Students who have studied Mandarin formally will be given a placement interview to determine their best point of entry from among the following:

  • Beginning of Summer Session 1 (CHIN 111)
  • Beginning of Summer Session 2 (CHIN 112)
  • Beginning of Fall, Freshman year (CHIN 211)
  • Post-Freshman Summer at UM Shanghai Program (CHIN 215)
  • Beginning of Fall, Sophomore year (CHIN 314)
  • Beginning of Fall, Junior year (CHIN 417)

Students who have studied Chinese before and have conflicts may skip one or two days in the first summer session. Others are strongly discouraged from missing any days. It is extremely easy to fall behind, and there is almost no way to catch back up, at least during the summer.

It is difficult to determine where one will place based on one’s years of formal study. Some students with 6 years have placed into first summer session, and others with two have placed into CHIN 314. Still, every year, one or more students place into our Shanghai program and begin their college careers in China with the rising sophomores.

We will contact students shortly after accepting them to set up a placement interview. Even if you are not ready to commit to the university, it is a good idea to do the placement. Knowing where you will start could affect your decision, especially since skipping ahead usually means saving money (see “Program Costs and Scholarships” section for more info).

Important considerations:
If we determine that you need to be interviewed for placement, you must be interviewed. Students cannot opt to start over without consultation and permission from our Chinese Flagship academic director. Students cannot skip beyond the first day of our pre-freshman summer coursework (CHIN 111 in Summer Session I) without the same consultation and permission. Chinese curricula differ widely. A student may be very strong in one or more areas (reading, writing, listening, or speaking) but very weak in others. If a student is too weak in one or more areas, their Flagship career could end very quickly. It is far better in most cases to go back and re-work their foundation before proceeding through our curriculum. Conversely, if a student is very strong in all areas, we always allow them to re-take the beginning levels. Their presence in the classroom can be very disruptive to the instructors and to other students. We do take a student’s preferences into consideration and grant them when possible. Please approach a placement interview with an open mind and a confidence that our faculty members are very experienced and have been placing students quite accurately for many years.

If you believe you need to be placed but have not heard from us, please contact us immediately at