Skip to content

Programs : Brochure

Fact Sheet:
Language of Instruction: English, Mandarin Chinese Language Prerequisite: 2 semesters of college level language (or equivalent)
Minimum Cumulative GPA: 3.0 Credit Available For: College
Other Eligibility Requirements: 1 Area Studies Course in Language or Culture (Recommended) Type of Program: Semester/Year Study Abroad
Housing Options: Homestay, University Residence Hall/Apartment Application Deadline: Fall/Year: March 1, Spring: October 15
Program Description:

Program Snapshot

CIEE Shanghai: China in a Global Context
The CIEE Shanghai: China in a Global Context program allows students to develop Mandarin language skills while studying the contemporary issues and geopolitical forces that affect China as it progresses into a rising world power. The CIEE Study Center is located on the campus of East China Normal University, along the bank of the Liwa River on its downtown Putuo campus, known as the “Garden University” for its beautiful grounds.

Established in 1951, East China Normal University (ECNU) is one of China’s key institutions of higher learning and the first to specialize in teacher education. The university enrolls more than 26,000 fulltime students, including 3,700 international students at its two campuses.

For additional information, visit the CIEE Shanghai: China in a Global Context website

The City of Shanghai

Shanghai is known for its long history of foreign influence, fashion, and economic prowess. It is a popular tourist destination renowned for its historical landmarks such as The Bund, City God Temple, and Yu Garden, as well as the extensive and growing Lujiazui skyline, home to some of the tallest skyscrapers in the world. It has been described as the “showpiece” of the booming economy of mainland China.  The official language is Mandarin, while the vernacular is Shanghainese.  With a population of 23 million, Shanghai is the largest city (by population) in China.

Did you know…?

Sections of the city were historically gifted to foreign countries as concessions, many of which are now tourist attractions.  Of these concessions, the French Concession is the most well preserved and well known – it is filled with European architecture and art styles.



The program at CIEE Shanghai: China in a Global Context is for College credit only.

Minimum GPA Requirement: 3.0

Language Prerequisite: Successful completion of 2 semesters of college-level Chinese language or the equivalent, by the end of the academic semester (fall or spring) prior to departure. 
Additional Course Pre-requisite(s): Successful completion of 1 Area Studies course by the end of the academic semester (fall or spring) prior to departure recommended, but not required. 


Language of Instruction

English, Mandarin Chinese


A full course load at the CIEE Shanghai: China in a Global Context consists of 15 credits.  Penn students must maintain a full course load while abroad and may only enroll in courses at the undergraduate level.

Chinese language courses meet for 90 contact hours. They are worth 6 CIEE credits, which generally equates to 2 Penn CUs. Elective courses in English and Chinese meet for 45 contact hours. They are worth 3 CIEE credits, which generally equates to 1 Penn CU.
All Penn students are required to take a Chinese language course plus three elective courses. At minimum, two of the three elective courses must be East Asian Studies (EST) courses.

CIEE Shanghai Academic Calendar
CIEE Course Catalog for Incoming Exchange Students
Grading Scale

As on all Penn Abroad programs, 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. For more on Penn Abroad’s academic policies, click here

Special Features

BEC Special FeaturesOrientation Activities

All Penn students are required to attend the orientation activities organized by CIEE prior to the start of each semester.  More information on CIEE Shanghai’s orientation activities can be found here.

Students begin their study abroad experience before leaving home by participating in a CIEE online pre-departure orientation.  Upon arrival in Shanghai, a mandatory, weeklong orientation session introduces students to the country, culture, and academic program, and provides necessary logistical information about adapting to life in Shanghai.

Chinese Language Clinic

Full-time Chinese language instructors assist students with special or unique problems in language study by arranging an optional language clinic that meets for one and a half hours, four evenings a week, Monday through Wednesday and on Sunday in the campus residence hall.

Group Excursions

A variety of field trips complement classroom work, including visits to local Chinese companies and factories, government agencies, and museums, art exhibitions and plays.  More details and previous destinations can be found on the CIEE Shanghai website.

Peer Language Tutors

BEC Special FeaturesStudents will be paired with ECNU students for structured, one-on-one Chinese language tutorials for a minimum of one hour, twice a week.

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.


BEC CampusParticipants must be willing to live under local conditions for students.

Students have three options for living accommodations in Shanghai. All students must live in CIEE-arranged housing.

Campus Residence Hall with a CIEE or international student roommate: a five-story facility located on the ECNU campus near the Zhongshan Park light rail stop. The residence hall has a common lobby with 24-hour security, lobby, and a laundry facility.  The residence hall is within a 10-minute walk from the CIEE Study Center.

Campus Residence Hall with Chinese roommate: located in the same residence hall as previously described, but students are paired with a Chinese student from ECNU. The Chinese roommates are required to speak only Chinese, so this option is recommended for students who wish to live in a more intensive Chinese language environment.

Chinese Homestays: Chinese host families are located within five to fifteen minutes from campus by public transportation. Students have their own room in the host family apartment and share the living room, kitchen, and bathroom. Students are invited to most family meals, but should budget for their own lunches and most weekend meals outside the home. Chinese family members speak Chinese only, so this option is recommended for students who wish to live in an entirely Chinese language environment.

Information regarding accommodation can be found on the CIEE Shanghai website.

Cost and Finance

Penn Abroad Financial Policies

Students are charged Penn tuition and academic fees for all Penn Abroad programs.  Additional expenses will typically include items such as housing, visas, and airfare.  Please see the program budget sheets below for more information.  For more on Penn Abroad’s financial policies, click here.

Financial Aid and Study Abroad

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. For more information on how Financial Aid will work during your semester abroad, click here.

Budget Sheets


Scholarship Opportunities

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program: Competition for awards for study abroad, for US citizen students who are receiving federal Pell Grant funding at a 2-year or 4-year college or university. 

David L. Boren Undergraduate Scholarships for Study Abroad: Supports undergraduate study abroad focusing on geographical areas, languages, and fields of study deemed critical to US national security. (Excludes study in US, Canada, Western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.) These US government grants entail a service obligation. 

CIEE Scholarships & Grants: Provides both merit-based and need-based scholarships and grants for undergraduate studying abroad on CIEE programs. 

Next Steps

For information on the Penn Abroad application process, click here.

To open an application or learn more about the program, please click here to schedule an appointment with a Penn Abroad Global Programs Manager.

For a student perspective on life and academics in Shanghai, contact a Penn Abroad Past-Participant or Exchange Student.