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CHINA - China Studies Institute at Peking University

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Established by American University in Washington, D.C. in 1986, China Studies Institute was known as one of AU’s World Capitals programs under the academic tutelage of AU’s prestigious School of International Service.

In the fall of 2004, CSI was allowed to operate independently.

Since then, CSI has grown exponentially from about 20 students to more than 200 students annually.  

The key to our growth is the enthusiasm of our students and faculty. It is the consensus among our students that CSI offers a huge range of choices from area studies courses taught in English to language immersion, with language pledge and class sizes under 5, from internships to four themed study trips all over China.

With solid relationships with over 50 universities and liberal arts colleges in America, we will continue to provide top-notch education and other opportunities for American students in the years ahead.

Experiences of Former Students

The Beijing Program of Asian Studies was one of the best experiences of my life.  I learned about Chinese history, culture, and language.  The challenge of assimilating myself into Chinese society allowed me enormous personal growth. – Alicia Frenette ’07

Marina Alessi, a participant in the Beijing program in Fall 2014, discussed her experiences at the ACM Symposium.

Peking University is such a prestigious university, and the structure of the academic program is very vigorous. - Student in Spring 2015 program. 

Notes from Abroad: Ed in China


To be eligible to participate in this program, students must meet the following requirements:

  • Good academic and judicial standing during time of application AND time of participation in program
  • Undergraduates must have completed at least two semesters of study at Lake Forest College AND be at least second-semester sophomore status. (Transfer students may participate after the first semester on campus)
  • At least 18 years of age by the program’s departure date. 
  • Be able to stay at the host program for the duration of the semester, including through the exam and travel periods
  • Preferred GPA is 3.0, though students with a lower GPA can appeal to Professor Chen for special permission.
  • Due to the rules of the host institution, Chinese citizens are not eligible to apply for this program.
  • Preferred: Coursework in Chinese language or Asian studies.

 Peking University is a comprehensive and national key university. The campus, known as “Yan Yuan”(the garden of Yan, is situated at Haidian District in the western suburb of Beijing, with a total area of 2,743,532 square meters (or 274 hectares). It stands near to the Yuanmingyuan Garden and the Summer Palace.


To learn more about the visa process for this country, please visit the Embassy of China website


Host Institution

Established by American University in Washington, D.C. in 1986, China Studies Institute is one of the foremost programs for American students in Beijing.  CSI is affiliated with Peking University, a well-respected Chinese institution.

Academic Environment and Teaching Style

As this program was designed in conjunction with a US university, the professors understand the unique higher education system and culture of US students. Professors may be from Peking University or their partner schools in the US, such as Knox, American, or others.

There are two tracks for this program: Area Studies and Immersion.  Area studies students take a variety of courses in Chinese history, culture, business, religion, and international relations.

The immersion track is for students who want to devote themselves to Chinese language training full time, through 27 hours of class instruction per week and lots of time for homework and other activities. Classes usually do not exceed five students, so there is plenty of time for individualized learning.

More information about courses offered can be found here

Please understand that the academic system is quite different. Classes are usually lecture-based, instead of discussion or group work. Classes are often much larger than those found at Lake Forest College. Grades are based heavily, at times almost entirely, on one end-of-term exam, though some courses will also offer a midterm.  Professors are often more formal than those in the United States.

All courses/modules may have prerequisites.  Some departments may have limitations on numbers of courses that can be taken within or outside it.  Be aware of these limitations.

Credits and Grading

The China Studies Institute at Peking University program uses the US semester credit system, in which 1 credit = 42-45 in-class hours, and 2 hours of out-of-class work per credit hour.

To Earn 4 Lake Forest credits, students must take 15-16 US semester credits.

To Earn 3 Lake Forest credits, students must take 12 US semester credits.

The number of credits listed here is estimated, and GEO will work with you, your advisor, and the registrar to ensure you are earning enough credits to keep you on track for graduation.

Lake Forest College Requirements

Lake Forest students must take at least one course in the Chinese language. Though it is not required, we strongly recommend participating in the internship program.

Internship Opportunities

Internships have been an integral part of this study abroad program since 1998. By working with American expats and Chinese professionals alike, students gain valuable first-hand experience about the Chinese economy and society.

An internship is offered as one course with 3 credits, and earn a letter grade for this internship. Students are expected to work two full days per week during the semester.  This program is only available for the Area Studies program and is not compatible with the Immersion program.

Recent students have interned at the American Chamber of Commerce, Economist, Gallup Organization, Edelman, Lockheed Martin, T & D Law Associates, US-China Business Council, not-for-profit agencies, news agencies, and many others.

Housing and Meals

Most Area Studies students will live in dorms on campus in double rooms, though some may be located off-campus in Institute-run hotels or apartments.  Rooms are equipped with private bath, air-conditioning, TV, internet access, and telephone.

Language immersion students will live off-campus in either double-room apartments or in homestays.

Meals are not included.

Financial Information

For all approved programs for guaranteed financial aid transferability, students pay their Lake Forest College tuition plus a program fee. The program fee for the Asian Studies Institute in Beijing program includes orientation, housing, some excursions, and the travel period at the end of the term. Meals are NOT included. 

Here is an estimated budget for the Fall 2019/Spring 2020 programs:

Budget Item


Lake Forest College Tuition


Program fee (estimated)

Note: Spring may have added cost for Southern Hemisphere programs, as that starts a new academic year.


Total Expected Billed by Lake Forest College




Estimated Airfare


Estimated Personal Expenses (passport, visas, immunizations, textbooks, supplies, personal expenses, additional national insurance if required, travel insurance, additional travel etc.)


Total Expected Out-of-Pocket Expenses




Tuition rates and program fees are subject to change each year, but this information was up-to-date as of February 2019. We will notify applicants, and update this page if the program fee or other estimates change.

You can discuss with Financial Aid your specific aid package and your expected family contribution.

Deposits to other programs, if required, are paid by the student to the host program, and will appear as a credit on your study abroad term bill from the College.

Keep in mind that you may spend more or less in certain areas like personal expenses, travel, meals, or airfare, depending on exchange rates and your own spending habits. Classroom or lab fees are not included in this estimate and will depend on your course registration choices.  

Don’t forget to apply for scholarships! A great listing can be found here.  

  • Contact:

    For Questions About the Initial Application Process:

    Alexandra Olson
    Coordinator of the Global Engagement Office