Economic Transformation and Business Challenges in China

(in cooperation with the Alliance for Global Education)

Study China’s emergence as a world economic giant and its role as a major player in shaping the events of the 21st century.

Read Allyson Chew's essay in the Huffington Post about how participating in this program transformed her perspective on herself and on China.  Allyson is a member of the Class of 2013 at Mount Holyoke, and studied in Shanghai in Spring 2012.

See the MHC Events story  "Students Immersed in the Business of China" for additional student feedback.


"At SUFE and in Shanghai, Mount Holyoke students will see and experience China in fresh and exciting ways. They will have the chance to connect what they've learned in the classroom with real-world experiences and better appreciate China's continuing transformation in a globalizing world."

--Calvin Chen, Associate Professor of Politics

This program provides a unique opportunity for students to study the economic and cultural transformation of contemporary China and its implications for the world. In this spring semester program, based at Shanghai University of Finance and Economics (SUFE), students will have an unparalleled opportunity to study international business, economic development, and Chinese language in one of the most exciting cities in China.

Academic Program
Shanghai and SUFE
The Alliance for Global Education
Internship Course
Activities and Field Study Trip
Housing and Meals
Eligibility Requirements
Admission and Financial Aid

Academic Program

The program is designed for students interested in gaining a deeper understanding of China’s emergence as a political and economic powerhouse. It combines a rigorous curriculum with extensive opportunities for cultural immersion and experiential learning. The program is open to qualified students in all majors.   All of the program courses (except for China in the World and Chinese language) will count as 200-level credit toward an economics major or minor.  Successful completion of the program (including the Internship course) will fulfill the requirements for Mount Holyoke's Global Business Nexus.  Students who wish to use the credits toward other majors or minors should consult with the appropriate department chair at Mount Holyoke.

Students will enroll in the Alliance for Global Education International Business Program, where they will take courses in finance, economics, and politics; study Chinese language; and live with Chinese roommates. The required course China in the World will be taught exclusively for students in the Mount Holyoke program and for Chinese students studying at SUFE, a rare opportunity for dynamic and sustained cross-cultural exchange in the classroom.  All other courses will be with Alliance students from universities across the U.S.

Students will enroll in three or four courses focusing on politics, economics, and business, and an intensive Chinese language course.  Students who enroll in four courses, plus Chinese, will receive 18 credits toward their Mount Holyoke degree, rather than the usual limit of 16 credits for a semester abroad.  Students who prefer to choose three courses plus Chinese, for a total of 15 credits, will receive 16 credits at Mount Holyoke.  Courses are taught in English (except for Chinese language) by faculty members from SUFE or Fudan University.

The program also offers ample opportunities for experiential learning about China and its rapidly changing business environment through company visits, other study trips, and possibilities for internships.

Shanghai skyline

Shanghai and SUFE

Shanghai’s position at the mouth of the Yangtze River contributed to the development of trade with the West and its historic role as one of the most important financial and business centers of Asia (“the Wall Street of the East”). Today this metropolis of more than 20,000,000 people is the largest city in China, and it is once again one of the great trading and financial centers of Asia.  Shanghai University of Finance and Economics (SUFE) was founded in 1917 and is the number one ranked finance and economics university in China.

The Alliance for Global Education

The Alliance for Global Education, LLC, is a division of the Institute for Study Abroad, Butler University, and offers study abroad programs in China and India. The Alliance's on-site bilingual team staffs the International Business Program.   Students will participate fully in the Alliance program and activities, and will have full access to the Alliance staff and resources.

Chinese language class


Students on the Mount Holyoke program will have the unique opportunity to interact in the classroom with their Chinese peers in the required course “China in the World.” This course, designed with input from Mount Holyoke faculty and taught by a SUFE faculty member, is only open to students participating in the Mount Holyoke program and to Chinese SUFE students.

China in the World (required, 3 credits)

There is a wide-ranging debate on how China’s economic rise is changing the global economic and political architecture. In this course, students will study the determinants of China’s foreign policy, the impact of China’s rise on geopolitics, the global implications of China’s high and growing demand for natural resources, and the implications of China’s competitiveness in a broad range of activities for developed countries on the one hand and developing countries on the other.

China: Economic Giant (required, 3 credits)

The course provides an interpretive survey of China’s emergence as a global economic power. Students will analyze the phenomenal changes in the Chinese economy after reform measures started in 1978: economic growth, structural changes in industry and agriculture, and consumption and welfare implications for the Chinese population. Students will discuss the pursuit of full integration of China with the global system of free trade and investment flows under the World Trade Organization. Particular emphasis will be given to the contributions of Shanghai and the Yangtze River delta, the single most important economic and financial hub of China. The course culminates in a required capstone research project, in which students delve into a particular area of interest over the course of the semester.

Chinese Language (required, 6 credits)

Students will take a placement exam upon their arrival, and will be placed into the appropriate language level.

China as a Global Market class

Elective courses

Students will choose one or two additional courses from the electives offered by the Alliance Program. We strongly encourage students who have at least three semesters of Chinese to choose the Internship or Business Chinese.  Each course is worth three credits. Elective courses typically include:

  • China as a Global Market
  • International Money and Finance
  • Managing Enterprises in China
  • International Trade: A Chinese Perspective
  • Internship
  • Business Chinese

Students in front of the Pearl Tower

"The SUFE program will give Mount Holyoke students an opportunity to learn firsthand about China’s dynamic business environment and its emergence as a global economic power. The SUFE program also will support the Nexus program at Mount Holyoke by facilitating global engagement and helping our students make connections between their liberal arts education and their career goals."

--Ying Wang, Associate Professor of Asian Studies

Internship Course

Students with at least three semesters of Chinese may apply to participate in an internship. Interns are placed in Chinese, joint-venture, or foreign-owned companies. Interns spend 10-12 hours per week (or 120 hours a semester) at the internship site and complete a research project that includes a 5,000 word paper and oral presentation. Internships are supervised by a faculty advisor who meets with students 4 times per semester and schedules individual meetings to discuss students' research project plans. Mount Holyoke does not give academic credit for internships, but students will receive credit for the internship course. 

Activities and Field Study Trip

The program offers an exciting array of excursions, events, and lectures designed to enhance students’ understanding of China and the historical and modern influences that impact its culture and people. Students will visit the famous Yuyuan Garden, the historic Bund along the Huangpu River, and the former French concession. Other activities typically include company visits to the Baoshan District, cultural performances, museum visits, special lectures, visits to artists’ studios and markets, and architectural walking tours.

All students will also participate in the week-long Field Study Trip to Guangdong Province and Hong Kong. Dramatically influenced by Hong Kong, Guangdong is the most affluent province in China. The high level of economic integration between the Pearl River Delta and Hong Kong has led Guangdong to play a leading role in China’s economic growth.

Specific site visits and itineraries may change.

Housing and Meals

Students will share double rooms with Chinese roommates in Tonghe International Apartments, a 10-15 minute walk from classrooms. Living with Chinese roommates helps students get to know Chinese students on campus quickly and enhances opportunities to engage in language and cultural exchange with their new friends. Chinese roommates are invited to attend many of the program’s activities.

Students may eat in the new cafeteria on campus, in local restaurants, or prepare meals on their own.  

Eligibility Requirements

The Mount Holyoke program is open to women and men from the Five College Consortium. Students must have a grade point average of at least 3.0, and must have completed the following courses prior to arrival in China:

  • Two economics courses, or one business course and one economics course.
  • At least one semester of Chinese language.
  • An “Introduction to Finance” course, if the student wants to enroll in the “International Finance”course in the program.

Admission and Financial Aid

Mount Holyoke students must submit the Request to Study Abroad (which incorporates the Laurel Fellowship application); see Deadlines for details. Students from other colleges should contact the McCulloch Center to request an application.  Spaces (and Laurel Fellowships) are still available for Spring 2015; the application deadline is September 30.  The early application deadline for Spring 2016 is March 31, 2015; we will continue to consider applications for that semester until September 30, 2015, provided that space is available, but we encourage all students to apply by the March 31 deadline to secure a space.

Mount Holyoke students who are eligible for need-based financial aid at Mount Holyoke are required to apply for aid from the Alliance for Global Education and to apply for Mount Holyoke’s Laurel Fellowships. Eligible students who do not receive aid from the Alliance sufficient to meet their demonstrated need are guaranteed Laurel Fellowships. Five College students should consult their home campus study abroad advisors for information about financial aid.


The program fee for Spring 2014 is $16,265; the fee for Spring 2015 will be announced later in the year. The fee covers tuition and fees, pre-departure materials, guidance with applying for a visa, orientation, housing, weekly activities, textbooks, on-site support and advising, a one-week Field Study Trip and a weekend Field Study Trip. Students are responsible for round-trip airfare, meals, passport and visa fees, additional travel, and any other miscellaneous and personal expenses.

For More Information

If you would like to speak with someone about the Mount Holyoke Program in Shanghai, please contact:

Joanne M. Picard Dean of International Studies

Mount Holyoke faculty meet with colleagues at SUFE