Grades, finally

I finally found out today what my scores were on my entrance exams to grad school at 华师大. They were what I predicted: two B’s. I got an 81 on the 汉语基础 exam and an 85 on the writing exam. (In China the scale is typically A: 90-100, B: 80-89, C: 70-79, D: 60-69, F: below 60.)

I’ll be paying my tuition soon, and the process for obtaining my student visa is already in motion. What was holding everything up was that 刘大为, the professor who was to be my advisor, has decided to leave Hua Shi Da for Fudan University. So they weren’t sure if I still wanted to do my Masters with them because he was leaving, and they weren’t able to get in touch with me because I was in the States. Kinda strange… is it normal to have one’s degree with a university in China dependent on having one particular professor as an advisor? 刘大为 is pretty famous, I hear, but still…

Anyway, everything is on track.


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. Chinese students (especially at the doctoral level, but masters students, too) typically apply to a particular advisor – if that advisor leaves the university, sometimes things can get a bit complicated (I believe this happens in the States, too, with students left in limbo when their advisor takes off).

    Last month a Peking University law professor touched off a minor controversy when he refused to take on any students this year in protest over the
    general lack of quality (the university was requiring that grad students take exams in all sorts of general subjects, implying that the undergrad program was not doing its job). People complained that by doing this he was harming students by (a) reducing the total number of slots for applicants, and (b) forcing those students who were interested in studying under him to either settle for someone else or wait another year and retest.

  2. zhwj,

    Thanks for that bit of info. I don’t yet have any Chinese grad student friends, so I’m still pretty clueless about all this. Hopefully that will change pretty soon.

    Also! I was just thinking about how it’s been a long time since you’re commented, and was wondering if this post would get a response from you… I think I know how to summon you! 🙂

  3. Congratulations on your grades! 🙂

  4. Like zhwj said, grad students in the USA are pretty attached to their advisor too. It’s a pretty big deal to change advisors, especially if its for one of those nasty department-politics reasons.

  5. In the States if a prof moves, a deal would be worked out amongst the dept, the prof, and the student whereby the student might have the options of moving with the advisor or staying in the old dept being advised remotely or by another advisor. In either case, which institute awards his/her final degree would depend more on the respective institutes’ policies regarding credit transfer maximums, resident time requirements, etc. I would think, though, that this kind of changes are more flexible in the States than in China.

  6. Students naturally would fight to have the degree awarded by the bigger-name institute. This shows when there is a sharp contrast between the before and after institutions (and departments), like Harvard vs. South Carolina State or Caltech vs. Grinnelle.

  7. micah and the others are right, in the US something similar would occur. it’s nice they think enough of you to wait for your ok…

  8. Congratulations!
    I was a grad student in Jiao Tong University and your articles are really helpful for my VISA interview. So I would like to give you some suggestion.
    If you really want to be Prof. Liu’s student, you can try to transfer to Fudan with him. Even if you stay in HuaShiDa, you are also able to be advised by him, though you may be tired of travelling to and fro. One of my friends got the master degree from Shanghai CaiJing DaXue this year, and her advisor is in HuaDong ZhengFa XueYuan. Of course, you have to discuss it with Prof.Liu, staffs in HuaShiDa and Fudan. Not all cases are successful, but you should have a try.
    However, if you would like to study with other professors in HuaShiDa, just tell them and look for your favorite advisor.
    Good luck!

  9. Well, terribly glad to know this good NEWS in the end 😉
    i second to what zhwj says, it’s very true! If my advisor is not the exactly man i suppose him to be, maybe i’ll give up.
    Anyway, it depends on yourself what result you’ll get actually. So…

  10. in the u.s., the attachment to the advisor tends to happen AFTER you choose a school and get assigned to an advisor. i suppose there may very well be cases of an individual choosing a school based on advisor, but i think it is usually based more on the reputation of the school and the specific department overall.

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