MA in Chinese Language & Culture

Xiayu Liu, MA '20 in Chinese Language and Culture
Xiayu Liu, MA '20, Chinese Language and Culture

GW's Master of Arts degree in Chinese Language and Culture (CLC) offers students an opportunity to achieve professional proficiency in Chinese in addition to a deepened intellectual and cultural understanding of China and the Chinese-speaking world.

Located in the heart of the nation’s capital, the CLC program aims to be a pipeline of professionals and scholars with advanced Chinese language proficiency and intercultural competence, preparing students for careers in government, consulting, education, academia and business.

The CLC program offers a deep and rich curriculum that can be tailored to students’ current proficiency level and areas of professional and academic interest. New courses including Advanced Topics in Chinese, Chinese-English Translation and Business Chinese push students’ language proficiency and cultural competence to new heights.

Students tailor their degree to fit their interests and career goals. They may dive deeper into a specific area — Chinese literature or Chinese linguistics — or pursue a broader perspective through a range of content courses in our department and beyond. Our dual-option literature and culture focus and linguistics focus allow students to develop an understanding of China and Chinese, past and present.

You may read about our current MA students here.


MA Program Outcomes


Literature and Culture Courses

  • Gain insight into the historical development of the many genres of Chinese literature
  • Develop sensitivity to the aesthetic characteristics of Chinese literature
  • Build a strong foundational understanding of China’s history, religion and art.

Linguistics Courses

  • Learn the structure as well as the history of the Chinese language
  • Develop proficiency using key theoretical and methodological tools for linguistic analysis
  • Analyze Chinese cultural and social issues from a unique linguistic perspective
  • Gain a foundation for further study in any branch of linguistics.

Sample Student Theses

Find all past MA theses on the GW Libraries ScholarSpace website.

  • Sophie Lam: "Strands of Virtue: Exploring Gentry Laywomen’s Hair Embroideries of Guanyin in Late Imperial Jiangnan" (Director: J. Chaves; Co-Director: X. Kang; Reader: L. Chen)
  • A'nan Zhao: "A Research on Gu Zhenguan’s Ci Poetry of Snapping Fingers" (Director: J. Chaves; Co-Director: L. Chen; Reader: H. Zhang)
  • Ethan Franz: "Examining the Essential Functional Similarities Between the Confucian Superior Man and Jewish Religious Leaders" (Director: J. Chaves; Co-Directors: L. Chen, E. Aviv)
  • Yuanyuan Zou: "Finding the appropriate fit: An interdisciplinary rereading of Daoist nuns in Hearing Zither in Bamboo Dock" (Director: X. Kang; Co-Director: L. Chen; Reader: H. Dong)
  • Tianyu Fan: “Seize the dragon's tail – An Analytical Study of Laozi’s biography in Shiji” (Director: J. Chaves; Co-Director: L. Chen; Reader: H. Dong)
  • Yeweitao Wu: “When Mistakes Are Made in Music Playing, Someone Glanced”: The Evolution of Allusion “Zhou Lang Gu” (Director: J. Chaves; Co-Director: L. Chen; Reader: H. Dong)
  • Mengke Zhou: "'Heaven and Earth Grant Me This Life at Leisure': An Analytical Study of Yongzheng's Leisure Poetry" (Director: J. Chaves; Co-Director: L. Chen; Reader: H. Zhang)

Research Projects

  • Katarina Micklus: "Development of Mandarin tones: A comparative study of native-English speaking children's second tone production" (Advisor: H. Zhang)

Course Requirements

Program Requirements

The following requirements must be fulfilled:

The general requirements stated under Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, Graduate Programs.

Non-thesis option—33 credits, including up to 6 credits in Chinese language proficiency courses, at least 18 credits in courses in the field, and 3 to 9 credits in elective courses. 

Thesis option—30 credits, including up to 6 credits in Chinese language proficiency courses, at least 18 credits in courses in the field, at least 3 credits in elective coursework, and 3 credits in CHIN 6999 Thesis Research.

Chinese language proficiency
Students whose Chinese language skills are determined by examination to be below the advanced level must enroll in at least one, but no more than two, of the following 4000-level Chinese language courses for graduate credit. Graduate credit requires additional work, such as essays or projects.
CHIN 4108Readings in Modern Chinese II
CHIN 4119WBusiness Chinese
CHIN 4122WAdvanced Conversation and Composition II
CHIN 4201Special Topics in Advanced Chinese
Students whose language skills are determined to be at the advanced level may enroll in a variety of 6000-level language and culture courses to further develop their language proficiency. Language and other courses must be approved by the program director and the advisor. A language proficiency waiver must be pre-approved
Courses in the field
At least 18 credits in courses selected from the following:
CHIN 6109Introduction to Classical Chinese I
CHIN 6110Introduction to Classical Chinese II 2
CHIN 6111Chinese Literature in Translation
CHIN 6112Chinese Literature in Translation II
CHIN 6115Chinese Sociolinguistics
CHIN 6123Structure of Chinese
CHIN 6125History of the Chinese Language
CHIN 6126Chinese Phonology
CHIN 6128Chinese Semantics
CHIN 6151Developing Chinese Literacy
CHIN 6163Taiwanese Literature and Film
CHIN 6171Poetry of the Tang and Song Periods I
CHIN 6172Poetry of the Tang and Song Periods II
CHIN 6173Traditional Chinese Theatre and Drama
CHIN 6180Twentieth-Century Chinese Literature II
CHIN 6199Graduate Seminar
CHIN 6201Second Language Acquisition of Mandarin Chinese
CHIN 6210Introduction to Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language
CHIN 6301Chinese–English Translation
CHIN 6310Practicum in Chinese Language Instruction
For the thesis option at least one, but no more than two elective courses (3 or 6 credits), and for the non-thesis option, at least one but no more than three elective courses (3 to 9 credits), selected from the following*: *
CHIN 6550Independent Study for Chinese Language and Culture (Thesis Option) **
CHIN 6841Religion and Politics in China
CPED 6557Second Language Acquisition
CPED 6627Teaching Second Language Reading and Writing
EALL 6811Confucian Literature in East Asia
EALL 6831Introduction to Daoism
EALL 6832Myth, Ritual, and Popular Religion in China
EALL 6881Women, Gender, and Religion in China
Required for thesis option only
CHIN 6999Thesis Research

*Or an alternative pre-approved course.

**Students must submit a research proposal before enrolling in CHIN 6550.