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CIEE Beijing Sustainable Development

Fast Facts

Sessions Offered:

- Fall, Spring, Academic Year


- Beijing, China


- Resident

- 15-18s.h./sem


- 2.75 GPA

- No language requirement

Application Due:

- Fall Semester: 3/15

- Spring Semester: 10/15

Program Cost:

- Click the Application tab.

Student holding a child out in the steppes of desolate Western China.

Out on the Steppes

CIEE's Sustainable Development study abroad program in Beijing, China is a must for anyone interested in sustainability. By enrolling in this program, you will gain critical insight into the field of sustainability in contemporary China.

The program is based on a model that articulates the critical necessity to balance environmental, sociocultural, and economic needs in development, you will—through interdisciplinary coursework, experiential learning, and independent research—use all of China as your laboratory to gain an understanding of emerging topics in the field of sustainability studies. You will also be able to consider the relevance of sustainability for the wellbeing of human societies, and for the potential continued benefits from economic growth long-term, for not only China, but for the entire planet. The UI offers resident credit for this incredible program.


Students enroll in a curriculum that encompasses a range of sociocultural, political, religious, economic, and ecological issues. In addition to optional language learning in Chinese, Tibetan, and Uyghur, you’ll look at environmental conditions and public perception in China, ethnic identity, and religion, and study ethnographic methodology that will help direct both group and independent research. The staff are all incredible and will help you achieve your individual goals.

Cultural Activities and Excursions

Incredible rising rocks from earth's floor.  Empty space in very rural China.

Explore China

Guided visits are organized to historic and cultural sites or events in and around Beijing, and might include traditional sites such as the Great Wall, Zhoukoudian, the original site of Peking Man, Temple of Heaven, Drum Tower, or Hutong cultural areas. Visits may also include contemporary events such as music theater and rock music performances, modern art shows, and interactive or service oriented visits to sites like orphanages or institutes for autistic children.

Field Study Experiences

Field studies are one of the most incredible aspects of this program. Students will enjoy two extended excursions to locations outside Beijing. These trips to rural, frequently minority, culturally-rich communities typically include homestay experiences where you’ll be encouraged to participate in local activities such as harvesting, thrashing grain, small service projects, and teaching English to local children.


Fall Semester is from late August through late December

Spring Semester is from early February through early June

For More Info

Please make an appointment with the program advisor by calling the Study Abroad office at 319-335-0353, or you can e-mail the program advisor with general questions.

Minzu University of China

Campus of Minzu, with a lake and traditional pagoda


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.

Housing and Meals

Housing is included in the study abroad program fee. This program offers two housing options:

International Student Apartments

The College of International Education at MUC has a new housing complex with apartments for international faculty members and students called the West Gate International House, located right outside the west gate of campus. Two CIEE students are assigned to each apartment which includes a bedroom, bathroom, living room, kitchen, washing machine, and Internet access via the MUC campus network. The surrounding area of the West Gate International House is culturally vibrant, offering a variety of ethnic restaurants, shops, bookstores, and even a night market.


Homestays are located within 45 minutes from campus by public transportation and have two or three bedrooms. Students have their own room and share the living room, kitchen, and bathroom (in some host families, students may have their own bathroom). Students are invited to family meals typically four times during the week, but should budget for other meals, including lunch on campus and meals not eaten with host families. Chinese family members speak Chinese only. This option is highly recommended for students who want to establish relationships with Chinese people, live in an entirely Chinese language environment, and to make rapid progress in Chinese language and culture study.


Meals are not included in the program fee for students living in the international student apartments and are the responsibility of the student. Students living with Chinese host families share occasional meals together but should budget for others. Meals on campus may be at the local student cafeteria, which provides food from the different regions of China, including halal 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.


This program is open to all UI students who are in both good academic and also disciplinary standing. Applicants must also meet the minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75. Previous coursework in sustainability, environmental studies, global studies, anthropology, or sociology is helpful but not required. No language prerequisite for Chinese language study.

Eligibility Policy

It is the University of Iowa’s policy that all students who study abroad must be in both good academic standing and also good disciplinary standing. Students who, even after being accepted into a program, are put on either academic and/or disciplinary probation for any period of time overlapping with the study abroad program dates are ineligible to study abroad.

In these cases, students must forfeit their acceptance and will NOT be allowed to study abroad. Any student that must forfeit their acceptance and/or attendance on a study abroad program due to a probationary status is wholly responsible for any and all financial expenses incurred.

Program Cost Sheet

The official cost sheet for this program has yet to be calculated, but will be posted here when it is (if you need accurate costs and they have yet to be posted, please contact the program advisor by calling 319-335-0353 to request specific details). These documents outline the total estimated costs associated with participating in this program and can be used for financial aid purposes. It includes fees charged on students’ U-Bill, as well as out-of-pocket expenses. Actual out-of-pocket expenses will vary from individual to individual. Quoted estimates are conservatively high, yet realistic.

The cost sheet includes the Study Abroad Administrative Fee and Mandatory Iowa Regents CISI Travel Insurance. Please see the respective websites for further details. If the fee is inclusive of UI tuition, it is calculated by Current Tuition. Please contact your study abroad advisor with questions regarding this cost sheet – call 319-335-0353 to schedule an appointment.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Most financial aid (scholarships, grants, and loans) is applicable to study abroad programs. Please check the Study Abroad website for information on financial aid and how it may be applied to studying abroad. You are also encouraged to speak with someone at the Office of Student Financial Aid to explore financial aid options.

Scholarship Opportunities exist for study abroad participants. Please explore Study Abroad’s websites for UI Study Abroad Scholarship Opportunities, and Non-UI External Awards.

Accepted Summer applicants are automatically entered in a drawing for one of six $500 scholarships awarded to University of Iowa students from CIEE. Scholarships will be directly applied to students’ U-Bills. Please ask your study abroad advisor for further details.

Accepted Semester applicants are automatically entered in a drawing for one of fifteen $1000 scholarships awarded to University of Iowa students from CIEE. Scholarships will be directly applied to students’ U-Bills. Please ask your study abroad advisor for further details.

Withdrawal policy

After applying for a Study Abroad Program, notice of withdrawal must be made in writing to University of Iowa Study Abroad. The date on which the letter or e-mail message is received is the date by which your costs will be calculated. If for any reason you withdraw after the confirmation deadline and before or during the course of the program, the amount/percentage shown in the following chart represents what you will be required to pay to the University of Iowa.

Date of Withdrawal Student Financial Responsibility
After Confirmation of Participation is signed Administrative fee: $400
Portion of program fee: As determined by the program contract with CIEE
After Program Start Date Administrative fee: 100%
Portion of program fee: As determined by the program contract with CIEE

Consult with your Study Abroad advisor for any clarification about fees and billing. Note that when you withdraw from a program, any money already paid directly to a program provider and/or a host university will potentially be forfeited. Check with your specific provider/host university for details. Additional penalties for cancellation of airline tickets may also apply. Check with your airline for further details.

Application Deadline

The online application for the Spring Session will be available from 8/1 to 10/15

The online application for the Fall and Academic Year Sessions will be available from 1/1 to 3/15

Any supplemental materials are due to the study abroad office one week later

How to Apply

Click here for UI's online study abroad application.

Note, students must fill out two applications. In addition to UI's online study abroad application, you will also be required to fill out CIEE's online application. BEFORE applying to CIEE, students MUST make an appointment with the study abroad advisor for this program. Please call 319-335-0353 to schedule an appointment.

Orientation Information

Accepted applicants will be required to attend two orientations (one pre-departure hosted by the University of Iowa, and one upon arrival by CIEE onsite), as well as participate in an ongoing online pre-departure orientation hosted by CIEE.

CIEE Online Pre-Departure Orientation

You'll begin your study abroad experience in Beijing even before leaving home by participating in a CIEE online pre-departure orientation. Meeting with students online, the resident director shares information about the program and site, highlighting issues that alumni have said are important, and giving you time to ask questions. The online orientation allows you to connect with others in the group, reflect on what you want to get out of the program, and learn what others in the group would like to accomplish. CIEE’s aim for the pre-departure orientation is simple—to help you understand more about the program, and to identify your objectives so that you arrive well-informed and return home having made significant progress towards your goals.

On-site Orientation

A mandatory orientation session conducted at the beginning of the program introduces you to the country, culture, and academic program, and provides practical information about living in Beijing. Among other activities, you'll tour the National Library and Zizhuyuan Park to familiarize yourself with these nearby resources. You'll also take language placement exams during this time. Ongoing support is provided on an individual and group basis by CIEE staff throughout the program.

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