Studying in China

Studying in China

Due to its size, there are hundreds of universities in China and many of them are qualified to accept international students. A list of institutions and details about each one is available at Study in China.

The higher education system in China is made up of research universities, comprehensive universities, colleges for professional training and higher vocational education. Some institutions are named after their area of expertise but still offer a wide range of subjects in different fields.

Higher education institutions in China are governed by the Ministry of Education which reviews and approves degrees and sets quality controls.

The academic year in China runs from mid-September to mid-July and is spread over two semesters.

Due to its size, there are hundreds of universities in China and many of them are qualified to accept international students. A list of institutions and details about each one is available at Study in China.

You can check university rankings at Top Universities.

What courses can you study?

Masters degree study usually lasts between two to three years while doctoral degree study generally takes three to four years to complete.

Courses are available in a variety of subjects such as international relations, tourism, finance, economics and maths. It's possible to take courses which are taught in English in certain institutions. The Study in China website lists all available courses and allows you to search for those taught in English.

If you wish to be taught in Mandarin, you will need to pass the Chinese language proficiency test, or Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK). It is divided into primary, medium and advanced levels.

How do you apply for postgraduate study?

You'll need to meet the requirements of the university you are applying to in order to study in China. These can vary between institutions, but generally, to study for a masters degree you'll need an undergraduate degree and for doctoral-level qualifications you'll need to be qualified to masters level.

It's likely that you'll need to supply two letters of recommendation from your university in the UK. You may also be required to prove you have no criminal record and are in a reliable financial state. Some universities may want you to take the Chinese college entrance exams. You may also be required to have medical insurance while studying. Contact individual institutions to find out about their specific requirements.

Most universities carry out enrolment in mid-September although some start this slightly later in October. A small number of universities may have an intake in the spring. International applicants are advised to apply to Chinese universities between January and April. Applications should be made directly to the institution. You can often do this online - or contact the university’s international department for the forms in English.

Fees and scholarships

University tuition fees vary depending on the subject, the institution and its location. Studying in a smaller city or in Western China will make costs significantly lower than if you study in one of the main cities.

Costs tend to increase each year but typically tuition fees for a masters degree can be between RMB20,000 and RMB60,000 a year. Tuition fees are listed against courses on Study in China, but you should check directly with the institutions to get specific information on what you'd need to pay.

International students aren’t allowed to work while studying, so you’ll need to have enough money to fund your stay.

Full and partial scholarships are available to international students taking postgraduate qualifications through the Chinese Government Scholarship Programme. The China Scholarship Council manages the programme and the amount available can vary depending on the institution and subject. Also check out the CAS-TWAS President’s PhD Fellowship Program. More details of scholarships are available from Study in China.

Chinese universities may also offer their own scholarships and you should contact them directly for information.

Are there any exchange programmes?

An exchange programme exists for students of the Universities of Birmingham, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Nottingham through Universitas 21. This is an international network of 25 higher education institutions which allows exchanges with either Fudan University or Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China.

Will your qualifications be recognised in the UK?

The Chinese government has signed mutual recognition agreements for higher education qualifications with various countries including the UK. However, you should still check with the university or higher education institution where you are hoping to study to see if their qualification is recognised or has an equivalent in the UK.

Do you need a visa to study in China?

British citizens need to have a visa to be able to study in China. The type of visa you'll need depends on how long your studies will take. For periods of 180 days or less you will need to get an X2 visa but if you'll be studying for longer you'll require an X1 visa.

You will need to make sure you have a minimum of six months left on your passport when you apply for the visa and at least one blank visa page. You will also need to provide a letter of admission from the university. For more information see the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the United Kingdom.

Written by AGCAS editors, April 2016