students about Primary Health Care
  • HIV Stigma and Discrimination in China
  • Networks and Services Available to Female Migrant Workers in Beijing
  • Measuring Parent-Child Relationships Within the People's Republic of China

In Beijing, students have the opportunity to participate in an unpaid, credit-bearing internship at sites that may include Chinese or international non-profits, corporations, or think-tanks focused on promoting public and environmental health. Students will spend 10-12 hours per week in their placement and will be expected to complete the academic requirements of their internship to receive credit. 

Students are not required to have experience in Chinese language but will find that a lack of language proficiency may limit placement opportunities. The Alliance makes every effort to place student interns at companies or organizations that match the organization’s needs with a student’s skills, experience, and goals, including but not limited to the student’s Chinese language level and communication skills, prior professional experience, and work competencies. Students should not independently seek out organizations; although if a student has an existing personal contact for a specific, preferred placement they may communicate this to Alliance staff who will investigate whether it may be arranged in accordance with Alliance academic policies. The placement process begins with the submission of the Field Component Form upon acceptance into the program, and placements are typically finalized after an in-person interview in China.

Potential Beijing Internship placements

Although the Alliance makes every effort to accommodate student preferences during the placement process, applicants are also encouraged to be flexible. Certain fields and industry sectors may limit the types of work available to undergraduate interns. The internship field in China’s large cities is highly competitive and the number of available placements is limited.

  • International Committee of the Red Cross, a humanitarian organization assisting victims of war and violence
  • Huiling Community Services, a local non-profit helping mentally challenged individuals learn basic life skills
  • North Head, a strategic communications and public affairs consulting firm working in public health and related areas
  • International Union for Conservation of Nature, the world’s largest non-profit global network addressing environmental issues
  • Prore Pharm Co., a marketing and sales team for traditional and Western medicine and medical instruments
  • International Economic Law Institute, a think-tank servicing multinational corporations and organizations

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 93-100% Acceptable C+ 77-79%
A- 90-92% C 73-76%
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 campus and to the student's permanent address. Please use this form if the Alliance has accepted you into a program and you have changed your home, school or billing address. Federal regulations require official documentation and a signature for address changes.

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, please contact your Academic Records Coordinator.

Academic Record Appeal

The Institute for Study Abroad, Butler University (IFSA-Butler) can assist you with your academic record appeal for any IFSA-Butler or Alliance program by contacting the host institution you attended and/or program instructor as well as our staff abroad for further information.

Academic record appeals can be varied in nature, including grade appeals, credit appeals, courses missing from the transcript, course title, etc.

Students may appeal the content of their academic records according to the official procedures set by the host university and/or program. All appeals must be submitted to IFSA-Butler promptly after receipt of the Butler University transcript via our online Academic Record Appeal Form. IFSA-Butler allows students one year from the program end date to submit appeals, however it is the student’s responsibility to be aware of and meet the deadlines set by the host university and/or program attended. The earliest deadline takes precedence.

No appeals will be undertaken for those students who have taken early examinations, have arranged to submit any course work outside the scheduled dates, have a financial hold on their account or have been accused of academic dishonesty for the course in question.

The appeals process may be lengthy due to differences between universities abroad and the U.S. academic systems and calendars. Therefore, you should expect that an appeal may take three weeks to three months to resolve.

What constitutes a valid academic record appeal?
You must have reason to believe that an error has been made in calculating your grades or credits (i.e. submitted work was not received; an error may have been made in marking your final exam, etc.) or that you were exempt from a portion of the coursework due to a documented medical or personal emergency.

The following arguments, on their own, are insufficient reason for an appeal:

  • “My home university requires a higher grade for transfer of credit.”
  • “I feel I deserve a better grade.”
  • “I was over my head in this class.”
  • “I worked hard and spent a lot of time, effort and money on this class.”

Complete the IFSA-Butler Academic Record Appeal form, clearly describing the nature of your academic record appeal. Upload any supporting documentation. You must be polite, specific, and when appropriate, substantiate your well-written logical appeal by providing relevant documentation. Upon receiving a response from your host institution and/or program instructor, your academic records coordinator will notify you of the results as soon as they are available.

All decisions made by the host university and/or program instructor are final. An academic record appeal may result in a higher or lower grade. IFSA-Butler reserves the right to withhold the submission of those appeals that do not meet the above criteria and to issue a final decision.

Click here for the academic record appeal form.

Academic Calendar

  • Spring 2017 term: February 8  June 3
  • Fall 2017 term: August 23 – December 16

The program generally runs from late August to mid-December in the fall semester and mid-February to early June in the spring semester. The Alliance orientation is mandatory. You should make your travel plans accordingly. More details can be found in the Accepted Students: Travel Arrangements 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.

2017 Spring Beijing Program Calendar

  • Suggested flight departure: February 7
  • Arrival in Beijing: February 8
  • Orientation: February 9-11
  • Classes begin: February 13
  • Field Study Trip*: April 1-8
  • Independent Travel*: April 29 – May 6
  • Final exams: May 29 June 2
  • Program ends (students must depart by 12:00pm): June 3

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

2017 Fall Beijing Program Calendar

  • Suggested flight departure: August 22
  • Arrival in Beijing: August 23
  • Orientation: August 24-27
  • Classes begin: August 28
  • Independent Travel*: TBA
  • Field Study Trip*: TBA
  • Final exams: December 11-15
  • Program ends (students must depart by 12:00pm): December 16

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

ACademic calendar

  • Spring 2017 term: February 8 – June 3
  • Fall 2017 term: August 23December 16

The program generally runs from late August to mid-December in the fall semester and mid-February to early June in the spring semester. The Alliance orientation is mandatory. You should make your travel plans accordingly. More details can be found in the Accepted Students: Travel Arrangements 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.

2017 spring beijing program Calendar

  • Suggested flight departure: February 7
  • Arrival in China: February 8
  • Orientation: February 9-11
  • Classes begin: February 13
  • Field Study Trip*: April 1-8
  • Independent Travel*: April 29 – May 6
  • Final exams: May 29 – June 2
  • Program ends (students must depart by 12pm): June 3

2017 fall beijing program Calendar

  • Suggested flight departure: August 22
  • Arrival in Beijing: August 23
  • Orientation: August 24-27
  • Classes begin: August 28
  • Field Study Trip*: TBD
  • Independent Travel*: TBD
  • Final exams: December 11-15
  • Program ends (students must depart by 12pm): December 16

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

Students are housed in the International Student Dorm #17 in double rooms with other Alliance students. Rooms include: two single beds, two desks, two chairs, small book shelves, cabinets, desk lamps, TV, and air-conditioning, and a private bathroom. They are also wired for high-speed internet. Bed linens, including blankets and pillows, are provided by the dorm and cleaned once a week. Towels are not provided. Each floor is equipped with washing machines. Students can purchase tokens for the machines at the front desk of the dorm. Tokens cost approximately 4 RMB for the washing machine and 8 RMB for the dryer. There is also a kitchen with a stove and microwave on each floor. Students are able to borrow some basic cooking equipment from the Alliance.

A limited number of homestays are available upon request. Check back soon for more information!

Meals are not included in the Alliance program fee. Students can choose to eat at the small restaurants on or nearby campus or eat in the dining halls, using meal debit cards. Students should budget around $10 per day for meals.

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 term, 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 great historical and cultural monuments of the capital and benefit from visits to Beijing's art districts, lectures on China's environmental protection policies, or workshops on Chinese food culture. Below is a sampling of activities from previous terms. Specific activities for future terms are subject to change.

Forbidden City and Tian'anmen Square Tour

Students visit the Forbidden City and Tian'anmen Square, typically during their orientation. The tour is followed by Wang Fujing shopping street tour and Chinese acrobat show.

Olympic Games Facilities

Students attend a lecture tour through the nearby facilities constructed to support the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, including the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube. The guide will engage students in discussion about its lingering environmental impacts and the Chinese relationship with competitive sports.

Meetings with U.S. and Foreign Diplomats

Students have the opportunity to meet with various diplomats stationed in Beijing and building strategic relationships with China and the greater Asia-Pacific region. Discussions may focus on topics related to public health initiatives, environmental issues, and inter-governmental collaboration.

Cooking Class at a Local Restaurant

A culinary lesson with Beijing chefs introduces students some of China’s most popular dishes, while providing a hands-on opportunity to learn about local food supply and dietary considerations.

Houhai Lake Hutong Tour

This tour includes some of the oldest residential neighborhoods in Beijing, with beautiful traditional Chinese courtyard houses. Previous students visited a local artist's house and paper cutting gallery. They also enjoyed lunch with a family in one of the courtyards and learned to make dumplings.

Hiking the Great Wall of China

For the hiking expedition, students travel to Hebei province to hike an 11 kilometer stretch of one the best-preserved original sections of the wall.

American Chamber of Commerce

Four "AmCham" staff members met with Alliance students to talk about US-China relations, trade policies, and cooperation between the American Chamber of Commerce and the US and Chinese governments. They also introduced their personal study abroad/work abroad experience and offered suggestions for professional development in a China focused career.

Lectures and Film Screenings with Local Artists

Past Beijing students had the opportunity to learn firsthand from local writers, filmmakers, musicians, and/or calligraphers about Chinese art forms.

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.

New! Guaranteed $2,000 scholarships for Fall 2017 participants on this featured program. Learn more

Program Fees

Total Tuition Housing
Fall 2017 $14,850 $12,100 $2,750

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 stationery 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 at the campus canteen 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 $ 1,500
Visa application in U.S. $ 260
Visa application in China (required for internships) $ 200
Meals $ 1,100
Local transportation (varies by distance) $ 550
Phone usage (varies with data plan) $ 50
Internet usage $ 80
Incidentals and personal care items $ 50
Entertainment $ 400
Independent travel (weekends and travel week) $ 800
Estimated Total $ 4,990

*Estimated in-country expenses based on 1.00 US Dollar = 6.5 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.

Continuer's DISCOUNT

The Alliance encourages students to consider studying abroad with more than one Alliance program. The Alliances offers a $500 scholarship to repeat students who choose to study on our programs a second (or third!) time to help you get there faster!

The first program can be any Alliance opportunity, and your participation can be in non-consecutive terms. The scholarship does not apply to semester students who choose to extend to a year-long program, as a discount is already included in our full-year program fees.

Our program center at Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU) is your home away from home, nestled in the vibrant international neighborhood of Wudaokou. Meet our on-site staff members!


Wudaokou (五道口) is located in the Haidian District (海淀区) of North West Beijing. Wudaokou is close to a number of universities and research institutes and is home to a growing student population. Minutes from campus, students will find themselves surrounded by a large shopping mall, movie theater, grocery stores, and many restaurants serving Japanese, Korean, Mexican and American cuisines in addition to a wide variety of Chinese cuisines. Students also have easy access to coffee shops and book stores along with other cultural resources and the rich academic ambience in the immediate vicinity of BLCU and the Haidian District at large. The Wudaokou subway stop, located on line 13, makes exploring the entire city extremely convenient. Even the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube of the 2008 Olympic Games are just a short bus ride away. BLCU’s exciting central location is a perfect place for international students in Beijing.

Beijing Language and Culture University

Founded in 1962, the Beijing Language and Culture University (北京语言大学) is considered to be one of the nation’s premier institutions for the teaching of Chinese language and culture to foreigners. The majority of Chinese Language textbooks are written at BLCU by BLCU professors. These books are used in Chinese classrooms across the United States and throughout the world. BLCU confers degrees at the bachelor, master, and doctoral levels and is comprised of 11 faculties and research institutes. The university hosts 14,000 foreign and Chinese students. It is located in the Haidian district, which is home to the majority of Beijing’s universities.

Check out this interactive map to locate the Alliance's resources across Beijing:

View Alliance On Location: Beijing in a larger map.

The Alliance organizes a one-week field study trip for students during the fall and spring semesters and a five-day field study trip during the summer term. 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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