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Programs : Brochure

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Fact Sheet:
Language of Instruction:
Language Requirement:
4-6 semesters of language or the equivalent (see program requirements)
Program Type: Columbia Administered Program
Program Advisor:
Robin Leephaibul:
Eligibility - Home School: Barnard College, Columbia College, Columbia General Studies, Columbia SEAS, Visiting Students - Undergraduate Discipline: Humanities, Social Sciences, STEM
Program Description:
Overview - Columbia in Beijing at Tsinghua University
Columbia University in Beijing provides a rare opportunity for advanced students to directly enroll in a broad range of courses at Tsinghua University, one of China's top institutions. The supported immersion program is designed for independent students who already demonstrate a high level of both written and spoken Mandarin Chinese and who wish to challenge themselves by using Chinese to further understand their own areas of study in the humanities, social sciences, economics, sciences, environmental sciences, information sciences, engineering, and architecture. A one week orientation familiarizes students with the academic culture and campus life and a small on-site staff and graduate program tutors provide academic support

The fall semester of the program runs from September to January, spring from February to June and the full year program from September to June.


  • Must be a currently enrolled undergraduate student and in good academic standing
  • Must have completed at least three years of college-level Chinese, preferably more, or the equivalent, and have a firm grasp of reading and writing in Chinese. Students who have completed at least two years of Chinese in heritage tracks (W track at Columbia) may also apply
  • Minimum 3.0 average language GPA
  • Minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA
**Students can complete part of the language requirement by participating on the Summer Language Program in Beijing or the Summer Business Chinese Program in Shanghai. Students should also consider enrolling in a summer program and then continuing directly to the fall or academic year program at Tsinghua.

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The program begins with a week-long orientation designed to familiarize students with the academic culture, campus life, and the city.
Students take one Chinese language class through the International Chinese Language and Culture Center or through the Department of Chinese. The remaining courses are chosen from a broad range of regular Tsinghua University courses (all taught in Chinese) in the humanities, social sciences, economics, environmental science, sciences, information sciences, engineering, and architecture where program students study alongside matriculated Tsinghua students.

A full course load is 15 points. For the second term in Beijing, students may not be required to take a Chinese language course and should plan to enroll in university courses for a total of 15 points.

Tsinghua University graduate students are assigned to tutor students in their main areas of study and to help them navigate the Chinese academic system.

Tsinghua University Courses
Tsinghua University Schools and Departments

x = fall semester
y = spring semester

Chinese I3991x or I3992y. Chinese Language, 2-6 point(s)
One Chinese language course chosen from the Tsinghua University's International Chinese Language and Culture Center or the Department of Chinese. Points depend on the courses chosen; courses usually worth 2 or 4 or 6 points. Courses may include Comprehensive Chinese, Chinese Composition, Business Chinese, and Classical Chinese.

East Asian Studies I3991x or I3992y. Supervised Study in the Chinese University, 2-15 point(s)
Three or four Tsinghua University courses (all taught in Chinese) chosen from a variety of courses offered by the School of Humanities and School of Social Sciences. The School of Humanities includes the departments of Chinese Language & Literature, Foreign Languages & Literature, History, Philosophy. The School of Social Sciences includes the departments of Political Science, Sociology, Economics, International Relations, Psychology and the Institute of Science, Technology and Society.
Students with interests in other subjects may choose up to 8 points outside of the School of Humanities and School of Social Sciences. Courses are usually worth 2 or 3 points; some courses are worth 4 points.

For other subjects or departments, please see below.

Tsinghua University Courses
Please check the Tsinghua University Directory of Classes to see which classes are offered (website in Chinese) or see below for a list of sample courses (which will be taught in Chinese but titles have been translated into English) and a list of Tsinghua University schools and departments.

Below please find a list of university courses that students have taken which include but are not limited to:

Development Economics
Modern Chinese Economic History
Statistics for Economics and Business
Financial Economics
International Economics
International Trade
Corporate Finance
International Finance
Environment and Research Economics

Political Science
China-U.S. Relations
Japanese Economy, Politics, and Foreign Policy
Political Institutions and Economic Development
Issues in National Security
Chinese Foreign Policy
Comparative Politics
Mass Media and International Relations
History and Chinese Foreign Affairs
Contemporary Economics and Politics
International Political Economy

East Asian Studies
Marxism Theory
Chinese Film and Opera
Deng Xiao Ping Theories
Chinese National Overview
I-go and Chinese Culture
Chinese Classics: Reading the Masterpieces
Appreciation of Chinese Classic Novels
Cultural Relics and Chinese Culture
Chinese Society
Chinese Opera
Cultural Relations between China and the West
Lu Xun Readings
Survey of Buddhist Culture
Modern Chinese Dialects

A Survey of Chinese History
Ancient China

Environmental Science
Water Resources and the Water Crisis
Sustainable Development and Environmental Protection
Environment and Development
Environmental Ethics
Introduction to Sustainable Development

Reading Business Articles in Chinese
Chinese Calligraphy
Foundation of Eloquence

Theory of Architecture and Urban Design
Introduction to Modern Architecture
Fundamentals of City Planning
Traditional Folk House and Rural Planning

Art History
 History of Contemporary Western Arts
History of Western Chamber String Arts

History of Western Sociological Thoughts
Rural Sociology
Urban Sociology

Outline of Science and Technology

International Film Critique and Appreciation

Computer Science
Website Design

Mechanical Engineering
Green Manufacturing
Principles of Circuits

Operations Research
Operations Research

Introduction to Music

Principles of Biochemistry

Introduction to Topology
Numerical Analysis
Complex Analysis

Introduction to Logic

Religious Studies

Tsinghua University Schools and Departments
The program is based in the School of Humanities and School of Social Sciences  and thus, all program students are considered part of these schools no  matter what their actual major is. Students may choose up to 8 points (2-3 courses) outside of these two schools.

School of Humanities includes the departments of Chinese Language & Literature, Foreign Languages & Literature, History, Philosophy.

School of Social Sciences includes the departments of Political Science, Sociology, Economics, International Relations, Psychology and the Institute of Science, Technology and Society.

(Please note that international student courses in the Chinese department are considered outside of the School of Humanities and School of Social Sciences and are included in the 8 point limit.)

Students may enroll in up to 8 points in courses in the following Schools and Departments:
  • Department of Chinese Language & Literature (within School of Humanities; international student courses only)
  • School of Economics and Management includes the departments of management science and engineering, economics, finance, accounting, innovation and entrepreneurship, human resources and organizational behavior, business strategy and policy, and marketing. (Note: Columbia does not have an undergraduate business school so Columbia may not be able to provide credit for some "business" courses.)
  • School of Sciences includes the departments of mathematical sciences, physics, chemistry, and the center for earth system science.
  • School of Architecture includes the departments of architecture, urban planning and design, building science, and landscape architecture. 
  • School of Information Science and Technology includes the departments of electronic engineering, computer science and technology, automation, microelectronics, microelectronics and nanoelectronics, software and information technology. 
  • School of Civil Engineering includes the departments of civil engineering, hydraulic engineering, and construction management. 
  • School of Mechanical Engineering includes the departments of mechanical engineering, precision instruments, thermal engineering, automotive engineering, and industrial engineering. 
  • School of Aerospace includes the departments of engineering mechanics and aerospace and astronautics engineering.
  • Department of Materials Science and Engineering 
  • Department of Electrical Engineering 
  • Department of Chemical Engineering
Note: Other schools at Tsinghua include the Academy of Arts and Design, School of Public Policy and Management, School of Law, School of Medicine, and School of Journalism and Communication. Students cannot register for courses in these schools and Columbia can not provide undergraduate credit for courses taken at the professional schools.

Note: The University reserves the right to withdraw or modify the courses of instruction or to change the instructors as may become necessary.

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Academic Calendar

Fall 2016
Last day to arrive in Beijing September 4
Orientation September 5-11
Language placement exam September 7
International Students Orientation September 10
Class selection September 9-23
First day of classes September 12
Last day to add classes September 23
Guoqing Festival (no classes) October 1-7
Midterm exams November 1-7
Last day to drop classes November 11
Last day to request pass/fail November 18
Last day of classes December 29
New Year Festival (no classes) December 29-January 1, 2017
Final exams January 2-13, 2017
Depart from Beijing January 14

 Spring 2017 Tentative
Last day to arrive in Beijing February 12
Orientation February 13-19
Language Placement Exam February 16
International Students Orientation February 17
Class selection February 16 - March 5
First day of classes February 20
Last day to add classes March 23
Midterm Exams April 10-15
Last day to drop classes* April 20
Last day to request pass/fail** April 27
International Labor Day (no classes) May 1-5
Last day of classes June 9
Final exams June 12 - 23
Depart from Beijing June 24

*Classes may only be dropped before this date. Classes may not be dropped after this date.
**This is not a Tsinghua deadline. The pass/fail request must be made to Columbia. Visiting students must have the approval of their home institution to take a course pass/fail. Language courses may not be taken pass/fail.

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Host Institution

Founded in 1911, Tsinghua University is one of China's top universities with outstanding offerings in science, engineering, economics, humanities, and social sciences. With a student body of 24,000, Tsinghua provides an ideal environment in which to meet Chinese university students. Located in the Beijing's northwest district of Haidian, the spacious campus encompasses small parks, numerous lakes, and tree-lined walks. The surrounding neighborhood includes bookstores, shops, and restaurants, and there are several other major universities nearby.

Tsinghua's modern facilities include many new buildings such as the library, student center, and administrative offices. Students in the program have access to a computer lab as well as athletic fields. Tsinghua has cooperative programs and relationships with more than 100 universities around the world and sponsors frequent regional and international conferences.

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Faculty and Staff

The Resident Director is Professor Zhiqin Shi, Professor and Chancellor of the School of Social Sciences and Dean of the Department of International Relations at Tsinghua University. Professor Shi is also a resident scholar at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy. Shi’s research interests focuses primarily on comparative politics and international relations, especially concerning European issues and China-EU relations. Professor Shi serves as the primary contact between the university and the students. He acts as the academic advisor, conducts orientation, and is available to assist students with academic and cultural adjustments.

Professor Shi's assistant is Ms. Yuhong Yuan (Xiaoyuan) who arranges the orientation, organizes program activities, serves as a liaison between the students and the program tutors, and assists students with any issues that they may have. In addition to working at Tsinghua, Xiaoyuan is also currently a Chinese history graduate student at the Central University for Nationalities.

Mr. Haohan Chi (Xiaochi) also assists Professor Shi and Xiaoyuan. He is the program assistant and is the day-to-day contact for all students. He helps students settle into their new routine at Tsinghua by organizing the orientation, finding academic tutors and assisting students with course registration, and planning program trips and activities.

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Activities and Trips

The program organizes welcome and farewell banquets, and trips and cultural activities such as a guided visits to local Beijing sites, theater and opera performances, and an overnight trip to important historical places such as Chengde, an imperial resort town, and Henan, home to several ancient Chinese capitals cities. Students also join the Tsinghua student clubs and meet local students through activities such as playing sports, hiking, singing, and volunteering.

Activities will vary each semester.

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Grade Reports and Transcripts

Columbia/Barnard students: Your grades will appear on your transcript in the same way that your grades appear for courses taken at Columbia/Barnard. Your grades from Tsinghua are calculated into your GPA.
Visiting students:To request a transcript, log in to your Columbia Student Services Online (SSOL) account after your grades have been submitted. You do not need to wait for all of your grades to be reported in order to request a transcript. However, if you request a transcript before all of your grades have been submitted, you will need to request additional transcripts once all grades are submitted.
You will be able to request transcripts using this system for about a year after the end of your program. After that, you will need to go through the Columbia Registrar to request transcripts:

There are no fees for additional transcripts.

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The international student dormitory complex, situated next to local dormitories, houses international students in single rooms which are furnished with a bed, desk, shelves, wardrobe, a sink, and a private bathroom. There are laundry facilities on each floor. No kitchen facilities are available in the building but there is a very large student cafeteria right in the complex as well as sports fields (running tracks, soccer field, basketball courts, baseball fields, etc). Broadband Internet is also available in the rooms for a nominal fee.

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Tuition and Fees

Fall 2016 or Spring 2017

Columbia/Barnard students pay tuition to their home institutions. Financial aid, with the exception of federal work study, may be applied to study overseas.

Visiting students pay tuition to Columbia University. Visiting students should consult with their home institutions to see whether their financial aid is transferable for studying on Columbia's program in Beijing.
Columbia/Barnard students: Home-school tuition rate
Visiting students: $18,000

Fall 2016 or Spring 2017
The list below is intended to summarize possible charges that could be incurred against a student's account. Certain charges depend upon specific circumstances, as noted. Fees that are not billed to the student account, such as application fees or placement test fees, may be required but are not listed here.
Housing Fee  $1,700
Transcript Fee*  $105
Withdrawal Fee**  $75

* One-time fee for Visiting Students only. Barnard students may be charged this fee if they have never taken a course at Columbia.

**A withdrawal fee of $75 is required of any student who withdraws from the program once they have registered. Students who withdraw may also be responsible for a portion of tuition and housing, depending on the withdrawal date.

Tuition and fees are subject to Board of Trustee approval and may change.

Estimated Expenses
The estimated expenses below are NOT paid to the program. The estimated figures below are provided as a basis for students to determine their individual budgets.

Term Expenses:

Roundtrip airfare NYC-Beijing        $1,500

*Please note that all students must have health insurance which covers them overseas.

Monthly Expenses:

Meals                  $250
Miscellaneous     $350

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Withdrawal & Refund Policy

A student in good academic standing who is not subject to discipline may be permitted to withdraw at any time. Withdrawal is defined as the dropping of one's entire program in a given term as opposed to dropping a portion of one's program.

Any student withdrawing must notify the Resident Director in writing; failure to attend classes or notification to instructors does not constitute formal withdrawal and will result in failing grades in all courses. Any adjustment of the tuition that the student has paid is calculated from the date on which the Resident Director receives the student's written notification.

Only tuition is refunded. Fees (application, transcript, housing, etc.) are never refunded, either in full or in part. All students who withdraw will be charged a $75.00 withdrawal fee.

For fall and spring semesters, the refund schedule is as follows:
Withdrawals processed will be refunded
1st week 100%
2nd week 90%
3rd week 80%
4th week 80%
5th week 70%
6th week 60%
7th week 60%
8th week 50%
9th week 40%
after 9th week 0%

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Financial Aid and Funding

If you are currently receiving financial aid or scholarships, check with your school to see if it may be applied to your study abroad. Students looking for outside sources of scholarships or loans can review the information below. Columbia University is not affiliated with any of the sources. If you are applying for a scholarship that requires your school's approval, please note that on-campus deadlines are often earlier than scholarship deadlines. Please check with your school's study abroad office.


Freeman Awards for Study in Asia
Created to assist U.S. undergraduate students (U.S. citizens or permanent residents only) with demonstrated financial need and limited prior experience in East and Southeast Asia, Freeman-ASIA will fund approximately 400 U.S. students over the next two academic years (2016-17, 2017-18), with awards ranging from $3,000 per student for summer study and $5,000 per semester, to a maximum of $7,000 for a full year abroad. Students may apply online starting February 1st for awards to study abroad beginning in summer 2016.
Prospective students should visit the Freeman-ASIA website ( for eligibility requirements, full application instructions and a list of deadlines. Student application deadline: Spring 2017: October 23.

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship
This program is offered through the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, and is administered by the Institute of International Education. These grants to study abroad provide assistance to undergraduates who are current recipients of federal student financial aid and Pell grant eligible.

David L. Boren Undergraduate Scholarship
The National Security Education Program (NSEP) awards scholarships to American undergraduates for study in regions and languages deemed critical to U.S. national security. The scholarships provides a maximum of $10,000 per semester or $20,000 per academic year.

The Blakemore Foundation 
The Blakemore Foundation was established in 1990 by Thomas and Frances Blakemore to encourage the advanced study of Asian languages and to improve the understanding of Asian fine arts in the United States.

Other Financing Opportunities:

For current Columbia University students and alumni, reach out to the Office of Global Programs and Fellowships to explore and apply for internal, national, and international fellowships.  The Fellowships team will inform students about a full range of opportunities and help them determine which programs best meet their goals. 


Scott Carpenter, Associate Dean of Global Education and Fellowships
View office hours on our website.

Jodi Zaffino, Assistant Director for Fellowships
View office hours on our website.

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Student Experiences

Student Returnee Comments:

I spent the summer in China on a study abroad program prior to studying at Tsinghua in the fall. Spending this extra time preparing helped me tremendously by allowing me to work on my Chinese and to familiarize myself with Beijing. I would recommend this to any student who might be nervous about taking classes at Tsinghua.

I was able to learn a lot about both the Chinese language and modern Chinese culture, and being able to study Chinese and with Chinese students as peers was definitely one of the more interesting experiences of my life.

This program is nothing like the summer language program where I studied Chinese with other Americans. The Tsinghua program allowed me to study with Tsinghua students and apply my Chinese by studying topics relevant to my academic and personal interests. My Chinese also improved in the process.

The actual lectures are very interesting, the teachers are all good lecturers, though because of the language level I am not always 100% on what is being taught. However, I enjoy the challenge, and have made progress in increasing my vocabulary and my grasp of Mandarin, especially in the sciences, greatly, mostly by study of text material on my own.
The more fulfilling experiences I had were during interactions with students in clubs and activities I participated in. By joining these activities, I was able to interact with different groups of students from different countries and in different contexts and it's a nice way to make local friends.

These tutors are all graduate students at Tsinghua who are truly experts in their fields, which is why they have been selected to help you out.The primary purpose of these tutors is to provide one-on-one instruction to go over the salient points covered in your undergraduate classes, in addition to providing assistance with assignments and test preparation. These tutors were the reason why I was able to understand my assignments, complete my papers and homework on time, and really get something out of the classes that I took. If it hadn't been for them, my time at Tsinghua would have been extremely difficult, and I would not have gotten as much out of my experience there as I did.

The tutors are also really interesting people who are easy to talk with about anything, both China-related and non-China-related. Since they're all working on their Masters' degrees, they're all delving very deep into individual research topics that are quite fascinating. They are truly at the tops of their respective fields, which is why they are so knowledgeable about the topics you will discuss with them. Often after we finished a tutoring session we'd talk for a few minutes about life in either China or America, and we were able to both learn about the educational systems in each other's countries in a much more meaningful and informative way than can be learned through a textbook. You must really take advantage of what they have to offer, both in terms of what they can teach you and the discussions stimulated by your learning, because they provide an inside view of China that you really can't get anywhere else. The tutors are the highlight and strongest point of the Tsinghua program, and I cannot stress how important they are to ensuring your successful studies there.

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How to Apply

Click on the blue "Start an Application" box at the top or bottom of this page.

The online application includes the following:
  • Application
  • Official Transcript
  • Chinese Writing Sample
  • Language Recommendation
  • Academic Recommendation
  • Study Abroad Approval Form (non-Columbia applicants only)
  • Application Fee, if applicable
Please note that Tsinghua University does not accept applications from students with Chinese citizenship.

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Contact Information

Office of Global Programs
606 Kent Hall
Columbia University
1140 Amsterdam, Mail Code 3948
New York, NY 10027
Fax: 212-854-5164

In the event of an emergency after office hours, please contact Columbia University Emergency at 212-854-5555 or Columbia University Security at 212-854-2796.

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Columbia Dates & Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline/Columbia Clearance Deadline Decision Date & Deadline Note Start Date End Date
Spring 2017 10/14/2016
10/19/2016 02/12/2017 06/24/2017
Academic Year 2017-2018 03/15/2017 04/01/2017 TBA TBA
Fall 2017 03/15/2017 04/15/2017 TBA TBA
Spring 2018 10/15/2017 10/15/2017 TBA TBA

Indicates that deadline has passed