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.

Visiting Danjiang Reservoir in China
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
Lunar New Year remarks by David M. Lampton Feb. 14, 2018
Visiting the Headquaters of Bank of China at Beijing, China
Studying China's Water Issue
Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai speaks at SAIS China Forum
SAIS Student Volunteers with Chinese Ambassador Cui, SAIS'87
Show More


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 graduate 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 school 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
China Studies Courses for the 2017-2018 Academic Year

China Studies Core Reading List

Entering Class 2017-2018
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.
China Studies concentrators must also fulfill the requirements for the field of Asian Studies, which include 2 Asian Studies area 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 16 credits. The four required courses are:

  • Microeconomics
  • Macroeconomics (prerequisite or concurrent: Microeconomics)
  • International Trade Theory (prerequisite: Microeconomics)
  • International Monetary Theory (prerequisite: Macroeconomics)

If a student passes a waiver exam in one of these areas, the student must take a replacement International Economics program course(s) to fulfill the concentration requirement.

Starting with the entering class of Fall 2017, students who pass Microeconomics in Pre-Term will have the concentration reduced to 12 credits, but still must complete Macroeconomics, International Trade Theory, and International Monetary Theory (or a replacement course(s) if waiver exam(s) passed). The Pre-Term Microeconomics course is not for credit and is not factored into the GPA.

Beyond the requirements, many students choose to pursue an International Economics Specialization in one of four areas of economics. Students may also choose to specialize in Emerging Markets.

Concentration GPA Requirement
Students must achieve a combined GPA of at least 2.67 in four (or three if Microeconomics is passed in Pre-Term) required International Economics program courses or they must retake the course(s) until a 2.67 concentration GPA is achieved. In the standard case, the concentration GPA will be the average of the grades of Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, International Trade Theory, and International Monetary Theory.

If one or more of the four standard courses is waived, the school will use the highest grade(s) from any eligible replacement International Economics program course(s) to compute the International Economics concentration GPA.



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)
  • Credit Markets & Credit Risk (prerequisite Corporate Finance)

Students may not double-count the same course toward the Quantitative Reasoning requirement and as an International Economics concentration course and vice-versa.

If a student passes the statistics waiver exam, the student must take an alternate course from the list above to fulfill the Quantitative Reasoning requirement.

Starting with the entering class of Fall 2017, students who pass Statistical Methods for Business & Economics in Pre-Term will have fulfilled the Quantitative Reasoning requirement. The Pre-Term course is not for credit and is not factored into the GPA.



All students must pass 2 core courses and/or exams from the subjects below. China Studies concentrators must pass Comparative Politics as one of their core requirements prior to the start of their third semester. If the core courses/exams are not completed by the start of the final semester, the student no longer has the option of completing the exam and must enroll in the core course(s) for credit.

  • American Foreign Policy Since World War II
  • Comparative Politics
  • 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:

  • China Studies Capstone Exam that tests the student's knowledge of China in relation to the student's overall coursework
  • MA Oral Exam (to compete for honors—if eligible)


Entering Class 2016-2017
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:

  • 3 China Studies (or cross-listed) courses (12 credits)
  • 4 semesters of Chinese language study or proficiency

General Minor Requirements:

  • MA students may pursue an optional minor in a policy or regional program. A student cannot pursue a minor in General IR or International Economics, but can pursue a Specialization in International Economics
  • A student can have only one minor and can declare a minor at any time prior to graduation.
  • Students do not receive bidding priority for a minor.
  • All minors require three courses. Some minors require a specific course(s) and/or language proficiency.
  • A student may use a maximum of one applicable cross-listed course (4 credits) toward both a minor AND concentration requirements. In the IR or Asia concentrations, the cross-listed course must be from the primary concentration area and not from the 2 additional required courses in the other IR or Asia areas.

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.

Click here for the full list of Spring 2018 events.

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.


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

Madelyn C. Ross
Associate Director of the China Studies Program, Executive Director, SAIS China
Rome 509

Zhaojin Ji
Program Coordinator
Rome 610

Address & Phone

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