The Yenching Academyopen
Download File: YCA Brochure
Successful candidates have outstanding academic backgrounds and broad curiosity. They demonstrate strong motivation and potential to become leaders in their chosen fields. Candidates’ personal statements should offer specific and persuasive explanations of how they could benefit from studying in our interdisciplinary China Studies program. Evaluation criteria include academic merit, leadership potential, international experience, and long-term aspirations.
An Admissions Committee composed of Peking University faculty screens candidates’ completed applications. Selected candidates are then invited to interview with our Committee. Mainland Chinese students interview in person. For international students, most interviews are via Skype, but candidates who happen to be in Beijing at the right time may interview in person.
Finalists from Mainland China will interview over the summer or in September. Those from the U.S. and Canada will interview in late December and throughout January. Finalists from all other countries and regions will be interviewed in late January and throughout February. We will contact finalists to schedule interviews approximately one week before their interview dates.
Candidates from Mainland China will receive admissions decisions no later than October. We make admissions offers to international students by early March. Those who accept our offers are then approved through an internal process at Peking University, and receive their official acceptance letters the summer before enrolling.
We give preference to candidates age 25 or younger as of August 31 of the year they wish to enroll. For students from countries or regions with mandatory military service, the age preference is 27 years old or younger. We give consideration to candidates who are slightly older, but to date, no person over the age of 28 has been admitted to the program. Note that requirements vary for Mainland Chinese candidates. (See “What are the eligibility requirements for PRC passport holders?”)
International, Macao, Hong Kong, and Taiwan candidates holding a master’s degree are welcome to apply. Roughly 20% of 2017 Cohort Yenching Scholars have previous master’s degrees. Those who hold graduate degrees are not favored in the selection process. Note that requirements vary for Mainland Chinese candidates. (See “What are the eligibility requirements for PRC passport holders?”)
We welcome scholars from a wide range of academic fields, and value the unique perspectives that students from various disciplines bring to our program. While candidates are not required to have formally studied China or the Chinese language in the past, they must be strongly interested in doing so at the Yenching Academy, and should articulate a study plan related to their career goals.
PRC passport holders are recruited according to the Chinese Ministry of Education’s regulations; therefore, they must qualify for exemption from China’s Graduate Entrance Examination based on their universities’ recommendations. Only certain universities have the privilege to recommend; a list of eligible universities is available here: http://www.chinakaoyan.com/info/article/id/116261.shtml. Those who do not currently attend a university in Mainland China do not qualify for the exemption, and thus, cannot be considered for the Yenching Academy.
The Yenching Academy annually enrolls approximately 125 new students from both China and abroad. International students and students from Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan comprise roughly 80% of the student body. Among them, students from the U.S. and Canada are roughly 30%; students from Europe 30%; students from other Asian countries 20%; and students from the rest of the world 20%.
To prepare for the Skype interview, you should choose a location with a strong internet connection and ample lighting. You may want to use wired internet for a more stable connection. Please test Skype before the interview to ensure that your microphone and camera are working properly. We suggest using ear buds with a built-in microphone. You should be ready at your computer 15 minutes before the appointed time, open the Skype application, and check your email for any updates. Please wait for the Academy to call you.
Our first cohort scholars have taken a range of paths. Roughly 30% continued to Ph.D. level studies at esteemed universities, while others are employed by the Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations, Google, Aurecon South Africa, The Associated Press, Panasonic, General Electric, HNA Group, the Singapore Police Force, Bank of Korea, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, and more.
All admitted students receive the Yenching Scholarship, which covers tuition, accommodation in the Yenching Academy House, a travel stipend for one round-trip journey to and from Beijing, basic medical insurance, and a living stipend adequate to cover campus living costs and expenses related to field studies.
Scholars live in newly renovated single rooms in the Shaoyuan 6 dormitory on Peking University’s campus. Most scholars are placed in two-bedroom suites, sharing a bathroom with one person of the same gender.
Upon graduating from the Yenching Academy, each scholar receives a Master’s diploma in China Studies issued by Peking University. The specific text and degree type corresponds to the scholar’s chosen research area: Master of Law in China Studies (Politics & International Relations); Master of Law in China Studies (Law & Society); Master of Economics in China Studies (Economics & Management); Master of History in China Studies (History & Archaeology); Master of Literature in China Studies (Literature and Culture); or Master of Philosophy in China Studies (Philosophy & Religion). This is in accordance with the Chinese Ministry of Education’s curricular system, which designates 13 disciplinary categories for master's diplomas: philosophy, economics, law, education, literature, history, science, engineering, agronomy, medicine, military science, management science, and art.
Fellowships for international students are for twelve months, during which they complete their coursework and may write their theses. Those in good standing may extend the fellowship for a second year in Beijing, to complete thesis writing and defense. The fellowship for Mainland Chinese, Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan students is for two years in residence. Additional funding, in the form of research or teaching assistantships, will be available for students in good standing who remain on campus for a second year.
Degrees are granted after the completion of all coursework and satisfactory defense of the thesis. They are awarded in January and July of each year.
All Yenching Scholars write a Master's thesis under the guidance of an advisor and defend it orally before an academic committee. Mainland Chinese, Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan students must complete thesis defense in person. International students who leave Beijing before they have completed their oral defenses may complete thesis defense via Skype, with the permission of their advisors. Scholars must complete and defend their theses within two years of enrollment.
All students are required to take the following three courses: The Topics in China Studies Lecture Series offers expert perspectives on a broad range of China-related issues. China in Transition is a team-taught course about China’s post-1978 development from the perspectives of the economy, society, governance, law, and environmental policy. The weeklong Field Study Trip to Xi’an focuses on the rich history of this former dynastic capital.
Students are free to select elective courses from any of the six research areas (see above). Choice of thesis topic and advisor will determine which of these areas is noted alongside “China Studies” on the Master’s diploma.
All international students study the Chinese language, unless they are already skilled enough to take Peking University courses taught in Chinese. To graduate, scholars must complete at least 30 academic credits, and write and orally defend a Master’s thesis.
Each Yenching Scholar selects one of six research areas in the field of China Studies, and writes a thesis with guidance from a faculty advisor. A scholar’s choice of research area does not affect course selection requirements, but will determine the type of Master’s diploma issued upon graduation (see below).
Research areas are as follows:
• Economics and Management
• History and Archaeology
• Philosophy and Religion
• Politics and International Relations
• Law and Society
• Literature and Culture
The Yenching Academy's calendar is aligned with that of Peking University. Major holidays include Chinese National Day (a week-long break around October 1) and the Chinese New Year (a month-long break between the fall and spring semesters, in January and/or February). The academic year begins in early September, and Spring Semester ends in early July.
Updated course information will be provided to incoming Yenching Scholars before they begin their Fall Semester studies.
If you are unable to attend the Yenching Academy due to an unforeseen and unavoidable conflict, you may apply for a deferral. Deferrals will not be granted to those who choose another program, job, or internship.
You are welcome to reapply. It is important that you can explain how you have used the intervening year to strengthen your skill sets and work toward your career goals.