XI’AN: Alliance for Global Education

Xi'an, China

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  • Fall Semester - mid-August to mid-December
  • Spring Semester - Early February - Late May

Application Deadline

  • Fall Semester - March 15
  • Spring Semester - October 1


Study Abroad Coordinator: Liz McClanahan (e.mcclanahan@neu.edu)

An ancient imperial capital and eastern terminus of the Silk Road, Xi’an has long been an important crossroads for people from throughout China, Central Asia, and the Middle East, and thus a melting pot of diverse ethnic identities and religious beliefs. This Alliance program allows students to explore the historical confluences of geography, ethnicity, and religion in a city that is culturally distinct from the coastal megacities. An exhilarating two-week field study trip along the Silk Road takes students off the beaten path and ties these themes together at the crux of the semester. This program offers students 9 class hours per week of Chinese language as well as courses taught in English in several disciplines including ancient Chinese history, contemporary issues, art and anthropology.

Students may enroll for a semester.



All students are required to take a Chinese language course as well as three Area Studies courses taught in English. Semester students will receive 16 NU credits per semester. This program Alliance program offers students 9 class hours per week of Chinese language as well as the opportunity to explore the historical confluences of geography, ethnicity, and religion in a city that is culturally distinct from the coastal megacities. Combining structured coursework, directed research, and an exhilarating two-week field study trip along the Silk Road, the Alliance’s Xi’an program takes students off the beaten path and introduces them to China’s essence – old and new.

Students Must Enroll In:

  • The Silk Road Yesterday and Today (4 credits)
  • One elective course (4 credits)
  • Chinese language (4 credits) No prior language study is required for admission. Upon taking a placement exam after arrival, students will be placed into the appropriate language level. All courses emphasize listening, reading, speaking, and writing. The Alliance programs teach Simplified Chinese Characters, which are standardized Chinese characters officially used in mainland China and Singapore, as opposed to Traditional Chinese Characters, which at present are more commonly used in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau.

   In addition, students choose from one of the options below:


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Host University

Founded in 1944, Shaanxi Normal University (SNU) is considered to be one of the most comprehensive universities in China’s northwest region. SNU offers undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degree programs in Chinese foreign language and literature, international politics, cultural studies, chemistry, mathematics, biology, history, geography, food engineering, economics and other disciplines. SNU is home to over 40,000 students on two campuses.

Located in Xi’an’s scenic college district, Shaanxi Normal University (SNU) is conveniently situated near Xi’an’s brand new subway line, as well as the historic Wild Goose Pagoda and the Xi’an TV Tower—which offers some of the best views of the city. The SNU campus is surrounded by Chinese and International restaurants, as well as a large grocery store and food stalls selling traditional Xi’annese cuisine. Running alongside campus is Shida Street, the location of many restaurants, stores, cafes and bubble tea stands.

Walking distance from the SNU campus, students can practice bargaining in Chinese in the bustling night market or purchase a few necessities at Xiao Zhai—a large shopping center. Hop on the subway and in fifteen minutes students can find themselves in the center of Xi’an where they can explore the city wall or shop for souvenirs in the Muslim market.

Eligibility Requirements

  • 3.0 GPA minimum
  • Full-time Northeastern University student, rising sophomore or above.
  • No prior Chinese language study is required. Language instruction is offered at the beginning through advanced levels.
  • Intermediate through advanced Chinese students may enroll in the specialized Chinese language course

Application Procedure

Schedule Appointment →


Fall 2015 or Spring 2016: $22,660

Includes: Northeastern University (NU) tuition for 16 NU credits ($22,310), and International Security and Emergency Support ($350). Students are responsible for all other expenses, including housing and other non-academic costs for which they will be billed directly by the program provider or host institution. Students are also responsible for arranging and purchasing their own flights.


Students are housed on campus in a newly renovated campus hotel/dormitory building. The SNU dormitory building is located on the residential side of campus and is surrounded by restaurants, a convenient store, and the campus medical clinic. The dormitory building is a 10 minute walk from the campus athletic fields (soccer, basketball, tennis courts, ping pong tables, and badminton), and an 8 to 10 minute walk from the Alliance office and classroom building. Each dorm room will house one Alliance student and one Chinese roommate. Dorm rooms are equipped with a private bathroom and shower, cable, internet, television, beds, desks, cabinetry, and heating/AC. Many rooms also have an enclosed balcony, and students may rent a small refrigerator from the building management office. Pillows, blankets and bed sheets are provided by the dorm. Towels are not provided. Laundry facilities are located in the dorm building on the second floor.


Xi’an served as one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China under at least 13 dynasties in the country’s 5000-year history. It is also the eastern terminus of the Silk Road, deemed by many as the first real conduit of globalization, and home to a 13.5 km-long, six-century-old city wall, and the spectacular Terracotta Army of Emperor Qin Shi Huang. Today, this bustling modern capital of Shaanxi province with eight million people prides itself on being a thriving metropolis with a distinct flavor, where history and modernity intersect. Since the 1990s, Xi’an has re-emerged as an important cultural, industrial and educational center of China’s central-northwest region, with facilities for research and development, national telecom and space exploration programs, and the third largest number of universities in China, only after Beijing and Shanghai.

Famous for being the cradle of the renowned 5th generation Chinese film directors, Xi’an also boasts some of China’s top art and history museums, a vibrant underground music scene, and a contemporary art district, which complements the city’s exuberant tradition and numerous historical sites. Xi’an also has an interesting ethnic mix and a notable Muslim presence, with Buddhist temples, pagodas and the 1,360-year-old Great Mosque decorating the city's skyline. Xi’an’s intriguing blend of ancient and modern, along with its ethnic, religious and culinary diversity, offers bountiful resources that Chinese-learning students can take full advantage of, be it Chinese history, literature, religion, architecture, arts, culture, in both historic and contemporary contexts against the backdrop of globalization.