Shanghai, China

Chinese Language & Culture

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Information for term Chinese Language & Culture

Application deadline, and cost information.

Application Deadline

Rolling Admissions

Program Deadlines and Pricing Info

  • Dates: Aug 30 – Dec 12, 2020 (15 weeks)

Application Deadline

September 1, 2020

Program Deadlines and Pricing Info

  • Deadline: September 1, 2020
  • Dates: Feb 21 – Jun 5, 2021 (15 weeks)

Application Deadline

Rolling Admissions

Program Deadlines and Pricing Info

  • Dates: Aug 30, 2020 – Jun 5, 2021 (40 weeks)


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Study Mandarin and more in China’s most Westernized city.

Live and learn in bustling Shanghai, the fast-paced global hub known for its futuristic skyscrapers and fascinating mix of multicultural influences.

You’ll spend class time in intensive, college-level Mandarin classes, studying the language with native instructors. The rest of your time is for fun and practicing your language skills – on local streets, expert-guided excursions, and with your Chinese homestay as you prepare and share traditional meals, shop, relax, and learn local customs while joining in their daily routines.

Outside the classroom, you’ll get together with peers for organized activities like sports, calligraphy, dumpling-making, and Chinese trivia nights. Group excursions will take you to places including Zhujiajiao preserved water town and peaceful Chongming Island. Along with forging new friendships, you’ll rapidly improve your Mandarin conversational skills in an authentic setting – something you just can’t replicate back home in a language lab!

The Take-Aways

  • Language Proficiency

    You will receive 12 hours of intensive Chinese language instruction per week, plus 7 hours per week of tutoring and field practice.

  • Global Citizenship & Cultural Competence

    Through coursework and explorations you’ll become better equipped to interact with people from other cultures.

  • Certificate

    Earn a Certificate of Learning in Mandarin Chinese and completion of CIEE’s Global Competence course.

  • of alumni say their language skills improved

  • said they learned to interact with different cultural backgrounds

  • of participants said their level of independence increased


Location & Culture

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Cosmopolitan living in the bustling “Paris of the East.”

East meets West in Shanghai, a bustling world-class metropolis that still retains plenty of old-world charm. Along with historic temples and old-town markets, you’ll find a quirky mix of British and French architecture dating back to the international settlements of the 1920s and 1930s. Home to more than 23 million people, Shanghai now boasts the world’s second largest economy and some of its tallest skyscrapers.

For such a massive city, it’s surprisingly easy to navigate. Home to the fastest-growing rapid transit systems in the world, Shanghai’s urban centers are conveniently connected by elevated light rails, the world’s first commercial high-speed Maglev train, and 13 subway lines.

Window-shop in chic fashion districts rivaling those in Paris, or find pop-up boutiques, vintage clothing shops, and designer outlets for bargains. Enjoy a range of Western-style and traditional Chinese food including stir-fried noodles, fried rice, and baozi, which are steamed dumplings filled with meat and/or vegetables.

Daily Life

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Daily Life

"After my trip with CIEE I have definitely grown in ways I never could if I had stayed in the US."

Learn more about daily life on a high school study abroad program by reading our blog.


  • Housing

    Private bedroom in home of carefully screened homestay. Most of our homestays in Shanghai have hosted CIEE students for at least 3 years.

  • Local Support

    CIEE resident staff available 24/7.

Program Blogs

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Program Blogs


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Sample Activities & Excursions

  • Master new skills in martial arts like tai chi, or try your hand at Chinese painting or calligraphy in classes with your peers.
  • Take part in a “Master Chef” style cooking competition against your Chinese friends.
  • Gain an inside look and a new perspective on a guided city tour of Shanghai.
  • Learn about mile-high skyscrapers and more at the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall.
  • Visit an authentic tea house and awe-inspiring landmarks like the Jade Buddha Temple.

Your program fee also includes two day trips and one multiday excursion per semester hosted by CIEE staff, so you'll get the chance to take in several Chinese landmarks and hot spots. Examples of past trips have included:


Hop on a bus for a day trip to the ancient “water town” of Zhujiajiao. Established 1,700 years ago, this former trading hub has buildings dating back to the Ming and Qing dynasties. Traditionally, people and supplies were ferried on the small canals from house to house, passing under the 36 ancient stone bridges that are all still in use today. Gain insight into a bygone way of life and enjoy traditional Chinese food along scenic waterways while you’re there.


An ancient town on the Yangtze River, Wuzhen offers more than 6,000 years of history. Houses made of black bricks and gray tiles, white walls, canopied boats, and stone bridges will remind you of a Chinese ink wash drawing. As you roam the picturesque streets, take time to explore interesting museums, traditional eateries and beautiful temples.


One of China’s top tourist locations, this trip takes you through Yangzhou’s surreal and otherworldy landscapes. Take a bamboo-raft ride and visit famous gardens and ancient shrines. Examine famous Islamic and Buddhist relics.


Gorgeous scenic panoramas and shockingly green hills make Hangzhou a popular holiday spot in China. Visit the ancient pagodas beloved by past emperors and famous poets. Stroll willow-lined banks, mist-covered hills, and blissfully peaceful temples. You’ll find much to love in this ancient capital city!


Less popular with tourists, Nanjing offers an authentic Chinese experience. The former capital of the Republic of China boasts a magnificent city wall, classical republican-era buildings, forested parks, lakes, and rivers. Take time to enjoy the chic boulevards, adventurous food scene, and excellent museums.

Please note this list of activities is based on past programs and subject to change at CIEE's discretion to both adapt to local circumstances and participant feedback. Our goal when revising itineraries is always to enhance your experience. Every activity is designed to provide you with a deep immersion in your topic, local culture and sights. Get ready for maximum fun!

What People are Saying

  • Can I speak in Chinese? Actually, I've discovered that I'm quite the chatterbox. All in all, I consider my Chinese education thus far extremely good, and my only worry is not losing it while back in the land of English-speakers.

    Kate D., CIEE Gap Year Abroad alumna
  • I made relationships that I truly believe will outlast many lifetimes, experienced so many new religions and cultures, and just one other little thing – I learned some Chinese.

    Veronica L., CIEE Gap Year Abroad alumna
  • I've made friends from countries across the globe, including a few I swear I never knew existed. They fluently speak languages I've never even heard of before, and live lives so different from mine, I can barely imagine them. This is probably one of the most diverse environments I've ever been in, and I love it. I've traveled up and down and across this amazing country, and all around this bizarre and unique city I'm proud to call home. I've come quite far already in a very difficult language, and I've really been having a lot of fun.

    Kate D., CIEE Gap Year Abroad alumna
  • I recommend a GAP year with CIEE without reservation. I spent a year in Shanghai at the East China Normal University. The program and teachers were outstanding. After a year there I was able to manage daily conversation in Mandarin. Shanghai is safe and fascinating.

    Samantha D., CIEE Gap Year Abroad alumna

Eligibility & Fees

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Eligibility & Fees


Fall: Rolling Admissions
Spring: November 15
Contact CIEE for more information.


  • High school graduates in good academic standing.
  • Students must demonstrate, through the application and interview process, flexibility and maturity.
  • Students must be 17 years or older at the time of their departure.
  • No previous language experience required.

Application Fee


You can create a duo program by combining any two CIEE Gap Year Abroad semesters and get 10% off the second semester.

Apply to a Fall Semester or Academic Year term by our 5/1 priority deadline and get $400 off the cost of your program. Apply to a Spring Semester by our September 1 Priority Deadline and get $400 off the cost of your tuition.

Program fee includes iNext travel insurance. Full inclusions are found online.


Application Due

Start Date

End Date


Academic Year 2020 40 weeks Rolling Admissions Aug 30, 2020 Jun 5, 2021


Fall 2020 15 weeks Rolling Admissions Aug 30, 2020 Dec 12, 2020


Spring 2021 15 weeks Sep 1, 2020 Feb 21, 2021 Jun 5, 2021


Our Staff

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Ready to change your life?