Harvard Summer Program in Beijing, China

June 5, 2020 to August 8, 2020
Apply by: 
January 23, 2020

Chinese language immersion in China's cultural and political center 

The Harvard Summer Program in Beijing, also known as the Harvard Beijing Academy (HBA), offers you the opportunity to complete a full academic year’s worth of Chinese language study through an intensive, immersive nine-week summer session.

HBA has been a wonderful experience. It’s been tiring, but extremely rewarding.

Program Structure

You enroll in one of four intensive language courses, spanning all levels from intermediate through advanced Chinese. The course structure is designed to maximize your language acquisition, with five hours of class (lectures, drill sections, and a one-on-one session) every day, Monday through Thursday, from morning until early afternoon. Written and oral exams are held every Friday. You devote much of the remainder of each day to homework, study, and review, but also have time for an array of activities and excursions designed to round out your classroom experience and situate your language learning in authentic Chinese contexts. 

I’m amazed at how much progress we’ve made in our Chinese classes. Our teachers are all kind, friendly, inordinately hardworking, and tirelessly passionate. It was an absolute pleasure being one of their students

On weekday afternoons, deepen your appreciation of Chinese culture through extracurriculars covering everything from calligraphy and tea to tai-chi and mah-jiang. Enjoy a relaxing "Chinese table" lunch each week with your teachers and classmates. On Friday afternoons, join an "Interest Group" to explore Beijing and make new friends with local students. On the weekends, join your classmates for excursions to cultural and historical landmarks, including the Great Wall, the Summer Palace, the Imperial Resort at Chengde, and a spectacular Chinese acrobatics show, or spend time with a local Chinese host family. At HBA, Chinese language learning is inseparable from engagement with Chinese society and culture.

During the fifth week of the program, you also have the unique opportunity to participate in a "Social Study Project" outside of Beijing designed to broaden your exposure to Chinese society and culture, and challenge you to apply your language skills to new contexts. Curious to learn more about the Social Study Project? Watch a video by HBA alum Bo Young Choi about her project in Inner Mongolia: Watch the video


CHIN 130xc, S-120c, S-130xc, and S-140c each count as one full-year course (8 credits) of degree credit.

Harvard College students must be taking a Harvard Chinese course or have taken the Harvard Chinese placement test and received an assignment of intermediate-level Chinese (120a) or higher. Taking a Chinese language course before the program increases your chances of being accepted. Students from other colleges must have at least one year of college-level Chinese or the equivalent to enroll in HBA.

You enroll in one of the four courses listed below. You are placed in a course commensurate with your level of fluency, which is assessed based on your written and oral application materials and a placement test taken after you arrive in Beijing. Because all language progress is relative and student strengths vary, every effort is made to ensure the best placement.

CHIN S-120C Study Abroad in Beijing, China: Intermediate Modern Chinese (32805)

Jie Ying
8 credits
UN, GR Limited enrollment.

In this second-year course, students develop their conversational and narrative skills using carefully selected vocabulary and grammar. The textbook is based on authentic conversation, moving gradually from casual to formal styles. The text covers the most important communicative skills needed by American students studying in China and provides a deeper understanding of cultural and intellectual differences between US and Chinese societies.

CHIN S-130C Study Abroad in Beijing, China: Pre-Advanced Modern Chinese (32806)

Bin Yang
8 credits
UN, GR Limited enrollment.

In this third-year course, students study contemporary China and develop their speaking and writing skills by constructing new compounds, using idiomatic expressions, and mastering formal and informal styles. The curriculum is designed to further improve listening and reading abilities through texts geared specifically to the understanding of Chinese culture and society.

CHIN S-130XC Study Abroad in Beijing, China: Pre-Advanced Modern Chinese for Heritage Speakers (33270)

Jie Zhao
8 credits
UN, GR Limited enrollment.

In this third-year course intended primarily for heritage speakers, students develop their Chinese proficiency at the pre-advanced level. The curriculum is designed to help students to further expand their vocabulary, to recognize formal and informal styles, to improve their reading and writing skills, and to hone their oral communication. The course makes use of texts related to contemporary issues in China and the wider world, including newspaper articles, dialogues, and essays, as well as supplementary audiovisual materials.

CHIN S-140C Study Abroad in Beijing, China: Advanced Modern Chinese (32807)

Fan Jia
8 credits
UN, GR Limited enrollment.

In this fourth-year course, students read authentic texts of varied genres and styles emphasizing social and cultural issues in contemporary America and China. Through the extensive readings, students learn reading strategies, and stylistic transformations (casual and formal). Students also write compositions and papers, do formal presentations, and participate in classroom discussions to develop a solid foundation in the four skills—listening, speaking, reading, and writing—in conversational and formal Chinese.

Where You Live and Study

The host institution, Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU), is located in the modern and trendy Wudaokou District of Beijing.


You live in comfortable double rooms with other HBA students in an upscale hotel adjacent to the BLCU campus and a short walk from the classrooms. Daily breakfast is provided free of charge at the hotel. Amenities include private bathrooms, air conditioning, TV, and maid service.

The BLCU cafeteria is open all day and offers a wide array of reasonably priced Chinese and foreign food, which you can access with your BLCU campus card.

Just a few minutes' walk off campus into the heart of Wudaokou, there are a variety of cheap and fancier restaurants offering everything from traditional Northern Chinese food and Xinjiang-style cuisine, to Cantonese and Vietnamese fare, to Korean BBQ, pizza, Indian food, pastries, and more. Stores and mall shops in Wudaokou sell everything from trendy clothing and electronics to fresh fruit and souvenirs. Movie theaters, karaoke bars, and coffee shops can be found throughout the neighborhood.


Early application is strongly encouraged. Each program has unique requirements included in the online application. Beginning your application early is the best way to ensure that you have sufficient time to review and complete the application requirements by the deadline. 

You may apply to no more than two programs; if applying to two programs, you will be asked to rank your two applications in order of preference (first and second choice). Any applications submitted in excess of the maximum of two will be automatically withdrawn. You will be notified of your admissions status in each program by late February. 

A complete online application includes:

  • Basic personal information
  • A statement of interest
  • Your most recent transcript
  • Program-specific requirements (if applicable; may include letters of recommendation, audio or video submissions, etc.)

Interviews may be requested at the discretion of the program.

Apply Now

Applications for HBA are due January 23, 2020. 

Harvard College students applying for funding from the Office of Career Services (OCS): Please note that the OCS funding application is separate.

Cost & Expenses

The program fee includes:

  • Tuition
  • Accommodations
  • Scheduled program activities
  • Some meals (the program will provide further details)

You will also need to budget for a number of expenses not covered by the program fee. The amounts listed below for these out-of-pocket expenses are approximate, and you may incur additional expenses not noted here. Your actual expenses will depend on a number of factors, including personal spending habits and currency exchange rates.

  • International airfare ($1,600-$2,000)
  • Ground transportation ($200)
  • Meals ($1,000)
  • Social Study Project fee paid in cash on-site ($400-$500)
  • Personal expenditures, communications, and miscellaneous ($500)

If you have specific questions about personal budgeting, please contact the program directly.

See Funding and Payment for information on how to submit payments and funding options.

Additional Information

Program director

Jennifer Liu


  • Jie Ying, MA, Preceptor in Chinese, Harvard University
  • Jie Zhao, MA, Preceptor in Chinese, Harvard University
  • Bin Yang, MA, Preceptor in Chinese, Harvard University
  • Fan Jia, MA, Drill Instructor in Chinese, Harvard University