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Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an, China

Program Description

This 3-week study abroad experience introduces students to the history, culture, and politics of China, with the goal of understanding its 21-century role in the world. We will encounter the vast sweep of Chinese history as we visit the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Temple of Heaven, and the Summer Palace. We will explore art and culture at Beijing’s museums, restaurants, and theaters (including martial arts, opera, and acrobatics).

Students will stay at the central Beijing campus of China Foreign Affairs University (CFAU), where China’s future diplomats and world affairs scholars are trained. We will have the opportunity to learn from CFAU professors and interact with Chinese students inside and outside of the classroom. We will also have a chance to interact with Chinese business leaders, artists, and journalists.

Side trips by high-speed rail will include such sights as the terracotta warriors of Xi’an, the global financial center of Shanghai, and the history-rich coastal metropolis of Tianjin. Through all of these experiences, students will gain a deeper understanding of how China’s history and culture continue to shape its domestic politics and identity on the world stage.

Students take ONE 3-credit course that is cross-listed between POSC and HIST.  Choose either version:

  • POSC 371: Topics in Comparative Politics: China in the 21st Century (3 credits)
  • HIST 378: China in the Modern World (3 credits)

Location Description

Beijing is a vibrant city of over 21 million people and is the capital city of China. With a history spanning more than 3,000 years, Beijing is home to a wealth of historic sites including the Forbidden City (the world’s largest palace complex, built for the emperors of the Ming and Qing Dynasties), the Temple of Heaven, and the Summer Palace. Buildings with modern significance include the Great Hall of the People and Chairman Mao’s Mausoleum, which ring the historic Tiananmen Square. Beijing also boasts innumerable restaurants, museums, art galleries, and shopping centers. 

Students will be housed on the campus of China Foreign Affairs University (CFAU) in central Beijing. The campus is a short walk from a subway station that offers cheap, safe, and reliable transportation throughout the city (with English signs!). There is a dining hall on CFAU campus and numerous restaurants within walking distance.

Side trips via high-speed rail will include Xi’an, Shanghai, and Tianjin, and the visits to Xi'an and Shanghai will involve two-night hotel stays at these locations. 


Jonathan Keller | | Political Science


Students will stay in dormitories (two students per room) at China Foreign Affairs University (CFAU). CFAU lodging includes Wi-Fi, laundry facilities, kitchen space, and a dining hall in very close proximity.

All meals, lodging, admissions, and in-country transportation are included in the program fee. Students will receive a weekly stipend for meals and transportation that gives them flexibility in where to eat and explore. 

Additional Items to Consider

  • A valid passport and visa will be required. 
  • Chinese language proficiency is not required, though it will be helpful to learn a few key words and phrases in advance of the trip.  
  • Students are responsible for their own airfare between the U.S. and Beijing. 
  • All in-country transportation costs are included in the program fee.

Applicant Criteria

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.0

No foreign language proficiency is required.

Open to all majors

Application Process

This list serves as an application preview. To apply, students will need to complete the following:

  • Study Abroad Online Application ($25 fee)
  • Short essay 
  • Resume
  • Official transcript required for non-JMU students

Further details and instructions about these application requirements will be available upon log-in. 

Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


POSC 371 : Topics in Comparative Politics: China in the 21st Century (3 credits) *students choose 1 course

HIST 378: China in the Modern World (3 credits) *students choose 1 course

Courses listed here are to be used as a general guideline for program curriculum. *All courses are considered pending until approved by the Academic Department, Program, and/or College.


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