CAPS majors are required to complete three years of college-level Chinese language courses and aim to achieve high-intermediate Chinese proficiency upon graduation (effective Fall 2018). The CAPS major gives students experience both on and off campus, including three years in Ithaca, one optional semester in Washington, D.C, and one required semester in Beijing.
In Ithaca, NY, CAPS majors study China’s history, politics, economy, society, and foreign relations (especially with the United States), and they take Chinese language courses in the regular curriculum.
In Washington, D.C., CAPS majors are in residence at Cornell in Washington (whose building near Dupont Circle belongs to Cornell). Their core courses are a seminar on U.S.-China relations and a seminar on American public policy (or, alternately, a seminar on the American experience). In the U.S.-China seminar, students meet with key figures and discuss issues of diplomacy, business, law, journalism, education, and other fields. CIW is not required for the CAPS major, but is highly recommended.
In Beijing, China, CAPS majors live on the campus of China’s preeminent institution of higher learning, Peking University, and take two CAPS seminars: CAPS 4001 with an English-speaking visiting U.S. professor; and CAPS 4002, a course taught partly in Chinese and partly in English by a Peking University professor.
In both Washington, D.C., and Beijing, China, all CAPS majors are required to hold China-related internships in government agencies, embassies, newspapers, television networks, businesses, law firms, NGOs, and other organizations.
Back in Ithaca for their final semester, CAPS majors bring their studies to a culmination in a senior seminar (CAPS 4030), and, ideally, with an honors thesis (CAPS 4010 and 4020).
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 (totaling 30 to 36 credits) with a grade average of C or better. In addition, majors must achieve the 3000-level Chinese language proficiency (see "Chinese Language Courses" below).
Note: In addition to the major requirements outlined below, all students must meet the college graduation requirements.
One CAPS gateway course
CAPS majors must take any one of the following courses (taught in Ithaca), normally during the first two years.
- CAPS 3049 [China's Next Economy] (crosslisted GOVT 3044); Next offered 2022-2023
- CAPS 3827 China and the World (crosslisted GOVT 3827)
- CAPS 3967 What is China? (crosslisted GOVT 3967)
Other required courses
CAPS majors must complete all the following required courses:
- CAPS 3000 Seminar in American Relations with China (taught at Cornell in Washington);
- CAPS 4998 Inquiry in Politics and Policy (taught at Cornell in Washington);
- CAPS 4001 China in Transition (taught in Beijing and Ithaca);
- CAPS 4002 Chinese Perspectives on International and Global Affairs (taught in Beijing);
- CAPS 4030 Making Sense of China: The Capstone Seminar (taught in Ithaca).
For students opting out of the D.C. semester, they will be required to take the following courses offered in Ithaca as a replacement:
- CAPS 4502 [Becoming a China Hand] (taught in Ithaca) Next offered 2022-2023
- CAPS 4049 The Rise of China and Change in World Politics (taught in Ithaca)
- Two additional 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 D.C. semester, please schedule a meeting with the Program
Two CAPS elective courses
CAPS majors may choose any two of the following courses to fulfill the CAPS elective requirement:
- CAPS 1622 The World in Modern Japan (crosslisted)
- CAPS 1740 Imperial China (crosslisted)
- CAPS 1910 [Introduction to Modern Asian History] (crosslisted)
- CAPS 1920 Modern China (crosslisted)
- CAPS 2132 Law and Society in Early Modern and Modern China (crosslisted)
- CAPS 2133 [Social Debates in China] (crosslisted)
- CAPS 2212 Introduction to China (crosslisted)
- CAPS 2262 [Medicine & Healing in China] (crosslisted)
- CAPS 2271 [China's Literary Heritage] (crosslisted)
- CAPS 2840 [Capitalism in China] (crosslisted)
- CAPS 2931 [Making of an Empire in China] (crosslisted)
- CAPS 2985 Transformations in Twentieth Century China (crosslisted)
- CAPS 3307 Readings in Classical Chinese Literature (crosslisted)
- CAPS 3329 Literature of Leaving China (crosslisted)
- CAPS 3352 Getting Rich in Modern China (crosslisted)
- CAPS 3370 [Nature and Ecology in Ancient Chinese Travel Writing] (crosslisted)
- CAPS 3387 [The Asian Century: The Rise of China and India] (crosslisted)
- CAPS 3395 [Empire of the Migrants] (crosslisted)
- CAPS 4071 Law Culture and Society in China (crosslisted)
- CAPS 4127 The Body Politic in Asia (crosslisted)
- CAPS 4355 Work and Labor in China (crosslisted)
- CAPS 4406 [Readings in Chinese History and Business Culture] (crosslisted)
- CAPS 4420 Tang Poetry: Themes and Contexts (crosslisted)
- CAPS 4502 [Becoming a China Hand] (crosslisted)
- CAPS 4827 China, Tibet, and Xinjiang (crosslisted)
- CAPS 4870 [China and Asian Security] (crosslisted)
- CAPS 4888 Directed Study (taught in Beijing)
- CAPS 4931 [Vitality and Power in China] (crosslisted)
- CAPS 4963 [China's Early Modern] (crosslisted)
- CAPS 4999 CAPS Independent Study
Students may choose other CAPS-related courses to fulfill the CAPS elective requirement upon permission of the Program Director. Taking additional CAPS gateway courses counts toward fulfillment of the CAPS elective requirement.
Chinese Language Requirements for the Major
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 (CHIN 3000) Chinese proficiency or higher upon graduation (effective Fall 2018). 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.
CAPS majors are strongly encouraged to take 4000-level advanced Chinese-language courses during the CAPS semester in Beijing. Two 4000-level Chinese courses may count as one CAPS elective course. Only those who reach the 4000-level Chinese proficiency are eligible for candidacy in the CAPS Honors Program (see "CAPS Honors Program").
All CAPS minors need to complete the equivalent of second-year Chinese (CHIN 2000 level), or if they place beyond the second year, they must complete any single Chinese-language course at a higher level.
Students who have graduated from a Chinese high school (not an international school) in the PRC or Taiwan are exempt from the Chinese language requirement. They need to submit a copy of their high school diploma to the Director of the Chinese Language Program in the Department of Asian Studies in order to finalize the process. Students who do not have this qualification are required to take the placement test. If they can demonstrate the linguistic skills of the Chinese high school graduate, they are granted exemption.
Click here to see the explanations about the placement testing, exemptions, and CAPS Chinese language course sequencing in detail.
Internships for CAPS Majors
Any Cornell College of Arts and Sciences student wishing to become a CAPS major must officially apply to the program. Entrance is limited to twenty students per class-year. So students are encouraged to sign into the major early upon their admission to the College of Arts and Sciences. Students who are interested in the CAPS major should:
- Consult with the CAPS Program Manager, Xu Xin. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Complete CAPS Major application using the online form.
- Obtain an official transcript from the University Registrar’s office request have it sent to the CAPS Administrator at email@example.com.
- Declare the major at any time—even before completing any CAPS course—yet preferably no later than February of sophomore year in order to be admitted to the optional Cornell in Washington semester the fall of junior year; space is limited applications for students declaring the major are reviews by a selection committee that will screen the applications, and a limited number of students are admitted to the major each year.
Honors in CAPS are awarded for excellence in the major. Honors candidates must complete CAPS 4010 and CAPS 4020 (in the senior year), and write an honors thesis. (CAPS 4010 and CAPS 4020 may be used to fulfill the requirement for one CAPS elective course.)
Prerequisites and Application
Honors applicants must maintain an overall average of B+ (3.3) and an average of A (3.7) in courses pertinent to the major. Only students who reach the 4000-level Chinese proficiency are eligible for candidacy in the CAPS Honors Program (see the "CAPS Chinese Language Requirements"). Applicants, in consultation with the CAPS Director, must select an honors thesis advisor from the CAPS faculty and discuss with that faculty member plans for the honors thesis. Applicants must then submit an application form to the CAPS Administrator via email firstname.lastname@example.org. The application must include a) a description of the proposed research project for the honors thesis, and b) the endorsement from the applicant’s thesis advisor stating that she or he will advise the applicant’s honors thesis.
Please contact the CAPS Main Office to obtain an Honors Application by email email@example.com.
The Honors Committee consists of a thesis advisor and one other member of the CAPS faculty (selected by the candidate in consultation with the thesis advisor). The Honors Committee must be organized and then reported to the CAPS Director before the honors candidate’s first semester of their senior year).
The application must be successfully submitted, and the Honors Committee formed, by the end of the applicant’s junior year in order for the student to be an honors candidate.
Honors Thesis Coursework
During the senior year, each honors candidate will enroll in the year-long tutorial (CAPS 4010 and CAPS 4020) with her or his thesis advisor.
During the first semester (CAPS 4010 Honors Thesis Tutorial I), the candidate is expected to finalize the focus of her or his honors thesis, conduct required research and reading, and submit work to the thesis advisor to gauge satisfactory progress. The work submitted in consultation with the thesis advisor may include: draft portions of the thesis (perhaps a first chapter or an introduction), an extended thesis outline, a relevant course paper, or other approved work. All of the work is graded. If the advisor does not judge the honors thesis to be viable at this point, the candidate will not be allowed to enroll in CAPS 4020 Honors Thesis Tutorial II. Continuation of the honors program into CAPS 4020 is not automatic.
The text of the honors thesis may not exceed 60 pages, except by permission of the Honors Committee. Three copies of the honors thesis are due in the CAPS Administrator email firstname.lastname@example.org by the conclusion of the business day on the Friday of the thirteenth week of classes in the spring semester (usually mid-April) or the candidate's final semester. Two copies are for the Honors Committee, and one copy is for the CAPS Director (and subsequently retained on file by the Program).
Defense and Honors Award
An oral defense conducted by the Honors Committee is required for honors in CAPS. The defense must take place by early May (usually exam week of the final semester), or sooner. The thesis advisor assigns a grade for the honors work and submits both the grade and the Honor Committee’s written decision concerning the level of honors to the CAPS Director. In the unlikely case that the Committee cannot come to a decision on a candidate’s work, the CAPS Director may seek to review the honors recommendation with the CAPS Advisory Committee.
The final level of honors awarded to a candidate is determined by the CAPS Director on the basis of the evaluation made by the Honors Committee and the student’s grade record in the major. If the candidate’s GPA as a senior first semester below honors requirements, the CAPS Director may seek a review of the honors level.
Students are awarded one of four designations:
- no honors
- honors (cum laude)
- high honors (magna cum laude)
- highest honors (summa cum laude).