Prepare for a Variety of International Careers with Chinese Studies

As the home of about 1.28 billion people, China is the most heavily populated country in the world. It also has the second largest economy, and it’s one of the largest United States trading partners. This should come as no surprise, especially since you’ve probably noticed that many of the items you purchase in the U.S. are made in China. 

If you’re considering a career oriented toward international studies of any kind, Chinese studies is a valuable way to get started. College graduates who are able to speak Mandarin will have distinct career advantages: they will be in high demand in the job market, are likely to earn higher salaries, and will have more opportunities to travel and form important overseas connections. This can help Black students to reduce or close the racial salary and wealth gap, gain a greater ability to invest in their communities, and inspire others to do the same.

Students who pursue a degree or courses in Chinese studies can graduate with the following valuable skills:

  • Proficiency in Mandarin or Cantonese
  • Ability to work with diverse groups of people
  • Understanding of China’s role in the global economy
  • Critical thinking and analytical skills
  • Experience traveling abroad
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Cultural literacy

If you’re unsure of the exact career you want to pursue, consider Chinese studies courses as part of a variety of international studies program types, which are offered by many HBCUs:

  • Administration and development management
  • Agriculture
  • Business
  • Communications
  • Legal studies
  • Nutrition
  • Organizational leadership
  • International relations and security studies
  • Sports
  • Government
Clark Atlanta Student at the Great Wall of China

Clark Atlanta student at the Great Wall of China

Even if you’re not planning a career strictly focused on international studies or relations, knowing a Chinese language (Mandarin and Cantonese are the most widely used) can make your job application stand out among hundreds of others. There are plenty of situations in which you may find yourself in communication with a business partner in China, regardless of your chosen industry.

Whatever your interest, students who plan to pursue careers in this field will need to enroll in a bachelor’s degree program in Chinese Studies or Asian Studies. These programs include a wide range of related course subjects, such as:

  • Mandarin language courses
  • Chinese history
  • Chinese culture
  • Chinese business
  • Chinese politics
  • Classical Chinese fiction
  • Chinese art
  • Law and society in China
  • Chinese calligraphy
  • International relations
  • Gender roles in China
  • Chinese philosophy

Careers in Chinese Studies

Graduates in this field may pursue careers in a wide variety of capacities. Some of these include:

  • Cultural consulting
  • State department or government work
  • Primary or secondary education
  • Journalism
  • International business
  • Translation
  • Interpretation
  • Trade
  • Green and alternative energy industries
  • Tourism
  • Public health


Want to learn more about this possible career path and college major? Have questions about which UNCF colleges and universities offer programs in Chinese Studies? Looking for help with financing this degree? 

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Preparing for Success

If you’re thinking of pursuing this path, there are steps you can take to set yourself up for success. In high school, consider taking classes such as Mandarin or Cantonese if they are offered as well as classes related to your specific interest (business, education, agriculture, governments, etc). If you can, join a society, club, or program that focuses on international exchange students or Asian cultures.

As you explore the Chinese and Asian Studies programs and courses at various colleges, it’s good to keep some practical questions in mind: Does the degree or program offered focus on the parts of the discipline that interest you? Does it allow you to specialize in your particular area of interest? Will the department support you in finding and securing an internship? Does the department offer opportunities outside of class (such as exchange or study abroad programs)?

UNCF Schools to Consider

The only UNCF-affiliated HBCU to offer both a major and minor specifically in Chinese Studies is Morehouse College, while Spelman College offers a minor in Asian Studies. However, other great UNCF-affiliated HBCUs offer international studies programs that may include courses related to Chinese studies:

Professional Organizations

There are also many professional organizations that can provide more insight into some of the specializations in this discipline. A sample list includes:

Scholarships Available

There’s no better way to start on your path toward a successful career in Chinese studies than with a solid financial foundation. Fortunately, many scholarships are available through UNCF—keep an eye on the UNCF website for current scholarship opportunities and announcements. 

Search for specific scholarships and view those that are currently accepting applications here! Students should also check with each college or university to see if there are additional scholarships available for Chinese studies.

As you explore your options, be sure to use our guide to applying for scholarships and grants. You can also receive guidance by submitting a major interest form if you are interested in a career in Chinese studies. Submit the form on our website to get started. And follow us on UNCF social media channels to receive notifications about our scholarships and member HBCUs. Reach out today!