Mandarin Chinese is the most widely-spoken language in the world and the third most spoken language in the U.S. As an official language of China, Taiwan, and Singapore, its economic and geopolitical importance grows annually, and Chinese scientific, scholarly, literary, and artistic contributions are recognized globally. Learning Chinese offers a gateway to cultures and histories spanning millennia and continents, and prepares students to participate in MIT-China programs and our IAP-in-Shenzhen class.

Chinese Studies at MIT offers two distinct tracks: Regular and Streamlined. The Regular track is for first-time learners, while Streamlined subjects are geared to students with some level of spoken Chinese competency without equivalent literacy. Both the Regular and Streamlined tracks employ innovative pedagogical methods, including multimedia projects to integrate language and culture learning that grow student proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Language for special purposes subjects, including 21G.120 Business Chinese, prepare students to use Chinese after they leave MIT. Chinese Studies also incorporates a focus on Chinese cultural studies through classes taught in English, and addressing topics from Chinese history, to modern society, literature, film and global immigration.

Subjects in Chinese Studies may be applied to the Chinese Concentration and minor programs, and the major, minor and Concentration in Asian and Asian Diaspora Studies. Learn more about the Chinese Concentration and minor program requirements at the Academic Programs page. Information on Asian and Asian Diaspora Studies programs is available through SHASS. Advisors for these programs are below. Students uncertain what level of Chinese language to take should refer to placement information. Information on transfer credit is available here.

Chinese Concentration: Haohsiang Liao
Chinese Minor: Wiebke Denecke
Asian and Asian Diaspora Studies Concentration/Minor/Major: Sana Aiyar
Global Languages Chinese Studies group: Tong Chen | Panpan Gao | Min-Min Liang | Haohsiang Liao | Kang Zhou | Baoli Yang | Yang Yang

Spring 2023

21G.102/152 Chinese II (Regular)
21G.104 Chinese IV (Regular)
21G.106 Chinese VI: Discovering Chinese Cultures and Societies
21G.108/158 Chinese II (Streamlined)
21G.110 Chinese IV (Streamlined)
21G.120 Business Chinese
21G.S06 Special Subject: Journey to the West

21G.S06 Special Subject: Journey to the West
Why would people hand down one set of stories over a period of thirteen centuries? This course focuses on the celebrated Chinese novel Journey to the West to investigate how the monk Xuanzang’s pilgrimage to the Indic world to find and retrieve Buddhist scriptures evolved from premodern ethnography and history to an early modern novelistic fantasy as well as its contemporary multimedia cultural products. The readings include the historical Xuanzang’s travelogue, early modern Chinese short stories, Ming dynasty novels, vernacular plays, as well as modern fantasy movies, TV series, Lego cartoons, video games, and Japanese manga. We will also utilize scholarship from Silk Road studies, theories of the fantastic, religious studies, and media studies to examine some perennial questions about the human world, such as freedom and responsibility, individual enlightenment, collaborative pursuits, and the Anthropocene. Students will develop their skill sets in digital humanities and produce multimedia projects in addition to honing their skills in literary analysis. No prior knowledge of the Chinese language or culture is required. 12 units of HASS-H credit.


A note regarding the enrollment policy for Chinese language subjects: Enrollment limited to 16 for pedagogical reasons for Chinese I through Chinese VI (Regular and Streamlined). Preference will be given to pre-registered students, including pre-registered undergraduates who were cut from the same class the previous semester due to the enrollment cap. Please note that you have to attend the first day of class to maintain your preference level. In case of over-enrollment, preference will be given in the following order: declared minors, declared concentrators, first-years, sophomores, juniors, seniors and graduate students.

Fall 2023

21G.101/151 Chinese I (Regular)
21G.103 Chinese III (Regular)
21G.105 Chinese V (Regular)
21G.107/157 Chinese I (Streamlined)
21G.109 Chinese III (Streamlined)
21G.113 Chinese V (Streamlined)
21G.S03 Special Subject: Chinese for Professional Communication
21G.041 Foundations of East Asian Literature and Culture: From Confucius to the Beats
21G.043 Asian American History: 1865 to 1965
21G.046/192 Modern Chinese Fiction and Cinema
21H.151 Dynastic China

21G.S03 Special Subject: Chinese for Professional Communication

Reads and reacts to authentic materials centering on four areas – business, technology, medical and students’ own choices of academic interests. Students develop advanced-mid speaking skills in a formal context, understand main ideas of lengthy and argumentative texts, interpret related talks and speeches, and present their thoughts in structured essays. This course will be taught entirely in Chinese. Prerequisite: 21G.120 Business Chinese or permission of instructor. Limited to 16 per section. No listeners.