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Requirements | China Studies

Learn about the requirements for the China Studies program. 

Master of Arts (MA) Requirements

MA students concentrating in China Studies must complete 24 credits of applicable coursework and a program capstone. 16 credits must be China Studies courses. The remaining 8 credits must be from one or more of the areas below:

Students who received the HNC Certificate in Chinese and American Studies will receive a reduction in the number of China Studies credits required, but must take at least one China Studies course in Washington DC. Academic Affairs will inform each student of the approved reductions. 

Students are also required to demonstrate proficiency in Chinese. Native speakers of Chinese must demonstrate proficiency in any other language taught at the school, which can include English.

  • 3 China Studies (or cross-listed) courses (12 credits)
  • 4 semesters of Chinese language study or proficiency

For additional requirements, click here


The Capstone exam is an oral exam conducted by the China Studies faculty and takes place during the student's final semester at SAIS. Students will prepare a short topic paper in advance and be prepared to discuss it.

These requirements must be completed in addition to the requirements for your degree program.

Master of International Public Policy (MIPP) Requirements

MIPP students can add an affiliation in China Studies to their degree plan. At least three of your eight courses must be China Studies courses to complete the affiliation requirement.

These requirements must be completed in addition to the requirements for your degree program.

Learning Goals

China Studies concentrators focus on a curriculum that puts contemporary China in a regional and historical context and integrates comparative and theoretical perspectives with the judgment that experience and history provide. Students will develop an understanding of China that encompasses the broad range of dimensions shaping China’s political and economic development and its international interactions. Students will be proficient in spoken and written Chinese.
  1. Students will demonstrate a nuanced understanding of China’s political and economic system in contemporary and historical context;
  2. Understand China in regional context and comparative perspective;
  3. Grasp the range of issues influencing China’s domestic development and its interactions with other countries;
  4. Develop a familiarity with major theoretical perspectives and conceptual frameworks applied to the analysis of China’s domestic and foreign policy;
  5. Conduct informed analysis of changes in Chinese domestic and international policy and international policy toward China;
  6. Apply knowledge acquired in the program to real world challenges in professional settings; and
  7. Speak and write Mandarin Chinese at a level of professional proficiency.