Duke Kunshan University

Undergraduate Global Learning Semester

Experience Inspiring Classroom Learning Integrated with Cultural Experiences

China is center-stage in today’s global economy, playing a role in nearly every professional path you may take. Your education isn’t complete without studying abroad in China, where you will gain an understanding of Chinese culture through real immersion with Chinese students at Duke Kunshan University.

Choose interdisciplinary courses in the following areas of study:

  • Global Health
  • Business & Economics
  • Chinese & English language
  • Humanities
  • Social Sciences
  • Physical & Natural Sciences

Duke Kunshan University is a Sino-American partnership between Duke University and Wuhan University. Located on the state-of-the-art Duke Kunshan University campus in Kunshan, China, the Duke Kunshan University Global Learning Semester is an innovative semester-long liberal arts education program for undergraduate students from around the world. The program is ideal for students who seek interactive classroom discussions, thrive on engagement with faculty and peers outside the classroom, and display a natural curiosity about the diversity of the world’s cultures. Students choose from a variety of interdisciplinary courses that will spark curiosity and cultivate critical thinking skills.

This semester-long program is offered in both the fall and spring. Classes are taught in English by faculty from Duke University, Duke Kunshan University, and other prestigious institutions. While at Duke Kunshan University, students enjoy access to the extensive online resources from the Duke University Libraries. 

Students successfully completing the Duke Kunshan University Undergraduate Global Learning Semester program will receive Duke University course credit. For non-Duke students, these course credits can be transferred to your home institution. 



The Duke Kunshan University Global Learning Semester courses are designed to cross traditional boundaries of knowledge while remaining based in the finest scholarship in the liberal arts disciplines. 

Areas of study are global health, the humanities, social sciences, and the physical and natural sciences. Many courses are designed to teach about China in new ways—through examination of global issues in a Chinese setting and with case studies drawn from the China experience.

Program Timeframe

Undergraduate students currently enrolled at universities in China and around the world can attend the Duke Kunshan University Global Learning Semester during the fall or spring semester, generally during their second or third year of college. 

  • Fall Global Learning Semester: Begins in August and goes through mid-December.
  • Spring Global Learning Semester: Begins in February or March (depending on the dates of Chinese New Year) and goes through mid-June.

The Duke Kunshan University Global Learning Semester is divided into two 7-week sessions, and students have the option to select four intensive for-credit classes per semester according to their personal interests and course requirements at their home institutions.

Credit Transfer

Students who successfully complete the program will receive Duke University course credit that can be transferred to other degree-granting institutions. They may also choose to continue their studies at the Duke University Summer Session program in Durham, North Carolina.

Academic Environment 

Duke Kunshan University professors are highly innovative teachers and leaders in their fields. Students benefit from small class sizes of 12-25 students, one-on-one feedback, guest lecturers, live teleconference discussions with international experts, and field trips in the historic Kunshan region. 

Research and service learning are essential to the curriculum, providing students first-hand knowledge and experience with the topics they are learning about in class. Faculty mentors prepare students for graduate school, and career counselors provide guidance in pursuing meaningful professions. 


Visit the Duke Kunshan University Undergraduate Global Learning Semester website for more detailed course information and faculty profiles.

The following courses are scheduled for Fall 2017:

Humanities and Arts

  • Science Fiction (English 386K & VMS 386K) (Katherine Hayles) - Session 1
  • US/China Relations (HISTORY 221K) (Mary Brown Bullock) - Session 1
  • Women in East Asia (HIST 232K) (Elise A. DeVido) - Session 1


  • Systems Thinking and Resource Management Modeling (ENV 390K) (James Reynolds) - Session 2
  • Computational Photography (COMPSCI 281K) (David Brady) - Session 2
  • Numerical Methods for Scientific Computing and Machine Learning (COMPSCI 282K) (Xin Li) - Session 1
  • Environmental Change and the Evolution of Ecosystems (ENVIRON 510K) (John Tenhunen) - Session 2
  • Meteoritics (EOS 230K) (Nicholas Gessler) - Session 1

Social Sciences

  • Comparative Health Systems (GLHLTH 307K) (TBD) - Session 2
  • Human Domination of the Earth (ENVIRON 390K) (James Reynolds) - Session 2
  • Global Health Ethics: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (GLHLTH 210K & PUBPOL 330K) (Jeff Moe) - Session 2
  • Globalization, Development, and the Chinese Economy (HISTORY 225K) (Elise A. DeVido) - Session 2
  • Non-Communicable Diseases in Low-and-Middle-Income Countries (GLHLTH 641K) (Lijing Yan) - Session 1

Languages and Writing

  • Mandarin Chinese (CHINESE 101DK, 102DK, 203DK, 305DK) (Li Xu)
  • US Academic Writing for EFL Students (WRITING 90SK) (Don Snow, Maxi-Ann Campbell, Austin Woerner)
  • Writing Across Cultures (WRITING 230SK) (Nan Mullenneaux) - Session 2


The city of Kunshan lies in the heart of the Yangtze River Delta Region, one of the most developed areas in China. Bordering Shanghai, a large international metropolis, to its east and Suzhou, one of the country’s most renowned cultural and historical cities, to its west, Kunshan is an emerging industrial and commercial city with a history dating back more than 2000 years. As an important county-level city in the southeastern part of Jiangsu province, Kunshan occupies an area of 931 square kilometers (359 square miles), one quarter of which is covered by lakes and rivers. Its superior natural and urban living environment has attracted people from all over the world to live and work in Kunshan.

Widely considered as a successful model for China’s social and economic development, Kunshan has won many titles, including the top of Chinese Mainland’s Best County-level Cities by Forbes China for four consecutive years and the 2010 UN-Habitat Scroll of Honor Award. Three state-level development zones, two provincial-level development zones, and its eight townships have attracted a number of Fortune 500 companies and other leading enterprises to Kunshan.


Students will live together in the modern residence building that features suites of four single bedrooms and a common living space.

The Duke Kunshan University campus also features generous spaces for dining, social events, recreation, and relaxation, all in a serene setting just a short distance from both Suzhou and Shanghai.


Fall 2017

Estimates are based on previous years’ programs and the current exchange rate. All costs are subject to change.

  Duke Students Non-Duke Students
Tuition $15,000.00 $15,000.00
Housing $1,230 $1,230
Transcript Fee n/a $40.00
Other Costs Other Costs Other Costs
TOTAL (Estimated) $22,216 $22,256


Additional Costs  
Meals $1,454
Books $262
International Travel $2,250
Visa $250
Miscellaneous/Personal Expenses $805
International Health Insurance $615**
Immunizations $350
Total Personal Expenses $5,986

**optional for US-based students

Not Included

Use the following list to assist with budgeting for expenses. This list contains common examples but should not be considered exhaustive.

The billage charges (tuition and housing) do not include: 

  • Airfare
  • Airport transportation to/from program site
  • Local transportation
  • On-site accident and health insurance policy
  • Out-of-pocket medical expenses
  • Immunizations
  • Visa and/or residency permit
  • Passport
  • Textbooks and class materials
  • Internet usage
  • Mobile phone
  • Laundry
  • Independent travel and entertainment
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Incidentals

Personal Spending

Personal expenses can fluctuate greatly depending upon habits and preferences of the individual. It’s also wise to budget for unexpected expenses such as medical emergencies. On average, previous students suggest the amount between $800 - $1,200 for personal spending. 

Cost-of-living comparison

Payment Due Dates

Step 1: Within 3 weeks of acceptance to the program, confirm your enrollment by submitting the non-refundable $1,000 deposit. Deposits are payable by check or Student Account E-Check. If you receive Duke financial aid, submit the Deposit Waiver Form in lieu of the deposit. Log in to MyGlobalEd for remittance instructions or waiver form.

NOTE: If you withdraw after committing to the program, your deposit will be retained or $1,000 will be charged to your Bursar account. 

Step 2: Complete all post-acceptance items listed on your MyGlobalEd application, including the Participation Agreement, Pre-Departure Orientation, International Travel Registry, and any program-specific forms. 

Step 3: Semester invoices will be sent via email to your Duke email address and home email address. Remit payment to the Bursar per due date and address indicated on your online statement. All financial arrangements involving Duke University must be completed prior to departure for the program.

Duke Bursar’s Office

Financial Aid

Duke students receiving financial aid are eligible for aid for this program (work-study funds must be converted to loans). Students are individually responsible for making the necessary arrangements with the Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid and the Bursar. Non-Duke students are not eligible to receive financial aid at Duke and should contact their home institutions for financial aid information. 

All applicants to Duke Kunshan University will automatically be considered for available scholarship funding.

Duke Financial Aid Office

Duke Bursar’s Office


Kunshan Innovation Scholarship Program

In an effort to seek out bright, creative, and resourceful young innovators and change agents, Duke Kunshan University is pleased to offer 10 full-tuition scholarships for Duke University undergraduates and qualified students from other accredited undergraduate institutions in the United States to participate in the Global Learning Semester program at Duke Kunshan University during the Spring 2017 or the Fall 2017 semesters. 

Scholarship details


This calendar applies to the Undergraduate Global Learning Semester programs as well as the MS in Medical Physics and MS in Global Health programs. Calendar subject to change

  • 2017-2018 ACADEMIC YEAR


FALL 2017

August 20 Sunday. International and graduate student arrivals. Campus open for all returning students
August 21 Monday. International and graduate student orientation
August 22 - 25 Tuesday - Friday. Orientation for all new students
August 25 Friday. Convocation for all new students
August 28 Monday. Undergraduate (First 7-week undergraduate session and full-semester session) and graduate classes begin
September 1 Friday. Drop/add ends, first 7-week undergraduate session
September 8 Friday. Drop/add ends, graduate classes and 14-week undergraduate session
October 1 - 8 Sunday – Sunday. Chinese National Day Holiday (includes Mid-Autumn Festival) – No classes
October 19 Thursday. First 7-week undergraduate session ends
October 23 – 25 Monday – Wednesday. No full-semester undergraduate classes held
October 23 Monday. First 7-week undergraduate session final examinations begin
October 25 Wednesday. First 7-week undergraduate session final examinations end
October 30 Monday. Second 7-week undergraduate session begins
November 3 Friday. Drop/add ends, second 7-week undergraduate session
November 30 Thursday. Graduate classes end
December 1 - 5 Friday – Tuesday. Graduate reading days
December 6 - 8 Wednesday – Friday. Graduate exams
December 14 Thursday. Undergraduate classes end (Second 7-week and full-semester undergraduate courses)
December 18 Monday. Undergraduate final examinations begin (Second 7-week and fullsemester undergraduate courses)
December 20 Wednesday. Undergraduate final examinations end (Second 7-week and fullsemester undergraduate courses)
December 20 Wednesday. Closing ceremony for GLS fall 2017 program


January 10 Monday. Graduate classes begin
January 23 Tuesday. Drop/add ends for graduate classes
February 12 Monday. Graduate break for Chinese New Year begins
February 15 –21 Thursday – Wednesday. Spring Festival – Chinese New Year – No classes
February 24 - 27 Saturday – Tuesday. Undergraduate Orientation
February 26 Monday. Graduate classes resume
February 27 Tuesday. Convocation for GLS spring 2018 program
February 28 Wednesday. First 7-week and full-semester undergraduate sessions begin
March 6 Tuesday. Drop/add ends, first 7-week undergraduate session
March 13 Tuesday. Drop/add ends, full-semester undergraduate session
April 5 – April 7 Thursday - Saturday. Qing Ming – Tomb Sweeping Day – No classes
April 18 Wednesday. First 7-week undergraduate session end (undergraduate classes meet on a Thursday schedule)
April 19 - 21 Thursday–Saturday. No full semester classes held
April 19 Thursday. First 7 week undergraduate session final examinations begin
April 21 Saturday. First 7 week undergraduate session final examinations end
April 23 Monday. Second 7-week undergraduate session begins
April 25 Wednesday. Graduate classes end (graduate classes meet on a Thursday schedule)
April 26 – May 1 Thursday – Tuesday. Graduate reading days
April 27 Friday. Drop/add ends, second 7-week undergraduate session
April 29 – May 1 Sunday – Tuesday. International Labor Day Celebration – May Day – No classes
May 2 – May 4 Wednesday – Friday. Graduate exams
June 12 Tuesday. Undergraduate classes end (Second 7-week and full-semester undergraduate courses)
June 13 Wednesday. Final examinations begin (Second 7-week and full-semester undergraduate courses)
June 15 Friday. Final examinations end (Second 7-week and full-semester undergraduate courses)
June 15 Friday. Closing ceremony for GLS spring 2018 program


Frequently Asked Questions

As a prospective student or parent, you have lots of questions about Duke Kunshan University and the Duke Kunshan University Global Learning Semester. Please review our information on this website and the summary of frequently asked questions below. If you have additional questions, please contact a Duke Kunshan University representative.


For further information, please email: GLS@dku.edu.cn.


Apply Now

Are you ready to chart your course at the Duke Kunshan University Global Learning Semester?

All students interested in applying for the Duke Kunshan University Global Learning Semester are encouraged to read the information below and contact an admissions representative with any questions. 

The Duke Kunshan University Global Learning Semester is designed for undergraduate students currently enrolled in other accredited institutions around the world, generally in their second or third year of undergraduate studies, with a minimum GPA of 3.0 or top 25% of class.

The language of instruction is English, and written and spoken English proficiency is required. Students who are not native English speakers can provide language evaluation test scores (such as the CET and/or TOEFL) with their application materials. Students may be required to have a personal interview prior to an admission decision.

Spring 2017 Semester Program Application Deadlines: 
U.S. applicants: October 1, 2016
China & International (non-US): November 15, 2016

Fall 2017 Semester Program Application deadlines:
U.S. applicants: March 1, 2017
China & International (non-US): May 15, 2017

Application Materials

All information must be complete in order for your application to be reviewed.  A complete application includes the following:

  1. Online application – You will be able to save your application data and make changes prior to final submission.
  2. If you are a Duke student, or a student based at a U.S. institution, please make sure to also complete the brief application profile in the Global Education Office's MyGlobalEd system.
  3. Official university transcript from your home institution
  4. Two letters of recommendation from university faculty members (any discipline)
  5. Essays in English, written by the applicant. See prompts below.

Essay Prompts

Essay #1 – 500 word maximum – Explain why you are interested in the opportunity to participate in the undergraduate Duke Kunshan University Global Learning Semester.

Essay #2 – 500 word maximum – Choose from ONE of the following prompts:

Tell us about a cross-cultural experience that you have had, either internationally or within your own country or community. What were your greatest challenges? What did you learn from the experience, about yourself, and working with others?


Duke Kunshan University’s Global Learning Semester aims to educate students to be informed global citizens with broad world views and deep China insights. Discuss how you hope to benefit intellectually from this experience.  

Optional Essay – 300 word maximum – Is there anything else you think the Admissions Committee should know about you to evaluate your candidacy?