The Chinese program offers students a range of courses and activities which impart an understanding of the culture and civilization of China. With the completion of three years of the language, students will be prepared to handle various types of colloquial Chinese. Most majors pursue advanced studies in Chinese linguistics or literature, while others combine an interest in China with a degree in business, education, engineering or journalism. 

For more information about the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures visit the department overview.

Study Abroad in China

Students may receive residence credit for study abroad through a variety of different programs. Our faculty direct the summer UW Intensive Chinese Language program in Tianjin. Students on this intensive language program study Mandarin Chinese over the summer, earning up to a full year's worth of language credits. Please contact International Academic Programs for details. 

Students may also receive credit, or gain experience, through various internship opportunities abroad. Please contact International Internship Programs for details.

Starting Coursework towards the Major

Students may declare the Chinese major at any time. Before declaring the major, students may begin coursework to explore the language and fields of interest.  Those students who have studied Chinese prior to coming to UW-Madison will have to take a placement test to determine the best class to enroll in on campus. 

The following courses may be taken with no previous knowledge of Chinese:

ASIALANG 101 First Semester Chinese4
ASIALANG 110 Elementary Chinese I2
ASIAN 100 Gateway to Asia: Special Topics3-4
ASIAN/​E A STDS/​HISTORY  103 Introduction to East Asian History: China3-4
ASIAN/​RELIG ST  236 Asia Enchanted: Ghosts, Gods, and Monsters3
ASIAN/​E A STDS/​HISTORY/​POLI SCI  255 Introduction to East Asian Civilizations3-4
ASIAN/​HISTORY/​RELIG ST  267 Asian Religions in Global Perspective3-4
ASIAN/​ASIAN AM/​E A STDS/​HISTORY  276 Chinese Migrations since 15003-4
ART HIST 203 Survey of Asian Art3-4
Survey of Chinese Literature in Translation
and Survey of Chinese Literature in Translation
LITTRANS 262 Survey of Chinese Literature in Translation3
SOC 225 Contemporary Chinese Society3

PRIOR EXPERIENCE in language study

If you are a student with prior experience in Chinese language (e.g., self-taught, learned in elementary, middle or high school, or learned from family, relatives or friends, etc.), and seek advise about foreign language placement, or continuing with the language of your heritage please fill out this questionnaire in order to receive appropriate advising or guidance.

CHINESE placement test

The Department of Asian Languages and Cultures requires that students with any prior knowledge of the languages taught in our department (e.g. Chinese, Japanese and Korean), and who plan to enroll in our language classes, take a placement test before enrolling in a language course.   Our department administers a computer based Chinese placement test throughout the year. This test will be given on campus only. 

Declare the major

Students may declare the major at any time - schedule an appointment today.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

College of Letters & Science Breadth and Degree Requirements: Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)

Students pursuing a bachelor of arts degree in the College of Letters & Science must complete all of the requirements below. The College of Letters & Science allows this major to be paired with either a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science curriculum. View a comparison of the degree requirements here.

Bachelor of Arts degree requirements

Mathematics Fulfilled with completion of University General Education requirements Quantitative Reasoning a (QR A) and Quantitative Reasoning b (QR B) coursework. Please note that some majors may require students to complete additional math coursework beyond the B.A. mathematics requirement.
Foreign Language
  • Complete the fourth unit of a foreign language; OR
  • Complete the third unit of a foreign language and the second unit of an additional foreign language

Note: A unit is one year of high school work or one semester/term of college work.
L&S Breadth
  • Humanities, 12 credits: 6 of the 12 credits must be in literature
  • Social Sciences, 12 credits
  • Natural Sciences, 12 credits: must include one 3+ credit course in the biological sciences; must include one 3+ credit course in the physical sciences
Liberal Arts and Science Coursework 108 credits
Depth of Intermediate/Advanced work 60 intermediate or advanced credits
Major Declare and complete at least one (1) major
Total Credits 120 credits
UW-Madison Experience 30 credits in residence, overall
30 credits in residence after the 86th credit
Minimum GPAs 2.000 in all coursework at UW–Madison
2.000 in intermediate/advanced coursework at UW–Madison

Non–L&S students pursuing an L&S major

Non–L&S students who have permission from their school/college to pursue an additional major within L&S only need to fulfill the major requirements and do not need to complete the L&S breadth and degree requirements above.  Please note that the following special degree programs are not considered majors so are not available to non–L&S degree-seeking candidates:  

  • Applied Mathematics, Engineering and Physics (Bachelor of Science–Applied Mathematics, Engineering and Physics)
  • Journalism (Bachelor of Arts–Journalism; Bachelor of Science–Journalism)
  • Music (Bachelor of Music)
  • Social Work (Bachelor of Social Work)

Requirements for the Major

Prerequisites: First & Second Year Language
First Semester Chinese (complete one):4
First Semester Chinese
Elementary Chinese I
and Elementary Chinese II
Followed by (complete all):
ASIALANG 102 Second Semester Chinese4
ASIALANG 201 Third Semester Chinese4
ASIALANG 202 Fourth Semester Chinese4
Sequence for Heritage Speakers
Heritage Chinese I
and Heritage Chinese II
Required Language Course
ASIALANG 301 Fifth Semester Chinese4
Advanced or Specialized Language Courses9
Sixth Semester Chinese
First Semester Classical Chinese
Second Semester Classical Chinese
Advanced Readings in Chinese I
Chinese Conversation
Business Chinese
Seventh Semester Chinese
Eighth Semester Chinese
Advanced Readings in Chinese II
Advanced Chinese through Media
Advanced Topics in Asian Translation
Fifth-year Chinese
Chinese Culture, Linguistics, and Literature
Introductory Course (complete one):3
Gateway to Asia: Special Topics
Introduction to East Asian History: China
Lost in Translation: Western Experience in Asia
Asia Enchanted: Ghosts, Gods, and Monsters
Introduction to East Asian Civilizations
Chinese Migrations since 1500
Survey of Asian Art
Survey of Chinese Literature in Translation
Survey of Chinese Literature in Translation
Contemporary Chinese Society
Intermediate Courses (complete three):9
Anthropology of China
Early Chinese Art: From Antiquity to the Tenth Century
Later Chinese Art: From the Tenth Century to the Present
Topics in Asian Studies (Chinese-related topics only)
A Survey of Tibetan Buddhism
Social Studies Topics in East Asian Studies (Chinese-related topics only)
Survey of Classical Chinese Literature
Survey of Modern Chinese Literature
China and World War II in Asia
Topics in Chinese Literature
Topics in Chinese: Study Abroad
Survey of Chinese Film
Chinese Linguistics I
Chinese Linguistics II
Topics in East Asian Visual Cultures (Chinese-related topics only)
First Semester Classical Chinese
Second Semester Classical Chinese
Advanced Readings in Chinese II
Advanced Chinese through Media
Advanced Topics in Asian Translation (Chinese-related topics only)
Social and Intellectual History of China, 589 AD-1919
History of Modern China, 1800-1949
History of the Peoples Republic of China, 1949 to the Present
Political Power in Contemporary China
China in World Politics
Advanced Course (complete one):3
Fifth-year Chinese
Readings in Classical Chinese Literature
Capstone Seminar in Asian Humanities (Chinese-related topics only)
Proseminar: Studies in Religions of Asia (Chinese-related topics only)
Proseminar: Studies in Cultures of Asia (Chinese-related topics only)
History of the Chinese Language
History of Chinese Literature
Literary Studies in Chinese Drama
Studies in Chinese Fiction
Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Thesis
Senior Thesis
Directed Study
Directed Study
The Theatres of China and Japan
Total Credits44

Residence and quality of work

  • 2.000 GPA in all major courses
  • 2.000 GPA on 15 upper-level major credits, in residence1
  • 15 credits in the major, taken on campus

1 Upper-level courses in the major

ANTHRO 358 Anthropology of China3
ART HIST 307 Early Chinese Art: From Antiquity to the Tenth Century3
ART HIST 308 Later Chinese Art: From the Tenth Century to the Present3
ASIALANG 301 Fifth Semester Chinese4
ASIALANG 302 Sixth Semester Chinese4
ASIALANG 311 First Semester Classical Chinese3
ASIALANG 312 Second Semester Classical Chinese3
ASIALANG 374 Advanced Readings in Chinese I3
ASIALANG 378 Chinese Conversation3
ASIALANG 379 Business Chinese3
ASIALANG 401 Seventh Semester Chinese3
ASIALANG 402 Eighth Semester Chinese3
ASIALANG 453 Advanced Readings in Chinese II3
ASIALANG 460 Intermediate High Reading Proficiency in Asian Languages4
ASIALANG 475 Advanced Topics in Asian Translation ((Chinese-related topics only))3
ASIALANG 501 Fifth-year Chinese3
ASIAN 300 Topics in Asian Studies ((Chinese-related topics only))3
ASIAN/​E A STDS  301 Social Studies Topics in East Asian Studies ((Chinese-related topics only))1-3
ASIAN/​RELIG ST  307 A Survey of Tibetan Buddhism3
ASIAN 351 Survey of Classical Chinese Literature3
ASIAN 352 Survey of Modern Chinese Literature3
ASIAN/​E A STDS/​HISTORY  363 China and World War II in Asia3-4
ASIAN 371 Topics in Chinese Literature3
ASIAN 372 Topics in Chinese: Study Abroad1-6
ASIAN 375 Survey of Chinese Film3
ASIAN 431 Chinese Linguistics I3
ASIAN 432 Chinese Linguistics II3
ASIAN 433 Topics in East Asian Visual Cultures ((Chinese-related topics only))3
ASIAN 571 Readings in Classical Chinese Literature1-3
ASIAN 600 Capstone Seminar in Asian Humanities ((Chinese-related topics only))3
ASIAN/​RELIG ST  620 Proseminar: Studies in Religions of Asia ((Chinese-related topics only))3
ASIAN 630 Proseminar: Studies in Cultures of Asia ((Chinese-related topics only))3
ASIAN 631 History of the Chinese Language3
ASIAN 641 History of Chinese Literature3
ASIAN 671 Literary Studies in Chinese Drama3
ASIAN 672 Studies in Chinese Fiction3
ASIAN 681 Senior Honors Thesis3
ASIAN 682 Senior Honors Thesis3
ASIAN 691 Senior Thesis3
ASIAN 692 Senior Thesis3
ASIAN 698 Directed Study2-3
ASIAN 699 Directed Study2-3
E A STDS/​ASIAN/​HISTORY  337 Social and Intellectual History of China, 589 AD-19193-4
E A STDS/​ASIAN/​HISTORY  341 History of Modern China, 1800-19493-4
E A STDS/​ASIAN/​HISTORY  342 History of the Peoples Republic of China, 1949 to the Present3-4
HISTORY/​ASIAN/​E A STDS  341 History of Modern China, 1800-19493-4
POLI SCI 324 Political Power in Contemporary China3-4
POLI SCI 346 China in World Politics3-4

Honors in the Major

Students may declare Honors in the Major in consultation with the Chinese undergraduate advisor.

Honors in the Major Requirements

To earn Honors in the Major, students must satisfy both the requirements for the major (above) and the following additional requirements:

  • Earn a 3.300 University GPA
  • Earn a 3.300 for all courses accepted in the major
  • Complete the following coursework, with a grade of B or better:
    •  ASIAN 699 or other appropriate course of 3–4 credits with the major professor, under whose guidance a student intends to write a thesis. This course must be taken before ASIAN 681.
    • A two-semester Senior Honors Thesis in ASIAN 681 and ASIAN 682, for a total of 6 credits.

 Distinction in the Major

Students majoring in Chinese who are not enrolled in the honors program may earn distinction in the major by completing:

  • L&S general degree requirements, and
  • the junior–senior honors curriculum.

Fifteen honors credits are required in courses at the 300 level or higher, including a two-semester Senior Honors Thesis in ASIAN 681 and ASIAN 682, for a total of 6 credits.

University Degree Requirements 

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.
  1. Understand the content and cultural context of written texts and audiovisual materials with a large degree of independence, adapting style and speed of comprehension to different texts and purposes, and using appropriate reference sources selectively.
  2. Spontaneously exchange ideas about various topics with relative ease.
  3. State and support one’s own opinion while acknowledging others’ viewpoints.
  4. Demonstrate an awareness of the importance of pragmatic, sociolinguistic, and rhetorical features of the target language.
  5. Conduct library and/or internet-based research on topics relating to their particular interests and special fields of expertise, collecting and selecting relevant information using English and target language source materials.
  6. Synthesize and critically evaluate source materials in both English and the target language.
  7. Present (orally or in written language) their experiences and their introspection on these experiences in a coherent and effective manner.
  8. Demonstrate cultural awareness across historical epochs.
  9. Produce effective academic writing in English.
First Year
ASIAN 100 ( Humanities Breadth)3-4ASIAN/​ASIAN AM/​HISTORY  246 (meets Ethnic Studies requirement)4
Communication A3Quantitative Reasoning A3-4
Biological Science Breadth3Science Breadth3
 Students beginning language study this term may start with:
 14 15
Second Year
ASIALANG 201 or 1114ASIALANG 202 or 1024
Or students continue with:ASIAN/​RELIG ST  236 (Communication B)3
ASIAN 203 (Humanities Breadth)3
ASIAN/​E A STDS/​HISTORY/​POLI SCI  255 (Social Science Breadth)3-4Physical Science Breadth3
ASIAN/​HISTORY/​RELIG ST  267 (Humanities Breadth)3-4Elective3
Quantitative Reasoning B3-4 
 14 16
Third Year
ASIALANG 301 or 2014ASIALANG 302 or 2024
ASIAN/​E A STDS/​HISTORY  342 (Social Science Breadth)3-4ASIAN 352 (Literature Breadth)3
ASIAN 371 (Literature Breadth)2-3ASIAN 6992-3
Science Breadth3Elective3
 16 16
Fourth Year
ASIALANG 301 (if needed)4ASIALANG 302 (if needed)4
ASIAN 3753ASIAN 682 or 6923
ASIAN 6313Electives3-7
ASIAN 681 or 6913 
 16 13
Total Credits 120

Undergraduate Advisor

Rachel Weiss
1244 Van Hise Hall
Schedule an advising appointment

Rachel is the advisor for the undergraduate majors and certificates in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures. She is happy to meet with students as they explore the degree options or advance through their four-year plans.



The Language Institute provides academic and career advising to undergraduate students interested in languages and international area studies. The International Directions advisor provides academic and career advising to undergraduate students who are interested in languages and international area studies. Learn more.

L&S career resources

SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science helps students leverage the academic skills learned in their major, certificates, and liberal arts degree; explore and try out different career paths; participate in internships; prepare for the job search and/or graduate school applications; and network with professionals in the field (alumni and employers). In short, SuccessWorks helps students in the College of Letters & Science discover themselves, find opportunities, and develop the skills they need for success after graduation.

SuccessWorks can also assist students in career advising, résumé and cover letter writing, networking opportunities, and interview skills, as well as course offerings for undergraduates to begin their career exploration early in their undergraduate career. 

Students should set up their profiles in Handshake to take care of everything they need to explore career events, manage their campus interviews, and apply to jobs and internships from 200,000+ employers around the country.


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


Students in the ALC department academic programs are encouraged to become engaged in undergraduate research. There are numerous programs that provide research opportunities for undergraduates at UW–Madison including:


The Department of Asian Languages and Cultures has various scholarships to support meritorious students in our programs. Application information and deadlines.

Ellen and William E. Fisher Scholarship
Ellen and William E. Fisher have provided funding for an annual scholarship to be awarded to an undergraduate student at the UW-Madison who is studying the Chinese language.  According to the terms of the gift agreement, the award is based on merit, therefore there is no application, but faculty will make a determination based on students progressing in the program. Mr. Fisher stipulated that the award must be made in the Fall semester, so that the recipient can use it in the Spring semester. 

Chou Kuo-p'ing Book Award
Several awards will be given each year to undergraduate students who are studying and will continue to study Chinese during the following semester. This award is made possible through a donation by Professor Emerita Chou Kuo-p’ing, the founder of the Chinese program here at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Professor Chou, a dedicated teacher, devoted her entire career to teaching, promoting and developing Chinese studies in Wisconsin. Professor Chou was very active during her teaching career, and often helped financially disadvantaged students, especially those who excelled in their academic careers despite economic difficulties. Although this award is based mainly on the applicant’s academic performance, special consideration is given to those who are financially disadvantaged in order to carry on this tradition.
Lawrence Louey Merit Scholarship
The Lawrence Louey Merit Scholarship is an annual competition recognizing an undergraduate Chinese major in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures with a $1000 award. Eligibility: You must be a graduating senior with a GPA above 3.75 and have taken at least three years of Chinese. An application is required for consideration, including a brief career plan, as well as a research paper from one of your major field courses. 
Chinese Language Learners Bridge Fund

Chinese Major Alumni Jarrett Wiesolek (Class of 2011) and Ali Dibble (Class of 2012) launched the Bridge fund in 2016. CLLBF is designed to award scholarships to students who are passionate about learning Chinese and building bridges between UW-Madison and China. The fund has topped its start-up goal of $10,000, which means it can now generate interest that will be awarded to students and the Chinese program in the UW-Madison’s Department of Asian Languages and Cultures. At its current level, the endowment will generate approximately $500 a year in interest. For more information about CLLBF, contact Ali and Jarrett at this email address:


Foreign Language & Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships
East Asian Studies FLAS Coordinator: Laurie Dennis, Assistant Director,, 325 Ingraham Hall

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. Please direct any questions to the FLAS Coordinator of your chosen language.

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.

This is the primary campus wide portal for applicants, current students, and everyone looking for scholarship opportunities on campus.

Undergraduate Academic Awards Office
We help UW-Madison undergraduates and recent graduates pursue nationally competitive scholarships and campus-wide awards for research, service and leadership—activities at the heart of the Wisconsin Experience. We can help you:

  • Find scholarship opportunities that match your goals and interests
  • Navigate the scholarship application process
  • Review scholarship essays
  • Prepare for national scholarship interviews

Contact us to schedule an appointment​ to discuss which opportunities are right for you.


Boren Scholarships 
Campus Representative: Undergraduates with questions should contact Matt Geisler, Associate Director of International Academic Programs

These scholarships provide up to $20,000 to U.S. undergraduate students to study abroad in areas of the world that are critical to U.S. interests and underrepresented in study abroad, including Africa, Asia, Central & Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East. The countries of Western Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are excluded. (Full list of preferred countries) Additionally, all programs must include formal study of an appropriate foreign language. (Full list of preferred languages). 

Critical Language Scholarship Program
Campus Representative: Mark Lilleleht, Assistant Director for Awards at
The CLS program is part of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. It is a fully-funded overseas intensive language and cultural immersion program for American undergraduate and graduate students. With the goal of broadening the base of Americans studying and mastering critical languages and to build relationships between the people of the United States and other countries, CLS provides opportunities to a diverse range of students from across the United States at every level of language learning. 
The fourteen CLS languages are: Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Swahili, Turkish, and Urdu.

The CLS Program seeks participants with diverse interests, from a wide variety of fields of study, backgrounds and career paths, with the purpose of representing the full diversity of the United States. Thus, students from all academic disciplines, including business, engineering, law, medicine, science, social sciences, arts and humanities are encouraged to apply.

Gilman Scholarship Program
Campus Representative: Andy Quackenbush, Advisor, International Academic Programs

The Gilman Scholarship Program is an undergraduate grant program for U.S. citizens of limited financial means to enable them to study abroad, thereby internationalizing their outlook and better preparing them to assume significant roles in the increasingly global economy.