China’s second-largest global economy status means plenty of funds to finance international students who wish to enroll in Chinese universities. Even though students might be concerned about the difficulty of having academic courses in Chinese, the host country’s government worked hard to accommodate international students and offer courses in English.
Students with a noticeable academic record but on a tighter budget can opt for China as their scholarships to gain recognized and affordable degrees at their universities while immersing in their culture.
Living Costs in China for International Students
International students can live comfortably in China as the cost of living is low in most cities outside of the first tier. Shanghai and Beijing are costlier than the other cities in China, but the rent depends on the city’s size and proximity to the downtown area.
China’s scholarships cover tuition fees and provide a small budget for rent and necessities. While a dorm might cost from $150 to $400 on average, renting one-bedroom apartments in larger urban centers can range from about $300 to $800.
Can international students work in China?
Students are not expected to work while on a Chinese scholarship. However, part-time work is allowed if it does not exceed 20 hours a week. Some provinces are more flexible than others.
In 2016, China’s Public Security Ministry introduced new policies to allow international students of Chinese universities to work part-time in companies within the Zhongguancun Science Park. At the same time, Shanghai changed its policies to enable international students of Chinese universities to open businesses at the Zhnagjiang National Innovation Demonstration Zone and Shanghai Free Trade Zone during their studies.
Subsequently, China now also allows international students with degrees from Chinese universities to secure work permits in China without two years of post-study work experience outside China.
Top Universities in China:
The QS University Ranking lists four Chinese universities in the top 50. Tsinghua University (15) was established in 1911 as a preparatory school for Chinese students who wanted to study in the U.S. This reputable institution is recognized for its architecture, engineering, and computer science programs.
Peking University (23) is the oldest higher education institution in China and the alma mater of Mao Zedong. Fudan University (34) is prominent in Shanghai, where it has four campuses. Fudan University ranks high in modern languages, chemistry, materials sciences, and business and management.
Shanghai Jiao Tong University ranked 47 in the 2024 Q.S. University Ranking has the following undergraduate programs in Mandarin and English: business administration, biological science, clinical medicine ad pharmacy.
Best Scholarships in China
The Chinese government provides scholarships to international students in 289 Chinese universities. The full scholarship covers:
- tuition fee waiver;
- free accommodation at a university dormitory or monthly accommodations subsidy of CNY 700 for undergraduate, master’s students and general scholars and CNY 1000 for doctoral students and senior scholars;
- monthly stipend of CNY 2,500 for undergraduate students, CNY 3,000 for master’s students and scholars, and CNY 3,500 for doctoral students and senior scholars;
- comprehensive medical insurance.
This China scholarship program requires undergraduate students and non-degree scholars to have a Chinese Proficiency Level of at least HSK Level III. In addition, postgraduate scholars are required to have at least HSK Level IV Chinese Proficiency or IELTS or TOFEL certificates.
China Scholarship Council differentiates three categories of scholarships.
Category A scholarships are applicable to undergraduate students, graduate students, and general scholars taking non-degree courses. Undergraduate scholars must apply for Chinese-taught courses, while graduate students and scholars may apply for English-taught courses when applicable. This scholarship may be accessed through Chinese embassies.
Category B scholarships are only for a master’s and a doctoral degree. The scholarship provides for tuition fees, accommodation, allowance, and medical insurance for a maximum of three academic years for a master’s degree and four academic years for doctoral degrees. Future newcomers may express their interest through a Chinese embassy or the target university.
The third category is called the Great Wall Program, related to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The program supports general and senior scholars who want to access non-degree programs in China. The scholarship covers one year of academic study and may be accessed through the National Commission for UNESCO in the applicant’s home country.
The Siemens China Scholarship program is sponsored by Siemens Ltd., China, to support doctoral students who want to study at Tsinghua University.
Scholarship recipients are required to work with Siemens in one of the following research topics: Machine Learning for Industrial Applications, Semantic modeling for digital manufacturing, Human autonomous system interaction design, A.I. in software engineering, Advanced robot applications, Control theory and engineering, Cloud/Edge-based engineering and runtime technologies for advanced robots, AGV and automation systems, and Optimization of Wide Bandgap Devices based on power converters.
This scholarship in China provides a full tuition fee and an annual living allowance of 200,000 RMB. This amount will be allocated and distributed in four years and is subject to a yearly review.
The Government of Hangzhou allocates scholarships to international students studying or planning to study at higher education institutions in Hangzhou. The province of Hangzhou welcomes both B.A. and M.A. degree applicants worldwide. However, even though Hangzhou offers courses in English, knowledge of Chinese is still required, and a certificate needs to be submitted.
Students of non-degree courses receive 6,000 RMB per year. However, students taking two to three-year courses would receive double the amount, which amounts to 12,000 RMB per year. Students pursuing bachelor’s degrees and postgraduate degrees receive 20,000 RMB per year and 30,000 RMB per year, respectively.
Beijing Government Scholarships, one of the best scholarships in China, awards applicants or current students enrolled at higher educational institutions in Beijing. The scholarship is open to students taking Chinese language, general scholars taking non-degree courses, exchange students, and undergraduate and postgraduate students.
Undergraduate scholars receive 20,000 RMB per year, master’s degree students receive 30,000 RMB per year, and doctoral students receive 40,000 RMB per year. International students can benefit from this scholarship for no more than four years, and the application process is managed by eligible higher education institutions.
Xiamen University grants scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in selected programs offered in Chinese and English. While their undergraduate program in English specializes in clinical medicine scholarship for the duration of 6 years, their M.A. program conducted in English offers a pursuit in natural sciences, business, and law, among others.
The eligibility of this China scholarship is based on academic merit, but the requirements are flexible regarding the applicant’s age. For example, undergrads must not be older than 25 to apply, M.A. programs are offered for international students under the age of 40, and Ph.D. applicants must not be older than 45 when they submit their application.
The scholarship covers a tuition fee waiver and, in some cases, a monthly living allowance of up to 3,500 RMB, depending on the quotas and students’ academic records. Interested students may only apply for this scholarship after they have been admitted to the university.
The President Scholarship is open to international students who want to pursue their Ph.D. studies at Zhengzhou University. The university has 127 Ph.D. programs eligible for this scholarship, all of which can be instructed in Chinese and English.
Eligible candidates must be less than 40 years old and have a proven academic record and a Chinese language proficiency of HSK level 5 or IELTS score of 6.5.
The amount of this China scholarship covers tuition fees for three to four years, and it adds the monthly accommodation allowance of 1,000 RMB and a monthly living allowance of 3,500 RMB.
Qingdao University awards five master’s degree scholarships and 20 Ph.D. scholarships to international students each year. Prospective applicants of this China scholarship must be less than 40 years old, have a Chinese language certificate of HSK5-210+ or IELTS 6.0 or above, whichever is appropriate.
The scholarship package includes tuition fee waiver, accommodation in university apartments, comprehensive medical insurance, and a monthly living allowance of 1,500 CNY for master’s students and 2,500 CNY for Ph.D. students.