China Studies: How Far Will You Go?
As more and more students learn Chinese and study abroad during college, many would love to put their language skills and cultural experience to professional use. In a competitive job market, who will stand out?
Mallory LeeWong, a California native with a BA from Colorado College, found that her studies in the certificate program at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center (HNC) in China greatly increased her prospects for internships and future employment. “If an interviewer knows you studied at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, there is an understanding that you have a certain level of proficiency,” says LeeWong, who is now pursuing an MA at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, D.C., and interning at the U.S. Treasury Department’s East Asia Office.
SAIS students benefit from the school’s presence on three different continents: The main campus in Washington, D.C.; SAIS Europe in Bologna, Italy; and the HNC, a collaboration between Johns Hopkins University and Nanjing University.
Meet the Students: Hopkins Nanjing Center
Building Professional Competence
The Hopkins-Nanjing Center, established in 1986, brings together about 175 international and Chinese students in both a one-year certificate program and a two-year master’s program. Certificates and master’s degrees are jointly issued by both the Johns Hopkins University and Nanjing University. International students take most of their courses in Chinese taught by Chinese faculty, while Chinese students are taught by international faculty with courses primarily in English. An additional option is to study for two semesters at the HNC, followed by two to three semesters at SAIS Washington. Students in this program, such as LeeWong, earn both a HNC certificate and a master’s degree from SAIS.
LeeWong's undergraduate studies included four years of Mandarin coursework. While enrolled in a study-abroad program in Beijing, she explored possibilities for further study of Chinese. "The longer I kept asking around, the more the Hopkins-Nanjing Center kept coming up,” she says. “It offered the opportunity to become professionally competent in Chinese."
LeeWong was enticed by the prospect of taking content-based graduate courses in Chinese taught by Chinese professors at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center.
The HNC’s international students—mostly Americans—live on campus. Most are paired with a Chinese roommate.
Many students at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center aim to work in a multicultural environment in China after graduating. "If you want to be an expat working for a multinational in China, this program might be the best single platform to advance your goal," says David M. Lampton, director of SAIS China. "Google recently hired six of our alumni. American corporations snap them up." Study at the HNC can also lead to work with an NGO in the U.S. or to government service and leadership.
"We have a very strong agreement with Nanjing University concerning academic freedom," says Lampton. For example, the library has always had open stacks with materials you would find in any American library of comparable scale. "This is a zone where we do not compromise," notes Lampton. "Obviously, students can’t go out and start a labor union in China, but there is freedom within the Center."
Wide Program Options
At SAIS Washington, China Studies is one of 19 programs offered. This program at SAIS offers more courses on contemporary China than any other MA program in the U.S. The curriculum addresses everything from the development of nuclear power in China to migration on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, and from management of China’s border with North Korea to modernization of the People’s Liberation Army.
"In addition to offering a wide range of research and internship opportunities, we try to make sure all of our students spend time in China," says Lampton. "We have more options for serious study of China than any other U.S. graduate school, and more options for study in China."
Beginning in fall 2015, SAIS students will also have the option of spending time at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Students who spend a semester or a year at Tsinghua University in Beijing will take courses taught in English and receive credit towards their SAIS degree.
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