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CIEE Beijing Ethnic Identity and Cultural Studies

Fast Facts

Sessions Offered:

Fall, Spring, Academic Year


Beijing, China




2.75 GPA

Application Due:


Program Cost:

Click the Application tab.

CIEE's Ethnic Identity and Cultural Studies study abroad program in Beijing, China, is designed for students with 0 to 4 semesters of Chinese, Tibetan or Uyghur language study and an interest in exploring China’s ethnic minorities and cultural identity. This program is ideal for students majoring in the social sciences with an interest in multi-ethnic China and modern life in Beijing and rural ethnic areas of China. The UI offers resident credit for this program as well as other CIEE programs in China.


The goal of this program is for participants to gain a critical understanding of the complex sociocultural, political, religious, and ecological issues of contemporary China. Special focus is on the ethnically diverse and culturally rich regions of Western China through language acquisition, cultural immersion, and ethnographic experiences. This goal is achieved through interdisciplinary courses, a ten-day fieldwork component to Lhasa and culturally Tibetan areas of Northwestern China, language coursework in Chinese, Tibetan, or Uyghur, weekly meetings with peer tutors, directed independent research, and individual exploration around Beijing and China.

Cultural Activities

CIEE offers guided field trips to historic and cultural sites in and around Beijing such as the National Minorities Park, Zhoukoudian, the original site of Peking Man, the Temple of Heaven, Drum Tower, Hutong cultural areas, 798 Art Zone, and various other places. There are additional site visits to supplement the area studies courses. Cultural activities may include group meals and cultural panels by local students. Although there are no formal community service activities on this program, volunteer opportunities can be arranged by CIEE staff. Extracurricular classes in Tibetan dance, Chinese calligraphy, visual arts, or film screening are arranged weekly by CIEE, depending on student interests and enrollment.

Each semester students take part in a ten day mid-semester field trip to Lhasa, capital of the Tibetan Autonomous Region, and rural Northwestern China. Students prepare for the experience by completing reading assignments and seminar discussions on the ethnic diversity of China, and prior to their departure, students also receive fieldwork assignments from both language and area studies instructors. The field trip typically includes homestay experiences with Tibetan farmers, nomads, and traditional artists in culturally Tibetan areas of Eastern Qinghai and Southern Gansu Provinces. Students engage in reflective discussions both during and following their trip to contextualize their broader experience living and studying in China. In case travel to Tibet is not possible, the program will only visit Tibetan regions within Mainland China.


Late August to mid December

For More Info

Please make an appointment with the program advisor by calling the Study Abroad office at 319-335-0353.

Minzu University of China

The Minzu University of China (MUC), formerly Central University for Nationalities, was founded in the 1950s. It is a unique community, where faculty and students from China’s 56 ethnic groups learn together. MUC is distinguished for teaching Chinese as a second language, as well as rare languages like Tibetan and Uyghur. It consists of ten colleges, among which the Colleges of Ethnology and Sociology, Fine Arts, Ethnomusicology, Tibetan Studies, and Uyghur Language and Literature are internationally renowned. The campus facilities include a concert hall, art gallery, ethnic minority museum, and a large library.


As the capital of the world’s most populous nation, Beijing is at the center of much that happens in China. It is a city of over 22 million people adapting as China emerges as a global player. Beijing reflects China’s long and evolving history and is home to some of the nation’s most well-known and culturally important sites such as the Great Wall, Forbidden City and Summer Palace. In addition to being the political and cultural center of China, Beijing is known as the birthplace of Chinese cinema and modern art, and has China’s largest concentration of top research institutions.


China, officially known as the People's Republic of China, is the second largest country in the world by land area. Its 1.3 billion citizens live mostly near the eastern seaboard. China has grown and evolved for over 5000 years and due to its growing economic power, is set to be one of the world’s superpowers during the 21st century.

Living Arrangements

Housing is included in the program fee. The College of International Education at MUC has recently completed a new housing unit with apartments for international faculty members and students. The West Gate International House is located right outside the west gate of the campus. Two CIEE students are assigned to an apartment, each of which has a bedroom, bathroom, living room, kitchen, washing machine, and wireless or broadband Internet access. The surrounding area of the West Gate International House is culturally vibrant, offering a variety of ethnic restaurants and bookstores. Students may not live outside of CIEE-arranged housing.

Meals are not included in the program fee and are the responsibility of the student. Meals on campus may be taken at the local student cafeteria, which provides food from the different regions of China, including food for Muslim students. There are also a number of excellent and inexpensive restaurants and noodle shops surrounding the campus.

Travel Arrangements

Airfare is not included in the program fee but students will work with CIEE to determine the best time for arrival. Students will also receive support from CIEE when applying for a Chinese visa. More information on travel arrangements will be provided by CIEE after the application cycle has concluded.


2.75 GPA; Previous coursework in anthropology, sociology, development, religious studies, or global studies recommended; 1 semester of college-level Chinese recommended


Costs for the spring 2013 session have yet to be calculated. Please continue to check back for more information.

Application Deadline

The online application for the spring session of this program will be available from 8/1/2013 to 10/11/2013 The application deadline for fall and academic year programs will be available from 12/1/2013 to 3/7/2014. Any supplemental materials are due to the study abroad office one week later.

How to Apply

Before starting an application for this program, students must meet with their study abroad advisor to discuss their program selection and receive information about supplemental materials that are required for an application. Appointments can be set up in person at 1111 UCC or over the phone at 319-335-0353.

Click here to apply.

Study Abroad will provide information regarding confirmation and preparation after the application cycle. Please contact the program advisor if you have questions - call the Study Abroad office at 319-335-0353 to schedule an appointment.

Acceptance Materials

Continue to check this section for updates.

Pre-departure Materials

Continue to check this section for updates.

Orientation Information

UI Study Abroad will offer a large group pre-departure orientation for all outgoing study abroad students. Activities may include meeting with study abroad returnees. CIEE will also run both a pre-departure orientation as well as an on-site orientation. In the pre-departure orientation, UI students will meet CIEE's resident director as well as other program participants. The on-site orientation will help students acclimate to life in their host city and in Chinese culture.

There are no photos available for this program yet. Do you have any photos to share with us? If you do, please contact us at:

1111 University Capitol Centre
The University of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1802

Phone: (319) 335-0353
Fax: (319) 335-0343