Division of Humanities

The Chinese program at Centre College is dedicated to the study of Chinese language and cultures within a variety of contexts. It seeks to prepare students to step outside of their comfort zones and engage critically with multiple perspectives on their journey to become global citizens.

The major program in Chinese Studies is designed to meet the needs of four types of students: those who intend to continue the study of Chinese or Asian Studies in graduate school; those seeking proficiency in a second language for work in the arts and sciences, business, communications, education, politics, etc.; those who major in another field (such as biology, dramatic arts, economics and finance, environmental sciences, international studies, philosophy, religion, etc.) and use language study to support their research in that field; and those for whom Chinese serves as part of a broad liberal education, in much the same way a major in English serves this purpose for many students.

The program offers four levels of language instruction—beginning through advanced—in Modern Standard Chinese (Mandarin). It also offers a fifth level of inter-disciplinary courses taught in English that examine major themes and questions in Sinophone culture. Each level of language instruction incorporates critical, historical, and cultural perspectives and provides students with opportunities to explore their personal, academic, and professional interests in relation to Chinese studies. Students are encouraged to broaden their understandings of Chinese-speaking communities by taking courses offered across the college in areas such as art, gender studies, environmental studies, economics, history, international studies, linguistics, philosophy, politics, and religions and so forth. Students also have opportunities to conduct mentored and independent research and participate in experiential and community-based learning.

Students in the program benefit from a rich environment for language study that includes tutoring with heritage and native speakers, language lunch tables, cultural celebrations and events, and a growing online community of Chinese language learners inclusive of alums. Students majoring or minoring in Chinese are strongly encouraged to study abroad in a predominantly Chinese-speaking region during their junior or senior years such as the Centre-in-China program at Tongji University in Shanghai. Chinese program faculty can also help students locate alternative immersion options in Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, and other Chinese-speaking locations.

Trained to think critically about Chinese speaking societies, the world, and their relationships to both, Chinese majors and minors will be prepared for graduate school and professional careers in a variety of fields. With a professional level of proficiency in what has been called a critical language by the U.S. State Department, Chinese majors and minors will take their place among the next generation of bilingual professionals, an essential skill in today’s global society.


Jingjing Cai, Mei Li Inouye

Student Representative 

Avi Leffler

Recommended First-Year/Sophomore Preparation

Students considering a major in Chinese Studies are encouraged to plan their academic program to include as wide a distribution of courses as possible regardless of their professional or vocational objectives. Prospective majors should consider taking courses in literature, history, philosophy, and the fine arts as well as chemistry, computer science, and psychology.

Chinese Courses

Course Descriptions