Frequently Asked Questions
We hope that the responses below will answer your questions. Please contact us via phone at 202.663.5800 or email at nanjing@jhu.edu with additional questions.

  • Admissions
  • Chinese Language Proficiency 
  • Test Scores
  • Financial Aid and Fellowships
  • Academics
  • Career Services
  • Student Life 


Must I have three years of formal classroom Chinese in order to apply?
Not necessarily. All applicants to the program must submit scores from the STAMP Chinese language proficiency exam in order to demonstrate their Chinese language ability.  Three or more years of Chinese usually results in an admissible score. Those with less classroom experience may apply, especially in the case of prolonged tenure in Asia or a family background involving Chinese. Admission into the master's degree program requires a higher level of Chinese proficiency than the Certificate program. Click here for more information on the Chinese language proficiency examination.

Is the HNC open to only Hopkins/SAIS students?
No. The HNC welcomes applications from qualified applicants worldwide. Each year, approximately 15% of the international students studying at the HNC are non-US citizens.  In the past, we have accepted students from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Holland, India, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, the Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Uganda, the United Kingdom, and Zambia, among others.

What does a "background in China studies" mean?
"Background" refers to courses in Chinese history, political science, sociology, anthropology, economics, etc. It is not absolutely essential, but the majority of HNC students have a background in these areas to draw upon.  There are no specific prerequisites for students attending the HNC, though MAIS candidates planning on pursuing a concentration in International Economics are expected to have taken at least introductory microeconomics and macroeconomics courses before enrolling.

What is the most important part of the application?

There is no single most important part. Chinese language proficiency serves as a fundamental indicator of whether a student will be able to handle the coursework in Nanjing, but each component of the application serves to provide the Admissions Committee with a more complete picture of each applicant and helps them decide who would be suitable for study at the HNC.

Can I apply to both the Certificate and MAIS programs?
Yes. However, applicants must submit a MAIS application and indicate that they would like to be considered for the HNC Certificate program as a second option on the application form. Applicants can only submit one application to one program.

Do students have to submit two separate applications to the Certificate and the SAIS MA?
No. Students can only submit one application to the Certificate/SAIS MA program. Certificate/SAIS MA applicants also only need to submit one financial aid application to the HNC. If students are admitted, they will be notified of their financial aid for the HNC and the SAIS MA. Please note that although applicants to this program submit one application, it will be read by both the DC and HNC Admissions Committees. Admittance to one does not guarantee admittance to both.

Can a student apply to a program at the HNC, as well as a program at the DC or SAIS Europe?
No. Students can only submit one application to one SAIS program. Exceptions would apply to applicants interested in both the MA and the MIEF and the MA and MAGR programs.

What are my chances of being accepted?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is too specifically-related to individual situations to be posted effectively here. Applicants who are concerned about being admitted to the program should call us at 202.663.5800 to discuss our admission requirements in detail.

What should I write in my statement of purpose?

Applicants should discuss why they wish to attend the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, and how this education will help facilitate their ultimate career goals. This is each prospective student's opportunity for the Admissions Committee to get to know him or her, so we suggest that applicants also tell us more about who they are and how selected past experiences have shaped their goals and educational aspirations.

Can I write my essay in Chinese or submit additional materials in Chinese?
No, we can only accept application materials in English. The Admissions Committee is a diverse group, comprised of Hopkins-Nanjing Center staff and alumni as well as deans and faculty. In order to ensure that each application is thoroughly read by all members of the committee, we ask that applicants only submit materials in English. The committee will use individuals' Chinese language proficiency exam score and previous Chinese language coursework to assess Chinese language ability.

Can letters of recommendation be faxed or emailed?
Recommendation letters must be submitted through our online application system. Applicants may register recommenders online and the application system will communicate with them directly to ensure secure delivery of the recommendation. If a recommender experiences technical difficulties while using the online system, please have them contact our office at nanjing@jhu.edu.

My recommendations are not in English. Will you accept them?

No, we can only accept application materials in English.  The Admissions Committee is a diverse group comprised of Hopkins-Nanjing Center staff and alumni as well as deans and faculty. In order to ensure that each application is thoroughly read by all members of the Committee, we ask that applicants only submit materials in English. We will, however, accept officially translated recommendations from a certified translation service or agency.

My transcripts are not in English. Will you accept them?
No. Undergraduate transcripts not issued in English must be officially translated by a certified translation service or agency. Applicants who have completed additional coursework (i.e. at a Chinese university) may send unofficial translations of those transcripts.

Do I need to submit transcripts for every college-level class I have taken?
We require transcripts for all degree courses. For non-degree courses/programs, we strongly recommend - but do not require - that applicants submit a transcript, as well.

What are the payment options for the application fee?
The application fee may be paid through the online application with a credit card (Visa or Mastercard), or by mailing in a credit card authorization form, check or money order.  Please make checks or money orders out to "Johns Hopkins University" and mail them to us at: Hopkins-Nanjing Center Office of International Admissions; 1619 Massachusetts Ave. NW; Washington, DC 20036.

Is the application fee refundable or are fee waivers granted?

The application fee is non-refundable. Currently SAIS offers application fee waivers to participants or alumni affiliated with the following professional development programs: Pickering, PPIA, IIPP, McNair, Rangel, Teach for America, Teach for China, Fulbright (those currently on fellowship), and Peace Corps. In order to receive a fee waiver, you must submit an official document confirming your participation in the appropriate program via email. When you submit your online application, please select that you are going to pay by check. We will waive the fee once the paperwork is received by our office and your application has been submitted. Unfortunately, we do not grant fee waivers for financial hardship.

Where do I send application materials?
Most of the application materials (recommendations, essays, application form and payment) can be submitted through our online application system. Additional materials should be mailed to Hopkins-Nanjing Center Office of International Admissions; 1619 Massachusetts Ave. NW; Washington, DC  20036

What is the deadline to apply?
All application materials must be received by our office by February 1 for general admissions. Students applying for early notification need to submit all materials by November 1.

Do you accept late applications?
Late applications will be accepted on a case-by-case basis. Applicants wishing to apply late should contact the admissions office at 202-663-5800.

When and how will I receive my admissions decision?
Admissions decisions will be sent out via email by late March. Applicants should be sure to notify us if the email listed in their application changes after submitting the application. If you are a graduating senior, please note that many universities disable school email addresses following graduation.

Must I be in a graduate program to be eligible to attend the HNC?

No. Most students attend the HNC directly after graduating from their undergraduate university. Some students complete the Certificate program as a bridge between their undergraduate education and graduate school or between finishing their undergraduate degree and accepting a job in Asia. A number of students have already completed another graduate degree and/or have several years of work experience.

I am a Chinese citizen; can I apply to the HNC?
Citizens of Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao must apply to the HNC through Nanjing University. Click here for information on the admissions process for Chinese students. If you are a U.S. permanent resident, contact nanjing@jhu.edu as you may be eligible to apply through international admissions.    

Chinese Language Proficiency

How do I arrange the Chinese proficiency test?
In order to take the STAMP test, applicants must designate a proctor (ex: professor, TA, departmental administrator, supervisor, etc.) who agrees to administer the exam. Applicants should then fill out the STAMP Test Request Form, which must be signed by the designated proctor and returned to the Hopkins-Nanjing Center Washington Office.  The STAMP test should be taken before the application deadline.

When do I need to take the STAMP?
We ask that you take the STAMP Chinese language proficiency exam before the application deadline. We do not accept HSK scores. All applicants are required to take the STAMP test.

How soon will I find out about my STAMP results after taking the test? How will I be notified?
Applicants will be notified via email of their score within two business days of completing the STAMP test.

Can I retake the STAMP Test?
Students can take the STAMP test once every 3 months. If your score is below our recommended level for our programs, it’s possible that you would be conditionally admitted wherein you would need to retake the STAMP test, engage in self-study, and/or complete a summer language program.

Test Scores 

What is the Institution Code for my GRE test scores?
Applicants should have all test scores officially sent to the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington D.C. The ETS code is 5610. No department code is required. We are unable to receive scores sent to other divisions of Johns Hopkins University.

Do I need to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)?
Applicants planning to apply to the MAIS or HNC Certificate/Johns Hopkins SAIS MA must submit either GRE or GMAT scores. It takes approximately 3 weeks after testing to receive scores, so please take this processing time into account when scheduling your test. Scores must arrive in our office before the February 1 deadline.  Applicants for the Certificate program are not required to take the GRE.

Do I need to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)?
Non-native speakers of English are required to demonstrate English proficiency by submitting a recent TOEFL or IELTS score. If English is not your native language, (or in the case of bilingual students, your dominant language is not English) but you hold an undergraduate degree granted by an accredited institution in a country where English is an official language and where English is the language of instruction, than you will not be required to submit an English competency exam.

If English is not your native language, (or in the case of bilingual students, your dominant language is not English) but you hold a graduate degree granted by an accredited institution in a country where English is an official language and where English is the language of instruction, then you will need the approval of the Office of Admissions to be exempt from submitting an English competency exam. Please contact the nanjing@jhu.edu for more information.

Financial Aid and Fellowships

How do most students cover the cost of attendance?
The HNC awards 100% of students who apply for financial aid a fellowship based on merit and need, as long as their financial aid application is submitted before the deadline of February 1.  As a U.S. accredited institution, U.S. Citizens and permanent residents can also receive federal loans that can cover up to the full cost of attendance. In addition to loans, some students are also eligible for federal work-study.

What external fellowships are available?

In the past HNC students have applied and received external fellowships such as the Boren, Rangel and Pickering fellowships. These fellowships can offer substantial funding for your time at the HNC. Deadlines for these fellowships can be earlier than the HNC application deadline, so we recommend that students apply well in advance.

Can I do Fulbright at the HNC?
Unfortunately, as a U.S. accredited institution, the HNC does not qualify for Fulbright funding. 

Can my student loans be deferred while I am in Nanjing?
Yes. The HNC Washington Office can process loan deferment forms upon matriculation in Nanjing.


What is it like to take graduate level classes in Chinese?
All students go through an adjustment period of becoming familiar with academic Chinese and expanding their vocabulary at the beginning of the year.  Since HNC courses are content courses, students are primarily evaluated on their understanding and analysis of the course topics rather than on grammar patterns and drills. Coursework often includes class discussions, oral presentations, debates and written reports. Check out this blog post on the coursework at the HNC for more examples and what to expect at the HNC.  Former student and current admissions representative, Lauren Szymanski, reflects on her very first class at the HNC in this blog post.

How many hours are HNC students in class each week?
Certificate students take three to four courses a semester which each meet twice a week for an hour and a half. They are additionally encouraged to take courses in their non-target language and pursue independent studies. Master's students will take four courses per semester except for the last semester, during which the thesis will be the primary focus.

What’s the average class size?
The overall student body at the HNC consists of about 170 students every year, which includes both the Chinese and international student body. About 50% of the student body is comprised of Chinese students, and the other 50% is comprised of international students. As for classroom size, classes are fairly small with around 10-15 students. All classes are capped at 30 students. 

Can I start my studies at the HNC in the spring semester?
No. Students gain maximum benefit from the HNC by attending for two semesters in a contiguous academic year. This allows students to develop important relationships with their fellow students and faculty, and make the most of the HNC’s academic course offerings.

Does the HNC offer a summer language program?
No, the HNC does not host a summer Chinese language program. However, there are many summer programs in China which our students have enrolled in, including CET Academic Programs, CIEE, ACC and Middlebury College. 

Career Services  

Is there career counseling support at the HNC?
Yes. There is an on-site career counselor who meets with students one-on-one and offers career services programming throughout the year. Career services programming includes employer visits and presentations, career skill workshops and career treks to Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Is there post-graduation employment data available?
Yes. Within 6 months of graduating, 96% of 2015 international graduates sought and found employment, obtained fellowships/internships, or went on to further study. Visit our career services webpage for a section of recent employment outcomes for HNC students.

Are there opportunities to intern while at the HNC?
Yes. Some students intern during their second semester at the HNC or during winter and summer breaks.  The HNC Career Counselor can provide guidance for pursuing internships that comply with visa regulations.

Student Life 

Do I have to live at the HNC? With a roommate?
Unless accompanied by a spouse and/or dependent(s), all students are required to live at the HNC. Students who will be accompanied by a spouse and/or dependent(s) must arrange for off-campus housing. Certificate students live in double rooms with roommates. We do our best to pair international students with Chinese students. MAIS students have the option of requesting either single or double rooms.

What is it like having a Chinese roommate?

For all students with roommates, we do our best to pair international and Chinese students together. This not only builds the sense of community at the HNC, but roommates can also serve as a great resource for language and academic support. We often hear from students that living with a Chinese roommate is a highlight of their HNC experience.

Are there many extracurricular activities and student groups at the HNC?
Yes. The HNC is a small, but very active community. Student interests vary year to year, but in the past students have formed basketball, soccer, ping pong, dragon boat, dance, public speaking and music groups. Academic student groups include environmental awareness and international law moot court teams. There are also extracurricular classes offered in erhu, calligraphy and tai chi.

Are there opportunities to work while I am at the HNC?
The residence permit issued to Hopkins-Nanjing Center students does not allow students to work while they are in Nanjing. HNC students have had internships during the month-long winter break and during the summer, but there are minimal opportunities for employment to pay for fees or living expenses.  A limited number of students may be awarded federal work-study funds, and will have the option of accepting work-study positions at the HNC.  The majority of students, however, should not expect to find part-time work while enrolled in the program.