You are here: Home / Undergraduate / Major and Minor in Chinese

Major and Minor in Chinese

The Chinese program provides students with an opportunity to concentrate on acquiring expertise in an important modern language and its culture. The Chinese major or minor will strengthen a student's overall skills in internationalism and provide a focus on one of the world's most important nations.

The Chinese programs allow students to acquire a strong working knowledge of the Chinese language and to understand important aspects of Chinese culture, with an emphasis on contemporary China. The program can help prepare students for graduate study in China-related fields, for work in contexts where the language and culture are pertinent, or to live and work in Sinophone areas of the world as informed and capable individuals equipped with appropriate intercultural skills and awareness.

Chinese majors may seek employment in government service, domestic and foreign offices, the United Nations, the Peace Corps, the U.S. Information Agency, or other international agencies. Many majors go on to teach English in China, or to do translation work. Employment may also be available with import and export trade organizations, international banking houses, or U.S. companies abroad. In addition, an increasing number of domestic and multinational companies are seeking employees who have backgrounds in multicultural studies as a way of dealing with the global market.

To hear what students say about the Chinese language program, please check this video: "Meet Students in the Chinese Program". To hear what the Department Head says about Chinese major, please check this video: "Meet the Head of the Asian Studies Department"

Study Abroad in China: We strongly encourage all Chinese majors and minors to study abroad during their junior year (ideally, after having taken CHNS 401 on campus). Penn State's stated goal is to make studying abroad no more expensive for students and their families than a semester studying at the University Park campus. For information on scholarships and education abroad programs, please visit the Global Programs Website at:

Our Director of Undergraduate Studies has developed a presentation that outlines options for Penn State undergraduates who want to major or minor in Chinese and go abroad. Find it here.

Requirements for the major


Suggested Academic Plan for Chinese:

The Chinese Major requires at least 35 credits of study (this includes 0-9 credits of General Education GA, GH, or GS courses), at least 21 credits must be at the 400 level. Students are strongly encouraged to take at least 12 of their credits as part of a study abroad program in a Chinese-speaking location. For curricular sequencing, the program encourages students to pursue this Education Abroad experience after completing CHNS 401 on the Penn State campus.  Students must earn a C or better in all courses applied to their major.

CHNS 110 IL(4) (Sem: 3-4)
CHNS 401 IL(4) (Sem: 5-6)
CHNS 402 IL(4) (Sem: 5-6)
CHNS 403W IL(4) (Sem: 7-8)
CHNS 404 IL(4) (Sem: 7-8)

Select 3 credits from CHNS 120 (3) or CHNS 121 (3) (Sem: 1-6)
Select 3 credits from CHNS 414-19 level (3) (Sem: 1-8)
Select 3 credits from CHNS 450-59 level (3) (Sem: 7-8)

Select 6 credits pertaining to China, such as courses in art history, Asian studies, Chinese, comparative literature, economics, geography, history, philosophy, political science, religious studies, theatre arts, or other fields, selected from departmental list (Sem: 1-8)

Courses not on this list may also count with approval from the Chinese adviser. This approval process is not complex and can be done via e-mail.

ART H 120 (GA;IL) Asian Art and Architecture
ART H 320 (GA;IL) Chinese Art
ASIA 003 (GH;US;IL) (RL ST 003) Introduction to the Religions of the East
ASIA 004 (GH;IL) (CMLIT 004) Introduction to Asian Literatures
ASIA 083S Asian Studies First Year Seminar
ASIA 100 (GH;IL) What is Asia? 
ASIA 104 (GH;US;IL) (RL ST 104) Introduction to Buddhism
ASIA 174 (GH;IL) (HIST 174) The History of Traditional East Asia
ASIA 175 (GH;IL) (HIST 175) The History of Modern East Asia
ASIA 181 (IL) (RL ST 181) Introduction to the Religions of China and Japan (3)
ASIA 182 (GH;IL) (HIST 182) Asian Trade: Economy, Industrialization and Capitalism in Asia 
ASIA 183 (GH;IL) (HIST 183) Gender, Family, and Society in East Asia  
ASIA 184 (GH;IL) (HIST 184) Society and Culture in the Pacific
ASIA 188 (GH;IL) (HIST 188) Tibet: People, Places and Spaces  
ASIA 197 Special topics 
ASIA 200 (GH;IL) What Are Asian Languages? 
ASIA 400 (IL) (PL SC 486) International Culture in East Asia
ASIA 401 (IL) Technology & Society in Modern Asia
ASIA 404 (IL) (CMLIT 404) Topics in Asian Literature
ASIA 404Y (IL) (CMLIT 404Y) Topics in Asian Literature 
ASIA 405Y (IL) Seminar in Asian Studies 
ASIA 440 (IL) (ART H 440) Monuments of Asia 
ASIA 483 (IL) (HIST 483) Middle China
ASIA 484Y (IL) (HIST 484Y) History of Chinese Thought
ASIA 485Y (IL) (HIST 485Y) China's Last Empire: The Qing Dynasty, 1644-1911
ASIA 486 (IL) (HIST 486) China in Revolution
ASIA 487 (IL) Zen Buddhism

CHNS 120 (GH;IL) Introduction to Chinese Literature and Culture  
CHNS 121 (GH;IL) Chinese Film and New Media  
CHNS 410 (IL) Chinese Through Film
CHNS 411 (IL) Chinese Written Characters
CHNS 412 Business Chinese
CHNS 415 (IL) (ASIA 415) China Beyond China  
CHNS 416 (IL) (ASIA 416) Gender and Sexuality in China  
CHNS 417 (IL) (ASIA 417) The Warrior, the Courtesan and the Ghost in Classical Chinese Novels  
CHNS 418 (IL) (ASIA 418, HIST 482) Confucius and the Great Books of Early China 
CHNS 419 (IL) (ASIA 419) The Chinese Rhetorical Tradition  
CHNS 452 (IL) Contemporary China: Culture and Trends
CHNS 453 (IL) Chinese Film
CHNS 454 (IL) Introduction to Classical Chinese
CHNS 455 (IL) Masterpieces of Traditional Chinese Literature

CMLIT 448 (IL) Literary Cultures of Buddhism
PHIL 007 (GH;IL) Asian Philosophy
PL SC 458 Government and Politics of East Asia
RL ST 408 (IL)  Hindu Studies

Requirements for the minor


CHNS 002(4), CHNS 003(4) (Sem: 1-4)

Select 4 credits from CHNS 110 IL(4) or CHNS 296(1-18), CHNS 297(1-9), CHNS 299 IL(1-12) (Sem: 1-8)
Select 6-8 credits from CHNS 401 IL(4), CHNS 402 IL(4), CHNS 403W(4), CHNS 404(4), CHNS 410 IL(3), CHNS 411 IL(3), CHNS 414 IL(3), CHNS 415 IL(3), CHNS 416 IL(3), CHNS 417 IL(3), CHNS 418 IL(3), CHNS 419 IL(3), CHNS 452 IL(3), CHNS 453 IL(3), CHNS 454 IL(3), CHNS 455 IL(3), CHNS 496(1-18), CHNS 497(1-9) or CHNS 499 IL(1-12) (Sem: 5-8)



Tom Spencer () is the undergraduate adviser for the major and minor in Asian Studies, Chinese and Japanese.  To make an appointment, visit: Select “Appointments” and click the “Advisers” link at the top of the page to view his hours for the week.

Please make an appointment if you need help with:
• your next semester schedule (language pre-majors and majors)
• concurrent major planning (feasibility, courses needed)
• academic difficulty
• Faculty Senate petitions (retroactive withdrawal or registration, etc.)
You may schedule an appointment through the following website:

For other information on the Chinese program, please contact Yupeng Kou: