BA in Chinese Language & Literature

Like all World Languages & Literatures (WLL) majors, Chinese Language & Literature majors generally begin with Leaving Home: Explorations in World Literature (CAS XL 100), a team-taught course in which students meet the WLL faculty through guest lectures and get oriented in the rich diversity of the world’s literary traditions. They begin Chinese language study as early as possible and complete at least three language courses beyond the fourth-semester level (CAS LC 212). Students also have the option of taking introductory as well as more advanced courses in Classical Chinese (with course options taught in Chinese or in English). Masterpieces of Chinese Literature (CAS LC 250) introduces students to major texts in English translation and can be taken early in the student’s program. Four additional courses in Chinese language, literature, and/or culture provide greater depth in areas of special interest to the student. One WLL elective focusing on language, literature, or culture from outside the Chinese-speaking world enhances regional, global, and/or historical comparison. Students wishing to explore more of WLL’s course offerings outside of Chinese may substitute an additional elective for one of their four courses in Chinese language, literature, or culture.

Majors reconvene with all WLL majors in the senior capstone seminar CAS XL 479, where they work with a faculty mentor on a final project using Chinese-language materials. The course provides students with structure and research guidance for developing and discussing their projects, while meetings with a faculty language mentor hone students’ advanced language skills as applied to the area of their research. Student presentations build oral communication skills and the ability to describe one’s work to others. Possible final projects could include a research paper on literature, film, or popular culture; an annotated translation or work of subtitling; a video essay; or a digital humanities project. Students producing excellent capstone projects will be encouraged to develop them into senior honors work.

Learning Outcomes

  • Advanced knowledge of major themes and genres in Chinese literature and culture from the beginnings to contemporary film and new media.
  • Critical thinking, communication, and writing skills within areas of content and cultural knowledge.
  • Familiarity with fundamental research skills for Chinese studies, including use of traditional and electronic sources.
  • Proficiency in speaking, reading, writing, and listening comprehension in Chinese at the intermediate-high level as measured by ACTFL guidelines.


All BU undergraduate students, including both entering first-year and transfer students, will pursue coursework in the BU Hub, the University’s general education program that is integrated into the entire undergraduate experience. BU Hub requirements can be satisfied in a number of ways, including coursework in and beyond the major as well as through cocurricular activities. Students majoring in Chinese Language & Literature will ordinarily, through coursework in the major, satisfy BU Hub requirements in Philosophical, Aesthetic and Historical Interpretation; Diversity, Civic Engagement and Global Citizenship; and Communication, along with requirements in the Intellectual Toolkit. Remaining BU Hub requirements will be satisfied by selecting from a wide range of available courses outside the major.

A total of eleven 4-credit courses is required, all completed with a grade of C or higher. (Courses taken at our study abroad program in Shanghai may be used to fulfill the Chinese language requirements.) 

  • CAS LC 250 Masterpieces of Chinese Literature
  • CAS XL 100 Explorations in World Literature: Leaving Home (or a substitute XL course for students declaring the major as juniors or seniors)
  • CAS XL 479 WLL Senior Seminar. A capstone course with a paper or translation project that makes use of Chinese-language sources.
  • Three upper-level Chinese language courses above CAS LC 212 (fourth semester), including CAS LC 311 (Third-Year Modern Chinese), and one 400-level course, chosen from:
    • CAS LC 311 Third-Year Modern Chinese 
    • CAS LC 312 (study abroad only)
    • CAS LC 313 Chinese through Theater and Performance
    • CAS LC 314 Introductory Classical Chinese for Students of East Asia (taught in English)
    • CAS LC 315 Introductory Classical Chinese (taught in Mandarin)
    • CAS LC 317 Chinese in Modern Society
    • CAS LC 319 Chinese in Intercultural Communication
    • CAS LC 320 Advanced Classical Chinese
    • CAS LC 322 Chinese for Professional Purposes
    • CAS LC 411 Fourth-Year Modern Chinese 1 (study abroad only)
    • CAS LC 412 Fourth-Year Modern Chinese 2 (study abroad only)
    • CAS LC 416 Chinese through Literary Masterpieces
    • CAS LC 420 Topics in Chinese through Media
    • CAS LC 480 Modern Chinese Literature and Film
    • CAS LC 486 Workshop on Translating and Interpreting Chinese
  • Four courses in Chinese language, literature, and/or culture above CAS LC 250. With advisor approval, up to two of these may be Chinese studies courses taken outside the WLL department, for example, in history, art history, the Pardee School, or political science.
  • One WLL elective course, chosen with the advisor’s approval, from all courses in WLL. May also be satisfied by CAS LX 250 Introduction to Linguistics or a higher-level linguistics course, or by a literature course in Romance Studies, English, or Classics. Students wishing to do more comparative work may count an additional WLL elective in place of one of the four courses in Chinese language, literature, and/or culture.

Placement Test

A placement test is required of all students whose most recent course in Chinese was taken while in high school or at a college other than Boston University and who wish to continue their study of this language here. Information about online testing is available at the World Languages & Literatures Department website.

Honors in the Major

To graduate with honors in the major, students will maintain a GPA in the major of at least 3.4 and will take one additional course above the 11 required for the major. This can be any CAS XL or TL course numbered 500 or above, or XL 401 or 402 (continuation of the thesis begun in the capstone seminar).