It is possible to enroll at Chinese universities, but only if you are young, healthy, and have a good reputation. These factors are so important that they are written out on the websites of universities and the visa center. Evaluations are made through health declaration forms, recommendation letters, and other documents. In addition, you must be proficient in Chinese or English.

Keep reading for more information on admission requirements.

We discuss the features of the Chinese education system in our separate article.

Cost of education in China

ProgramAgeDurationMin. cost per yearAvg. cost per yearExams
Bachelor's18+4 years2,000 USD4,000 USDHSK 4 / IELTS 6.0
Master's20+2 years2,300 USD5,000 USDHSK 5 / IELTS 6.5
MBA20+1-2 years4,200 USD14,000 USDHSK 5 / IELTS 6.5
PhD20 +3-5 years4,400 USD5,500 USDHSK 6 / IELTS 6.5

This table shows approximate costs. Verify the exact information on the websites of universities and other educational institutions.

Additional expenses

ExpenseAverage cost
Language exam48 USD
Student visa140 USD
Registration fee55 USD
Insurance83 USD/year
Hostel rent69 USD/month
Transportation12 USD/month
Meals193 USD/month
Study materials75 USD/month

Admission to Chinese universities

Options for admission to Chinese universities

How to choose a university

At prestigious universities in China, education costs an average of 3,864 USD/year. Flights and accommodation in the country are just as cheap. Granted, expenses play a small role when choosing a Chinese university. What other criteria should be considered?

  • Language. No more than 1% of the Chinese population speaks English[1]. If you plan to not only study in this country, but also work and make friends, you will have to learn Chinese one way or another. But, you can also enroll in an English-language program — there are about 400-500 of them in China. If you know Chinese at the B2-C1 level, you should pursue a Chinese-language program. You can choose a university and program on this website, which includes a language search option.
  • Preparatory courses. Started learning Chinese, but are not quite proficient? Enroll in language courses. This is the most common tactic among students — studying in the "1+4" style. First, students study Chinese for a year and pass the HSK exam. Then, they enroll at a university based on the results. However, it is suggested to choose preparatory courses at the university where you plan to study. That way, you can get used to the university setting more quickly. More than 20 universities in China have preparatory courses — for example, Peking University, Tsinghua University, and Shanghai Normal University[2].
  • Rankings. There are many universities in China, including top universities. The 2023 QS World University Rankings includes 77 Chinese universities — Peking University in 12th place, Tsinghua University in 14th, and Fudan University in 34th. However, keep in mind that rankings are not the main criteria — they are just an indicator of how prestigious your diploma will be. Much more important is the quality of education, which is easier to evaluate by subject rankings. For example, Tsinghua University leads in engineering specialties, and among universities in other countries ranks 14th[3]. But in the humanities, Chinese universities are slightly lower in rankings — Peking University is in 43rd place[3].
  • Age. Not many universities in the world have specific age requirements for applicants, but Chinese universities are among them. Some universities allow students up to 25 years old into bachelor’s programs, while others accept students up to 30 years old. However, there are special exceptions. For example, Donghua University accepts students up to 35 years old, but they must be under 25 to apply for scholarships.

Need help with admission?

Top universities in China

Items 1-6 of 2 549

Advanced search

Admission requirements in China

You can apply to Chinese universities online. There are two ways:

  • Fill out the online application form of the chosen university and submit scanned documents with certified translations.
  • Through the Studyinchina website. It is much faster and more convenient, given that you can apply to several universities at once. However, not all universities are connected to this system.

Documents can be submitted twice a year: from March to June for the fall semester and from October to January for the spring.

There are not so many admission requirements at Chinese universities. Of the main ones:

  • Language. The main language of instruction is Chinese. You can confirm it with HSK results. Usually, universities require an HSK level of 5 — if translated into the European system, this is around a B2-C1 level. However, an HSK 6 is more realistic for admission to prestigious universities. At Peking University, for example, such a level is required even for a bachelor’s degree. Students of English-language programs are accepted with an IELTS score not lower than 6.0.
  • GPA. While most Chinese universities do not specify particular GPA requirements, the highest-ranked universities only accept straight-A students. It is unlikely that you will be able to get into a Chinese university with a GPA below 3.7, though individual achievements can correct this situation — all existing diplomas, certificates, and letters of thanks will come in handy. If your school or university had a student ranking, it should also be indicated.
  • Age. It is not enough for students of Chinese universities to be smart — they also need to be young. At the same time, they must be at least 18 years old to enroll in a bachelor’s program. Minor students need a guardian — a Chinese citizen or a foreigner with registration. Many universities also set upper age limits. For admission to a bachelor's program — 25 years old. For master’s programs — 40.
  • Motivation letter. One of the most common requirements. This is a document where you describe your achievements, goals, interests, and expectations from studying in China. In general, you must persuasively reveal your personality in order to please the admissions committee. Typically, Chinese universities require a motivation letter of up to 1500 words.
  • Recommendations. Recommendation letters are required for master's and PhD programs, and even for bachelor’s programs at some prestigious universities. Recommendations allow the commission to evaluate your qualities through the eyes of teachers, professors, and employers. The letter must be signed and contain the contact information of the recommender.
Documents for admission

For bachelor's programs:

  • Completed application form
  • High school diploma + translation
  • HSK or IELTS language certificate
  • Recommendation letters
  • CV
  • Motivation letter
  • Sponsorship letter, proof of employment, or an extract from the sponsor's account
  • Video interview (if required)
  • Passport valid for the entire period of study
  • Certificate of no criminal record

Additionally for master's and PhD programs:

  • Bachelor's / master's diplomas + grade transcript
  • Entrance exams in specialized subjects (if required)
  • 2 years of work experience (most often for MBA programs)
  • Research proposal

All documents must have a certified translation into English or Chinese, depending on the program.

Document legalization and diploma recognition

Most universities in China accept students without a diploma recognition procedure. But some, such as Tsinghua University, may require consular legalization. This can be done online[4].

Application deadlines in China

There are two semesters in China:

  • The fall semester begins in September. Applications must be submitted between February and July. Scholarship applications are accepted from February to May. Enrollment decisions are announced from July to August.
  • The spring semester starts in March, with the application period being from October to January.

However, deadlines may differ depending on the university.

Peking UniversityApril 30 / November 30
Tsinghua UniversityDecember 15 / March 1
Fudan UniversityJune 15
Zhejiang UniversityJune 30
Shanghai Jiao Tong UniversityMarch 31

Application deadlines are subject to change. Verify the exact dates on the official website of your chosen university.

How to enroll in a bachelor’s program

You can apply for a bachelor's program on the website of the selected university or through Studyinchina. The second option is more convenient — the site has filters for specified criteria, and an application can be submitted to several universities at once. However, you have to pay separately for each application — about 83 USD.

Upon admission, you need to fill out an application and submit document scans. Usually, universities ask for a passport, a certificate of no criminal record, language certificates, motivation and recommendation letters. All documents must have a notarized translation.

Many bachelor’s programs have age requirements. The applicant must not be under 18 or over 25-35 years old. The upper threshold for adult students is different at each university , so be sure to verify this criterion.

At Chinese universities, the language requirements are quite high. To study in Chinese, you need an HSK 5 certificate. English-language programs are accepted with IELTS scores from 6.0-6.5. You can improve your language level in preparatory courses.

Documents for admission

Enter a university abroad

How to enroll in a master’s program

Students can apply to a Master's program through Studyinchina or directly fill out an application on the university’s website.

For master’s programs, there are age restrictions as there are for bachelor’s programs. Applicants who are not older than 35-40 may apply. There are not so many requirements for the level of education — usually, a bachelor's degree is enough. However, some universities conduct entrance exams in specialized subjects to assess the applicant’s level of education. They also require recommendation letters from professors and a motivation letter. On rare occasions, interviews are conducted.

Language proficiency must be HSK level 5 or higher for Chinese programs. For English-language programs — IELTS from 6.5.

Many universities also accept academic portfolios and CVs. While they are not often required, they can greatly increase your chances of admission. Admissions committees pay close attention to scientific publications and work experience in the field. It will also be an advantage to have GRE, SAT, or GMAT (for MBA programs) scores.

Documents for admission

  • Completed application form
  • Bachelor's degree with grade transcript
  • HSK 5 or IELTS 6.5
  • GMAT results (for MBA programs)
  • Recommendation letters
  • CV
  • Motivation letter
  • Sponsorship letter, proof of employment, or an extract from the sponsor's account
  • Video interview (if required)
  • Entrance exams in specialized subjects (if required)
  • 2 years of work experience (most often for MBA programs)
  • Passport valid for the entire period of study
  • Certificate of no criminal record

How to enroll in a PhD program

Students can enroll in a PhD program after both master's or bachelor's programs, but the requirements for academic performance will be higher for the latter. Regardless of the previous level of education, scientific publications and two recommendation letters from university will be required. Almost every university requires a motivation letter.

There are very few PhD programs in English. Plus, there is a lot of competition. Students are accepted with an IELTS score of 6.5. or an HSK 6 certificate. Though this is a high level, you cannot write a PhD dissertation without advanced knowledge of Chinese.

Documents for admission

  • Completed application form
  • Bachelor's / master's degrees + grade transcript
  • HSK 6 or IELTS 6.5
  • Recommendation letters
  • CV
  • Motivation letter
  • Research proposal
  • Sponsorship letter, proof of employment, or an extract from the sponsor's account
  • Video interview (if required)
  • Entrance exams in specialized subjects (if required)
  • Passport valid for the entire period of study
  • Certificate of no criminal record

Preparatory programs

Language courses are popular among foreign applicants in China. Such a system is called "1+4": students intensively study Chinese for a year, pass the HSK, and then enroll in bachelor's, master's, or PhD studies.

You can attend courses without any knowledge of Chinese, but it is better to prepare in advance. Learning a language from zero to level 4 in a year is really challenging. It is preferable to already have some sort of foundation in place before you arrive in China.

It is worth enrolling in language courses at the same university where you further plan to study — of course, this is not a prerequisite, and no one will forbid you from applying to another university. However, you can get used to the professors and university setting more quickly. This will not give you an advantage in the admission process, but it will be a little easier.

So, choose a university first and then check if it offers language courses. Courses are always tuition-based, and the exact cost depends on the university. Minimum — 1,104-138 USD/year, maximum — 3,450 USD/year.

Click here for a list of universities that offer preparatory programs.

Need help with admission?

Scholarships in China

Higher education in China is relatively inexpensive. However, there are scholarships that can make it cheaper or even free. Applicants with excellent academic performance and a level of Chinese not lower than HSK 4 can count on them.

  • Chinese government scholarships are applicable to 94 major public universities in China. A quota is allocated for each country. The grant fully covers tuition and accommodation expenses. Students also receive about 300 USD monthly for personal expenses. Applications should be submitted from January to March at the Chinese consulate or directly with the China Scholarship Council (CSC).
  • Local government scholarships are issued at the municipal level. Candidates are selected by the administration of the city or province where the university is located. Grants can cover partial tuition and living costs, or and all costs including flights.
  • Confucius Institute scholarships aim to promote the Chinese language and culture in other countries. Scholarship winners usually study in related specialties — most often, Chinese as a foreign language. The university is usually selected by the program organizers themselves, rather than by the student.
  • University scholarships are awarded to applicants with high grades and a good academic portfolio. The scholarship has 4 categories:
    • A0-1 — free education + accommodation + monthly payments
    • A2 — free education
    • A3 — 50% discount on tuition
    • A4 — 20–25% discount on tuition

Chinese student visa

You will need a student visa to study in China. There are two types:

  • X1 for study longer than 180 days
  • X2 for shorter trips, such as summer language courses[5]

You can apply for an X1 visa after your formal enrollment at a Chinese university. The university administration will send you an invitation letter, along with:

  • JW201 form if you received a scholarship or grant
  • JW202 form if you plan to study at your own expense

You must then find a consulate where you plan to apply for your visa. The university will send it a confirmation of your enrollment and other required information about you. You will then be invited to the consulate to apply for a visa.

Required Documents

  • Completed visa application form
  • Passport
  • 2 3.5x4.5 cm photographs
  • Invitation letter from a university
  • JW201or JW202 form
  • Completed medical questionnaire (the form is issued at the consulate)

After entering the country on an X1 visa, you will need to undergo a medical examination. This is usually organized by the university. Only after that you can get a residence permit, which will allow you to live in China for the duration of your study, as well as leave and enter back into the country.

Studying abroad with UniPage

Want to study at a foreign university but don't know where to start? We can help!

Our specialists will find a university, arrange your documents, fill out the applications, and stay in touch until you receive an offer.