College of Arts and Sciences


Two goals have guided the design of the IU Chinese Flagship Program curriculum:

  • Accelerate language learning to enable students to reach Superior proficiency in as short a time as possible.
  • Provide the greatest degree of flexibility to accommodate the diverse schedules and goals of our students.

The curriculum consists of three steps: (1) accelerated language training through a fourth- year level, (2) two pairs of preparatory “cluster” classes, and (3) a capstone year of study and internship in China. The first step is what an undergraduate in an ordinary Chinese program can expect to achieve. The second step serves as a bridge to build on skills learned in Step 1 and prepare students for Step 3. This third step marks truly advanced study in both language and a professional discipline. All three steps are described in more detail below.

Step 1: Advance Chinese proficiency through fourth-year level.

A “fourth-year” level is defined as that which is typically achieved after completing four academic years of training at a university in the United States. Students with no prior training in Chinese: Students can start their Chinese training as early as the summer before their freshman year by enrolling in the Flagship Chinese Institute (FCI). Students typically study Chinese both in the academic year at IU and also in summer study programs either in the United States or abroad. By studying year-round in quality-assured programs, students can advance from zero proficiency through fourth-year level in just two calendar years. Students entering the program with prior Chinese training: These students must take proficiency tests upon arrival at IU and are placed into the most appropriate level.

Step 2: Complete two semesters of Flagship cluster courses.

“Cluster courses” are pairs of complementary courses offered in the same semester. One of the courses is taught in English and seeks to deepen Chinese cultural knowledge in topics ranging from business and politics to history, literature, and religious studies. The other course is taught in Chinese and seeks to develop advanced Chinese language skills as they relate to the selected topic and from a global perspective. Students can take any two pairs of cluster courses at any time between their achieving fourth-year proficiency and their capstone year in China. In some circumstances, students will be permitted to take Fourth-Year Chinese (C401-402) at the same time they take cluster courses.

Step 3: Complete a capstone year of study + internship in China.

The capstone year consists of two components: a semester of study at Nanjing University followed by 4 – 6 months of an internship in China. The capstone year is often completed at the very end of a student’s undergraduate career, but in some cases it is followed by one or more semesters of study back at IU. A minimum proficiency level as measured by external assessments must be achieved before engaging the capstone year of study.