Academic Program

M.A. International Studies – China Studies

M.A. in China Studies Handbook 2019-20

M.A. in China Studies Handbook 2020-21

The China Studies M.A. program at the University of Washington offers students the opportunity to develop a substantial understanding of Chinese culture, history, society, and contemporary issues. Language learning and facility are a core element of the program of study. The more than twenty faculty members of the China Studies Program provide a very broad and deep range of course offerings in the social sciences and humanities, and some of the professional schools at the University of Washington. The M.A. Program is relatively small, and there is close faculty-student interaction. Students may combine their graduate study in China Studies with professional degrees (subject to acceptance by those programs and schools). Advanced work can also be pursued in disciplinary departments after completion of the M.A. degree.

The China Studies Program is recognized as one of the best programs in the country. There are generally two faculty members in each social science discipline, eight faculty in the humanities, and one in the School of Law. Particular strengths are found in Chinese language and literature, history, geography, demography, economics, Chinese film, and anthropology. The University of Washington has been the center for the study of the minorities of China. In addition to faculty strengths, the East Asia Library is one of the ten largest East Asian language libraries in the United States.

Besides course offerings, the Program sponsors a lively, regular China Colloquium, bringing scholars outside of the University to campus to present their research. Seattle is home to the Seattle Asian Art Museum, and the University of Washington has a partnership with the Burke Museum, a growing museum of natural history and anthropology on campus. The state of Washington is the most trade dependent state in the US, and most of that trade is with Pacific nations. This offers the opportunity for paid and unpaid internships, and makes China a focus of community and academic concern.

Some of our graduates have gone on to Ph.D. programs, and are now teaching at Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of California-Los Angeles. Others have gone on to work in business, including Microsoft, Weyerhauser, and other major companies. Still others work in the US government and law firms, both in the US and in Asia.

The course of study combines a structured series of courses in Chinese language with great flexibility in the rest of the student’s course of study. Students are free to take courses concentrating on one particular issue or to broadly take courses on China. Students may also take two upper level courses related to their career interests outside of China studies that can count for their degree.

Madeleine Dong, Chair

Admission Requirements

Applicants must meet the basic Graduate School requirements, which include a 3.00 grade point average for the last 90 quarter (60 semester) graded credits, a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution, and submission of test results from the general Graduate Record Exam (GRE). Applicants must also meet all application requirements and deadlines set by the Jackson School and described in its application guidelines. Meeting minimum standards, however, does not ensure admission. While not required for admission, some previous study of Chinese language is an advantage for the student entering the program.

Degree Requirements

All students must complete at least 36 credits in addition to fulfilling the language requirement. This program is completed within two years.


Chinese language is an important component of the program. All students must reach proficiency equivalent to the completion of third-year Chinese at this University. However, study beyond the third year is strongly encouraged.


Required Courses:

  • JSIS A 521-522/Seminars: Introduction to the Interdisciplinary Study of China These seminars (5 credits each) are offered during the winter and spring quarters and are designed to introduce students to interdisciplinary analysis of selected problems of modern China through readings drawn from several academic disciplines. Students whose knowledge of modern Chinese history is weak should take HSTAS/JSIS A 454 (History of Modern China), or JSIS A 408/POL S 442 (Government and Politics in China), in autumn quarter.

Other coursework:

Students are required to complete 26 additional credits from at least two different departments. Most of this coursework should be focused primarily on China. With adviser approval, students may take a maximum of 2 courses not specifically focused on China which serve to fulfill a necessary disciplinary or professional component of their individual program.

Final Papers and Oral Exam

Students submit either two seminar papers or a thesis to a supervisory committee which also oversees a comprehensive oral examination.