Pitzer in China Academics


Host Institution

The program is affiliated with Beijing University, one of the premier institutions of higher education in China, with a student population of more than 30,000.

Program Dates

The fall program begins in late August and ends the beginning of December.

The spring program begins early to late February and ends mid-May to mid-June. The program usually starts after the Chinese New Year.

Program dates are determined by Beijing University and are usually available 2 to 3 months before the semester begins.

Intensive Chinese Language

The program offers elementary, intermediate, and advanced levels. The classes emphasize proficiency in speaking and listening, as well as the reading and writing of Chinese characters.  Students will be asked to sign a “Language Pledge” to devote them to speaking Chinese with their Chinese tutors, host family, staff and friends in the community. Course description... 

The Core Course: Contemporary Issues in China

The core course combines lectures, readings, discussions, and the writing assignments of the Fieldbook with the more experiential program components of dorm stays with Chinese roommates, rural stays, and study trips. Lectures given by professors and specialists introduce students to a range of topics on modern China. The course also includes complementary instruction in Chinese calligraphy. Course description...

Independent Study Projects

Students may choose any topic that relates to the student's China experience, is educationally viable, and is sensitive to the host culture. Formats depending upon a student's personal interest, subject matter, language proficiency, and the availability of suitable specialty advisors and other resources.

  • Anthropological/Sociological Fieldwork Project (one course credit)
  • Media Studies Project – Film/video, photo essay, blog, graphic design, etc. (one course credit)
  • Neuroscience Lap Project (one course credit)
  • Art Apprenticeship (one course credit)

The anthropological/sociological fieldwork and filming projects can be carried out over a wide variety of topics, including, but not limited to environmental studies, politics, public health, migration studies, ethnic studies, international relations, linguistics, anthropology studies, population studies, economics, gender studies, urban studies, religion, media studies, and education.

For students who choose the Traditional Chinese Medicine elective course and who have sufficient background in biology and/or neuroscience, there are possibilities for a related Independent study project in neuroscience. Students interested in neuroscience should notify Pitzer at least three months before the start of the program.

The art apprenticeship is possible in calligraphy, painting, Tai Chi, and music.

All independent study projects require a final written report with a significant analytical component as well as other appropriate documentation of learning depending on the student’s topic. The program strongly recommends that students select a project that involves field research, oral interviews, participant observation and other techniques that facilitate cultural immersion over those involving primarily library research. Topic selection may be limited due to available resources and local conditions.

List of previous Pitzer in China Independent Study Projects

Elective Courses

  • Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) (half course credit) Course description...
  • Beginner's Chinese Characters (half course credit) Course description...
  • Advanced or Classical Chinese Language Study (half course credit)

Suggested Preparation

Students are strongly encouraged to take prior coursework in Chinese area studies. Prior Chinese language study is strongly recommended. Students planning to study TCM are recommended to take courses in medical anthropology or alternative healing traditions.


Course Credits
Semester Units
Chinese Society and Culture
Intensive Chinese Language
Directed Independent Study Project
Traditional Chinese Medicine or Other Elective
4 to 5.0
16 to 20

Students must be in good academic standing to be eligible.