Study Abroad in Shanghai, China




Shanghai, China

Sarah Lawrence students have the opportunity to pursue an internship-based program through CET Academic Programs in Shanghai. Along with the internship, students enroll in elective courses in Shanghai and intensive Chinese language study at the appropriate level. All applicants must be currently enrolled in or have completed a year of college level Chinese to be eligible for this program. 

This study abroad opportunity is open to Sarah Lawrence College students only.


Students will enroll in the following courses:

  • Chinese Language
  • 2 elective courses taught in English
  • Internship plus an internship course (or a third elective if not pursuing an internship)


Chinese Language (6 credits)

Students are assessed upon arrival and placed in the appropriate Chinese Levels (beginning through advanced). This is a required course.

Elective courses (3 credits each)

You choose two of these courses (or three if you decide to opt out of an internship).

The Chinese Consumer: Remaking the World Economy
The increasing economic power of 1.4 billion Chinese consumers, combined with that of 1.2 billion Indians and the third of the world living in middle-income countries, is remaking the patterns of world consumption and national economies. This multidisciplinary course examines the role of the consumer and consumption in the context of the rise of new economies, with close attention to China and other emerging countries. It analyzes diverse aspects of how Chinese consumption is impacting the global economy and will continue to in the coming decades. Class materials reflect multiple perspectives including cultural studies, ethnography, and marketing psychology. Themes shaping the course include the role of nationalism, little emperors, how ethics shape consumption, regional integration, copycat China, and the influence of consumer tribes.

The Chinese Economy
This course is meant to provide an overview of Chinese economy and its impact on the rest of the world. The first part of the course gives a brief historical overview of China's economy, from Mao to Deng's reforms, and on to the 21st century challenges of transitioning from a manufacturing-based economy to a system more incorporated into the global framework. The second part focuses on China’s role in globalization and regional economic integration including the topics of uneven growth and development in China’s western regions and China’s rise from economic isolation. A special emphasis on US-China trade relations helps students evaluate and understand the economic pursuit of these two superpowers in East Asia. The third section of the course considers the unique challenges for multinational corporations to compete in the Chinese market. Students are exposed to the Chinese consumer–their culture and buying behavior.

Chinese Literature Today: Cannibals, Consumption, and Global Capitalism
This is a survey of contemporary Chinese literature introducing important works of fiction by authors writing during the last three decades. It also examines the contemporary relevance of works by several early twentieth-century authors who remain influential in Chinese literature and culture today. Motifs of cannibals, consumption, and global capitalism connect the writings. The course also explores the role of popular genres such as science fiction and martial arts fiction in contemporary Chinese culture and in comparison to the mainstream authors we read. Other themes include ideas about what constitutes popular versus high literature and how authors closely associated with Shanghai portray their city.

Comparative History of Economic Thought
History is the only laboratory to test the thought of our great thinkers. With that credo as a guide, this course offers an overview of the historical evolution of economic theory, with a comparative approach that adds thinkers and philosophies from China, Asia, and other states. It covers Adam Smith’s publication of The Wealth of Nations in 1776 as a traditional course on this topic would but also discusses the impact of Yan Fu’s annotated translation of this classic into Chinese in 1901. It includes the economic philosophy of Marx and studies how his thought evolved in China during the New Culture/May Fourth era and its adaptation in the PRC in recent decades. It compares economic policies of the great empires such as the Han and Rome and the Ottoman and Ming.

Students in this class gain an understanding of the interrelationship between historical context and economic theory and how economic theory and policy evolve in response to changes in technology, market institutions, and political structures. The topics we examine remain relevant in the present day, including how classic western economic thought gave birth to, interacted with, or was radically changed into dependency theory in Latin America, import substitution in India, and the autocratic capitalism of China.

Contemporary Chinese Cinema
This course offers insights into the political, social, and cultural changes in contemporary China—and the impact of modernization and globalization on its cultural redefinition and identity reforming—through film. Using a selection of films directed by internationally-acclaimed Chinese Fifth and Sixth Generation directors, the course invites students to exercise their critical thinking skills in appraising the cultural narratives of each selected film and the aesthetic presentation produced by each film director.

Global Environment and Development in the 21st Century
With a focus on China, this course explores the environmental challenges that are increasingly taking center stage at the global scale as both developed and developing countries attempt how to best balance economic growth with environmental sustainability. China’s “Green” Belt and Road Initiative and renewable energy sector are central to these issues. Students in this class also investigate how and why environmental challenges are spread unevenly across different regions of the globe. Additional topics include sustainable development, natural resource extraction, and commodities production. The first half of the semester focuses on selected empirical works of critical social scientists, while the second half allows students to hone in on major conceptual debates in the field. A field study class to a local site gives students insights on how Shanghai is working to improve and protect the local environment.

International Economics
This course is intended for students who are interested in economics from a global perspective. It first introduces the emergence of international commerce in history and the establishment of modern capitalism. Theories of international trade and finance are included, and the emphasis is on the analyses of examples, cases, and latest events around the world. The course applies analytical tools including comparative advantage, global competition and technological change, balance of payments, and trade deficits. Finally, a special enquiry into the rise of the Chinese economy and its relations with the rest of the world is also provided.

The Making of Modern East Asia
This course surveys East Asian cultural, social, and political institutions with the goal of achieving a broad understanding of the modern historical development of China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. Students first study the pre-modern legacies that shaped each of these civilizations and intertwined their societies. Then the course will turn to the crises of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the quests for resolution, and the pursuit of national identities in a rapidly emerging and often violent modern world order. Sources for study are fiction, primary historical sources, and memoirs along with academic readings.

Historical themes include imperial domination and revolutionary resistance, nationalism, communism, democracy, feminism, and the wars of the 20th century (WWI, WWII, and the Cold War). In addition, students analyze the role of historical memory in relation to topics such as comfort women, Nanjing, and Hiroshima. One field study class allows students to interpret a class topic within the local context. This survey course uses a blend of approaches from the humanities and social sciences to introduce the histories, societies, and cultures of East Asia. It requires no prior knowledge of East Asia and is intended to provide a base for further study.

Politics and Governance
This course begins with a historical survey of imperial China (before 1912) and Republican China (1912- 1949). After providing some historical background, the course then focuses on the politics of the People’s Republic of China, including the Mao era (1949-1978) and the reform era (after 1978). Special attention is paid to “Mao Zedong Thought,” Deng Xiaoping’s contributions and legacies, the organizational structure and operational dynamics of the current political system, modern state building, and the Communist Party’s strategies for survival. When examining these issues, students engage in some of the current debates of the field, mainly those over the features of China’s politico-economic transition and the prospect of democracy in China.

Shanghai: Key to Modern China
The city of Shanghai has had multiple and changing reputations and representations. It has been simultaneously blamed as the source of all that was and is wrong in China and praised as the beacon of an advanced national future. Historically, the city has been China's cotton capital, leading colonial port, the location of its urban modernity, a national center of things from finance to fashion, and the home of radical politics. The objective of this course is to use the social, political, cultural, and economic history of Shanghai to analyze if and how the history of Shanghai provides a key to understanding the making of modern China. After a critical examination of the concepts of tradition and modernity and approaches for studying Shanghai history, we will explore the late imperial, Republican, and People’s Republic periods. The course will end with the Reform and Opening period of the 1980s and the subsequent return of Shanghai to preeminence. Themes will include modernity, commercialism, the role of city's colonial past in shaping its history, and whether Shanghai is somehow unique or representative of what we know as “modern China.” As part of this course, we will take advantage of our location to visit significant historical sites and exhibits.

Internship (3 credits)

If you choose to participate in an internship, you’ll work at your internship placement for at least 10 hours/week and enroll in the following internship course:

Internship: Bridging Theory & Practice
Internships offer the potential to bring together the best of academic and experiential learning abroad. Though immersion in a professional context and hands-on engagement with the work of an organization, students are able to test out the theories they have learned in the classroom, tease out the complexities of those ideas, and gain a more nuanced, sophisticated understanding of the local, regional, and global context in which they are studying and working.

This program is known for its hundreds of internship opportunities, and these are just some of the sites where you might intern. The projects you complete at work are determined by your host.

  • Ernst & Young
  • Niu Technologies
  • Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences
  • Habitat for Humanity China
  • Han Kun Law Offices
  • Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Center
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers
  • Shanghai Symphony Orchestra
  • Stepping Stones International
  • TimeOut Shanghai
  • Tongji Biomimetic Design Lab

Academic Calendar

Fall 2018

August 29

Arrival in Shanghai

August 30 - September 2


September 3

Classes begin

October 22-26

Fall break

December 14 Classes end
December 16 Depart Shanghai

Spring 2018

February 13

Arrival in Shanghai

February 14-18


April 8-12

Midterm break

May 31

Classes end

June 2 Depart Shanghai

Living in Shanghai

All students live on campus at Donghua University and are paired with Chinese roommates from Donghua University. Your roommate is carefully selected and has some English ability. However, we encourage you to have as much of your conversation in Chinese as possible!


The program is open to Sarah Lawrence College juniors and seniors for the fall, spring, or academic year. Contact the Office of International Programs for more information.

Applications & Deadlines

Completed application and don recommendation are due:

  • February 1 (for fall/academic year applicants)
  • October 1 (for spring applicants)

Tuition & Fees

Students are charged the cost of Sarah Lawrence tuition each semester. Additional semester costs include:


Included in cost of tuition


Approximately $1,350


Approximately $1,750

Personal expenses

Approximately $1,450

Financial Aid

Sarah Lawrence College students who normally receive financial aid may apply their awards to any College-sponsored program abroad.