International Agreement Will Bring Chinese Students to George Mason

Posted: March 8, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

One of the key accomplishments of President Alan Merten’s trip to Asia last fall was signing agreements with seven Chinese universities that will send students to Mason for their sophomore and junior years. As a result of the agreements, part of the U.S.-China 1-2-1 Joint Academic Program, 20 to 30 Chinese students are expected to study at the Fairfax Campus this fall.

Approximately 20 universities in China and five in the United States are involved in the 1-2-1 program. Last week, a delegation of presidents and vice presidents from 12 Chinese universities participating in the 1-2-1 program visited George Mason and met with Merten and other administrators to discuss administrative issues and tour the campus.

The U.S.-China 1-2-1 Joint Academic Program is an international education initiative that brings American and Chinese universities together to offer dual degrees to Chinese undergraduate students who would not otherwise have access to education in the United States. Students spend their freshman year in a Chinese university, their sophomore and junior years at an American university, and their senior year back at their original university in China. Upon completing all requirements, students receive baccalaureate degrees from each school.

Chinese delegation visits
President Alan Merten and China Coordinator Madelyn Ross addressed the delegation of Chinese university administrators last week.
Photo by Lisa McCarty

“The 1-2-1 program will strengthen George Mason by bringing a select group of Chinese undergraduates to the campus, broadening their educational horizons, and enriching our student population,” says Merten. “With the support of China’s Ministry of Education, it also will help George Mason develop stronger institutional links to the Chinese university partners and facilitate a wide array of initiatives Mason is developing in China, including research connections, artistic collaborations, faculty exchanges, and training initiatives.”

At Mason, six departments will be open to the students in 2005-06:

  • Computer Science (BS)

  • Dance (BFA)

  • Economics (BS or BA)

  • Geography (BS or BA)

  • Global Affairs (BA)

  • Music (BM in Performance)

George Mason formally joined the 1-2-1 program last October when Merten signed an agreement in Beijing with seven of the participating Chinese universities. To ensure good communication and facilitate program planning, George Mason will work initially with just seven schools in China whose programs and students seem to be a good fit with Mason’s. The initial partner schools are

Beijing Normal University, Nanjing Normal University, Wuhan University of Technology, Southwest Jiaotong University, Shandong University at Weihai, Soochow University, and Yunnan University.

Begun in 2001, the 1-2-1 program was designed and is supported by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and the China Center for International Educational Exchange under China’s Ministry of Education. The pilot phase of the program brought more than 169 students from 19 Chinese universities to study in the United States, at Troy State University in Alabama and Pittsburg State University in Kansas. George Mason, Ball State University, and Southeastern Oklahoma State University joined the program in 2004, and several other U.S. universities plan to join this year.

Mason’s China Coordinator, Madelyn Ross, says that the U.S. Embassy and consulates in China are enthusiastic about the 1-2-1 program because it helps increase the number of Chinese undergraduates who can study in the United States while providing relative certainty that the students will return to China, as required, to complete their degree. The program is also becoming known among Chinese families as a good way for qualified students who can afford to study overseas to gain U.S. college experience while lessening the overall expense of foreign tuition by two years and minimizing visa concerns. Finally, she says, the Ministry of Education of China is enthusiastic about the initiative because it encourages collaboration between American and Chinese universities and gives Chinese students strong international experience and proficiency in English.

For more information about the program, contact Ross at or 703-993-8795.

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