Make Shanghai Your Classroom

Study abroad and intern in this fast-paced global megacity. Shanghai offers something for everyone—go up high over the clouds at the Shanghai Tower (the world’s second tallest building), savor the flavors found in street food throughout the city, dance with the locals in People’s Square, and much more!

Quick Facts:

  • 24 million inhabitants
  • Shanghai means "Upon-the-Sea"
  • Called "the city of experiment"
  • "Chicken of the fields" is not chicken!
  • Locals speak Shanghainese
  • 40% of residents are not born in Shanghai 
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Picture yourself savoring the flavors of Shanghai’s night market, marveling at the cityscape through the clouds from the Shanghai Tower and learning to speak Shanghainese with locals at CAPA’s Shanghai center on the East China Normal University campus. With a bit of preparation, this can become your reality. CAPA’s team of study abroad experts and travel enthusiasts are excited to help you on your way, making sure first that you know how to study abroad! With a checklist in hand, going from considering what your life could look like in China to being in the midst of the fast-paced “City of Experiment” will seem much more achievable.

First, there will be some admin: application forms, applying for a passport, chatting with your advisor and considering an internship, among other things. You’ll want to plan a budget to make sure you have enough RMB to last the duration of your study abroad adventure. Think about scholarships and any other finance options available. Once you’re accepted, it’s then time to think about what to pack. Then hop over and look at our blog for solid budgeting tips from our finance team, a list of helpful apps and inspirational Shanghai stories.

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Why Shanghai

Shanghai is a city of juxtaposition, of old and new. Shanghai is a city where you can sip a cup of tea in a Ming Dynasty building while the skyscrapers of the city stretch into the clouds behind you, or step out of a modern metro station to see a Buddhist temple built nearly 1,000 years ago. It’s the largest city in China, a global economic superpower, and a place buzzing with energy and ideas that makes anything seem possible.

You’ll come across ballroom dancers and tai chi practitioners in the parks, float down the Huangpu on a river cruise, see cutting edge art in the M50 district, visit the famous Avocado Lady at Wulumuqi Lu, and slurp up magical soup dumplings called xiaolongbao for dinner. You’ll spot a mix of Chinese and Western influences around the city in everything from architecture to fashion. Take on an internship and you’ll gain insight into the differences between working cultures as well as an opportunity to practice new language skills you’re learning in class with local colleagues. And, if you need an escape from the busy streets, you can easily slip away to one of the nearby Watertowns for some relaxation.

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Shanghai literally means “upon-the-sea”, so you can expect to sample some delicious fish and seafood dishes during your time studying there. Sautéed cod, double pepper fish, grilled oysters and hairy crab are some of the best. Other favorites include roast goose, Shanghai noodles, pan-fried dumplings, and Japanese hibachi-style cooking. And whatever you do, don’t miss the famous soup-filled dumplings (xiaolongbao) or the Muslim hand-pulled noodles (noodle soup with the noodles created by the waiter in front to you from a ball of dough). If you’re feeling adventurous, try “chicken of the fields” (frog). If you’re looking for a snack, try tea-eggs or stinky tofu (yes, it lives up to its name). Breakfast in this part of China is usually savory, with wonton soup or sticky rice balls as popular choices.

Cooking as a student in Shanghai is easy and affordable when you make use of the markets to buy fresh local ingredients. For restaurant or street food stall recommendations, chat with fellow students at ECNU, CAPA staff, or see top picks from our alumni on the CAPA blog. Master those chopsticks before you travel and dig in!

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Culture & Activities

From ancient to ultramodern, Shanghai’s tourist trail combined with authentic cultural activities will leave no room for boredom. Learn about history with a tour of the Old Jewish Ghettos or a leafy stroll through the French Concession. Admire traditional ceramics at the Shanghai Museum and wander the alleyways speckled with local markets around the Yuyuan Gardens. Then see the flip side. Stroll down the Bund or walk the streets of Lujiazui opposite to look up at the futuristic skyscrapers from below and experience the Shanghai Maglev Train, a magnetic levitation train and the fastest commercial train in the world. For entertainment, spend an afternoon on Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street, the world’s longest shopping precinct. Visit a world class acrobatic theater for a spectacular performance combining art traditions with modern technology. Try karaoke, a passion of many locals. Go to Pyongyang Koryo for a rare opportunity to taste North Korean food and eat dumplings from a busy street stall on Huanghe Road. Catch a Shanghai Sharks basketball game. Observe the People’s Square Marriage Market. See birds and beautiful orchids at the bustling Caojiadu Flower and Bird Market. And marvel at that incredible city skyline from above, day and night.

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Scholarships & Finance

There are many different types of scholarships, grants and finance options to explore that can help you reach your goal of studying abroad in Shanghai. CAPA’s predeparture staff will be able to guide you in the right direction so you can decide which opportunities are best suited to your personal situation and learn how to apply.

We do our best make study abroad accessible to everyone and to provide funding to those who need it. Need-based options include CAPA’s own need-based scholarship, the FEA-CAPA Access Scholarship, a grant from one of the colleges or universities who are affiliated with CAPA, and third-party options such as the Gilman Scholarship. CAPA also offers a blogger/vlogger grant that select students receive in exchange for creating content for our blog about their study abroad experience, a diversity advocate grant, an accommodations fund for students with disabilities and an HBCU grant for students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities. There are also many other study abroad scholarships available that are not direct CAPA initiatives. Research early as they usually require you to apply up to a year in advance. You may also be eligible to for financial aid.

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Interning Abroad

Set yourself apart from your peers by interning abroad for credit in the futuristic city of Shanghai! You’ll develop new skills, learn how to effectively articulate these to grad schools and hiring managers, and positively impact your future career in a country with the world’s largest economy. You’ll collaborate with and learn from Shanghainese locals in a mega-city that is an important global financial and business hub, expand your professional network overseas, gain an international perspective on your field and an appreciation for diverse working cultures and practices in a global city.

CAPA’s internship program is well-established with a network of over 2,000 internship sites across the globe in private and nonprofit sectors and in just about every field. We work hard to place you somewhere that fits your academic major, personal interests and abilities. CAPA Shanghai internships are mainly English-language placements, and students intern in fields ranging from business and supply chain management to digital media and marketing! Internship placements are included in the cost of the CAPA Shanghai program, so don’t miss out on a fantastic opportunity! Chat with an admissions advisor to learn more about the placement process and be sure to read about other CAPA Shanghai students’ internship experiences on our blog.

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Education Abroad

Studying abroad in Shanghai doesn’t mean sacrificing quality, credits or academic integrity. CAPA courses and faculty-led programs are rigorous; we run them in strict adherence to the Forum on Education Abroad’s Standards of Good Practice. You’ll play an active role in your own development while you’re abroad, working toward what we call our Student Learning and Development Outcomes (or SLDOs). From personal and professional development to urban environments, our five SLDOs will guide everything you do as a CAPA student. You’ll have plenty of time for fun and exploration too, and those things are also incorporated into (and a very important part of!) the CAPA Shanghai experience. One example is our My Global City social events and cultural activities, including discovering Shanghai’s creative SoHo quarter and marvelling at architecture in the Old French Concession. We also take your experience in China from international to global, with collaborative projects that involve working directly with CAPA students in other cities around the world through our innovative globally networked technology.

See our blog to read our Thoughts on Education Abroad column and take a deep dive into specific areas of academic focus from the perspective of past CAPA Shanghai students and faculty.

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Live like a local and immerse yourself in Shanghainese language and culture. Whether you’re fluent in Mandarin Chinese or have never heard the language before, studying in Shanghai offers a plethora of opportunities to learn and improve your Mandarin, from CAPA Chinese language courses and internship placements to daily activities and cultural events. Want to practice your conversational Mandarin? Choose to deepen your language immersion by rooming with a Chinese student! Plus, Shanghai is very friendly to travelers from around the world, so don’t let the language barrier keep you from studying abroad in China.

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CAPA's Shanghai Center

CAPA's Shanghai Center is located on the campus of East China Normal University (ECNU) in Shanghai.

Colin Speakman, CAPA Shanghai Resident Director

If you are future-focused, would enjoy the challenge of living like a local among 25 million people in a mega city that is a mover and shaker in the areas of global economy, eco-friendly environmental development, innovation in health care and much more, then China's "City of Experiment" is for you. Join me as a long established "Western local" who loves helping American students truly engage with Shanghai and sharing the secrets of how to do it! See you here in “The Paris of the East”! 

The experience of a lifetime awaits.

Fall, Summer, and Spring Terms Available Explore shanghai programs



9_24_CAPA_Instagram_Shanghai_Greg Peterson_Image from Skysracper of Downtown Shanghai
CAPAStudyAbroad_Sydney_Summer2018_From Sydney Alderman - Passport
Shanghai internship
I wanted to interact with locals and explore, but also wanted an investment for my future. The internship provided invaluable lessons while I also had ample opportunities to seek out adventure. Studying abroad will be one of the most valuable decisions you will make as a college student.
Jason Baxter
Arizona State University