Over one billion people speak some form of Chinese. Modern Standard Chinese, the official language of China, is the most widely spoken language in the world. Chinese characters, invented circa 1,200 B.C. and still in use today, have been central to the development of writing in other Asian countries such as Japan, Korea and Vietnam.
Chinese boasts the longest unbroken literary tradition of any modern civilization, with the oldest texts dating to more than three thousand years ago. Chinese literature includes some of the great treasures of world heritage: the treatises of Confucius and Mencius; the works of Tang dynasty poets such as Li Bo, Du Fu and Wang Wei; and early modern vernacular novels such as the Romance of the Three Kingdoms and the Dream of the Red Chamber.
Today China continues to produce exciting works as the country’s economic and cultural importance continues to grow. Chinese immigrants and their descendants form vibrant communities in the United States (such as in Seattle), Canada and in many other countries around the world.
Watch this video to hear from alumni about applying their Chinese language skills in their careers:
Our department's undergraduate and graduate world-class programs in Chinese offer a wide range of courses in Modern Chinese as well as in Classical Chinese at all levels.
Chinese can also be an area of emphasis in the following programs:
Why study Chinese at the UW?
Our Chinese program has a long and rich tradition, and it is recognized today for the world-class quality of its faculty and degree programs. Our department’s close links with other departments on campus create opportunities for students to undertake cross-disciplinary studies, including with the Department of Linguistics, the Jackson School of International Studies and the Foster School of Business (where options include a Certificate of International Studies in Business). The University library system, which includes the East Asia Library, boasts one of the most extensive collections of Chinese materials in the country,
On campus, the department sponsors many lectures and colloquia, some in conjunction with other academic units. Nearby in Seattle, students can find active and vibrant Chinese and Chinese American community and many China-related cultural events, offering many opportunities to experience Chinese culture firsthand. In addition, the city’s location on the Pacific Coast provides opportunities for travel to China and other parts of Asia.