The China Program

The China Program is Blue Marble University’s BA/MS online Chinese language degree program.

In more recent times, China has been the only major economy to maintain growth despite global-financial, trade war and COVID turbulence.  In turn the country has maintained its attractiveness on the international stage, while knowing its language and culture remain high on the list of valuable skills and knowledge for young, adult and professional learners alike. One great way to acquire the skill of Chinese language is through Blue Marble University’s The China Program, a 2-4-year, fully-online, Chinese language master’s degree program. 

A degree awarded for proficiency that can be tailored for the proficient.

Refreshingly, proficiency is the degree program’s focus, rather than seat time and class hours.  It is completely suitable for beginners who will be taken through to adequate proficiency for professional use.  Students who are already proficient to some degree can begin customized curriculums tailored by Blue Marble University’s vastly experienced, professional and capable faculty. 

Being in China since 2002, proficiency in Chinese was not the focus of my own degree program.  Being fluent in the language already, the university pivoted quickly and with ease, crafting a student-directed curriculum based on my input.  The result was a personally meaningful, valuable and dynamic foray into China’s language and culture through the study of China’s philosophy, medicine, education and herbal extract industry.

My enjoyment of Blue Marble University’s The China Program was based on a respect for the quality of the university .

Not only does quality take time to create, but it can also take time to realize it.  There are numerous reasons for the quality of Blue Marble University, but the two that stood out specifically for The China Program were that it was realistic and lean.

The program’s goal is proficiency in Chinese, which is what is needed in a professional capacity.  How that is achieved is understood by the school to be a product of hard studious work rather than a product of seat time in a classroom.  Therefore, unrelated and unnecessary course work was eliminated from my curriculum, cutting study time and cost dramatically. 

This is a lean and exceptionally realistic approach to learning a language, and to education in general.  For learners with family and professional lives looking for options in further education where time and money are in short supply, like myself at the time, this is a great choice.  Really, it was a joy for me to serendipitously find a school looking at education in such a fashion, and as I worked my way through the program, my respect for the school’s approach to further education only deepened. 

My enjoyment of the program was also based on the inspiration that continuously arose as I experienced the school’s innovation, care and resourcefulness.


Jumping on board and learning with an education institution that was thinking outside of the “higher-education” box was a continuous inspiration for me.  Gradually, I came to learn the school had put natural and necessary education reform and innovation into action by trimming off the excess of bloated and expensive brick and mortar universities focused on seat time and class hours.  This innovation was not only enjoyable for myself but also a continuous inspiration that gave me an extra boost many times throughout the learning process.

Though there were always prompt and helpful replies to all of my emails to instructors and staff, unavoidably it was a lone ride through the virtual learning landscape.  With only virtual presence and support of faculty; with the onus of learning placed solely on myself to plod on amidst the hustle and bustle of everyday family and professional life—it was daunting at times.  I never did feel lost though, and knew clearly my purpose and path for each course, which gave me confidence and urged me forward.  This was due to the promptness, clarity and thoughtfulness of instructor guidance and administrative staff communications.  These expressed the high-degree of professional care infused within the school.  This care was inspiring and it greatly took the edge off of solo virtual self-learning!


It seems natural, really a no-brainer, that the internet would become a treasure-trove of resources for the field of education. Blue Marble University dips liberally into that treasure to create its programs, and for The China Program it harnesses a variety of media resources to allow students to learn and practice all that they need to be proficient.  Due to being proficient in Chinese already, the university tapped one more of its resources, their student.  Based on my feedback they created a self-directed degree program that allowed me to develop as a philosopher, an educator, a speaker of Chinese and as a traditional Chinese culture enthusiast.  Being able to meld my Chinese proficiency development with study of other China-centric subjects of interest naturally elevated the meaningfulness and thus my enjoyment of the program. 

I have been able to experience Blue Marble’s innovative resourcefulness in another capacity, as an instructor/mentor of one of their other The China Program students.  Since teaching is a powerful way to learn, being tapped again as a resource for teaching in turn encouraged and deepened my own learning—and for a student, where does joy come from?  Learning—and there was a lot of that happening over the course of the program!

Valuable Take-A-Ways

From the clearly seen to the less tangible, a large number of valuable things were learned and acquired, reaching far beyond expectations.

On the tangible level I have come away with two videos showcasing my high-level of Chinese speaking and reading proficiency, a burgeoning online portfolio containing numerous Chinese language and culture related academic papers, a field study on the domestic Chinese herbal extract industry and two works of translation poised for publishing.  Though not required by the degree program I was greatly encouraged by the university to publish one of my papers, and did so on Amazon.  Finally, I have expanded my network of connections with fantastic professionals from the university.  On the less tangible level, I increased acquisition of Chinese language and culture while the development of my writing, editing and translation skills took huge strides alongside greatly increased skill in the use of WordPress and Microsoft Word.

Screenshot of my online portfolio and WordPress website.

To be used much like a resume for job hunting after graduating, the online portfolio is a showcase of learning done and academic work produced as well as of the academic record and certificate of degree.  Guided by an instructor, students learn to use WordPress, which eventually leads to enough proficiency with the website creation platform that each student can make their own website from scratch.  A huge take-a-way to say the least.

Guided by the university, my self-directed degree program led to the creation of video content showcasing my language skills and an eclectic body of academic writing.  

Two videos in all displaying my Chinese speaking and reading skills were made. To view the other video and read the accompanying papers go here…

Core insights into the vastness of traditional Chinese culture were made in my works of writing on the three major schools of Chinese philosophical thought: Confucianism, Daoism and Chinese Buddhism.  TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) was explored through a field study on the state of China’s domestic herbal extract industry in which a reliable herbal extract supplier was searched for and found.  Tapping my nearly two decades of China experience, a guidebook to living in China was written.  Two translations were produced from an obscure Chinese philosophical text on the fundamental reformation of Confucian thought and practice. 

You can browse my words and read here…

Upon university administration and instructor advice and encouragement, one of my papers, focused on living in China, was turned into a guidebook and published on Amazon.  Unlike most guidebooks, it introduces and advises use of Chinese philosophy to holistically live healthily, happily and harmoniously in China.

Click on the cover of my book above to learn about it on Amazon.

Wonderful Experience with Caring and Professional Companions

The wonder and joy of life so often lie in the unexpected.  I did not expect to get as much from the program as I did. Along side my language level rising and cultural understanding increasing, my writing, editing, Chinese translation, website creation and Microsoft Word skills jumped up to the level of craft. Additionally, I expanded my network of professional companions, which included the creation of meaningful relationships with members of Blue Marble University’s administration and faculty.

The amount of benefits of The China Program (as well as those of Blue Marble University’s other degree programs) REALLY make it worth looking into as personal or professional option for further education and training–as I hope I have abundantly showed in this blog post!

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Director and Creator

Director of Blue Marble University’s The China Program

This is my 20th year in China, and it has started off with a bang, for which I am continually grateful.  It has begun with the completion and approval of my Ph.D. dissertation as part of Blue Marble University’s online Chinese language degree program, The China Program.  The approval of my dissertation project then in turn led to the university graciously offering me the position of director of the program—a collaboration I gratefully and happily accepted.

The Chinese idiom 天作之合 means “a match made in heaven” and is usually reserved for those more romantic collaborations.  Regardless, it is the last character of the idiom, , that offers clues to how best collaborate, in any partnership.  Through a deciphering of these clues, an explanation can be had of how Blue Marble University and I approached our school-student collaboration…which has now resulted in a professional one.

That last character 合 means “to join, to fit; together.”  It actually is three characters in one–the characters for people + one + mouth

One implication of this character is that for good collaboration people need to be speaking in like terms—otherwise its disaster for efficiency and quality.

Another deeper implication is based on the fact that communication starts in the mind.  Therefore, in order for any size of group to get on the same page, be on common ground and have good communication, people need to be of the same mind.  The same thoughts?  No, not exactly. Rather, the same motivation inspiring those thoughts is needed. 

Confucius gives clarity about which motivation: 

The Master said: “is humaneness far away?  If I aspire for humaneness it is right here!” 

My Ph.D dissertation was the final project of my school-student collaboration with Blue Marble University. It was a great project to round out and put a creative cherry on top of my time in China and study with the university.  The innovation that resulted from it was a unique online corporate Chinese language learning program. The project also led to my new professional collaboration with Blue Marble University as director of its online Chinese language master’s degree program, The China Program

Due to both sides embracing the humaneness fundamental to any good collaboration, my own completion of the China Program and instruction of the program’s students, my Chinese linguistic and cultural fluency and long experience as an educator—becoming director was a natural progression into a win-win collaboration.

Blue Marble University

Self-described as “The World’s Most Innovative Online University For Working Adults and Career-Minded Students”, Blue Marble University has been trailblazing in the online higher education field for some time.  It boasts 3-year doctoral programs, 5-year fast track BA/PHD programs for high school graduates and homeschoolers, a long list of 4-year undergraduate programs, like The China Program, as well as their 2-year dissertation-only Ph.D. in any field of study

It’s world-quality programs are accessible and convenient with easy to use and understand Academic Record Page for each student. These are permanently kept online, password protected and accessible anytime, anywhere. 

Along with accessibility comes affordability.  Tuition costs are kept down by the university’s avoidance of common accreditation of degrees.  Instead, degrees are sent into foreign credential evaluation services that assess the equivalency of degrees with accredited USA universities.  These types of services are commonly used by anyone trying to study and work in the USA but whose degree was received at a non-American institution.  In this situation degrees are sent to foreign credential evaluation services and once they are deemed equivalent to a USA degree the degree then can be used for further education or employment. 

The China Program

One great master’s degree program offered by Blue Marble University is the Master of Science(M.S.) in Chinese Language, also known as The China Program.

Increasingly one of the most useful languages to learn in the world, Mandarin Chinese is a great skill to have on one’s tool belt.    Whether it be for STEM-industries such as AI, robotics, IT, medical science and technology; for the humanities like education, philosophy, history; for business, import/export, trade and finance; or for simply for digging into the vast treasure trove of a still extant ancient civilization and culture—learning Chinese is a great option for many people.

The China Program harnesses the best resources from the increasing number of Chinese language learning resources online.  It then puts them together in a clear, course-by-course curriculum that can help any general learner of Chinese to reach proficiency in the language in 2-4 years.

On a personal level, The China Program was perfect for fitting a degree atop all of the language skills, cultural understanding and experience I had accumulated while living and working in China.  It also allowed me to pursue further research into traditional Chinese culture, and, via the guidance and vision of the program’s faculty, develop experience, methodologies and clarity for what would end up being the creation of my own online corporate Chinese language learning program.

Creator of Executive Chinese Learning (ECL)

ECL was the purpose and result of my Ph.D. dissertation.  ECL is a unique online corporate Chinese language learning program. It is doubly special because it is a product of the vision and execution of practical and useable Ph.D dissertations, which are a highlight of Blue Marble University. 

Due to what director of the university, Dr. Walter P. Drake, coins as dissertation inflammation, his students’ dissertations do not become voluminous pieces of work that largely are read by only a handful of people, and too often don’t end up being used.

ECL was one such instance of guiding students to create and complete relevant and applicable projects as part of their Ph.D dissertation. 

Over the course of my studies with the university it became clear that learning Chinese online was not difficult in general because of online learning. The amount of resources were growing daily. 

The problems that existed though were two:

  1. For general learners, which of the myriad resources should be used? 
  2. For corporate learners looking to expand their professional skill set with Chinese language, what program was out there that wouldn’t waste their time learning useless skills and knowledge? 

Blue Marble University had solved the first problem already.  Yet, its focus, along with the rest of the virtual Chinese learning world’s, was lacking for the corporate professional learner. 

Thus, via the vision and guidance of Blue Marble University, the Ph.D dissertation project of Executive Chinese Language (ECL) was born.  The result was the design and implementation of an efficient and effective 2-year corporate Chinese language learning program, all online, convenient, affordable and easily accessible.

The Analects translation in the featured image is that of A. Charles Muller.

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