Study Abroad in Chengdu, China

Fall Semester or Full-Year Program

Nestled in a rich agricultural basin near the foothills of Tibet, Sichuan Province is China’s most populous. Within the mixture of modern cities and rural villages is Chengdu, the provincial capital – home to Western China’s best universities and hospitals, and a major site for foreign and domestic investment, including global industry leaders like Microsoft, Boeing and Intel.

You’ll study at Sichuan University, one of China’s most prestigious universities. The campus is large and exciting, attracting students from all over China and the world. The university district outside the campus is fun and convenient, offering Internet cafes, restaurants, banking and shopping.


Chinese Language & Culture; Social Sciences; Global Studies; GenEd

Classes are taught at Sichuan University (SCU). All courses, excluding language courses, are taught in English from Sichuan University professors or by the PLU professor who is the Site Director during the Fall semester. To provide an introduction to Chinese language, culture and society, all students are required to take a set of three core classes equaling 12 credits. Students then choose from a variety of elective courses to complete a total of up to 17 semester credit hours.

Fall Required Core

(12 credits)

CHIN 101/102/201/202/350: Chinese Language (8 credits)
CHSP 350: Contemporary Chinese Culture and Society – SO (3 credits)
CHSP 350: Western China: The Rural and Minority Experience (1 credit)

Fall Electives

(up to 7 credits)

Possible Fall courses

HIST 339: The 20th Century History of China* (3 credits)
SCU Professor Zhou Yi

POLS 387: Chinese Politics: Historical Ideas to Contemporary Realities* (3 credits)
SCU Professor Zhou Yi

POLS 332: Sino-American Relations* (3 credits)
SCU Professor Song Zhihui

RELI 350: Daoism & Traditional Chinese Culture (3 credits) RG
SCU Professor Zhang Chongfu

BUSA 352: International Business & Business in China* (3 credits)
SCU Professor

ECON: Public Economics (3 credits)
SCU Professor Zhao Zhi

ARTD 350: Introduction to Chinese Calligraphy (1 credit)
SCU Staff

ECON 350: Economics of Development in China* (3 credits)
SCU Professor

PHED 276: Introduction to Taiji – PE (1 credit)
SCU Staff

PHED 276: Introduction to Kung fu – PE (1 credit)
SCU Staff

PHED 276: Ping Pong – PE (1 credit)
SCU Staff

Fall 2019
BUSA 308: Principles of Marketing – Syllabus BUSA 308 Fall 2019 (4 credits)
Assistant Professor Qin Zhang
PLU Site Director


Fall 2017
ATRD 387SA Transformations of Perspectives (4 credits)
Professor Spencer Ebbinga
PLU Site Director course*

Fall 2016
EDUC 385: Comparative Education – C (4 credits)
Dr. Vidya Thirumurthy
PLU Site Director course*

*Each Fall semester a PLU professor teaches one 4-credit course in their discipline and serves as the program’s Site Director.

PLU Course Equivalency

Use the online Interactive Guide to see how students have used study away credit from the China Gateway Program at PLU. This tool serves as a starting point for academic planning. If a course equivalency is not listed, it may be requested from the appropriate academic department.

Pacific Lutheran University awards all credits earned in this program. Semester-long study away programs fulfill PLU’s Cross Cultural Diversity requirement.

Course and study tour offerings are subject to change.

Fall Study Tours

This program engages students in the various cultures of China as an integral part of the required courses that explore Chinese culture and the minority experience. Students are first introduced to the Forbidden City and the Great Wall in Beijing, and then they take an overnight train to Xian whose famous Terracotta Warriors and Wild Goose Pagoda are a reminder of China’s prominence in the world as the eastern terminus of the Silk Road. Finally, students fly into Chengdu, home to China’s pandas and a sizable Tibetan minority population, and prepare for their semester of study at Sichuan University.

While in Chengdu, Students engage with local communities through study tours to rural farms, local villages, and nearby monuments. In October, students visit a Tibetan Region for a week of discovery to explore Buddhist temples, shrines, a culture vastly different than its surrounding regions.

Residence Hall

You will stay in an international student residence hall, where you will meet students from around the world. You will have a double bedroom with your own bathroom and shower. You are provided with a monthly stipend for food, which gives you the freedom to eat at the nearby cafeteria, or to explore the many surrounding restaurants.

Program Fee

The PLU comprehensive fee for Fall semester covers this academic experience (instruction and academic credit, housing and meal stipend, study tours, study abroad insurance, visa fees, and a $750 flight credit). To find the current comprehensive fee for one semester, divide the total full-year cost listed on the Admissions website by two. Please note that the comprehensive fee varies each year, and the cost of this program will be based on the year in which you study away. Financial aid applies.

Out-of-pocket Expenses

Some air travel, books, personal excursions, and other miscellaneous expenses are not included in program cost.

Global Scholar Award

All PLU Gateway & Featured Programs are Global Scholar Award eligible. This need-based award can cover out-of-pocket expenses up to $2,500 on PLU Gateway and Featured semester programs.

For non-PLU students, please check with your home institution or sponsoring study abroad organization on program cost.

External Scholarships

For more outside scholarship opportunities, please visit our Funding webpage.

Contact Us

Paul Manfredi
Professor of Chinese
Director, China Program

Brynn Smith
Semester Program Manager


Sophomore, junior, or senior standing. Students must have a minimum 2.7 or higher G.P.A. (3.0 preferred). Must be a student in good standing. No previous Chinese language study required. All courses other than Chinese language are taught in English.

Application Deadline

Fall and Full Year applications are due March 15

A $50 non-refundable fee is due with the application. A $300 non-refundable program payment to confirm participation is required within 10 days of acceptance.

NOTE: Each academic year the current application is made available during International Education Week in November.

Application Components

  • Online application form
  • Short essays
  • 2 recommendation forms (1 faculty, 1 professional)
  • Application fee

Reflections on the Program
Learn about PLU student Evan Koepfler’s experience studying in China during Fall 2012 as a Chinese Studies major.

Student Experience
Visit these blogs by Chloe (PLU student) and Ellen (Lewis & Clark student) to learn about their experiences studying in Chengdu with the PLU Gateway Program.

Learn more about the Internship option from two PLU students: Leah Anna Marie

Site Director Perspective
PLU Faculty Site Directors post program experiences. Check out Fall 2016 Site Director, Vidya Thirumurthy’s Blog or follow Fall 2014 Site Director, Erik Hammerstrom, on Twitter for photos and updates from the group!

Photo Gallery
Check out our Flickr Photo Gallery to see pictures from past participants in the China program.


Alumni Stories
Check out what China program alum Mycal Ford did after PLU and how his experience in Chengdu impacted his vocational path.

Check out Jonathan Kott’s ’98 story about living in Chengdu after studying away. He became a television figure and now owns a hot pot restaurant in Chengdu.

Students from all over the US join the PLU program via ISEP-Direct. ISEP students must apply through ISEP for this program. Upon acceptance, PLU will reach out to ISEP-D students to be part of the orientation process.

The information on this website is geared toward PLU students but it largely represents the experiences ISEP students will have on the PLU Chengdu, China program at Sichuan University. Here are some important differences:

Fall Program

  • Most Study Tours are included in the ISEP-D program fee
  • The Tibet study tour is optional for ISEP-D students and is an out-of-pocket expense to the student; students who wish to participate on the Tibet study tour must enroll in the 1-credit Western China: Rural and Minority Experience course
  • Meals are not included in the ISEP-D program fee
  • PLU students are required to take 4-8 credits of Chinese language, ISEP-D students often take more language credits
  • The Internship option is available to ISEP-D students at their own expense (nominal placement fee)
  • Refer to the ISEP-D program costs instead of the cost section on this website

Spring Program

The Spring program at Sichuan University is markedly different than the PLU Fall program that is featured on this website. The Spring program is much more independent and functions as a direct enroll program at Sichuan University. Although PLU faculty are not on-site in the spring, PLU will prepare you for your semester in China before you go, including providing support related to the Sichuan University and student visa application processes and cultural preparation. Sichuan University offers excursions, as they do in the fall, but the study tours outlined on this website are only offered in the fall.

The spring courses will be similar to those listed on this website for the fall program, minus the PLU-faculty taught courses. Sichuan University may offer some alternatives in the spring semester, but students can anticipate courses in language, liberals arts, social sciences and business in both semesters at Sichuan University.

The internship option through InternChina is available to ISEP-D students in both fall and spring semesters, placement fee out-of-pocket. We suggest a 6 hour per week commitment in the fall while the spring semester allows for a bigger time commitment (10-12 hours).

Contact the Program Manager listed under contacts if you have questions. We look forward to having you with us in Chengdu!

Program Highlights

  • Fall Semester (mid-August to mid-December) or Full Year (mid-August to May/July)
  • Chinese language study at all levels
  • Content coursework taught in English
  • Fall Study Tours to Beijing, Xi’an, Tibet, Shanghai and more
  • PLU faculty on-site (fall only)
  • Internship option