Chinese Major Requirements

The Department of Asian Languages, Literatures, and Cultures offers three distinct major tracks: East Asian Languages & Cultures, Chinese, and Japanese. Each major requires a minimum of ten courses. Up to four study-away credits can be counted toward a major. Below are the learning objectives and minimum requirements of the Chinese Major.

Prospective and current majors should use your Williams login to sign up for this GLOW course.

Learning Objectives for the Chinese Major

Students who complete the requirements for a major in Chinese will be able to:

  • Attain the Advanced level in speaking, listening and reading, and Intermediate High level in writing based on the ACTFL proficiency guidelines.
  • Read and analyze basic texts written in Classical Chinese.
  • Gain intercultural communicative skills to competently navigate a wide range of social and cultural contexts in Chinese-speaking environments.
  • Critically read and analyze a variety of Chinese-language primary sources for academic and professional purposes.
  • Engage critically with important aspects of the historical and cultural developments and trends in China’s diverse and complex past and present.
  • Acquire the skills to enable them to continue their engagement with the target language and culture as lifelong learners and users of Chinese.

Minimum Requirements of the Chinese Major:

In order to develop proficiency and intercultural communicative skills in the language, students are required to complete at least eight Mandarin Chinese language courses (CHIN 101, 102, 201, 202, 301, 302, 401, 402) and at least one course in Classical Chinese (CHIN 312). To gain a deeper understanding of Chinese cultural traditions, students should take at least one Chinese core elective in Chinese literary, linguistic, or cultural studies (taught either in English or in Chinese) with prefixes and primary cross-listings in CHIN.

Students placed out of lower-level language courses can take approved electives related to Chinese language and culture (including additional CHIN core electives, additional Asian language courses, or Chinese studies courses offered in art, comparative literature, history, music, political science, religion, etc.) to replace the language course requirement. Potential electives can be found under the course listings for the program in Asian Studies.


Due to the pandemic, the department has reduced the number of courses required for its majors for the graduating classes of ‘21, ‘22, and ‘23. For these years, the minimum requirements are nine courses as follows:

CHIN 101, 102, 201, 202, 301, 302, 401, 402, 312. 

Students with higher language proficiency who are placed out of any of the core language courses (101 through 402) can take an equal number of faculty-approved electives taught either in Chinese or in English on literature, linguistics, culture studies or related Chinese studies disciplines (e.g., art history, history, political science) to fulfill the core language requirement. 

Students who plan to study abroad either during the summer or during their junior or senior year MUST consult with department faculty for advice.