Live, Work, Study, Travel


The product of a nearly two-century encounter between China and the West, Shanghai is a cosmopolitan Chinese city with a vibrant international culture. The city has a rich historic legacy of buildings and institutions from its early-twentieth century colonial era, as well as one of most eye-popping futuristic urban landscapes in the world today. Students in our program live in comfortable accommodations near our partner university. Nearby are subway lines and bus lines taking them to any part of the city. The city boasts the world’s longest urban rail transport system, which makes it easy to get around. Subways are clean, safe, convenient, and easy to navigate, as are public buses. Taxis are fairly inexpensive and are a great and safe way to get around town at night. For nearly a century, the city has also been infamous for its nightlife. Students may choose to visit a Chinese teahouse or opera house one evening, and enjoy a world-class dance club or live music bar the next. Shanghai also features some of the best cuisine from China and abroad, and is quickly emerging as one of the world’s great culinary cities. With its glitzy shopping malls and massive department stores, Shanghai is a shopper’s mecca and just about everything one needs can be found here. Costs for food, drink, entertainment and commodities range widely catering to just about every budget. With its conveniences, amenities, public transportation, and vibrant urban culture, Shanghai is emerging as an international playground and working environment for young people from all over the world. No matter what level their Chinese language abilities have reached, people from all parts of the globe now find this city an inviting and welcoming environment.

Anthony cooking lesson

BU Shanghai students have a Chinese cooking lesson with local chef Anthony Zhao


Shanghai has the historic legacy of being THE city where Chinese and Westerners came together to create an international business culture for China. While the Communist Revolution of 1949 changed all that, since the “Opening and Reforms” era of the 1980s, Shanghai has once again re-emerged as China’s leading city for international business. The city boasts a highly educated workforce and most white collar workers speak some English and have an international outlook. Students in our program can choose from a wide variety of internships in the fields of finance, commerce, IT, entertainment, hospitality, PR, advertising, and many others. Some of our students have worked for NGOs, and those with an IR focus have worked at Chinese think tanks such as SASS. We also have a strong relationship with the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) and the US Commercial Service, a training ground for future foreign service officers and diplomats. For those who are thinking about starting their own businesses in the future, Shanghai offers ample opportunities for young, eager entrepreneurs, and there are many rags-to-riches stories of people who started up small businesses here and are now multi-millionaires. Though as hectic as a city of 20 million can be, traveling to and from work is greatly eased by the excellent transportation network that the city now boasts.

BU on Great Wall

BU Shanghai students visit the Great Wall north of Beijing


Our students study Chinese at all levels of ability. Our intensive language program provides the equivalent of one year of language training, both spoken and written. Small class sizes mean close attention from the Chinese language teachers, who actively drill students in practicing new vocabulary and sentence constructions. A focus on practical knowledge enables students to quickly reach a level of oral proficiency whereby they can use their language skills on an everyday basis. Students in our program experience a rapid increase in their ability to communicate effectively with other Chinese speakers. In addition to language training, students also choose from a variety of courses that have been approved by BU faculty. These include courses on the Chinese business environment suitable for management majors as well as courses in Chinese history, society and culture. Courses are taught by both Chinese and western faculty who are used to teaching American university students. In addition to these classes, internship students take an internship seminar run by the Programs Director, which facilitates their learning experience and enhances their ability to make the most out of their internships. All in all, students will take a full 16-credit course load while spending a semester in Shanghai, and these credits are transferable to their home university.

BU Shanghai in BJ

BU Shanghai students, staff, and Chinese teacher at the Soluxe Courtyard Hotel in Beijing


While based in Shanghai, we believe that it is important for our students to grasp the enormous scope and variety of China. Therefore we go to great lengths to provide outstanding field trips for our students, taking them deep into the interior of this vast country and exposing them to rural and urban environments, as well as precious sites of cultural and historic heritage. Field trips in previous semesters have included visits to Beijing, Datong, Moganshan, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Huangshan (Yellow Mountain), and Yunnan. Heritage sites that we have visited include the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven in Beijing; the Wooden Pagoda, Hanging Monastery, and Yungang Grottoes of Shanxi Province; and many others. Each semester we plan to visit new places that we have not gone to with previous student groups so as to keep the traveling experience fresh and exciting for all of us. Students may also opt to travel on their own during breaks and holidays. Once inside the country, students may travel anywhere that is safe and legally permissible. Students wishing to conduct international travel elsewhere in Asia may do so but only with the appropriate visa allowing them re-entry into China.


BU Shanghai students pose with local university students in front of the Nine Dragons Screen in Datong

Students who join our program will experience the vibrant cultural, intellectual, and international business environment of Shanghai while also exploring the vastness of China’s geographical landscape and its rich cultural heritage. Welcome to our program!