• About this Program
    • Program Overview
    • On Location in Shanghai
  • Academics
    • Semester Curriculum
    • Faculty
    • Credits, Grades, and Transcripts
  • Calendar and Fees
    • Academic Calendar
    • Program Fees
  • Daily Life
    • Student Housing
    • Intensive Student Homestays
    • Chinese Language Partners
    • Food and Meals
  • Activities and Excursions
    • Extra-Curricular Classes
    • Local Field Visits
    • Field Study Trip
  • Already Accepted?
    • Already Accepted?
  • Photos

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Intensive Chinese Language

Program Overview

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.

As a prerequisite for this program, students must have completed two semesters of prior Chinese language study. Students may enroll for the fall or spring semester. All students are encouraged to consider spending 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. 

Meet our on-site staff members!


  • 3.0 GPA minimum
  • Enrolled in an undergraduate degree program at an accredited U.S. institution
  • Two previous semesters of Chinese language study

Academic Structure

For a total of 15-18 credits per semester students take the following curriculum: 

  • Chinese language course
  • Optional English-taught area studies course

Classes are offered exclusively for Alliance students. Chinese language course placement is contingent upon the results of a placement exam conducted after student arrival in China. Language classes have a maximum of 8 students per class and are taught by language faculty selected and trained by the Alliance. 

Academic Year

All students are encouraged to consider a full academic year abroad with the Alliance. In two semesters abroad, you deepen your linguistic and cultural immersion, take your academic interests further, and forge ever-stronger bonds with the people and culture you’ve come to know and love.  

As a year-long student, you’ll have the freedom to explore the full range of your program’s curriculum, progress to the next level of language acquisition, and continue your internship, research project, or other field component with the increased knowledge, skills and abilities that you’ve acquired in your first semester. Logistics permitting, you’re able to choose whether you’d like to stay in your current housing or try something new—there are benefits to both! Travel options may also be customized based upon designated program itineraries for the term.

You can also consider a new city (or country)! All year-long Alliance students receive a $500 continuer’s discount, for any combination of programs, countries, or terms.   

On Location in Shanghai

Shanghai offers students an unparalleled opportunity to experience China in a city undergoing economic rebirth and revitalization. Shanghai is the place to be to witness the economic and socio-cultural transformations of modern China (as well as to observe the disparities that remain). Shanghai has traditionally been one of the most important financial and business centers of Asia, and is becoming known as "the Wall Street of the East". After the Second World War and the establishment of the People's Republic of China, foreign investment was discouraged. Today, however, Shanghai is again a multinational hub of finance and business and one of the world's major financial centers.

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

View Alliance On Location: Shanghai in a larger map.

Shanghai is a remarkable phenomenon in the evolution of global metropolises today. There is no place like this once sleepy fishing town which has become the largest city in China and the country's most important commercial, financial, and industrial center. One must experience Shanghai to begin to comprehend this diverse and constantly changing nation. Pudong (in eastern Shanghai) was the site of the 2010 World Expo. The entire city is still buzzing with excitement about welcoming 73 million domestic and international visitors.


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. 

Semester Curriculum

The Intensive Chinese Language program offers coursework for students who wish to focus on improving their Chinese language skills. As a prerequisite for this program, students must have completed two (2) semesters of prior Chinese language study.

Students may also opt to take one of the English-taught elective courses on offer during their term abroad. Note that the core course, Chinese Society in the 21st Century, is not available for Intensive Language students.

“I am enjoying it incredibly. I am absolutely enamored with each and every professor – they are all dedicated, personable, and genuinely want to help us improve our Chinese. At least as far as the Intensive professors go, I'm not sure I've ever been in a situation where each professor was so incredibly great. I have nothing but good things to say about them.” – Augustine Hosch, University of the South

Students must enroll in:

  • Chinese Language (15 credits)


Click hyperlinked course titles to view syllabi

Chinese Language (20 hours/week, 15 credits)

Upon taking a placement exam after arrival, students will be placed into the appropriate language level. Courses emphasize listening, reading, speaking, and writing. Alliance programs teach Simplified Chinese Characters, which are standardized Chinese characters officially used in mainland China. Click here to view a full listing of textbooks by Alliance program and course.


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.

Credits, Grades, and Transcripts

Credits, Grades, and Transcripts

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 an accredited U.S. university. For all Alliance programs through Spring 2014, transcripts are issued by Arcadia University. For Summer 2014 programs and beyond, transcripts are issued by Butler University.   

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 a student’s responsibility to work with their study abroad or academic advisor and home school 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 or Arcadia University’s Undergraduate Academic Programs Committee. Arcadia University is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. 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 Program in Shanghai—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 they take while enrolled on an Alliance program. Withdrawals (W) 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 for Alliance courses is as follows:


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.

Participants in Alliance programs through Spring 2014 can request additional copies of transcripts online or in writing at any time from the Arcadia University Registrar's Office.

Participants in Alliance programs beginning Summer 2014 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. 

If you have a question about the transcripting process or timeline, please feel free to contact your Student Services Manager.

Academic Calendar

  • Spring 2015 term: January 21 – May 18
  • Fall 2015 term: August 26 - December 21

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.

2015 Spring Shanghai Program Calendar

  • Suggested flight departure: January 20
  • Arrival in Beijing: January 21
  • Orientation: January 22-25
  • Classes begin: January 26
  • Spring Festival Holiday: February 18-20
  • Independent Travel*: February 21-March 1
  • Mid-term Exams: March 27
  • Field Study Trip*: March 27-April 3
  • Qing Ming Holiday: April 4-April 6
  • May Holiday: May 1
  • Final exams: May 12-15
  • Students may depart: May 16
  • Students must move out of housing (by 12 noon): May 18

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

Program Fees

Fall 2015 Program   $ 14,950
Spring 2015 Program   $ 14,750

What's Included

The program cost includes tuition and fees, pre-departure materials, guidance with applying for a visa, orientation, housing, weekly activities, all textbooks, the services of a full-time Resident Director, medical and evacuation insurance, and a one-week field study trip.

The program price does not include airfare to China, meals, passport and visa fees, independent travel, and other items not mentioned as included.

Our breakdown of fall 2015 and spring 2015 program fees includes an itemized list of additional expenses that students may encounter abroad.

Multiple Term Discount

The Alliance encourages students to enroll for more than one term and to consider studying with more than one Alliance program. Students who continue into a second term with the Alliance receive a $500 discount on the program fee for the second term. All combinations (two semesters, semester plus summer, two semesters plus summer) are possible.

Student Housing

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.

Intensive Student Homestays

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.

Chinese Language Partners

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.

Food and Meals

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.

Extra-Curricular Classes

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.

Internship students will have the option to take Survival Chinese classes as an extra-curricular. These classes will equip students with the basics for navigating the city and a Chinese workplace. 

Local Field Visits

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. 

Field Study Trip

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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