Re: Grad School in Taiwan


#1

I’ve been thinking about going to Taida (NTU) to get my Master’s in Chinese literature next year … I already have my B.A. in Chinese Language & Literature, and am doing a year at NTNU’s Mandarin Training Centre to improve my reading/writing, etc.

Anyway, I’ve checked out the requirements for foreign students applying to the grad school at NTU, and the requirements seem ridiculously easy, so I want to see if anyone here has either gone to grad school at NTU, knows someone who does, or knows anything about the procedures.

Basically, their website says that all you need is your B.A. diploma, university transcripts, health check, statement of purpose, and two letters of recommendation (one from a Chinese teacher who can attest to your Chinese proficiency). It doesn’t say anything about an entrance exam or anything like that … which seems a little strange to me …

In order to go to grad school in China, you not only need to get a minimum of Level 6 on the Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK), but you also need to take the same graduate school entrance exam as the Chinese students (which would be impossible, IMO, for a foreigner to pass).

So, does anyone have any info? Thanks in advance!


#2

Schools have their own tests. I believe that NTU did not, at least a few years back, when someone I knew applied there with just what you’ve stated, nothing more, no exam, nothing.

I’ve just applied to and gotten into Fujen in Hsinchuang to do a second MA, which involved lots of copies of diplomas/transcripts, a health exam (evidently there is concern that a foreigner might become despondent during the entrance exam and slit his/her wrists, so better make sure they’re HIV-negative first???) and a fairly substantial application fee (about $2000 I think). My department had both a written and a follow-up oral exam; the written was for “screening”, kind of, as only the candidates they were interested in were invited to take the oral. Yes, I had to take the same test the Chinese candidates took, but I think they know you are foreign when they evaluate your results so they might apply a bit of charity to the whole procedure.

Beware applying to Shida as their “Mandarin Language Test” is poorly constructed and not a valid exam from many technical viewpoints (as I did a Ph.D. in Education AND sat that exam I feel justified in saying this). I think a year at the MTC is pretty much the “price” to pass that exam for a non-Asian foreigner.

You need to check the individual university and then, if there is a departmental exam, get ahold of the “kaogu ti”, the past years’ exam questions. They used to sell them in this very, very strange little office on the edge of Taipei down in Wanhua somewhere; now many are available on the Web.

Also, be aware that (at least this far in my case) the schools here do NOT offer the same level of support to foreign students as we do in the States (i.e., orientations, mentors, etc.) You’re pretty well on your own. It’s not impossible but at times it’s annoying.


#3

You should probably download and read the Chinese rules for admission to NTU’s graduate program in Chinese (www-ms.cc.ntu.edu.tw/~chinlit/ch … nounce.htm). There is an exam, and there are only five places per year available for foreign students. When I was at the MTC, there was a cadre of Korean and Japanese students determined to get into NTU’s Chinese Department. They were all from the very best Sinological programs in their home countries and worked very hard. So I would say that the competition is going to be pretty tough. There does seem to be a kind of non-degree program described in the announcement.

You might also check out National Cheng-Chih University–several non-Asian students have studied there and even graduated! They have a Mandarin Proficiency test (pretty easy) and a test in Chinese Literature (difficult, but they grade it generously). You might also try some of the programs outside of Taipei. Qinghua is a very fine university, and Cheng-kung (sp?) U. in Tainan seems like it would be a pleasant place to study.

Good Luck!

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#4

I’d also be willing to consider the programs at Cheng-chi University and NTNU, but my only concern is whether or not an M.A. from one of those two schools would be recognized back in the U.S. if/when I choose to go back for my Ph.D. (I’d rather do my Ph.D. there than in Taiwan … more international accreditation).

Also, in China, I know it’s possible to get in via the “back door,” but is this possible in Taiwan as well? I have two very well-known and recognized Chinese professors back in the States who will both give me very good recommendations. One is the daughter of Claire Chennault, the American airforce commander who led the Flying Tigers (fei hu dui) during World War II in China and saved CKS’s butt (she is very well-known in Medieval Chinese Literature), and the second is a very famous Chinese linguist, Qu Chengxi (he’s got Chinese grammar books on sale here, and my teachers at Shida know him and have seen him speak at big conferences). Anyway, just a thought …

If you have any more advice/info, I’d be very grateful. Thanks!


#5

Well, well, well. You also studied under Cynthia Chennault. When did you graduate from UF? Does Prof. Chennault still smoke like a fish?


#6

Cheng-Chih and NTNU are both accredited, so your MA will be recognized. But you have to ask yourself why you want such a degree if your ultimate goal is an academic career in the States. If your Chinese is excellent, why not go straight into a PhD program? Most of the good programs will allow you to do so, so why bother with an MA? Make sure you’ve done some Japanese first though. If your Chinese is not so great, study here for a year or two at the MTC, and then enroll in an MA program in the States to find out if an academic career in Chinese Lit is what you really want and if you are really cut out for it. You won’t get a feel for this if you study in Taiwan.

Now if you want to stay in Taiwan for a long time, an MA can be surprisingly useful for getting work permits and teaching jobs.

There is no back door to these programs. A good letter of recommendation will certainly help you, but you still have to pass the tests. The good news is that many Universities need to prove to the Ministry of Education that they are sufficiently international, so they are desperate to attract foreigners and adjust the test scores accordingly. This is not the case with NTU and NTNU though. If you must stay in Taipei (why?), you could also consider Danjiang or Fujen, both of which have excellent Chinese Departments.


#7

[quote=“Feiren”]When I was at the MTC, there was a cadre of Korean and Japanese students determined to get into NTU’s Chinese Department. They were all from the very best Sinological programs in their home countries and worked very hard. So I would say that the competition is going to be pretty tough. There does seem to be a kind of non-degree program described in the announcement.
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Agree totally. The year I did the NTNU Chinese exam, I was the only white person in the whole exam.


#8

Really? Cool! :smiley: I graduated in 2001 … and when I was there, she was trying to quit, but she and I still had a cigarette together occasionally outside of Grinter Hall. :wink:


#9

Well, part of my reason for doing it in Taiwan is a significant other who I can’t take back to the States with me yet (I know, probably a REALLY dumb reason). Also, I figure that going through a graduate program here would improve my Chinese VERY much, so that if I decided later that an academic career is not for me (better to decide that after a M.A. only than getting a Ph.D.), I’d be in a good position for any kind of translation job, work for the CIA or NSA, or whatever. Finally, I think it would be fun … I love this kind of stuff. The hard work doesn’t bother me … the ONLY thing I’m really concerned about is getting into the program only to find out after I start that it’s waaay over my head (and I don’t trust their “tests” to really determine if I can hack it or not). Also, since so much stuff is being done here in English now, what are the chances of their taking a thesis written in English? There certainly are lots of good academic works in the field of Sinology written in English (and Japanese, Russian, etc.)

Also, I did two years of Japanese at my uni. back in the States, although I’m sure I’ll need to do some brushing up on that …


#10

You have to write your thesis in Chinese. Chinese programs in Taiwan tend to be very heavy on the philology. I would guess that unless you’ve spent at least two or three years studying Chinese intensively in Taiwan or China in addition to your undergraduate work that it will be too difficult for you. Some people from the certain programs in the UK, France, and Australia tend to be better prepared because they come from more Sinological programs with an emphasis on reading, writing, and classical Chinese. Very little moden Chinese lit is studied in these programs, and everyone has to take the basic required courses in classical literature and philology.

You might also consider doing a course in one of the Departments of Foreign Languages. You could still take the courses you were interested in in the Chinese Department but not be subject to their conservative ways. The Waiwenxi in Taiwan are usually staffed by faculty who were educated in the US or Europe but who often have a strong interest in Chinese literature along with a modern critical vocabulary. You can also write your thesis in English.


#11

[quote=“Feiren”]You have to write your thesis in Chinese. Chinese programs in Taiwan tend to be very heavy on the philology. I would guess that unless you’ve spent at least two or three years studying Chinese intensively in Taiwan or China in addition to your undergraduate work that it will be too difficult for you. Some people from the certain programs in the UK, France, and Australia tend to be better prepared because they come from more Sinological programs with an emphasis on reading, writing, and classical Chinese. Very little moden Chinese lit is studied in these programs, and everyone has to take the basic required courses in classical literature and philology.

You might also consider doing a course in one of the Departments of Foreign Languages. You could still take the courses you were interested in in the Chinese Department but not be subject to their conservative ways. The Waiwenxi in Taiwan are usually staffed by faculty who were educated in the US or Europe but who often have a strong interest in Chinese literature along with a modern critical vocabulary. You can also write your thesis in English.[/quote]

If I absolutely had to write my thesis in Chinese, I think I could manage that. As far as the classical stuff and philology goes, that’s what I’m looking for … I’m not interested in modern Chinese literature. I also have a decent background in Chinese philosophy/culture (the first part of my double major being in Asian Religions). I don’t have 2-3 years of study in China or Taiwan, but by the time I start, I will have had 1.5 years of formal study between the two places.

I think I’ll regret it if I don’t try, and I think if I settle for a M.A. in Western Languages/Literature, that won’t help me get into a Ph.D. program back in the States (if I decide to go that far). So, my question now is, where do I go from here? I don’t have the time or money to apply to every Chinese Department in Taipei, so I’d like to restrict myself to the ones that are most likely … Fujen? Tamkang? Cheng-chi? Shi-ta? Also, what materials should I be studying?

Thanks for all of the great responses/advice so far! :smiley:


#12

Well, I have SOME good news for you…you don’t need ANYTHING like a “good level of Chinese” to get hired by the NSA. In fact, when I did their interview (well, it WAS some years back!) the test was taken from Level II of “Practical Chinese Readers”, the orange-y colored books from Beijing, the story about when the PLA soldier carries the bag of grain home for the girl and then finds out – what a coincidence – that she lives in the house where he is billeted.

They basically hire people who have either ability in languages or SOME background (they’re not too picky about how much, it seems) and then train them. Pay grade is based on your educational level (an MA or Ph.D. in Chinese – NOT a related field like Asian Studies so far as I know) will raise your pay grade as a translator. You’re talking GS-5 with a BA, GS-7 with an MA, GS-9 possible with a Ph.D.

Still not the big bucks, but it’s better than academe…


#13

An MA from a Waiwenxi will help you especially if you did a comparative course of study and took classes in the Chinese Department.

Realistic choices in Taipei would be Cheng-Chih, Fu-Jen, Danjiang, and the Chinese Cultural University. Cheng-Chih is the most sinological of these while the faculty at Danjiang and Fujen will be more familiar with contemporary courses.

As for preparation, you should commit Yang Jie’s History of Chinese Literature to memory. There are also histories of Chinese Literature in English (did Victor Mair come out with one recently?) that would probably be useful as well. The entrance exams are basically a test of your knowledge of Chinese literary history.

You should probably go over to Shita and sit in on courses in the Four Books and Shiji. They used to offer classes in this at the MTC too.

Good Luck!


#14

Well, I have SOME good news for you…you don’t need ANYTHING like a “good level of Chinese” to get hired by the NSA. In fact, when I did their interview (well, it WAS some years back!) the test was taken from Level II of “Practical Chinese Readers”, the orange-y colored books from Beijing, the story about when the PLA soldier carries the bag of grain home for the girl and then finds out – what a coincidence – that she lives in the house where he is billeted.

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Good God !!!

I never thought I’d hear of Gubo and Palanka again…! How the hell are they these days ?!

Those wonderful one-liners are forever inscribed upon my consciousness “He was the Peoples’ Hero”. Indeed !

If all you need to get into the NSA is a passing acquaintance with some first year undergraduate texts then sign me up. Er, actually, no.

Well I never did… How we laughed at the lot that went to the mainland to do books 3-5, as we Zheng Da students chewed binglang, drank Wisby, and acted the total bollix through our year out.

Our PCRs were green. With lovely little bamboo designs on the front. The Taiwan bound contingent never got to hear what happened G&P in China - I believe Palanka was sold into prostitution and Gubo was chased out of the country by the Shanghai Triads. Can anyone confirm this ?

Ding Xiaojie