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Graduate Semester Programs

China Studies Institute

Great Wall of China

The China Studies Institute (CSI), formerly known as the Beijing Institute of Asian Studies, was founded by American University in 1985 to serve as a center of dialogue and learning between American and Chinese students. CSI began operating as an independent entity in 2004 and quickly became a top destination for students from around the world wishing to study in China. CSI is located on the campus of Peking University (BEIDA), the most prestigious university in China, and is affiliated with BEIDA’s School of International Studies and Department of History. Students on this program will have rare access to resources and experiences that will give them an insider’s view of China.


Students who participate in this independent semester experience have the unique opportunity to conduct research under the tutelage of a faculty member from BEIDA.

Students who wish to do research at BEIDA may use the credits as independent study, thesis, or SRP credit for their AU degree. They must secure a faculty supervisor from the AU faculty with whom they will work while abroad; this faculty member will also report the final grade for the research. Students may consider any of the following topic areas for their personal research, although any research proposal will be considered:

  • US-China relations
  • Chinese foreign policy, politics, and political reform
  • Chinese media and society
  • Environmental issues in China
  • Chinese economic development

Language Requirement

All work – research, seminar – can be completed in English. However, SIS encourages students to take at least one Mandarin language course before applying to the program.

Academic Calendar

Fall semester: September - December

Spring semester: January - May


Students are registered through the SIS Office of International Programs for up to six (6) AU-CSI exchange credits (SIS-674). These exchange credits cover research credits only. Credits will be registered with the name of the AU faculty member who is supervising the student’s work.

Students are required to meet with their AU academic advisor and obtain formal pre-approval before enrolling at CSI. This ensures that all credits earned on the Program can be applied toward the student’s AU degree.

CSI works with students to match them with research supervisors from BEIDA before students leave for the China.

Credit articulation: Because credits are supervised by AU faculty members and no transcript will be generated at CSI, regular AU rules apply.

Tuition and Fees

Students pay regular tuition, emergency international health insurance, and technology fees to AU. Students do not pay the student activity fee, sports center fee, or SIS fee while studying at CSI. Students pay CSI for language courses and housing if they opt to be housed through CSI.

Students are responsible for any incidental costs, such as library fines, incurred during the program. Students are responsible for all personal expenses including housing and transportation.


Students may choose to live in student housing on BEIDA’s campus, off-campus hotels, or in off-campus, private apartments. CSI will help students through the process of applying for any of the different housing options. Students may also find their own housing in Beijing.

Visa and Immigration

Once admitted to program, students work with CSI on obtaining immigration documents as necessary.

Students are responsible for researching the most up-to-date immigration requirements and arranging all immigration documents.

Student Orientation

During the semester prior to the start of the program, the SIS Office of International Programs conducts a mandatory pre-departure meeting. Topics covered include administrative, logistical, security, health, and cross-cultural issues. CSI welcomes students in the fall and spring semesters with orientation activities.

How to Apply

Complete and submit the program application to the SIS Office of International Programs by the application deadline. Remember to submit your research proposal and the signature of your AU faculty supervisor(s).

  1. After applications are processed and reviewed, student applications are forwarded to CSI for consultation on appropriate internship and research placements. Information is communicated to students as soon as matches are made.

Contact Us!

Email: sisabroad@american.edu

Twitter: SISStudyAbroad

Application Deadlines

Spring 2016: TBD


Academic Advisor Approval Form

Helpful Links

Learn Chinese in DC at the Washington Chinese Language Institute or the USDA Grad School

The Embassy of China

Travel information about China from Wikitravel and Lonely Planet

China Consular Information Sheet from the US Department of State

Semester Abroad Blog

Follow our students around the world.

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