Jump to content
Chinese-forums.com
Learn Chinese in China

Should I study Master's in Chinese History or International Relations?


tooironic
 Share

Recommended Posts

Good luck with your studies, would be interested to read more once you've started.

 

Just a quick comment regarding your assessment above, though much has been written already:

 

  • I very much doubt that a Chinese history master would make you a "rare expert" on Chinese history or culture, that distinction is usually reserved for people who have spent decades researching and writing on the topic. There are actually a very sizeable number of foreigners with in-depth knowledge about Chinese history and culture, and distinguishing yourself in that circle will take many more years. So don't expect to hold lectures or get consulted on the topic by anyone, you've just barely scraped the surface after a Masters degree, and there are not that many topics that aren't potentially controversial in China.
  • There is an infinite number of China experts and consultants who are looking for elusive private sector consultancy work, and I don't see too many of them making major money (or any money at all for that matter). Even old China hands don't seem to profit all that much from their expertise for different reasons. In short, don't expect to be able to easily get work as a consultant, your age (30 at the time of graduation?) and lack of a relevant job experience will play against you. Sorry if that sounds a bit negative, I simply want to tell you as I see it in my work (I am working for a private consultancy in China).
  • IR can be a good entry ticket as a young graduate to get into MNC, NPO or other MNO, as well as some administrative positions. I have many friends with top IR degrees from very prestigious universities, and they all had to find their way somewhat, certainly not straight-forward to find a job, but they all eventually managed. IR graduates are often regarded as generalists rather than specialists, and therefore should be relatively young to be considered employable by many companies.
  • I realize all this may very well be irrelevant to you since you are more academically inclined, so please ignore/disregard my advice and opinions if you feel it doesn't apply to your ideas and ambitions, no disrespect intended.
  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.

Thanks for the advice Simon. I totally understand where you are coming from. Since I already run a company and have a stable income, I'm doing this more as a life-long passion - and I don't really have a specific position that I want to pursue after I graduate. I understand that there are plenty of old China hands out there who are experts in the field, but I suppose one point of difference is that out of all the sinologists I've met or seen in the media, I have yet to meet one who was fluent in Mandarin. That might sound shocking, but so many of the Western experts on China either can't speak Mandarin at all, or speak it with a heavy foreign accent. I'm hoping my background in translating and interpreting can give me an edge over others. Simon, since you say you work for a private consultancy in China, perhaps you can tell me if you've met any sinologists who speak excellent Mandarin (not just have a command of the written Chinese language), or any who have studied a postgraduate degree in China in Chinese (not just in English, in an English-speaking country)? I'm curious about this.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To be honest from what I see there aren't all that many sinologists in business or government/embassy circles here at all.

 

From what I can gather most people have concluded that (truly) understanding Chinese culture and trying to conform to it does not advance their business interests.

In fact the trend seems to go the other way, FOE increasingly try to reinforce their (foreign) corporate culture again after localising a bit too much, with all the conflicts of interest that this entails.

 

What I'm trying to say is that there are of course senior sinologists with decades of experience in China who often support both Chinese and European companies in their respective markets, but they tend to be networkers and facilitators rather than advisors and consultants from my experience. But that's just my own personal observation, I'd be interested from others how they view sinologists in business.

 

Sorry if I avoided your question somewhat, I think their Chinese is often rather good, but unfortunately my Chinese colleagues are too polite to tell me otherwise and I am not much of a judge myself.. given that my Chinese is quite horrendous.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Let me play devil's advocate for a moment.

"of all the sinologists I've met or seen in the media, I have yet to meet one who was fluent in Mandarin."

You seem to be thinking this means having fluent Mandarin will give you a killer advantage. However, maybe it's the case that Mandarin just isn't that important for these people. Otherwise, wouldn't they have learned it?

 

You can get a hell of a long way being able to read easily and muddle through conversations. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, the sinologists I have seen and heard about seem to do very well in academic circles outside of China - but what about inside China? I can't imagine that speaking little or no Mandarin would allow you to get very far. Imagine a Chinese who was doing a PhD in Shakespeare but couldn't carry a converation with an Oxford professor - couldn't you see the room for improvement there? Your logic is sound enough - you can get far without speaking it very well - but that doesn't neccessarily mean that fluency wouldn't give me any kind of advantage. Surely the fact that I can network with Chinese academics in their first language counts for something. Not to mention the cultural and historical knowledge I'm gradually building up. My hope is that I can find a teacher in China with whom I can develop a rapport to support me in my Master's (and maybe PhD) research. Though I have little experience building relationships with older Chinese, I'm willing to give it a try.

 

Update: So far I have received offers from Sichuan University and Xiamen University. Wuhan University and Central China Normal University have not got back to me yet. But it doesn't matter... I have accepted the offer to study at Xiamen! So it's full steam ahead now! XiaDa said they will send me an admissions package in the post this week. According to the Admissions Office, registration date (注册日期) is 13 September, and the first classes should be starting after 15 September. Now I have just under two months to get everything ready before the big move. Wish me luck! I'll keep you all posted.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Congrats!

 

There are a few western sinologists who are taken seriously by scholars in China and Taiwan. Edward Shaughnessy (夏含夷) and William Baxter (白一平) spring to mind. My friend/business partner Ash Henson (李艾希) has published a few papers in Chinese and studies with one of the top palaeographers in Taiwan, if not the world. I do know of far too many westerners who have excellent reading ability but poor conversational skills, but there are quite a few who do place a lot of importance on all four language skills.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Don't be surprised if you after you arrive you discover the structure of the department/curriculum to be different than you current findings.

 

I was accepted to a modern history program, only to find that such a program no longer existed (and it had not just ceased to exist, but had been closed quite some time prior to my admission).

 

Edit: When I wrote this a second ago it was in response to an earlier post, which popped up as "new" when I clicked on the title. Apologies for not being relevant!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just came across this. Granted this is relative to the US but interesting nonetheless for this discussion.

 

5 best and worst master's degrees for jobs right now

Looking for a graduate program that'll take your career to the next level? Find out which area of study has a better chance of taking you there and which to avoid.

 
No. 5 best: International relations

Mid-career median pay: $97,500

Projected employment increase for jobs associated with this degree: 21%

 

http://money.msn.com/careers-and-education/5-best-and-worst-masters-degrees-for-jobs-right-now

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Careful though, the best jobs listed here are relative to projected job growth.. not salary or current employment prospects.

 

 

Though the BLS cautions that political science is a small field that will likely only generate approximately 1,400 new jobs over the next ten years, the occupation is seeing projected growth of 21%, due to “response to a growing interest in public policy and political issues.

In short, the 21% for PoSc increase might easily be taken by already graduated underemployed political scientists, hardly the top 5 jobs in the US...

 

The mid-career median pay for these top 5 jobs are also lower than many of the supposed worst jobs.

 

To illustrate how ridiculous this ranking is:

 

 

No. 10 Worst Master's Degree For Jobs: Mechanical Engineering

 

Mid-career median pay: $111,000
Projected employment growth for jobs associated with this degree: 5%

 

"Only" 5% more mechanical engineers is an awful lot of new jobs with excellent pay, the no. 1 worst (journalism) should have studied more no. 3 best (mathematics)....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Update: It's been nearly three weeks since Xiamen Uni Admissions told me they'd send me my Admission Notice (录取通知书) and I still haven't received anything from them. I just sent them an email in Chinese explaining the situation, and I got an auto-reply in English stating, "Our office will close for the summer holiday (27th July to 10th Sept.). It is going to take a couple of days before we respond." Does anyone think it strange that an admissions office would close for holidays a few weeks before university starts?

 

I don't like the look of this. I've already booked tickets to fly to Xiamen on Sep 11 (yes, I know, I don't care, it was cheaper than the other days). I'm concerned that even if I get the Admission Notice in the next week or two I won't have enough time to apply for a student visa in Melbourne. If worse comes to worse, could I fly to China on a tourist visa and apply for a student visa in Xiamen? Or do I have to have a student visa in order to register to study at the university? I know these are questions I should be asking the uni directly, but I'm putting off calling them unless I absolutely have to.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's not strange the office is closed. There might be someone answering phones though?

 

Others will have more up to date info than me but if I remember right, if you came in on a tourist visa there's no guarantee you can get a student visa without leaving the country (i.e. popping to HK) and getting it there. But sometimes it is (was) no problem -- perhaps depended which city and which uni?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I got an email back from XiaDa. They said they put my Admission Notice in the post today and I will receive it within the next week. (I wonder if they would have sent it out at all if I hadn't had contacted them to remind them...) They said it will be sent by EMS, which according to Wikipedia means Express Mail Service. Supposing I do it get by 14 August, that gives me just under 4 weeks to apply for my student visa while I'm still in Melbourne. This might sound like a dumb question, but do you think that is ample time to get the visa finalised? I know tourist visas only take a couple of days, but I've never applied for a student visa before, so I thought I'd ask.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm pretty sure with all visas you can choose an expedited option (for an additional charge, of course). For example, same-day processing. In some cases, however, I believe you have to prove that you really do need it "now" and not just being impatient (e.g. by showing a plane ticket leaving the next day).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

From my own experience University administrations tend to be rather chaotic in China. So it's good to have a personal connection there and call that person when you have a problem. Things often get "forgotten", and trying to blame them will only make matters worse for you... just how it is.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks guys for the advice.

 

Update: I just received an email from XiaDa. Strange that it's 8.30pm in China right now - I guess the staff in that office must be working some horrible overtime! They said:

 

你好!国际学生新生本人持所在国有效普通护照、我校寄发的《录取通知书》、《外国留学人员来华签证申请表》(JW201/JW202)和《外国人体格检查记录》(如需)的原件和复印件到中国驻外使(领)馆办理有效来华学习签证(X1/X2签证)。 你需要向驻你国家的中国使馆了解,谢谢!

 

Useful information but doesn't really answer my question about timeframes. But I think 3-4 weeks should be enough to get this student visa business sorted in Melbourne. I eagerly await the Admission Notice for further instructions. I'll keep you all posted - I think updates on this could be useful for other foreigners thinking about studying a Chinese-taught degree in China, or enrolling in XiaDa.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...