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Programs and Deadlines
About Penn Abroad
CIEE Beijing: Advanced Chinese Studies (BCV)
Beijing, China (Fall Spring Academic Year Outgoing Program)
Program Terms: Fall,
Budget Sheets Fall,
Fact Sheet:
Language of Instruction:
Mandarin Chinese
Language Prerequisite:
8 or more semesters of college level language (or equivalent)
Minimum Cumulative GPA: 3.0
Credit Available For:
College, Huntsman
Type of Program:
Application Deadline:
Fall/Year: March 1, Spring: October 1
Program Description:
Mariah Deters, Great Wall
Photo Credit:  Mariah Deters

Program Snapshot

(click on the links highlighted in blue below to learn more)
The Academic Program
  • Facilitated Direct Enrollment through Peking University
  • Fall Semester: early September - late-January
  • Spring Semester: early February- late June
  • GPA requirement: 3.0
  • Junior standing and above
  • Language requirement: Super level of Chinese
  • Peking University will not accept who are citizens of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Taiwan ROC, Hong Kong SAR, or Macau. This includes those who are permanent U.S. residents.
  • Peking University will not accept applicants over 45 years old.
  • Peking University foreign student dormitory or
  • host family
The City of Beijing
  • As China’s capital and cultural center, Beijing is arguably China’s most important city. With a population of 22 million and counting, people from all over China, and the world, have flocked here for new opportunities as China’s economy and international power grow.
  • Beijing is home to some of China’s most treasured historical sites, like the Forbidden City and the Great Wall, it is also very cosmopolitan and is home to some of China’s best theaters.
  • Beijing boasts the highest concentration of top research institutions and technology companies.
  Special Features
  • Cultural Activities and Field Trips
  • Peer Language Tutor Program
  • CIEE Community Language Commitment
The Application Process
Financial Matters
Penn Resources

This program requires an advising session with a Program Manager prior to opening an application. To view the schedule for upcoming group advising sessions, or to schedule an individual appointment, select the ‘Schedule an Advising Appointment’ button on the Penn Abroad homepage.  

The Academic Program

Peking University

Founded in 1898, Peking University (PKU) was and still remains one of China’s most prestigious universities. Its long traditions of scholarly excellence and political activism have produced many figures that have played instrumental roles in China’s post-Imperial history. The university focuses on advanced research in the natural and social sciences and its campus, which was previously an imperial garden during the Qing Dynasty, is home to the university’s 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The PKU campus has modern classrooms and recreational facilities, numerous cafeterias, and convenient access to Beijing’s mass transit system all within short walking distance of each other.


The CIEE Study Center at Peking University (PKU) was founded in 1980. The Advanced Chinese Studies program, which started in 2009, is appropriate for highly motivated, superior-level Chinese language students interested in taking content classes completely in Chinese with Chinese undergraduate students. Students are required to pass a placement exam taken upon arrival in Beijing. Students who pass may enroll in one of these schools or department of Peking University: School of Mathematical Sciences, School of Physics, College of Chemistry and Molecular Engineering, School of Life Sciences, Department of Chinese Language and Literature, Department of History, School of International Studies, School of Economics, Guanghua School of Management, and School of Journalism and Communication. Students wishing to enroll in a school or department not listed above should contact CIEE to inquire. The mandatory CIEE core course, Advanced Research and Writing, supplements direct enrollment courses at Peking University.

Students attend classes from Monday through Friday and take most courses within one department or school. The academic culture of each department or school varies. Classroom size can range from 20 to 200 students depending on the course, and teaching styles and course requirements vary from course to course. Syllabi may or may not be provided depending on the professor. Typically there is a teacher’s assistant (TA) assigned to each course, and international students are expected to communicate with their TAs for specific course information and to discuss any issues. Students are expected to be both independent and diligent in regards to meeting the requirements of each course.

Grading Scale

Peking University grades are determined based on a mid-term exam, final exam, homework, attendance, and class participation. All grades are calculated on a percentage basis and converted to U.S. letter grade equivalents. As grades for the spring semester are not available until September, and grades for the fall semester are not available until the following March, graduating seniors or others concerned about the timing of receiving grades need to take this into consideration when choosing this program. For the CIEE course, students are graded on their participation in both formal lectures and scheduled meetings with their tutors.

As on all study abroad programs through Penn Abroad, grades are recorded on the Penn transcript and are calculated in the cumulative grade point average. The pass/fail option can be exercised according to the Penn on-campus policy of your home school.

Learn More About the CIEE Advanced Chinese Studies Program at Peking University

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A note about a "superior level of Chinese:" Students must take the initial PKU placement test in Beijing to qualify for direct enrollment. Students who speak and write at the superior level on the ACTFL scale are likely to pass the PKU placement test. These students have typically completed at least eight semesters of college-level Chinese or its equivalent. Study abroad students who do not pass this test are required to switch to the Intensive Chinese Language program at the CIEE Study Center at Peking University and take Chinese language courses with CIEE and other international students.

Students are strongly encouraged to provide a current HSK (National Chinese Language Proficiency Test) score along with their application to expedite the admissions process. HSK tests should be taken within one year prior to applying to the program. Students who have already received an intermediate B certificate or above on the HSK advanced exam may be exempt from the PKU language proficiency exam. HSK testing sites, which are available throughout the U.S., typically offer testing once each year in the spring or fall.

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Students live in either the PKU foreign student complex—Zhongguanyuan Global Village dormitory—or in a homestay. Students may not live in accommodations that are not arranged by CIEE.

Zhongguanyuan Global Village

Living conditions in Zhongguanyuan Global Village are inviting and comfortable, providing standard amenities such as beds, desks, armoires, private bathrooms, and Internet access. Shared kitchens are available, but location varies by building. Students live in suite-style units and each student has his or her own private bedroom. Each unit shares a common living space and bathroom, and depending on the layout, students will live with one to two other roommates. Roommates are either CIEE students or other international students.


Homestays are located within 45 minutes from campus by public transportation and have two or three bedrooms. Students have their own room and share the living room, kitchen, and bathroom (in some host families, students may have their own bathroom). Students are invited to family meals typically four times during the week, but should budget for other meals, including lunch on campus and meals not eaten with host families. Chinese family members speak Chinese only. This option is highly recommended for students who want to establish relationships with Chinese people, live in an entirely Chinese language environment, and to make rapid progress in Chinese language and culture study.

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Special Features

Cultural Activities and Field Trips

Guided field trips are organized to cultural destinations or events in and around Beijing, and might include historic sites such as Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall, and the Forbidden City. Activities may include more contemporary events, such as plays, rock music performances, art exhibitions, day hikes near Beijing, and interactive visits to orphanages or institutes for autistic children. Through experiential learning, you will connect empirical experiences to content you'll learn in your classes, learning more about contemporary Chinese society and culture from the local people you meet. Extracurricular classes in Chinese calligraphy, painting, seal carving, and martial arts are also offered each semester.

Two extended weekend excursions are offered to you during the semester. For the first excursion, students and staff travel together to a selected destination, allowing you to learn about areas outside of Beijing and utilize your Chinese language skills under the leadership of the CIEE resident director. The location is selected prior to each term and changes each semester. Past trips have included Xi’an, Hangzhou, Nanjing, and the Shaolin temple. For the second excursion, CIEE offers a few different itineraries under the leadership of CIEE staff teams, each going to different locations with different trip themes. You'll sign up for, and take part in, the trip that interests you the most. Through these specialized trips, with smaller group sizes, you will experience more personal interaction as well as learn about a topic of particular interest. Past selections have included visits to the city of Shanghai, under the theme of “Modern Architecture and Urban Landscapes;” the birthplace of Confucius in Qufu, under the theme “Traditional Chinese Philosophy;” and a village visit and hike in the mountains of northern Shanxi province, under the theme “Environment and Rural Governance in China.” Several Chinese students accompany the group to help foster a Chinese-speaking environment during these trips.

Peer Language Tutor Program

The CIEE Peer Language Tutor program at PKU is a unique feature of the program and ensures that students’ linguistic and cultural fluency progresses throughout the program. CIEE students are paired with PKU students for weekly one-on-one Chinese language tutorials for a total of three hours per week, with more hours available upon request. These tutorials provide students guided support in academic writing and research in a Chinese context, which is integrated into the required CIEE core course, Tutorial for Advanced Research and Writing. They also provide students extra conversation practice in Mandarin and guidance with homework assignments, while giving students an opportunity to befriend and be a part of the lives of their Chinese peers. Past students have stated that their peer tutors were one of the best and most unique aspects of the CIEE program.

CIEE Community Language Commitment

On this program, students are asked to take part in the CIEE Community Language Commitment. During orientation all students sign an agreement specifying in what contexts Chinese is required. This fosters a program environment and learning community that encourages regular use of the Chinese language for daily communication, thereby improving proficiency in the language.

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The Application Process

Please review the Getting Started Guide.  Additional details will be provided by the China Program Manager. 

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Financial Matters

Students are charged Penn tuition and student fee (called study abroad fee the semester abroad) for all Penn programs.  Additional expenses will typically include items such as housing, meals, and airfare.  Please see the program budget sheet to determine other costs. 

In most cases, financial aid applies to Penn-approved programs.  Student Financial Services reviews program budget sheets each semester to determine how to appropriately adjust your aid package.


Penn Resources

Students who study abroad are encouraged to take advantage of Penn's many resources for students, even if you haven't used them before going abroad.  There is an extensive list of resources on the Penn Abroad website that can help you to explore issues that might pertain to you and to help you prepare for a term abroad. 

In addition to these resources, we encourage you to reach out to a past program participant or ambassador to learn more about the program from a student perspective.
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