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 to communicate effectively in written and spoken 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. 

Visit our website for more information about the undergraduate studies in Chinese.

Study Abroad in China

Students may receive residence credit for study abroad through a variety of different programs through UWMadison’s International Academic Programs. Currently study abroad is not offered in mainland China, many of our majors are electing to study abroad in Taiwan or Singapore, among other options in Europe, where Chinese is offered.

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

Starting Coursework Toward 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. 

How to Get in

Placement Exam

The Asian Languages and Cultures department offers placement exams for students with prior language study or experience as a speaker of Chinese. For more information, see the department’s website.

Declaring the Major

Declaring the major is as easy as meeting with the undergraduate advisor, make an appointment to review requirements and discuss course plans on Starfish.

Students declared in the Chinese Professional Communication certificate may not be declared in the Chinese major at the same time. Students who do wish to declare the Chinese major must first cancel their declaration in the Chinese Professional Communication certificate.

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 Degree Requirements: Bachelor of Science (BS)

Students pursuing a Bachelor of Science 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 the Bachelor of Arts or the Bachelor of Science degree requirements.

Bachelor of Science Degree Requirements

Mathematics Complete two courses of 3+ credits at the Intermediate or Advanced level in MATH, COMP SCI, or STAT subjects. A maximum of one course in each of COMP SCI and STAT subjects counts toward this requirement.
Language Complete the third unit of a language other than English.
LS Breadth Complete:
• 12 credits of Humanities, which must include at least 6 credits of Literature; and
• 12 credits of Social Science; and
• 12 credits of Natural Science, which must include 6 credits of Biological Science and 6 credits of Physical Science.
Liberal Arts and Science Coursework Complete at least 108 credits.
Depth of Intermediate/Advanced Coursework Complete at least 60 credits at the Intermediate or Advanced level.
Major Declare and complete at least one major.
Total Credits Complete at least 120 credits.
UW-Madison Experience Complete both:
• 30 credits in residence, overall, and
• 30 credits in residence after the 86th credit.
Quality of Work • 2.000 in all coursework at UW–Madison
• 2.000 in Intermediate/Advanced level 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. They do not need to complete the L&S Degree Requirements above.

Requirements for the Major

Chinese Language Requisites
ASIALANG 101 First Semester Chinese4
ASIALANG 102 Second Semester Chinese4
ASIALANG 201 Third Semester Chinese4
ASIALANG 202 Fourth Semester Chinese4
Required Chinese Language Course
ASIALANG 301 Fifth Semester Chinese4
Advanced Chinese Language Courses (complete 3 courses from the options below):9
Sixth Semester Chinese
First Semester Classical Chinese
Second Semester Classical Chinese
Chinese Conversation
Business Chinese
Advanced Chinese through Media
Advanced Chinese: Reading and Writing
Advanced Topics in Asian Translation
Chinese Studies Courses
Introductory Course (complete one):3
Gateway to Asia: Special Topics
Introduction to East Asian History: China
Asia Enchanted: Ghosts, Gods, and Monsters
Introduction to East Asian Civilizations
Asian Religions in Global Perspective
America and China, 1776-Today
Survey of Chinese Literature in Translation
Survey of Chinese Literature in Translation
Contemporary Chinese Society
Intermediate Courses (complete 3 courses from the options below):9
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
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
Introduction to Chinese Linguistics
First Semester Classical Chinese
Second Semester Classical Chinese
From Tomb to Temple: Ancient Chinese Art and Religion in Transition
The Tastes of Scholars and Emperors: Chinese Art in the Later Periods
Education in East Asia
East Asia & The U.S. Since 1899
Chinese Economic and Business History: From Silk to iPhones
Social and Intellectual History of China, 589 AD-1919
Chinese Politics
Politics of East and Southeast Asia
China in World Politics
The Theatres of China and Japan
Capstone Course (complete one):3
Readings in Classical Chinese Literature
History of the Chinese Language
Studies in Chinese Linguistics
Chinese Applied Linguistics
History of Chinese Literature I
History of Chinese Literature II
Studies in Chinese Fiction
Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Thesis
Directed Study
Total Credits44

Residence and Quality of Work

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

Upper-level courses in the major:

ASIAN/​HISTORY  337 Social and Intellectual History of China, 589 AD-19193-4
ASIAN/​HISTORY  341 History of Modern China, 1800-19493-4
ASIAN/​HISTORY  342 History of the Peoples Republic of China, 1949 to the Present3-4
ASIAN 351 Survey of Classical Chinese Literature3
ASIAN 352 Survey of Modern Chinese Literature3
ASIAN/​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 432 Introduction to Chinese Linguistics3
ASIAN 571 Readings in Classical Chinese Literature1-3
ASIAN 631 History of the Chinese Language3
ASIAN 632 Studies in Chinese Linguistics3
ASIAN 633 Chinese Applied Linguistics3
ASIAN 641 History of Chinese Literature I3
ASIAN 642 History of Chinese Literature II3
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
ASIALANG 301 Fifth Semester Chinese4
ASIALANG 302 Sixth Semester Chinese4
ASIALANG 311 First Semester Classical Chinese3
ASIALANG 312 Second Semester Classical Chinese3
ASIALANG 378 Chinese Conversation3
ASIALANG 379 Business Chinese3
ASIALANG 454 Advanced Chinese through Media3
ASIALANG 457 Advanced Chinese: Reading and Writing3
ART HIST 307 From Tomb to Temple: Ancient Chinese Art and Religion in Transition3
ART HIST 308 The Tastes of Scholars and Emperors: Chinese Art in the Later Periods3
HISTORY/​INTL ST  332 East Asia & The U.S. Since 18993-4
HISTORY 336 Chinese Economic and Business History: From Silk to iPhones3-4
HISTORY/​ASIAN  337 Social and Intellectual History of China, 589 AD-19193-4
HISTORY/​ASIAN  341 History of Modern China, 1800-19493-4
HISTORY/​ASIAN  342 History of the Peoples Republic of China, 1949 to the Present3-4
POLI SCI 324 Chinese Politics3-4
POLI SCI 328 Politics of East and Southeast Asia3-4
POLI SCI 346 China in World Politics3-4
THEATRE 526 The Theatres of China and Japan3

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 another Capstone course (see list above) of 3–4 credits (excluding ASIAN 682 or ASIAN 692) with the 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.

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.

Learning Outcomes

  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.

Four-Year Plan

This Four-Year Plan is only one way a student may complete an L&S degree with this major. Many factors can affect student degree planning, including placement scores, credit for transferred courses, credits earned by examination, and individual scholarly interests. In addition, many students have commitments (e.g., athletics, honors, research, student organizations, study abroad, work and volunteer experiences) that necessitate they adjust their plans accordingly. Informed students engage in their own unique Wisconsin Experience by consulting their academic advisors, Guide, DARS, and Course Search & Enroll for assistance making and adjusting their plan.

First Year
ASIAN 100 (Humanities)3-4ASIALANG 1024
ASIALANG 1014ASIAN/​HISTORY/​POLI SCI  255 (Humanities or Social Science)3-4
Communication A3Quantitative Reasoning A3-4
Biological Science Breadth3-4Science Breadth3-4
 15 16
Second Year
ASIAN/​RELIG ST  236 (Com B)3ASIAN/​HISTORY  341 (Humanities or Social Science)3-4
ASIAN 351 (Literature)3Physical Science Breadth3-4
Quantitative Reasoning B3-4Elective3-4
 14 13
Third Year
ASIAN 3713ASIAN 4323
Science Breadth3ASIAN 352 (Literature)3
 14 18
Fourth Year
ASIAN 3753ASIAN 6313
ASIAN 6303Electives3-9
 15 15
Total Credits 120

Three-Year Plan

This Sample Three-Year Plan is a tool to assist students and their advisor(s). Students should use it —along with their DARS report, the Degree Planner, and Course Search & Enroll tools — to make their own three-year plan based on their placement scores, credit for transferred courses and approved examinations, and individual interests.

Three-year plans may vary considerably from student to student, depending on their individual preparation and circumstances. Students interested in graduating in three years should meet with an advisor as early as possible to discuss feasibility, appropriate course sequencing, post-graduation plans (careers, graduate school, etc.), and opportunities they might forgo in pursuit of a three-year graduation plan.

Departmental Expectations

Students planning to graduate within three years with a Chinese major should enter the University with a minimum of 26 advanced standing credits, and have satisfied the following requirements with course credit or via placement examination:

  • First year Chinese (ASIALANG 101 and ASIALANG 102) – All students are required to take a placement test in Chinese to assess their prior experience in the language. Students should register for a date prior to their SOAR visit.
  • Communication Part A
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A
  • 6 combined credits of Biological, Natural, or Physical Science
First Year
ASIAN/​HISTORY/​POLI SCI  2554ASIAN/​RELIG ST  236 (meets Communication B)3
Quantitative Reasoning B4ASIAN/​GEOG/​HISTORY/​POLI SCI/​SOC  244 (meets Ethnic Studies requirement)4
Biological Science Breadth4Physical Science Breadth4
 16 15
Total Credits 31

Summer One [optional]

Summer terms present an opportunity for students to make progress toward remaining L&S Breadth and General Education Requirements. Other options for academic enrichment or career exploration might include study abroad or international internships.

Total Credits: 4-8

Second Year
ASIAN 3513ASIAN 3523
Intermediate or Advanced COMP SCI, MATH, or STAT (if BS) or Elective (if BA)3ASIAN 699 (or Elective, Intermediate or Advanced level)4
 17 15
Total Credits 32

 Summer Two [Optional]

Choose one:3
International Internship ( For International Internship)
Directed Study
Total Credits3
Third Year
ASIAN 681 (or Elective, Intermediate or Advanced level)3ASIAN 6823
Elective (Intermediate or Advanced level)3Elective (Intermediate or Advanced level)6
Intermediate or Advanced COMP SCI, MATH, or STAT (if BS) or Elective (Intermediate or Advanced) (if BA)3 
 16 15
Total Credits 31

Advising and Careers


If you like to plan, seeing your major advisor is very important; it can make the difference between fitting in general education and major requirements before you graduateMany students also try to complete more than one major or certificate, and discussing how you might be able to reach this goal is another primary role of your major advisor. Advisors can speak to you about course content, which courses fit best with your interest areas, and what kinds of courses might work best with your learning style. Any and all of these discussions can occur during your advising appointment.

Rachel Weiss 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, prepare for study abroad, or advance through their four-year plans. Schedule an appointment in Starfish.

L&S Career Resources

Every L&S major opens a world of possibilities.  SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science helps students turn the academic skills learned in their major, certificates, and other coursework into fulfilling lives after graduation, whether that means jobs, public service, graduate school or other career pursuits.

In addition to providing basic support like resume reviews and interview practice, SuccessWorks offers ways to explore interests and build career skills from their very first semester/term at UW all the way through graduation and beyond.

Students can explore careers in one-on-one advising, try out different career paths, complete internships, prepare for the job search and/or graduate school applications, and connect with supportive alumni and even employers in the fields that inspire them.


Please visit the Asian Languages & Cultures website for a complete list of faculty, instructional, and academic staff.

Wisconsin Experience

Undergraduate Research

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:

Resources and Scholarships

Department Scholarships

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

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. 

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.

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 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. 

Gwang-Tsai Chen Award

Professor Sabina Knight established this scholarship in honor of Gwang-Tsai (Arthur) Chen, Emeritus Professor of East Asian Languages and Literature at UW–Madison. The scholarship recognizes a rising undergraduate Chinese major. Student eligibility: must be a non-heritage language learner, freshman or sophomore standing, a GPA above 3.5.

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. 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. 

Campus Resources

Foreign Language & Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships

East Asian Studies FLAS Coordinator: Laurie Dennis, Assistant Director, ldennis@wisc.edu, 325 Ingraham Hall

FLAS fellowships are funded by the U.S. Department of Education and administered by UW–Madison'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.

National Scholarships

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 awards@iris.wisc.edu
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.