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Harvard Summer Program - Advanced Chinese Study, Shanghai, China

Publish Date: Sep 29, 2015

Deadline: Jan 28, 2016

Event Dates: from Jun 11, 2016 12:00 to Aug 06, 2016 12:00

The Harvard Summer School Program in Shanghai, also known as the Harvard Shanghai Institute (HSI), is an intensive, advanced content-focused Chinese program that enables students with a solid foundation in Chinese to apply and further develop their language ability as a bridge to academic and professional engagement with China.

Comprising two for-credit Harvard half-courses, the HSI curriculum offers you broad exposure to a variety of humanities, social science, and pre-professional fields, and then leads you to examine one specific field in-depth. Incorporating English and Chinese lectures and readings, as well as Chinese seminars and one-on-one tutorials, the curriculum strengthens your skills in all four areas of competence—speaking, listening, reading, and writing—with particular attention to language as a tool for effective communication in academic and career-related contexts.

With its status as China’s premier global metropolis and center of international business, cultural, and academic exchange, and with a compelling, complicated history of development and transformation through the modern era, Shanghai is an exciting and opportunity-rich location in which to hone your Chinese language skills and apply them to academic and professional endeavors.

The program is open to undergraduates and graduate students from all institutions and across all disciplines, as well as working professionals in all fields. Before enrolling in HSI, you must have completed at least four years of college-level Chinese study or be able to demonstrate equivalent proficiency. No specialist knowledge of any particular field is required, and you will find that different parts of the curriculum may dovetail with your own interests, or else challenge yourself to explore areas you may not have previously.


The curriculum is designed to offer a combination of breadth and depth, first exposing students to a survey of the Chinese humanities and social sciences during the first semester, and then focusing on a specific topic for deeper investigation during the second semester.

On Monday through Thursday every week, students will spend four hours each morning in lecture and small-group seminar sections and will participate in hour-long individual tutorials in the late morning and early afternoon. Open discussion and debate, presentations, expository and persuasive writing assignments, and organized out-of-classroom interaction with professionals throughout Shanghai are integral components of both courses.

Advanced High Modern Chinese I

This accelerated version of Harvard’s first-semester Fifth-Year Chinese (150a) course offers a kaleidoscopic overview of Chinese humanities and social science disciplines, including government and law, journalism and media, health and social welfare, economy and business, history and literature, and more. Drawing on authentic contemporary and historical Chinese sources (both print and non-print), the course will consolidate students’ advanced language ability, background knowledge, and independent initiative to pursue academic and non-academic endeavors in or related to China.
Note: all components of this course, including lectures, seminars, tutorials, and readings, will be in Chinese.

Global Shanghai

In this specialized version of Harvard’s Global Cities in East Asia course, students will examine urbanization and globalization with a focus on Shanghai as a case study, and with comparative links made to other East Asian cities. Moving through theories and history of globalization in a broad and Shanghai-based context, the course will then focus on three different dimensions of contemporary globalization as seen through the growth of Shanghai: economic integration, urban planning, and social consequences. Central questions for the course include: Is globalization driving urbanization? Is globalization increasing inequality? Can globalization be controlled? 

Note: this course will include a daily English-language lecture, followed by Chinese-language lectures, seminars, and tutorials. Course readings will include English materials, but will be predominantly in Chinese.

Friday Fieldwork
Each Friday, students will have the opportunity to step outside of the classroom and participate in a variety of site tours, work unit shadowing, in-depth interviews, and other fieldwork activities at a variety of venues throughout Shanghai. This Friday fieldwork is an integral component of the curriculum, with the specific venues linked to the topics covered in class each week.

Student Symposium
At the end of the program, students will present a final research paper to a mixed audience of their peers and scholars and professionals with similar interests. This capstone project will afford students both an opportunity to showcase their formal written and spoken Chinese ability, and to make connections with people in Shanghai involved in students’ own areas of interest.


Jennifer Liu, PhD, Director of the Chinese Language Program, Harvard University
Nara Dillon, PhD, Lecturer in Government and East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University
Panpan Gao, MA, Preceptor in Chinese, Harvard University


Before applying, review the Admission and Policies and FAQs pages.

You must be at least 18 years old and have completed at least one year of college or be a first-year student in good academic standing to apply.

The application materials, outlined below, are due January 28, 2016:

  • A completed online registration that includes:
    • A $50 nonrefundable application fee
    • Transcripts (student record accepted for Harvard students)
  • A Student Introduction Form that includes:
    • English statement of interest
    • Chinese statement of interest 
    • A letter of recommendation, preferably from a current or previous Chinese language instructor
  • Non-Harvard students will be asked to have a brief, informal interview via Skype with a member of the HSI teaching staff. The interview will be conducted in English and Chinese. Students will be contacted to schedule the interview once all application materials are received. 
  • Two (2) photocopies of the photo and signature pages of your passport. If your passport expires before February 2017, you will need to renew it to apply for a Chinese visa. 
  • Optional: A research proposal outlining a specific topic that you hope to examine in-depth for your final paper and presentation.

Please mail your Student Introduction Form (including essays), letter of recommendation, research proposal (if provided), and passport photocopies to Alex Lopatin, 5 Bryant St., Rm. 104, Cambridge, MA 02138, preferably in one envelope.

Students are notified of admission decisions on a rolling basis. Early application will increase your chances of admission. All application materials must be received by January 28 for your application to be considered. 


There is a nonrefundable $50 application fee. The cost of the program includes the following:

  • Tuition
  • Room
  • Two meals per week (Chinese table) 
  • All course materials
  • Friday fieldwork activities
  • Weekend excursions (two total) 

In addition to the program fee, you are responsible for:

  • Meals (except Chinese table) 
  • A health insurance fee (waived if students have US insurance that provides coverage outside the United States)
  • Transportation to and from Shanghai, China
  • Transportation within Shanghai (except to and from program activities)
  • The cost of passports and visas (if the latter is needed)
  • Any immunizations
  • Miscellaneous living expenses

How to pay and funding options

See Payment and Funding for payment deadlines, deposit amounts, and more information, including funding options for Harvard College students.

Host University

Shanghai Jiao Tong University is the oldest university in Shanghai, founded in 1896, and remains one of the most prestigious in China. The park-like, easy-to-navigate Xuhui campus, conveniently located near a subway stop in a lively, cosmopolitan district of Shanghai, preserves many of the beautiful architectural features of its early days, while at the same time offering fully modern amenities.

The classrooms are located in a renovated imperial-era building just a few minutes’ walk from the dormitory. A full-service cafeteria, convenience stores, library, restaurants and more are all located right on campus, with many other venues just outside its gates.

Students will be housed in single rooms in the Taoliyuan Foreign Students’ Dormitory, a recently-constructed, modern building with front desk and maid service, a first-floor cafe, and amenities including private bathrooms and refrigerators.

Additional information

Contact Alex Lopatin, Program Coordinator, harvardshanghaiinstitute@gmail.com. 

Students with disabilities

Contact the disability services coordinator as soon as possible. See Students with Disabilities for more information.

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