The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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The MA in Chinese

The Program

Asian Languages and Literatures—a unit within the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at UMass Amherst—offers a course of study leading to the Master of Arts degree in Chinese. There are two principal focuses of our program. One is the study of Chinese literature, culture, linguistics, and/or pedagogy. The second is the acquisition of practical language skills to enhance future work in such fields as translation, interpretation, teaching, journalism, business or government. Our M.A. students have gone on to work in foreign services, government, as high school teachers and college professors, as professional translators and interpreters, and in a number of other careers.



Students entering the Master's Degree program in Chinese Language and Literature must have finished the equivalent of four years of college level Chinese language courses. This can be accomplished by taking courses as an undergraduate; studying, living, and working in Chinese-speaking environment; or passed required level of Chinese Language Placement Exam. Each student accepted into the program will take our language placement exam during the first week to determine the level of their language competence. If a student does not place in either Chinese 526 or 527 (Readings in Modern Chinese Literature), the student may have to spend an extra year in the program in order to gain the competence necessary to write a Master’s Thesis using original materials. (Students whose preparation is deficient in certain areas may be required to do remedial work after admission to the program. Such work will not be counted toward the degree. ) Students in the program are also expected to familiarize themselves with the general features of Chinese history and Chinese literature before they arrive on campus. The student can contact the Graduate Program Director for information about how to do this.

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required for all applicants, including foreign applicants. The Graduate School requires all applicants whose native language is not English to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). (Please refer to the Graduate School guidelines here.) However, the standard English test scores are only one part of the application and we review all the application materials and make decisions.  We also look at the applicants' background in college coursework and potential in graduate studies. Sending a writing sample separately from the application is not required. All applicants will automatically be considered for a paid Teaching Assistantship, which includes a full tuition waiver, stipend (as of May 2017, the hourly salary for TA is $25.23; most TAs work 10 hrs/week, but some on rare occasions will work 20hrs/week) and some health benefits. Although we try to cover as many of our graduate students as possible (depending upon their qualifications), we cannot always guarantee coverage. Our Teaching Assistantships can be for language teaching (depending upon a student’s qualifications) or assisting with content courses in literature and culture. In order to determine a student’s qualifications for a language-teaching assistantship, one of our full-time language teachers will call the applicant after he/she has been accepted. Keep in mind, though, that there are other fees assessed to the students with Assistantships that are not covered by the Assistantship. These generally total less than $1000.00.

M.A. Degree Requirements

The Chinese Program, Asian Languages and Literatures,

Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

Students are required to complete at least thirty semester credits of course work and six credits of Master's Thesis. Up to six credits of appropriate course work at the graduate level from other institutions may be accepted with the approval of the graduate committee. It is expected that most suitably prepared students will be able to finish all requirements for the degree within two academic years.

  1. Core Requirements: (18 Credits)

Chinese 528: Chinese Language in Contexts (Zhongwei Shen)

Chinese 575: Syntactic Structures of Chinese (Zhijun Wang)

Chinese 597L: Modern Chinese Literature and Culture (Enhua Zhang)

Chinese 597M: The Ming-Qing Novel I (Elena Chiu)

Chinese 670: Research Methods (David K. Schneider)

Chinese 691A: Graduate Seminar in Chinese (Zhongwei Shen)

  1. Elective Courses (12 credits)

Chinese 555: Classical Poetry (David K. Schneider)

Chinese 576: History of the Chinese Language (Zhongwei Shen)

Chinese 577: Chinese Dialectology (Zhongwei Shen)

Chinese 580: Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language  (Zhijun Wang)

Chinese 581: Second Language Acquisition of Chinese (Zhijun Wang)

Chinese 597D: Confucianism (David K. Schneider)

Chinese 597F: Chinese Political Philosophy (David K. Schneider)

Chinese 597J: Chinese Popular Culture (Enhua Zhang)

Chinese 597P: Traditional Chinese Drama and Performing Arts (Elena Chiu)

Chinese 597Q: The Ming-Qing Novel II (Elena Chiu)

Chinese 597: Special Topics

Chinese 697: Special Topics

  1. Thesis and Examination (6 credits)

             Chinese 699: Masters Thesis