A landscape in China showing a walking bridge and gazebo over water.

Standard Mandarin Chinese is the official language of both China and Taiwan. It is also one of Singapore's four official languages (along with English, Malay, and Tamil). The number of native speakers is quickly approaching one billion, making Mandarin Chinese by far the most widely spoken language in the world.

Mandarin Chinese language skills, coupled with an understanding of China’s culture and history, are a tremendous asset in today’s workforce. Classical Chinese language training is also indispensable to students hoping to pursue primary research or further studies pertaining to China’s long and rich pre-twentieth century history and culture.

A major focused on China or a minor in Chinese is not only personally enriching, but will make you a valuable addition to any internationally-focused modern workplace.

Below is information on:

Options for China-focused majors at UR

Modern Languages and Cultures does not currently offer a major in Chinese; students interested in pursuing a China-focused major are encouraged to:

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Chinese Minor Requirements: six courses total

  • A Chinese language sequence comprised of three four- or six-credit courses.
  • Three additional four- or six-credit courses in Chinese language, culture, literature, art, history, or politics.
  • Exceptions to above: Students with previous Chinese language experience who place into or above the 205 level may complete the minor by taking six four-credit courses in Chinese language, literature, culture, art, history, or politics. If a student’s language ability places them beyond the 206 level, they will not be permitted to take any language coursework but will be permitted to complete a minor with six courses in Chinese literature, culture, art, history, or politics.
  • No more than two courses may be transferred from other institutions or taken in non-MLC departments at the University of Rochester (HIST, ANTH, RELC, etc.). Courses that are cross listed with CHIN, but parented in another department at the University of Rochester will be counted as outside courses and are subject to this limitation.
  • No two-credit courses may be counted toward the minor.

Complete list of Chinese courses > 

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Chinese Clusters

The department offers three Chinese clusters in the humanities academic division. Per University policy, no domestic transfer courses or AP credits may be used toward the completion of a cluster; up to one relevant study abroad course may be used, but must first be approved by Chinese program faculty. CHIN 114 and CHIN 115 (each two credits) may be counted together as one course toward a cluster.

All students who submit a cluster declaration for Chinese Language or Chinese Language and Culture will be asked to answer a few questions by email about their language ability. Students who have not taken Chinese language courses at the University of Rochester, or who have not yet been placed, may be required to go through placement before their cluster declarations are approved. 

Chinese Language (H1CHIN001)
This cluster introduces students to basic language skills (reading, writing, speaking, and listening).

Chinese Language and Culture (H1CHIN002)
This cluster introduces students to Chinese culture through language courses and courses on Chinese literature, popular culture, religion and history.

Chinese Culture (H1CHIN003)
This cluster introduces students to Chinese culture, history, literature, and religion.

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Education Abroad in China

A cityscape in China near water.The Great Wall of China.

Students are encouraged to study abroad in China, if possible. The Center for Study Abroad has programs in major cities in China, including Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, and Nanjing. Generally speaking, coursework undertaken abroad will count toward the Chinese minor. For more information on studying abroad in China, visit the education abroad site or speak to a education abroad advisor.

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Language Placement Information

Advanced Placement (AP) scores or International Baccalaureate (IB) rankings assist departmental advisors in finding the right course level for you. Information on how you learned the language or languages you know will also help us advise you on the most appropriate courses for you.

For students with previous experience with the Mandarin language even those who already have and Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) score, the first step is to take the online placement exam. This is an opportunity both to evaluate your reading skills, as well as to fill out a survey providing information on your placement exams will then help us in the process of placing you in the correct course for your skill level. For instructions for how to login, see our online placement exam instructions page. The placement you receive with your online numerical test scores is not necessarily how you will be placed by MLC. Once you have taken the online portion of the test, you will need to schedule a meeting with Professor Ping Pian to complete the listening, speaking, and writing portion of the assessment. This must be completed prior to registering for a course.

While AP scores or IB rankings will also be used to assist departmental advisors in finding the right course level for you, they are not sufficient in themselves to place you in the correct course. Generally speaking, a student who has earned an AP score of 4 or 5 might be placed into second-year coursework (a student with a 4 might be placed into CHIN 151, while a student with a 5 might be placed into CHIN 152); however, all placements are contingent on evaluation by our Chinese faculty. Students are not permitted to place themselves based solely on AP scores and must meet with Professor Ping Pian for placement prior to enrolling.

AP students who successfully place into a course above the 101 level and complete that course with a B+ or higher will then receive credit for the course that precedes it in the series. (Eg. if student is placed into CHIN 151 and receives a B+ or higher, they will receive AP credit for CHIN 102.) AP credits thus awarded may be used toward the general graduation requirement or toward a Chinese minor; per University policy, AP credits may not be used in completion of any cluster.

Students will receive a “Course planning, placement, and recommendations” sheet with their language placement information from Academic Advising during Orientation and via email.

For questions about placement, contact Professor Ping Pian:

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Note for Heritage Learners and Native Speakers of Chinese

Heritage learners of Chinese are permitted to take Chinese language coursework (CHIN 101/102, 151/152, 202/203, 205/206), as long as their skill level is deemed appropriate. Like other students with prior experience, heritage learners cannot self-place; they must be placed into the appropriate course level by Chinese program faculty.

Most native speakers of Chinese will place out of language coursework at the University of Rochester altogether. Native speakers may still take Chinese literature courses, and are welcome to pursue the Chinese Culture cluster (H1CHIN003) or a minor consisting of culture coursework, but should not plan on pursuing a cluster or minor that requires coursework in Chinese language.

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Contact Information

For more information about Chinese language, literature, and culture courses or about becoming a Chinese minor, contact Professor Ping Pian at ping.pian@rochester.eduor Professor Elizabeth Weber at


Ping Pian, Associate Professor of Instruction in Chinese

Guoming Tian, Associate Professor of Instruction in Chinese

Elizabeth E. Weber, Visiting Assistant Professor of Chinese

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