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Economic Transformation and Business Challenges in China


In cooperation with Institute for Study Abroad at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, this program provides a unique opportunity to study the economic and cultural transformation of contemporary China and its implications for the world while living in one of the most exciting cities in China. The program provides opportunities to travel, do an internship, and build relationships with Chinese residents. All components of the program work to build a strong understanding of Mandarin and international business.  Offered each spring semester, the program is based at Shanghai University of Finance and Economics (SUFE).

Students have the opportunity to study China’s emergence as a world economic giant and its role as a major player in shaping the events of the 21st century.

Allyson Chew ’13 and Nana Esi Hammah ’14 discuss their experiences taking part in the Shanghai program. Watch the video.


“Studying abroad allowed me to grow academically as I became conversationally fluent in Mandarin; socially as I made new friends; culturally as I learned more about my Chinese culture and heritage; and personally, because it had never crossed my mind that I could come to love living and working in a developing country.” — Allyson Chew ’13, in a Huffpost blog Studying Abroad: A Life-Changing Experience

“What I got from this experience was a well-rounded view of life in Shanghai, a city that is fast-developing and economically thriving. Learning from the Chinese professors and living and studying in Shanghai gives you insights about China’s economic growth and inside knowledge about the country that does not reach beyond China.” — Linda Luo ’13

“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

"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

About Shanghai, SUFE and The Institute for Study Abroad

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 Institute for Study Abroad (IFSA) was founded in 1988 on the campus of Butler University as a provider of study abroad programming for U.S. undergraduates. IFSA operates independently as a non-profit organization and maintains a close connection with Butler University. Students will participate fully in IFSA program and activities, and will have full access to IFSA staff and resources.

Academic Program

The program is designed for students interested in gaining a deeper understanding of China’s emergence as a political and economic powerhouse, and 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 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), generally 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 internships.


Photo of a Chinese Language class in Shanghai

Chinese Language Class

Photo of a China as a Global Market class

China as a Global Market 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.

Required Courses

(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.

This course is primarily intended to lay out the foundation and also provide an informed perspective about the evolving process of China’s economic transition and development during the past three decades. In the semester, we will analyze the Chinese economy from both economic and political perspectives, cover issues at both micro- and macro-level, and combine theoretical and empirical aspects.

Learn more.

Chinese Language courses are offered at multiple levels. A placement exam during on-site orientation determines each student's appropriate language level. Learn more.

Elective courses

Students will choose one or two additional courses from the electives offered by the Alliance Program. We strongly encourage students to choose the Internship or Business Chinese.  Interns are placed in Chinese, joint-venture, or foreign-owned companies.  They spend 10-12 hours per week (or 120 hours a semester) at the internship site and complete a research project that includes a paper and oral presentation.  Mount Holyoke accepts credit for the internship course.

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

Learn more.

Activities and Field Study Trip

Photo of students in front of the Pearl Tower in Shanghai

Students in front of the Pearl Tower in Shanghai

Photo of the Hong Kong skyline

All students participate in a week-long field study trip to Guangdong Province and Hong Kong

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


The Mount Holyoke program is open to women and men from the Five College Consortium who have a grade point average of at least 3.0 and 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.

Mount Holyoke students apply by submitting the Request to Study Abroad in MyMountHolyoke. The early application deadline is March 31 each year for the following spring, but we continue to accept applications, including for Laurel Fellowships, through September 30 provided that space is available. See Deadlines for details.  

Five College students should contact the McCulloch Center to request an application, and consult their home campus study abroad advisors about credit transfer and financial aid.

Fees and Financial Aid

The program fee for Spring 2020 is $17,090; the fee for Spring 2021 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. Round-trip airfare, meals, passport and visa fees, additional travel, and any other miscellaneous and personal expenses are not included.

Eligible Mount Holyoke students who are accepted to the program are guaranteed Laurel Fellowships (need-based financial aid).  For students who are approved for Laurel Fellowships, the budget for financial aid will include the program fee and allowances toward airfare, meals, books, and personal expenses.

More Information

If you would like to speak with someone about the Mount Holyoke Program in Shanghai, please contact April Stroud, Director of Study Abroad

Mount Holyoke faculty meet with colleagues at SUFE