How to Study in China for International Students (4 Steps)

How to Study in China for International Students (4 Steps)

Last Updated on April 18, 2023 by Akwaowo Akpan

There are countless appeals to study in China. You could gain great career opportunities. You could experience first-hand living in a country that is undergoing massive transformation at lightning speed.

You could learn about the thousands of years of history and culture that are deeply rooted in the country’s food, places, and people. It’s no wonder the number of international students in China is growing steadily for the past decades. In this article, we will be looking at how international students can study in China.

Steps on how to Study in China for International Students

Here are some general guidelines to maximizes it your chances of studying in China.

Know the cost of studying in China. It is important that you prepare in advance to your studies to make it possible!
Meet the requirements of applications for your desired degree. To be eligible, you need to meet the application requirements.
After you’ve done so, you should apply to different universities.
When you get accepted, you need to apply for a student visa.

1. Know the Cost of Studying in China

Compared to the US, tuition fees in China are much lower. On average, you would pay about $4,000 per annum for your undergraduate degree. Although it may cost more in cities like Beijing or Shanghai, the estimated cost of living is about $800 per month – that includes your accommodation, meals, transportation, and miscellaneous costs.

2. Prepare to Meet the Application Requirements of Studying in China for International Students

In China, an undergraduate program will take 4 to 5 years to complete while a master’s program will take 2 to 3 years. Courses will be taught in Chinese and/or English depending on the university and program you choose to attend. Here we will look at the general language requirements you need in order to study in China.

General Chinese and English Requirements (Undergraduate)

Most undergraduate applicants must have at least level 4 in the Chinese Proficiency Test, also known as Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK). This is an important requirement if you wish to study in Chinese-taught program as an international student. If the courses are taught in English and English is not your native language, you will also need to produce an English proficiency test certificate such as IELTS or TOEFL during your application.

For instance, the undergraduate courses at Tsinghua University are taught mainly in Chinese. Hence, applicants must have a level 5 or above in HSK with 60 points or more in each subject. You will also be accepted if you have HSK 4. However, you are required to improve your score to level 5 within your first year in the university or you might be asked to leave.

Shanghai Jiao Tong University requires its students to have a minimum HSK 4 to be able to attend classes that are delivered in Chinese. TOEFL iBT (84 or above) or IELTS (6 or above) is needed for certain programs that use the English medium.

General Chinese and English Requirements (Graduate)

Graduate programs usually require a higher level of understanding of the Chinese language. Most universities will require HSK 5 or above. To study in China as an international student in a Chinese-taught program, you need to meet their Chinese language requirement. If you wish to study in an English medium, you need to meet their English requirements.

For example, to get accepted into Peking University’s graduate school, you need at least HSK 6 and/or TOEFL iBT (100 or above) or GRE (315 or above).

For Shanghai Jiao Tong University, you should have a minimum of HSK 5 and/or TOEFL (85 or above), IELTS (6 or above), or GRE (320 or above).

Application Requirements (Undergraduate)

In general, these are the documents that most universities in China will require you to submit after you have completed your online application.

A printed copy of the completed application form
Certificate of graduation from your high school
High school transcripts
International standardized test results such as SAT, ACT, A-Level, AP, IB or others
Result of your Chinese Proficiency Test (HSK)
Proof of language proficiency in English such as TOEFL or IELTS if your native language is not English
Supporting documents that will indicate your academic achievement
A copy of your passport
The application fee for an undergraduate program varies from $90 to $150 for different universities.

Application Requirements (Graduate)

The necessary materials a graduate applicant will need are similar to those mentioned above. Here I will be using the list of documents required by Peking University as an example.

Completed application form with photograph
Certificate of degree or expected graduation
Official transcripts
Personal statement to describe your academic background, achievements, research proposal, etc.
Letters of recommendation
Proof of language proficiency in Chinese and/or English
A copy of your passport
Application fee of 800 RMB (approximately $120)
The application fee for a graduate program is also between $90 and $150.

Read Also: 5 Best Engineering Universities in Russia For International Students

3. Application Procedure

One university’s application period can be completely different from another. Some universities have a few rounds of application in a year while some might have just one. For international students to study in China, you need to submit your completed application before the application deadlines.

For example, Tsinghua University has 3 rounds of applications each year for its undergraduate admission (August, October, and December). They are typically open for a duration of one to two months each round. Meanwhile, Peking University has only one round, which begins in January and ends in March.

The application procedure, however, is quite similar across different universities. To get into an undergraduate or graduate program at a Chinese university, you are most likely required to take an entrance exam and/or go through an interview. Applicants with outstanding language abilities and past academic achievements may be exempted and get an offer directly.

According to Peking University, you would first register and submit a completed entrance exam application form online. Once your application is reviewed (usually within 10 working days), you can keep a copy of the form as a reference and pay a non-refundable application fee of 800 RMB (approximately $120).

Next, complete the university application form, print it out, and send it to the university together with the other required documents.

You will be given an admission ticket for the entrance exam, which contains the details of your exam venue and time. The subjects of the entrance exam (written tests) are Chinese language, Mathematics, and English. You will later be asked to attend an interview if you pass the exam.

Finally, you will be informed of your test results and the admission outcome. If you are accepted into the university, you will receive a letter of admission and other relevant documents in June.

4. After you get accepted, you’ll need to get a student visa

The next step of international students wishing to study in China to take is to apply for a student visa (X visa) at the Chinese embassy or consulate in your home country.

If the length of your program is more than 6 months, you will need an X1 visa (X2 for 6 months or less).

Besides the Letter of Admission and a “Visa Application for Study in China” (JW201 or JW202) form that you will receive from your university, you will need to bring these with you when you are applying for your visa at the embassy.

Passport with at least 6 months validity remaining and a blank page for the visa
Completed application form (Form V.2013) with a photograph that meets these requirements
Photocopy of previously obtained Chinese visas (if applicable)
Proof of residence status if you are not a citizen of the country where you are applying for your visa
The visa fee ranges from $30 to $140, depending on your nationality and the type of visa you chose (single or multiple entries). You may also opt for the express service with shorter processing time by paying an additional fee of $25.

For more details, visit the official website of the Chinese embassy or consulate in your home country. For instance, refer to the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the United States of America if you are a US citizen.

Hooray! Everything is done and you are all set to go. Note that your X1 visa will only be valid for 30 days upon your arrival in China. You must apply for a Residence Permit within this period to be able to continue staying in China legally. Also, the Ministry of Education of China requires all international students to have medical insurance. If you do not have one, you could purchase it when you arrive in China. Your university will usually guide you and help you to settle in before the semester begins.

I hope that this article on how to study in China as an international student was helpful.


  • Akwaowo Akpan

    Hi there, welcome to Online Studying Services. As a fan of authentic information and a student, I devise this means to offer reliable information to international students wishing to either study abroad or online. Thanks for stopping by!

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