The objective of a major in Chinese is to gain advanced language skills and an understanding both of China's literary and cultural traditions and its modern and contemporary literature and culture. Oral proficiency is emphasized along with reading and writing. Upper-division classes develop analytical skills through the critical study of literary texts.
Departmental courses are often interdisciplinary in approach, introducing historical background, social, philosophical, political issues and other cultural concerns. Students are encouraged to broaden their knowledge of China by taking courses in other disciplines in the Asian Studies program. Chinese majors study for a semester or more in China; opportunities include programs in Beijing and Hangzhou.