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ASU Online program in Mandarin produces 1st graduates

4 master's degrees offered to students in China through Cintana partnership


Close-up of a globe showing the region surrounding Asia.
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August 16, 2022

Arizona State University offers four online master’s degree programs taught in Mandarin to students in China, and the initiative has just produced its first group of graduates. Thirteen Sun Devils graduated with master's degrees in applied leadership and management in a virtual ceremony in July.

More than a thousand students are enrolled in the four programs, called ASU ZaiXian, which was launched in fall 2020 – the first full degree programs offered in a language other than English. Hundreds are expected to graduate from ASU ZaiXian this fall. "ZaiXian" means "online" in Mandarin Chinese.

The program is part of ASU’s partnership with Cintana Education, an initiative that harnesses the quality of ASU’s academic programs for international students.

The content of ASU’s degree programs was professionally translated and then reviewed by Mandarin-speaking instructional designers and taught by Mandarin-speaking ASU faculty, according to Xiaojing "Icy" Cao, program manager at EdPlus, the ASU unit that houses ASU Online. Other support services, such as success coaches, also are offered in Mandarin.

“The purpose of the program is to achieve the objective of the ASU charter that we’re so proud of about inclusion and access on a global scale,” she said.

“We’re giving access to students in China by translating some of our online programs to remove the language barrier.”

Besides translation, the process of creating degree programs for students in China involved making sure the content was culturally relevant – as well as sidestepping some glitches.

“Google is not available in China,” Cao said.

“A lot of times we say, ‘Well just use a different browser.’ But one time the students were asked to buy a package from the bookstore, but when they were about to pay, the little thing popped up where you have to click the picture to prove that you’re a human. But our students couldn’t use that because it’s owned by Google.

“We realized we had to be creative to find a way for our students.”

The bookstore was able to work with the students directly to bypass the CAPTCHA image for the students in China.

The master’s degree in applied leadership and management is offered through the Thunderbird School of Global Management at ASU. The other three degrees offered in Mandarin are a Master of Science in psychology, Master of Arts in education and Master of Engineering in computing and technology.

The 13 students who just graduated were already working when they began the program. Their careers include consulting, finance, technology and small business ownership, Cao said.

“This program is very student-centric,” she said.

“We meet the students where they are, not just with language but with their backgrounds as well.”

Top image courtesy iStock

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