Harvard Summer Program in Beijing, China

June 8, 2018 to August 11, 2018
Apply by: 
January 18, 2018
  • Harvard Summer School Study Abroad Program in Beijing, China
  • Harvard Summer School Study Abroad Program in Beijing, China
  • Harvard Summer School Study Abroad Program in Beijing, China
  • Harvard Summer School Study Abroad Program in Beijing, China
  • Harvard Summer School Study Abroad Program in Beijing, China

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.”

Chinese language immersion in China's cultural and political center 

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

The program offers five intensive courses in modern Chinese at the intermediate and advanced levels. The courses include a one-week social study project outside of Beijing, as well as curriculum materials designed to develop and reinforce all aspects of Chinese language ability—including speaking, oral comprehension, reading, and writing, in authentic cultural contexts.

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 an acrobatics show. After class, deepen your appreciation of Chinese culture through extracurricular activities covering everything from calligraphy and music to tai-chi and mah-jiang. 

Practice your Chinese, relax, and make new friends through “interest group” outings with local university students, “Chinese table” meals with your classmates and teachers, and get-togethers with Chinese families. At HBA, Chinese language learning is inseparable from engagement with Chinese society and culture.

Program Structure

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

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 weekday to homework, study, and review, but also have time for an array of extracurricular activities and excursions designed to round out your classroom experience.

Curious about the social study project? A former student, Bo Young Choi, captured her Inner Mongolia social study trip. Watch the video


CHIN 130xc, S-120c, S-130xc, S-140c, and S-150c 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 five 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)

Xiaoshi Yu
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)

Mo Zhang
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)

Xueyin Shao
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)

Jie Zhao
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.

CHIN S-150C Study Abroad in Beijing, China: Advanced-High Modern Chinese (32808)

Haibo Hu
8 credits
UN, GR Limited enrollment.

This fifth-year course consolidates students' advanced language ability, background knowledge, and independent initiative to pursue academic and professional endeavors in or related to China. Its curriculum—with extra daily tutorials—balances breadth and depth in its exploration of the Chinese humanities and social sciences, with units in economy and business, government and law, journalism and media, health and social welfare, history and literature, international relations, and more. The second half of the curriculum offers an even more individualized approach to study, with course materials selected based on student research and professional interests. The course aims to strength students' formal speaking and writing abilities in both academic endeavors as well practical areas relevant to non-academic employment.
Students enrolled in CHIN S-150c can elect to participate in a twice-weekly internship at a local company or organization, or to conduct intensive research in a specific field of interest, with guidance from their instructors. Students in this course also have the option of designing their own independent social study project, or of joining one of the program's pre-arranged trips.

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 rooms in a newly-renovated building on the BLCU campus. 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 the BLCU campus card that you will be issued.

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.

How to Apply

Before applying, review How to Apply

Undergraduate and graduate students, as well as working professionals, are all eligible to apply. The required application materials include: 

  1. Online application that includes:

    • A $50 nonrefundable application fee

  2. A student introduction form that includes:

    • A typed English statement of interest

    • A handwritten Chinese statement of interest

  3. A recommendation form from a Chinese language teacher

    • The recommendation may be written in either English or Chinese.

      • If you are a Harvard college student, you can request that your instructor submit the recommendation directly to HBA.

      • If you are a Yale Light Fellowship recipient, you can use the Light Fellowship recommendation form in place of the form above and can request that your instructor mail the form directly to HBA.

  4. Transcripts (student record accepted for Harvard students)

    • First-year college students who do not yet have any course grades must include a sealed recommendation from their academic advisor or the equivalent.

    • If your transcript with fall semester grades is released after you have submitted your application, you may mail it in separately for consideration as part of your application file.

  5. Audio recording in Chinese (approximately 3 minutes) introducing yourself and explaining why you would like to study at HBA

    • The recording should be done in an impromptu manner and should not be scripted.

    • Email your recording (in MP3 or WMA format) to hbazhaosheng@gmail.com.

    • Include both your Chinese and English names in the subject line of the email.

  6. Two photocopies of the photo and signature pages in your passport

    • Please make sure that the entire two pages are included in the photocopy and that all text is clearly legible.

    • If your passport expires before February 2019, you should apply for a renewal immediately, as Chinese government regulations stipulate that visas may only be granted to applicants whose passports are valid for at least six months after their planned departure from China.

  7. If you are not currently enrolled in Harvard or Yale, you may be asked to have a brief Skype interview with an HBA faculty member. The purpose of this interview will be to enable us to get better acquainted with you.

    • You will be notified in advance of the details and timing of the interview, which will be scheduled once all of your application materials have been received.

Mail the paper application form, teacher recommendation, transcripts, and passport photocopies directly to the Harvard Summer School Study Abroad Office (51 Brattle Street, Room 217, Cambridge, MA 02138), preferably in one envelope. Harvard students may submit their application materials in person to the Harvard Beijing Academy program office (5 Bryant Street, Room 104).

Applications are now closed. All admissions decisions will be released by the end of the first week of February.


The program fee includes tuition, accommodation, scheduled excursions and activities, and some meals. 

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

Student budget

Student budget

In addition to the program fee, you will need to budget for a number of personal expenses: 

  • International airfare ($1,600 to $2,000)
  • Local transportation ($150)
  • All meals except one lunch per week ($1,000)
  • Visa fees (for US citizens) ($200)
  • Personal expenditures, laundry, communications, costs related to the Social Study Project, and miscellaneous costs ($700)
  • A laptop computer is strongly recommended. Every student must have at least an iPod or other MP3-capable device to listen to the audio recordings that accompany the textbook.

Note: The amounts are approximate, and you may incur additional expenses not listed here. Your actual expenses will depend on a number of factors, including your personal spending habits and currency exchange rates. If you have specific questions about budgeting, please contact the program directly.

Additional Information

Program director

Jennifer Liu


  • Haibo Hu, MA, Preceptor in Chinese, Harvard University
  • Xueyin Shao, MA, Preceptor in Chinese, Harvard University
  • Xiaoshi Yu, MEd, Preceptor in Chinese, Harvard University
  • Mo Zhang, MA, Preceptor in Chinese, Harvard University
  • Jie Zhao, MA, Preceptor in Chinese, Harvard University