Courses of Study 2018-2019 
    Feb 03, 2023  
Courses of Study 2018-2019 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

China and Asia-Pacific Studies

In the College of Arts and Sciences .


Course Offerings  

China and Asia–Pacific Studies (CAPS) offers a unique approach to the study of China’s language, history, politics, society, and foreign relations by providing students with experience both on- and off-campus, including three years in Ithaca, one semester in Washington, D.C., and one semester in Beijing.



A. Carlson, director, N. Admussen, N. Chau, Z. Chen, S. Divo, E. Friedman, T. J. Hinrichs, P. Katzenstein, T. Lyons, R. McNeal, A. Mertha, R. Miller, D. Silbey, J. Wallace, Q. Wang, D. X. Warner, C. Watson, J. Weiss, X. Xu, X. Yu. Affiliated faculty: M. Evangelista, M. Fiskesjo, J. Kirshner, J. V. Koschmann, S. Kuruvilla, V. Nee, A. Pan, E. Sanders, E. Tagliacozzo, K. Taylor, L. Zheng

The Major:

There are no prerequisites to the major. Upon enrollment in the program, CAPS majors must complete six or seven required CAPS courses and two elective CAPS courses (total 34-40 credits) with a grade average of C or better.

One CAPS gateway course:

CAPS majors must take any one of the following courses (taught in Ithaca) normally during the first two years:

Other required courses:

 CAPS majors must complete the following required courses:

For students opting out of the D.C. semester, they will be required to take the following courses offered in Ithaca as replacement:

  • CAPS 3502 - Becoming a China Hand  (crosslisted)
  • Two 4000-level seminars (in any department or college that has a China focus, subject of approval by the CAPS Program Director, Ithaca)

Note: For students interested in opting out of the D.C. semester, please schedule a meeting with the Program Manager, Xu Xin,

Two CAPS elective courses are also required:

Please visit the CAPS website for courses normally used to fulfill CAPS elective requirements ( and courses currently being offered ( Also see the CAPS course offerings on the webpage. CAPS majors may choose any two CAPS courses to fulfill the CAPS elective requirement.

Chinese Language Courses:

CAPS majors are required to complete three years of college-level Chinese language courses (CHIN 1000-level through 3000-level) and acquire the high-intermediate Chinese proficiency or higher upon graduation.  They are expected to maintain a minimum grade of B+ in their Chinese language courses; failure to maintain this expectation may result in dismissal from the major.

Native speakers holding regular high school diplomas from Chinese mainland or Taiwan (i.e., not international schools) may be exempted from the CAPS Chinese language requirement, per the discretion of Cornell’s Chinese language faculty and the approval of CAPS director. Alternatively, students may be exempted through placement testing, at the discretion of Cornell Chinese language faculty and the approval of CAPS administrator.

See regarding the CAPS Chinese language course sequencing.


CAPS majors hold internships in governments, businesses, the media, think tanks, and other organizations during their time in Washington, D.C. and in Beijing (for internships in China, CAPS majors have the option to do an internship either in the summer or in the fall). No academic credits are granted for internships. Yet they may combine their internship experience with Independent Study. Majors are encouraged to coordinate their two internship experiences.


CAPS majors are strongly encouraged to complete an honors thesis when possible. Honors in CAPS are awarded for excellence in the major. Honors candidates must complete the following two honors tutorials while writing an honors thesis:

See regarding the CAPS Honors Program.

The Minor:

The CAPS minor is open to undergraduate students enrolled in any of the seven Cornell undergraduate colleges.

Course Requirements:

To complete the CAPS Minor, students need to complete at least 18 credits of coursework in China and Asia-Pacific Studies, including one of the CAPS gateway courses (CAPS 3049 , CAPS 3403 , or CAPS 3827 ) and four more courses. At least two of these courses need to be chosen from the list of CAPS core courses, and the remaining two may be electives, generally to be chosen from the list of CAPS recommended courses (including the courses offered by the School of International Studies at Peking University in China), in consultation with the advisor. One of these electives will usually be a Chinese language course.

The CAPS course offerings are posted on the Arts and Sciences Course Roster and CAPS website ( The list of electives, which is regularly updated, is intended to be representative but not exhaustive.

A minimum grade of C must be received for all courses counted towards the Minor. All courses used to fulfill the Minor requirements, including language courses, must be taken for a letter grade.

Language Requirements:

All CAPS minors need to complete the equivalent of second-year Chinese, or, if they place beyond the second year, then must complete any single Chinese language course at a higher level (for advanced students this may be a literature or special topics class in Chinese).

Off-campus Opportunities:

Students in the Minor may be considered for one of the off-campus semesters (CAPS in D.C. or CAPS in Beijing) if space is available in the program, AND if they place into the language level appropriate for that semester’s CAPS Chinese courses (2000 level for Beijing). Students who are interested in either of CAPS off-campus semesters must make an appointment to see the Program Manager for consultation.