UW–Madison offers an M.A. and Ph.D. degree in Chinese, specializing either in linguistics or in literature and culture. The program provides broad foundations and focused training in these two specialties, assuring that our graduates are amply prepared to teach and conduct research.

The linguistics specialty excels in areas of historical linguistics, phonology, prosody, grammaticalization, interface study between syntax and phonology, dialectology, sociolinguistics, second language acquisition, pedagogy, and pragmatics.  

The literature and culture specialty covers periods from the pre-Qin through the modern and contemporary, including study of fictional and historiographical narrative, poetry, drama, film, and new media.

The graduate program in Chinese is housed in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, along with the Japanese and the Asian Languages and Cultures Program. As such students will have opportunities to interact with all faculty, staff, and graduate students affiliated with the department to examine their area of specialty in broader regional and disciplinary contexts.

Fall Deadline January 10
Spring Deadline This program does not admit in the spring.
Summer Deadline This program does not admit in the summer.
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) Required.
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English must provide an English proficiency test score and meet the Graduate School minimum requirements (
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

Thank you for your interest in our programs. The Department of Asian Languages and Cultures (ALC) offers a graduate program in Asian Languages and CulturesChinese and Japanese.

Prior to submitting application and materials, applicants should carefully review the information regarding the program of interest and the faculty’s expertise to determine the fit between their interest and the program. To this extent, prospective applicants may contact a specific faculty to discuss their research interest prior to submitting applications.

Applicants should also review the Graduate School's admission processGraduate School's minimum requirements, and program requirements and information prior to submitting the online application and fee. The application fee cannot be waived or refunded.


We accept applications for the fall term only.

In order to be considered for fellowships, project assistantships, and teaching assistantships, all application materials must be in by January 10.

If you do not need any funding support, you may submit applications by April 15.

Application Process

New applicants to UW-Madison apply to programs through the Graduate School application process. Complete the online Graduate application and select the Asian Languages and Cultures (major code 596) or Chinese (major code 171) or Japanese (major code 583) program. 

If you are a currently enrolled UW-Madison graduate student and would like to add or change your current graduate program to Asian Languages and Cultures, Chinese, or Japanese, you do not need to fill out the online application. You will need to submit the following to the ALC Graduate Program Coordinator (1244 Van Hise):

The applications from current UW–Madison graduate students will be reviewed every spring, together with new applications submitted.

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and processes related to funding.

Graduate Student Costs

For tuition and living costs, please view the Cost of Attendance page ( applicants recommended for admission to the Graduate School are required to show sufficient funds to attend the University during the course of studies (tuition, food and housing, incidentals and health insurance) to be officially accepted by the Graduate School.

Program Resources

The Department of Asian Languages and Cultures offers financial assistance in the forms of fellowships, teaching assistantships (TAships), and project assistantships (PAships). Please make note of the deadline of January 10 for financial assistance consideration. All necessary materials including test scores must be submitted by the deadline.

If you are an international applicant and receive a fellowship, PAship or TAship, please make note that you will likely be required to show additional financial documentation to meet the minimum required for your official acceptance to the Graduate School.


Most fellowships are handled through the department. However, some are available through sources outside of the department and have different application procedures. Some examples are as follows:

  • Foreign Language & Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships: FLAS fellowships are funded by the U.S. Department of Education and administered by the UW's National Resource Centers to assist students in acquiring foreign language and either area or international studies competencies. FLAS awards are only available for specific languages (, and are contingent on federal funding.

Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the United States. Applications by students in professional fields are encouraged. Preference will be given to applicants with a high level of academic ability and with previous language training.

Academic Year and Summer FLAS awards are two separate competitions requiring two separate and complete applications.

Complete details about FLAS at UW-Madison are available on the FLAS FAQs ( (your first stop) and the FLAS Languages & Coordinators ( pages (should you have additional questions).

  • Advanced Opportunity Fellowship (AOF): This fellowship is awarded to highly qualified underrepresented students. To be considered for AOF funding, prospective students must be new to the Graduate School and be admissible to a graduate program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  For further information:
  • Project Assistantships. Availability of PAship vary from one year to another, depending on the types of projects the departmental faculty are engaged in. PAs assist faculty members’ research projects and/or respond to some programmatic needs of the department and other campus units.
  • Teaching Assistantships. Availability and types of TAship vary from one year to another, depending on the department’s curricular needs and the student enrollment. TAs will support a number of our language and culture courses, typically team-teaching with faculty members. If you are interested in being a teaching assistant in our language programs, you must submit the TA application and necessary materials (1-2 page written autobiography that refers to your prior teaching experience, letter of recommendation that speaks to your teaching experience, video recording of your teaching, if available) through the Graduate School application system by January 10.
  • Other Forms of Financial Aid: Loans and some on-campus job openings are handled through the Student Financial Services Office ( Please contact them to obtain more information.
  • Please also refer to the Graduate School’s Funding Information for New and Current Graduate Students ( page for additional information.
  • Students may also obtain information from the Grants Information Center ( collection) in the Memorial Library, Room 262, 728 State Street, Madison, WI 53706. Phone 608-262-3242.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements


Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions


Minimum Credit Requirement 51 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 32 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement All 51 credits must be completed in graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide.
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements Ph.D. candidates should maintain a 3.5 GPA in all coursework and may not have any more than two Incompletes on their record at any one time.
Assessments and Examinations All students must take a comprehensive written preliminary examination, covering fields defined in consultation with the advisor and other committee members.

A dissertation proposal must be presented to the members of the Ph.D. committee and accepted within one semester of passing the preliminary examination.
Language Requirements Advanced proficiency in modern Chinese is required. Students must demonstrate reading proficiency in classical Chinese and one additional research language.

The Ph.D. language requirements are designed to increase the student's scholarly efficiency and capabilities and should be completed as early as possible. In addition to competence in English and modern and classical Chinese, the student must qualify in one language related to his or her research. Usually this will be Japanese, French, or German. This requirement may be satisfied either by showing evidence of two years of successful study of the language or by passing an examination.
Doctoral Minor/Breadth Requirements All doctoral students are required to complete a minor.

Required Courses

12 credits of seminars coursework are required. These include China-related courses 800 and above. ASIAN 932 Seminar in Chinese Linguistics and ASIAN 951 Seminar in Chinese Literature are offered approximately every year, and may be repeated.

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-Specific Policies

Graduate Program Handbook

The Graduate Program Handbook is the repository for all of the program's policies and requirements.

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 9 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions. Coursework earned ten years or more prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

With program approval, no more than 7 credits of graduate coursework (as defined above) completed while a UW–Madison undergraduate may be counted to satisfy degree requirements. Coursework earned ten years or more prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

UW–Madison University Special

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 9 credits of graduate coursework (as defined above) taken as a UW–Madison Special student. Coursework earned ten years or more prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.


A semester GPA below 3.5 will result in the student being placed on academic probation. If a semester GPA of 3.5 is not attained during the subsequent semester of full time enrollment, the student may be dismissed from the program or allowed to continue for 1 additional semester based on advisor appeal to the Graduate School. A student on probation may not take the preliminary examination.


Starting Fall 2018, all students are required to be supervised by co-advisors. One of the co-advisors must be a member of the Japanese Program, but the other co-advisor can be identified from related fields outside of the Japanese Program.

At the point of beginning work on the dissertation, a single dissertation advisor (most likely one of the co-advisors) may be chosen, or the co-advising arrangement may continue for the dissertation as well.

Dissertation committees must have at least 4 members representing more than one graduate program, 3 of whom must be UW-Madison graduate faculty or former UW-Madison graduate faculty up to one year after resignation or retirement. At least one of the 4 members must be from outside of the student’s major program or major field (often from the minor field).


15 credits

Time Constraints

A candidate for a doctoral degree who fails to take the final oral examination and deposit the dissertation within five years after passing the preliminary examination may be required to take another preliminary examination and to be admitted to candidacy a second time.


The program offers limited financial assistance in the form of fellowships and teaching assistantships to candidates who are highly qualified. Applicants should consult the program website for selection criteria and application materials for assistantships.

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and processes related to funding.

Program Resources

The Graduate School Office of Professional Development (OPD) coordinates, develops, and promotes learning opportunities to foster the academic, professional, and life skills of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers and scholars.

Professional development topics include Individual Development Plans, communication, mentoring, grant writing, dissertation writing, career exploration, job search strategies, and more. OPD collaborates with the Writing Center, Libraries, DoIT Software Training for Students, Delta, career centers, and others to provide a wealth of resources and events tailored to the needs of UW–Madison graduate students.

The office developed and maintains DiscoverPD, an innovative tool for UW-Madison graduate students to advance their academic and professional goals.  DiscoverPD introduces nine areas (or "facets") of professional development, includes a self-assessment, and provides a customized report of areas of strength and weakness. The report comes with recommendations to help graduate students strengthen their ability within each area.

More information on campus resources for student professional development is available at Graduate Student Professional Development.  Students may keep up-to-date by reading GradConnections, the weekly newsletter for graduate students, and bookmarking the Events Calendar to keep tabs on upcoming workshops of interest.

  1. Demonstrate a thorough and in-depth understanding of research problems, potentials, and limits with respect to theory, knowledge, or practice in at least one of the following areas of study: Chinese literature and culture, Chinese linguistics, and Transasian studies.
  2. Formulate ideas, concepts, designs, and/or techniques beyond the current boundaries of knowledge within the specialized field(s).
  3. Create scholarship and advance knowledge that makes a substantive contribution to the field(s).
  4. Articulate and communicate complex ideas in a clear and understandable manner to both specialized and general audience.
  5. Recognize, apply, and foster ethical and professional conduct.


Anatoly Detwyler, Assistant Professor
Area: Modern Chinese Literature and History, Comparative New Media, Information Studies

Rania Huntington, Professor
Area: Ming and Qing Narrative and Drama, Chinese Literature of the Weird and Supernatural

William Nienhauser, Professor
Area: Early Traditional Chinese Fiction and History; Early Poetry (Du Fu and Tao Qian)

Hongming Zhang, Professor
Area: Chinese Linguistics; History of Chinese Language; Teaching Chinese as a Second Language

Weihua Zhu, Assistant Professor
Area: Chinese Language, Pedagogy and Second Language Acquisition

Affiliated faculty

Shelly Chan, Associate Professor of History
Area: Modern China; migration and diaspora; Nanyang

Joe Dennis, Associate Professor of History
Area: Late imperial China; social, legal, and book history

Wei Dong, Professor in School of Human Ecology
Area: Asian design and design visualization

Florence C. Hsia, Professor of History of Science
Area: Early modern science; cross-cultural scientific exchange; science and religion; science and print culture; archives and data practices

Judd Kinzley, Associate Professor of History
Area: Modern China and Xinjiang; environmental history, borderlands; material-centered history; political economy

Weijia Li, Assistant Professor in German, Nordic, and Slavic
Area: German-Chinese cultural exchange in the 20th c.

Yafei Li, Professor of Language Sciences
Area: Syntax and morphology of Chinese

Yuhang Li, Assistant Professor of Art History
Area: Chinese art, gender, and material practices in late imperial china; Buddhism and art; textile and costume history; Qing court art

Viren Murthy, Associate Professor of History
Area: East Asian intellectual history; Marxism; Buddhism

Zhongdang Pan, Professor of Communication Science
Area: Media and social changes in the PRC; comparative journalism in PRC, Taiwan, and HK; civic values in Chinese cities

Dianna Xu, East Asian Studies Librarian

Yongming Zhou, Professor of Anthropology
Area: Cultural anthropologist of China and East Asia; development; media politics; environment; drugs; ethnicity and tourism; cyberspace