Chinese Language Program

The University of Kansas has offered Chinese since 1959 and has maintained the strongest Chinese language program in the Great Plains. 

Learn Chinese! 

China has one of the richest literary and philosophical traditions in the world, and a vibrant contemporary cultural scene. With an extensive history of inventions and ever-evolving technological innovations, China is also the US’ largest trading partner, the world’s second largest economy, as well as the largest film market outside of Hollywood. With over 1 billion speakers in many different countries and communities all over the globe, Chinese is the world’s most spoken language. Knowledge of Chinese is sought after by employers – and with one of the nation’s best Chinese programs, our department will greatly enhance your qualifications and options as you enter the job market. 

Study Abroad 

China is a vast and fascinating country with limitless potential for learning and adventure, and employers greatly value study-abroad experience in job candidates. K.U. students typically spend some time on a study-abroad program (e.g. in mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, etc.), whether at a summer intensive-language program, semester program, or for a year at one of two schools that have exchange programs with K.U. There are programs that include non-language courses taught in English, and programs that offer internship experience. We will work with you to find the program best suited to your degree plans, and advise you on scholarship opportunities. Credit from study abroad programs can be transferred and can almost always be used to fulfill requirements for the major.  


Our graduates have gone on to a wide variety of careers involving China and the Chinese language, sometimes after further work at graduate school. Examples of careers and employers include: consulting in Washington, D.C.; Hallmark International in Kansas City; U.S. government and military intelligence (e.g., National Geospatial Intelligence Agency); United Airlines; newspaper editing in Shanghai; managing a fitness center in Thailand; working in technology in China; teaching high-school Chinese; teaching and researching Chinese as a university professor; working for Chinese companies manufacturing in the U.S.; Strategic Supply Chain Manager at Garmin Ltd.; Cyber Incident Response Analyst; translator and tour guide; journalist for Bloomberg in Taiwan; financial manager at Morgan Stanley; Account Representative at Cheng and Ts’ui Publishers in Boston, etc. 

Chinese Placement Exam

If you are enrolling at KU for the first time, have learned some Chinese before, and want to continue studying Chinese, you should take an on-line placement exam, ideally prior to your arrival on campus. To take the exam, simply follow this link to the testing page, and access it with your KU ID (guest log-in options also available). 

Upon completion of the exam, you will be given a preliminary placement, which you should use to register for a specific Chinese course. During the first week of classes, you should meet with your instructor to confirm the accuracy of the placement. If it is determined that another course would be more appropriate, you will be allowed to transfer to that course. 

Proficiency goals for KU Chinese language courses (PDF)