Tsinghua-JHU Global Politics & Economics Joint Master's Program

Editor's Note  

Tsinghua University has been taking large footsteps towards internationalization ever since its establishment more than a hundred years ago. Up to now, over 80 international graduate degree programs have been implemented to enhance students’ global competency and the reputation of Tsinghua worldwide. With various cultural backgrounds, students and teachers from all corners of the world gather in the beautiful campus of Tsinghua University, sharing knowledge and life experiences and opening windows of the outside world for each other. The “International Programs in The Eyes of Student Reporters” series are narrated by the program students and teachers, providing readers an in-depth insight to those colorful pictures of cultural integration.

At the busy Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport, Liu Zhaoning took a short rest in the international terminal, waiting for a flight to Moscow. After a business trip to India, Liu Zhaoning was ready to fly to Moscow to start another part of his Tsinghua journey.

Liu enrolled in the Tsinghua University-Johns Hopkins University Global Politics and Economics Joint Master’s Program one year ago. Besides finishing academic tasks at the school, he has been working for an Indian venture capital firm for a year. His business trips are part of his education, related to investments in internet enterprises. “The purpose of our work is to help Chinese enterprises enter markets in developing countries and specifically countries along ‘The Belt and Road’,” Liu explained.

Analyzing international economic development, Liu said that the competition in the Chinese market is fierce. Therefore, Chinese enterprises and industries  need to further expand the market in other countries.

Liu got his undergraduate degree in the United States. He said the joint master's program gave him an opportunity to return to China to study and explore. It also could help him expand interpersonal relationships, he added. Moreover, Liu is interested in entrepreneurship and innovation, and he believes that the environment for entrepreneurs in China is healthy.

The Tsinghua University-Johns Hopkins University Global Politics and Economics Joint Master’s Program, which was officially launched in 2015, is the first global governance dual-degree program set up by Chinese and American universities. Students are expected to complete the program in two and a half or three years of full-time study, including an initial two semesters at Tsinghua University followed by three semesters at Johns Hopkins School of Advance International Studies (SAIS). Students have the option of extending their studies for one additional semester at either Tsinghua or SAIS in order to pursue further coursework or internship opportunities.

There are four research fields for project members to choose according to their personal interests: Regional and Country Studies, Comparative Political Economy, Global Governance, Regional Cooperation. Students also take part in social practices projects. Zhang Aoyuan, a fellow of the class of 2018, went to Suzhou and Thailand for social practices in his first year. He believes that social practices can not only help students further understand society and actual conditions in different countries, but also promote friendships among project members. “Students in this program have different cultural backgrounds,” Zhang said. “We can learn a lot from each other.”

Zhang spent four years in Tsinghua's Department of International Relations as an undergraduate student. Then he decided to seek for further study in the dual-degree program in order to experience different courses in the U.S. He focuses on international organizations and public welfare, which led him to internships at the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund and the Secretariat of the United Nations Development Program.

There are 14 fellows in the class of 2018, including eight Chinese students and six global students. Three of these global students are Asian-American including Sun Ming. Sun applied for the project one year ago for reasons similar to Liu’s. She is from Jiangsu but immigrated to the United States during primary school. After graduating from George Washington University, she successfully enrolled in her dream school, SAIS. At the orientation for newcomers, Sun heard of several dual-degree master’s programs. It was the first time she thought about spending time back in China. “I’ve been in the United States for about 20 years,” Sun said. “An experience of staying in China is exactly what I wanted.”

Asian-Americans know America and have a Chinese cultural background at the same time. One year in China helps them make a comparison between the two countries. “Courses in America and China are quite different,” Sun explained, “We focus on government documents, and practical knowledge about the international relations in the United States while Tsinghua focuses more on academic research and theoretical frameworks.”

Courses in the program are taught in English, but students are able to register for any courses they want. Liu is satisfied with the curriculum of the project. He highly recommended ‘The Global Think Tank’. “This course teaches students how to write, speak, and do research,” he said. There is no fixed syllabus for this course. Different speakers will be invited to share their first-hand experience, including famous people like senior staffs of the United Nations or of the World Bank, the former United States Secretary of State, and so on. Added Liu Zhaoning, “We gain a lot from this course.”

Liu calls the program “a signature program of Tsinghua's Department of International Relations.” For him, it is not only a learning project, but also a group of people who help each other. Fellows in this program often discuss controversial social, political, economic, ethnic and religious issues and share their views.

“The talents cultivated by this program should become important figures in the development of Sino-US relations or ‘The Belt and Road’ construction in the future,” Liu Zhaoning predicted.