China Studies

China Studies Program
China Studies Program
China Studies Program

Johns Hopkins SAIS China Studies offers unparalleled training for future leaders and thinkers who will address China's evolving role in the world.

Johns Hopkins SAIS China Studies offers unparalleled training for future leaders and thinkers who will address China's evolving role in the world.

Johns Hopkins SAIS China Studies offers unparalleled training for future leaders and thinkers who will address China's evolving role in the world.

Program Activities
Events Calendar
Our Alumni

How to work with China across the full range of human endeavor to enhance positive developments and minimize frictions is one of the great challenges of the Twenty-First Century. The Johns Hopkins SAIS China Studies Program provides multiple opportunities to learn about China in Washington, Europe, and throughout the Chinese-speaking world.

The China Studies Program is second to none in the number of courses offered on contemporary China. The Program’s hallmark is its academically superb faculty, with considerable experience outside of academe, from work in government and multilateral organizations to NGOs and foundations. Courses they teach range from Chinese leadership and foreign policy, economic and political reform, human rights and law, and environment, to China’s military and the country’s growing involvement in Africa and beyond. The China Studies Program works closely with the Hopkins-Nanjing Center for Chinese and American Studies. Interested students have the opportunity to spend time in China learning from top Chinese and international scholars. 

China Studies students will be exposed to visiting policy makers and academics, have opportunities to undertake internships in Greater China and/or in Washington, DC, and they participate in field trips to China or the societies with which it interacts. A core commitment of the China Studies Program is to offer a curriculum that puts contemporary China in regional and historical context and integrates comparative and theoretical perspectives with the judgment that experience and history provide.

Aside from China itself, Washington, DC is ground zero for the study of contemporary China and China policy. China Studies is in the center of Washington--amidst embassies, think tanks, NGOs, and government agencies, all with considerable China involvement and expertise. Given their unmatched opportunity to study China from both the inside and outside, China Studies graduates are employed in government, business, multilateral organizations, and NGOs around the world.

Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai Talks at SAIS China Forum on Oct. 8, 2013
Security-Relevant Perceptions in US-China Relations: Elites and Society, Nov.1, 2013
On the Changjiang Shennong Brook, China
Meeting at Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, China
Visiting the Headquaters of Bank of China at Beijing, China
Study China's Water Issue
Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai speaks at SAIS China Forum
SAIS Student Volunteers with Chinese Ambassador Cui, SAIS'87
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Program Activities


SAIS China Forum

The program hosts a monthly lecture series that brings leading experts on dimensions of China from academia, the business world and the policy community to speak at the school.


China Studies Brown Bag Luncheons

This event series provides opportunities for members of the China Studies Program and others in the school's community to explore current topics on China with experts in an informal setting.



Each year China Studies provides limited funding to help offset some of the costs students may incur in undertaking internships in Greater China during the summer.


Study Tours

When funding is available, China Studies faculty may organize travel for limited numbers of students on topics involving Chinese domestic or foreign policy.


Research Opportunities

China Studies offers an annual research seminar on various topics for which students complete research papers of publishable quality. Students may also have opportunities to serve as research assistants for academic books or other projects.


Annual Rome Endowment Photo Contest

China Studies Program hosts an Annual Rome Endowment Photo Contest each year. This contest encourages the outstanding use of photography to tell compelling stories about our China Studies students’ travel experiences in Greater China. At the end of the spring semester, China Studies will award six cash prizes to winners. These awards will include three third place awards ($100); two second place awards ($200); and, one first place award ($300).


China Studies Working Paper Series

The China Studies Working Paper Series showcases research conducted by MA candidates in China Studies classes. Submissions are accepted on a semester basis and undergo a committee review process to ensure that these papers are of the highest quality. Papers in this series have gone on to be published elsewhere.

Program Activities: Nanjing

The Hopkins-Nanjing Center Certificate Advanced Standing Students who have been admitted to Johns Hopkins SAIS in Washington, DC, and are sufficiently advanced in the Chinese language are eligible for a five-semester MA and certificate program. Students who spend two semesters at the center in Nanjing graduate with a Certificate in Chinese and American Studies. After three additional semesters in Washington, they also graduate with an MA from the school. Some students may be able to gradute in two semesters or two semesters and a summer, depending on whether they receive additional credits based on their course selections at the HNC.

Nanjing may be completed during any contiguous academic year. For instance, a student may (1) attend classes in Nanjing before or while applying to Johns Hopkins SAIS; (2) spend a year in Nanjing after completing two semesters in Washington; or (3) begin study in Nanjing in the fall after completing three semesters in Washington. Students pursuing this option must meet the admission requirements of both programs. Hopkins-Nanjing Center (HNC) work may not be combined with a Johns Hopkins SAIS dual-degree program such as the Johns Hopkins SAIS-Wharton MA-MBA or the Johns Hopkins SAIS-Stanford MA-JD or with other advanced standing. Acceptance to the Hopkins-Nanjing Center or to Johns Hopkins SAIS does not constitute acceptance to the other institution. US and other international students completing a graduate degree elsewhere may petition their home university to accept work completed at the HNC as credit toward their degree. Classes taken as a non-degree Johns Hopkins SAIS student will not count toward credit for the Johns Hopkins SAIS degree. Students can, however, petition requirements to be waived.

HNC Certificate students:

  • Receive 16 automatic credits, approximately 4 classes, of advanced standing upon completion of the HNC Certificate—these are not tied to specific courses, but based on classes taken in their target language at HNC (three each semester);
  • Must complete their MA in a minimum of 48 credits—still meeting all the degree requirements;
  • Can appeal to count one or two additional classes that were taken in English at the HNC toward their credits to graduate (4 or 8 equivalent SAIS credits; 3-credit HNC courses translate to 4 Johns Hopkins SAIS credits) and toward the school's requirements, as long as these courses are approved. This may reduce the minimum credits to graduate to either 44 or 40 depending on the approved course(s);
  • Must complete the remaining requirements: Policy or Regional concentration; International Economics (four classes); Quantitative Reasoning (one class); two core classes or exams and a Capstone;
  • Automatically meet the graduation-level requirements for Chinese language. All non-native English-speakers must still pass an English placement exam.  Native Chinese speakers must pass graduation-level requirements in a second language—which can be English.  If they choose a language other than English for proficiency, they must still pass the English placement exam prior to graduation. Students pursuing a regional concentration outside of China Studies must also pass the required language of that program.

In addition, HNC Certificate students pursuing China Studies:

  • Can petition for a reduction of up to three China Studies course requirements, outside of advanced standing, based on appeal of their HNC transcript*;
  • Must take a minimum of one China Studies course while at Johns Hopkins SAIS (starting with AY 15/16 students);
  • Must complete the remaining requirements of two additional Asia courses (Asia, SA, SEA, Japan, Korea); if students take additional English classes at HNC that are approved for additional credits, this may count toward this requirement.
  • Must take or pass Comparative National Systems as one of the two core classes/exams and must pass the program's Capstone.

All students are strongly encouraged to have taken courses in both Chinese domestic and foreign policy.

*To receive credit for courses offered by the Hopkins-Nanjing Center toward the China Studies concentration, students with a certificate from the HNC entering Johns Hopkins SAIS must submit to the China Studies Program for review and approval a list of those courses completed at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center that they wish to have count as fulfilling the courses on China required for the concentration. As part of the course approval process, students will be asked to provide an official transcript from the Hopkins-Nanjing Center and may be asked to provide supporting materials from the courses for which they are seeking SAIS credit, such as syllabi. Courses from the HNC for which a student has received a grade below a B- will not be eligible for school credit. 

Learn more about the Hopkins-Nanjing Center.



China Studies | MA Academic Requirements

China Studies Program Learning Goals and Objectives

Entering Class 2016-2017
MA students must take the equivalent of 16 non-language courses (64 credits) in order to graduate. Those students who are approved for dual degree or advanced standing may only need to take 12 courses (48 credits) or 14 courses (56 credits) as approved by Academic Affairs.
Students concentrating in China Studies must take at least 4 courses within this program.
Students who received the HNC Certificate in Chinese and American Studies will receive a reduction in the number of China Studies course requirements, but must take a minimum one China Studies course at the Washington, DC campus. Academic Affairs will inform each student of the approved reductions.
Students also must fulfill the general requirements for the field of Asian Studies, that is, an additional 2 Asian Studies courses outside of China Studies.
Students in China Studies also have the option of pursuing a specialization in the International Relations of Asia (AsiaIR).



Students must complete 4 courses within this program.
·         Microeconomics
·         Macroeconomics (prerequisite or concurrent Microeconomics)
·         International Trade Theory (prerequisite Microeconomics)
·         International Monetary Theory (prerequisite Macroeconomics)
Eligible students who pass the waiver exams in these subjects or who pass Microeocnomics in Pre-Term must replace those courses with alternate economics courses. Many students choose to pursue an International Economics Specialization in one of four areas of economics and therefore use electives to meet these requirements. Students may also choose to specialize in Emerging Markets.

Students must receive a 2.67 average in the 4 required economics courses or they must retake a course(s) until a 2.67 average is obtained. If any of the 4 courses are achieved by passing a waiver exam or during Pre-Term, the student must substitute an economics elective course(s) in place of the waived course(s) in order to fulfill the economics requirement above. In this case, the school will use the highest economics program elective course grade(s) to compute this average if a student is replacing one or more of the 4 required courses of Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, International Trade Theory or International Monetary Theory.



Students must complete one course from the list below.
·         Statistical Methods for Business & Economics 
·         Econometrics (prerequisite Statistical Methods for Business & Economics)
·         Applied Econometrics (prerequisite Econometrics)
·         Macro Econometrics (prerequisite Econometrics)
·         Risk Analysis and Modeling
·         Quantitative Global Economics (prerequisite International Monetary Theory)
Students may not double-count a Quantitative Reasoning requirement as one of the four required International Economics courses and vice-versa. Eligible students who pass the statistics waiver exam or pass the statistics course in Pre-Term are still required to take an alternate Quantitative Reasoning course from the list above.



All students must pass 2 core exams and/or courses in addition to their concentration requirements. China Studies concentrators must pass Comparative Politics as one of their core requirements prior to the start of their third semester. If the second core is not completed by the start of the final semester, a student must enroll in second core course.

·         American Foreign Policy Since World War II
·         Comparative Politics (old name Comparative National Systems)
·         Evolution of the International Systems
·         Theories of International Relations



China Studies MA candidates must pass exams to demonstrate proficiency in Chinese. All non-native English speakers are required to pass an English placement exam upon entering the school. Native Chinese speakers must pass proficiency in a second language which can include English. Recent HNC Certificate students are exempt from taking the Chinese proficiency exam and will have met the proficiency requirement.



China Studies concentrators must complete ONE of the following capstones:
1.     China Studies Capstone Exam that tests the student's knowledge of China in relation to the student's overall coursework
2.     MA Oral Exam (to compete for honors—if eligible)



Entering Class 2015-2016
Entering Class 2014-2015
Entering Class 2013-2014
Entering Class 2012-2013
Entering Class 2011-2012
Entering Class 2010-2011
Entering Class 2009-2010


China Studies Minor Requirements: (as of AY 16/17)

  • 3 China Studies or cross-listed courses in total
  • 4 semesters of Chinese language study or proficiency

General Minor Requirements:

  • Minors are optional (like specializations)
  • A student can minor in only one area
  • A student cannot pursue a minor in International Economics or IR/General, but can pursue a Specialization in International Economics
  • Minors consist of three courses
  • Some minors will have a required course(s)
  • SA student may use a maximum of one cross-listed course (or 4 credits) towards both a minor and concentration. In this case, the minor would require just two additional courses. In the IR or Asia concentrations, the cross-listed course must be from the primary concentration area (e.g., Conflict Management, Global Theory and History, China, Japan, etc.) and not from the two additional required courses across the other IR or Asia areas. Note: IR/General concentrators can always minor in an IR sub-field or approved policy area (Conflict Management, Global Theory and History, International Law and Organizations, International Political Economy, Energy, Resources, and Environment, or Strategic Studies) by taking just two extra courses (8 credits).
  • Regional minors may require language study or proficiency in the language of that region
  • A student can declare a minor at any time—prior to graduation
  • Students who are pursuing a minor in a program will not have bidding priority in that program (only concentrators)

To add or change a minor, please click HERE.


Johns Hopkins SAIS China Studies hosts the China Forum, which features presentations and speeches by top officials and thinkers who manage and study China's evolving role in the world. Students also attend luncheons and hear invited China scholars discuss their latest research.

Our Alumni


China Studies Alumni

Alumni Facebook Group

Join the group by visiting the Johns Hopkins SAIS China Alumni Group and click “Request to Join”. You will need to have a Facebook account to login and join. The group is focused on connecting China Alumni and updating them on all events hosted by the China Studies program.

Alumni Linkedin Group

Join the group by visiting the Johns Hopkins SAIS China Alumni Group and click “Join Group”. You will need to have a Linkedin account to login and join. The group is focused on connecting China Alumni and friends in a professional context.

Alumni Email List

To join the Johns Hopkins SAIS China Alumni email list, please e-mail and provide your name and year of graduation.


A Journal of Johns Hopkins SAIS China Studies.
A publication of MA candidates (2009-2013).

Contact Us

David M. Lampton
George and Sadie Hyman Professor of China Studies, Director of the China Studies Program
Rome 612

Carla Freeman
Associate Director of the China Studies Program, Associate Research Professor, Executive Director of the Foreign Policy Institute
Rome 607

Zhaojin Ji
Program Coordinator
Rome 610

Address & Phone

China Studies
Rome Building, Suite 606
1619 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, DC