Wuhan University International Major

Though China has opened itself up to the international community, for many people it remains a mystery. This is no less true for academic philosophy. To help address this problem, I've written the following summary for my own institution, Wuhan University.


Wuhan University is one of the most prestigious universities in China. According to the QS World University rankings, it has been ranked among the top ten universities in China since 2016. Its philosophy department is also one of the most prestigious departments in the country, and since 2015 it has been ranked in the top five in China. Founded in 1922, the department is pluralistic. It has over 80 faculty members, with experts in Chinese philosophy, Marxist philosophy, and Western philosophy (including both the history of Western philosophy and contemporary areas of research). The bulk of its faculty are active researchers. In addition, the department hosts on a weekly basis a wide variety colloquia and conferences.

The philosophy department offers BA, MA, and PhD degrees. Within its BA program, it offers a few distinct majors with distinct curricula. The International Major, first created in 2001, aims to introduce students to international (that is, non-Chinese and non-Marxist) philosophy. For the first three semesters of the program, students first take compulsory university-wide courses and then take compulsory department-wide courses that cover a wide variety of philosophical areas. Afterwards, most of the courses that students take come from their specific major. For the International Major, most of these courses focus on Anglophone philosophy – predominantly contemporary analytic philosophy, but with some continental and historical philosophy as well. Finally, students are required to write a senior thesis. With the guidance of an advisor, students write a 15—20-page research paper that engages a contemporary research topic of their choice. Students publicly present and defend their thesis at the end of their senior year. Though it is not a requirement, many students elect to write and defend their thesis in English.

Given the mission of the International Major, almost 100% of the readings in its courses are in English. (The major exception is the mathematical logic course, which uses a Chinese-language textbook.) Several of the Chinese faculty who teach for the program publish in both English and Chinese journals. Their background and skillset make them extremely well-positioned to help students navigate English material. In addition, English is the language of instruction for approximately 25—50% of the program’s courses. The department currently has eight international (i.e. non-Chinese) professors and post-doctoral researchers. Of those, three professors regularly teach for the International Major; others teach on a less regular basis.

Wuhan University also has an honor’s college. Administratively, the Hongyi Honor’s College is separate from the philosophy department. It has its own dedicated faculty and its own curriculum – including its own philosophy major. Nevertheless, there is a lot of overlap between their major and the International Major run by the philosophy department. Students from Hongyi often attend courses administered by the philosophy department, and vice versa.

The International Major graduates around 10 students each year. In terms of placement, the program has had a lot of success. Its students have continued their studies at a wide variety of graduate programs across the world, including University of Edinburgh, University of St. Andrews, Ghent University, University of Frankfurt, Cornell University, University of Notre Dame, and University of Southern California. While many graduates go on to have successful careers elsewhere, some seek to return. One graduate has become one of the department’s most prominent researchers, and one of the program’s first graduates is now its Associate Dean.