Frequently Asked Questions About the Yale-China Fellowship

About the Fellowship

Q: How many hours per week do Yale-China Fellows typically teach?
A: While the teaching load varies slightly from site to site, Fellows teach no more than 12 hours of class a week. Preparation and grading are not included in those 12 hours. Teaching hours are capped at 12 hours so that fellows can devote sufficient time to language acquisition and cultural exploration.

Q: I have already been studying Chinese — what do I do when we go for language training?
A: Fellows who have previously studied Mandarin or Cantonese take a placement test and are placed in the class level most appropriate for their ability. Mainland-based Fellows study Mandarin and are enrolled in an intensive summer program at CET in Beijing or at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou. Hong Kong-based Fellows study Cantonese and are enrolled in an intensive summer Cantonese course that is taught on the campus of The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Hong Kong Fellows may also opt to study Mandarin instead of Cantonese.

Q: Do Fellows continue to study Chinese in a formal manner after their first summer?
A: Throughout their two-year assignments, Fellows continue their language study either with individual tutors or by enrolling in classes on campus. The stipends paid to Fellows by Yale-China and/or the host institution include funds for language-study. Typically, mainland-based Fellows use these funds for private tutoring, while Hong Kong-based Fellows enroll in formal classes on campus.

Q: Isn't it difficult to learn Chinese while working as an English teacher?
A: Yale-China Fellows work closely with Chinese colleagues and students, making Chinese language acquisition a very important part of the fellowship. By engaging non-English-speaking colleagues and members of the local community, past Fellows have been extremely successful in learning both written and spoken Chinese.

Q: How is the Yale-China Fellowship different from a Light Fellowship?
A: The Light Fellowship and the Yale-China Fellowship are complementary. The Yale-China Fellowship emphasizes partnership and local engagement.  The Light Fellowship is more focused on building language fluency.  The language fluency built during a Light Fellowship can be an important tool during the Yale-China Fellowship to fully become engaged in the local community.  

Q: What distinguishes the Yale-China Fellowship from other teach-in-China programs?
A: The Yale-China Fellowship is built on more than a century of history; in fact many of the other programs out there are part of our legacy, having been founded and led by former Fellows. Over the decades, we have continually striven to ensure that our program remains a model for others to aspire to, so that Fellows are always at the vanguard of our area of work - work that consists not only of teaching, but of deeper thought about taking full advantage of the opportunity that is created when a recent Yale graduate goes to live in a Chinese community for two years. Specific elements of the current program structure that set it apart include long-term, individually-forged relationships with our partner institutions in China; emphasis on engaging with the local community outside the classroom; and the level of support provided to Fellows to ensure they can achieve meaningful results in any areas of service, learning, and leadership they pursue. The Yale-China Fellowship offers the chance to experience the all-around personal growth that is characteristic of Yale without the confines of being a student.

Q: Why is the number of Fellows so small?
A: Institutionally, the Yale-China Association has always favored depth over breadth. This value is particularly important for the fellowship program, which would fundamentally change in nature if its size exceeded about 20 people: even if it were realistic to scale up the resources needed to provide the level of support that ensures the quality of the program, the intimacy of the community of Fellows is a critical piece of the program's support structure. Furthermore, few people possess the particular combination of talents that make a Fellow both effective and open to in-depth learning from another culture. Fellowship appointments are not made on a "pass/fail" basis; only those candidates who truly amaze the selection committee are sent to represent Yale in China.

about eligibility

Q: What are you looking for in a candidate?
A: Please see our Eligibility and Selection Criteria page for more information.

Q: Is the Fellowship only open to graduates of Yale College?
A: Although most applicants are graduates of Yale College, recent graduates from Yale graduate programs are also eligible and welcome to apply.

Q: Are international students allowed to apply?
A: International students with native-speaker level English are welcome to apply to the program. Unfortunately, we cannot accept candidates who possess lower than native-speaker fluency for this program.

Q: What if I've never studied Chinese or taken China-related coursework?
A: Although many applicants have already studied Chinese or have taken China-related coursework, a background in China or Chinese is not required. There are places in the application where you have the opportunity to discuss why you want to go to China at this time in your academic/professional career.

Q: I would like my spouse, fiancé(e), or significant other ("Partner") to live with me in China. Am I still eligible for the fellowship?
A: Yes, you are eligible for the fellowship. All Fellows are expected to engage fully with the household of Fellows at their teaching site and actively participate in community life of the host school. As a result, the structure of the program may present challenges for Fellows who plan to bring their Partners. Fellow housing at all sites is in shared accommodations provided by the host school. These shared apartments serve as the physical space where collaboration on teaching and other Fellowship responsibilities take place. Partners would need to arrange for their own housing, creating a situation in which commitment to the fellowship would need to be carefully balanced with commitment to an off-site Partner. 

Yale-China is only able to offer general advice and minimal support in securing transportation, visas, housing, employment, and any other arrangements for your Partner, and no expenses related to a Partner will be covered. If you intend for your Partner to live in the same city as you during your fellowship term, the Selection Committee may require both of you to attend the final interview, as it is likely s/he will be involved in the fellowship community to some extent; if selected, though, only you will be treated as a program participant, and not your Partner. Applicants with specific questions about their situation are encouraged to contact Yale-China's education staff at

about the application

Q: Can I defer if accepted?
A: We do not grant deferrals, though candidates are welcome to reapply in the future.

Q: Are all appointments for a two-year period? Is it possible to apply for a one-year fellowship?
A: Appointments are always for two years and begin in June. As alumni of the program invariably attest, the two-year duration of the Fellowship is a formative and necessary condition for the rich cross-cultural and professional experience that is the hallmark of the Yale-China Fellowship. In the first year, Fellows become oriented to the culture and the classroom; in the second year, they build on this knowledge to enter more deeply into the community and reach more consistent teaching success. Second-year Fellows also can guide new Fellows and pursue interests that were passed over in the first year due to the business of learning to teach and live in China. In addition, for Fellows who are learning Chinese from a beginner or intermediate level, an additional year often means the difference between intermediate and advanced proficiency.

Q: Can I hand-deliver my transcripts to Yale-China?
A: Yes, as long as they are in a sealed and signed envelope from the registrar.

Q: Can my residential college dean serve as one of my three recommenders?
A: Yes, but your dean still needs to fill out the dean's form, which is available on this page.

Q: Why do you require a recommendation from a foreign language instructor? What do I do if I haven't taken a foreign language at Yale?
A: The summer language programs that Yale-China Fellows attend require a recommendation from a foreign language instructor. If you have not taken a foreign language at Yale, you must submit a recommendation from a high school foreign language instructor instead. In addition, gaining proficiency in Chinese is an essential part of this fellowship, and the selection committee is interested in considering your track record as a student of foreign languages.