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Curriculum | MAIS

Students in the MAIS program complete coursework and a thesis in Chinese, culminating in a degree jointly awarded by Johns Hopkins SAIS and Nanjing University. Advanced proficiency in Mandarin is required prior to beginning study. 

Scope of the MAIS: Bilingual and Interdisciplinary

You can study a wide-range of topics during your two years of study at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center. As an interdisciplinary degree, the MAIS gives ample room for approaching your area of interest from multiple perspectives. The HNC is unique in its ability to bridge disciplines through open inquiry and expression by utilizing academic resources available in both Chinese and English. Our faculty’s expertise and course offerings have covered a wide range of topics in recent years.

  • International Systems
  • Transnational Social Processes
  • Technology and Public Policy
  • Energy and Sustainability
  • China and the Global South
  • Economics
  • Ethics and Global Governance
  • Law and International Institutions
  • Society, Culture, and Modernization
  • History and Identity

Our faculty bring an impressive diversity of backgrounds, including extensive research on different aspects of contemporary China as well as other regions of the world. Unlike solely English- or Chinese-medium institutions, the Hopkins-Nanjing Center offers a space for genuine engagement with different academic traditions and for collaboration across them. Coursework and thesis research can concentrate on and combine areas of politics, economics, or China studies, amid a variety of approaches to important questions about China and the world.

Required Coursework

  • During their two years of study, MAIS students must complete 64 credits of coursework.
  • At least 32 credits (excluding MAIS Tutorial and MAIS Thesis Preparation courses) must be taken in Chinese.
  • 24 credits must count towards the area of concentration. Students must also pass 20 credits in at least two concentrations outside the specific concentration area. All MAIS students must take at least three Area Studies (Chinese and American Studies) courses in order to fulfill the requirement for the minor. Many courses are cross-listed between concentrations and may count for multiple requirements.
  • Available Concentration Areas:
    • Chinese Studies
    • Comparative and International Law
    • Energy, Resources and Environment
    • International Economics
    • International Politics

In addition to the required target-language courses, you will be required to take the following thesis courses:

MAIS Tutorial - This course, taught in your first semester as a MAIS student, helps you to think critically about what it means to do social science research in a global and cross-cultural context. Through an array of influential readings in both English and Chinese, you will be exposed to a tool kit for tackling big questions in a way that cuts across disciplines. This common foundation for all MAIS students will help you think more systematically about your own plan of study and how potential thesis topics fit into broader intellectual debates. The tutorial is co-taught by international and Chinese faculty, with all written work done in your target language and a fully bilingual space for in-class discussion.

MAIS Thesis Preparation - This bilingual, co-taught class guides you through your second semester as a MAIS student, while you begin working on your thesis. To complement your individual advising relationship, it covers some common standards for research design and writing, and provides a forum for you to discuss your progress with faculty and with other students. It offers a starting point for the more independent stage of thesis research in the summer and the second year.

International students write the MAIS thesis in Chinese as their target language. You will choose your own topic and work closely with a Chinese professor over three semesters to produce a graduate-level thesis of at least 15,000 to 20,000 characters. Many students do extensive fieldwork in China or abroad as part of writing their theses. Often they come to the Hopkins-Nanjing Center with a longstanding interest in their topic; sometimes they discover new directions of interest while at the HNC. Many of our students have taken advantage of the thesis-writing process to build up expertise and networks that stand them in good stead in their future careers. Some have gone on to PhD study with a line of research that began in Nanjing.

Below is a brief sampling of recent theses written by Hopkins-Nanjing Center MAIS students:

  • An Analysis of the Social Capital of China's Migrant NGOs: A Case Study of Migrant NGOs in Beijing 
  • The Role of China's Online Anti-Domestic Violence Opinions in the Development of Women's Rights
  • The Role of the Maritime Militia: People's War at Sea 
  • China's Use of Educational Strategies to Increase its Soft Power in Africa: The Influence of Confucius Institutes and Project Hope 
  • Cross Strait Cooperation on Network Technology Standards: A Case Study on China Mobile's TD-LTE Project 
  • The Emergence of Rural Land Banks and the Capitalization of the Chinese Countryside 
  • An Empirical Study of the Influence of Foreign Investment on the Technical Efficiency of Chinese Domestic Retail Enterprises 
  • The Application of the Doctrine of "Most Significant Relationship" in Chinese Judicial System: A Comparative Law Perspective 
  • Are African Countries Used as Pollution Havens by China? 
  • The Geopolitical Implications of Chinese Natural Gas Imports