China is the world’s most populous country and the third-largest by area. It is known for breakthroughs in technology and manufacturing. This East Asian country is one of the world’s first civilizations and is now a country with the fastest developing economy. It is a leading force in the politics and culture that is shaping the world.

China is a top tourist destination with its classical gardens and palaces, the Great Wall, and sought-after Chinese food. In recent years, China has been an attractive study-abroad destination too. The educational institutions in the country are highly recognized for their outstanding performance in various fields as they produce quality graduates. These Chinese universities have a consistent position in Asian and global rankings.

In this article, we will be looking at the best universities in China for international students.

Is China Good for International Students to Study in?

The Chinese government allocates a significant amount of the national budget to education. In higher education, they host various initiatives to develop their universities and fund important research projects. These directives are the C9 League, the Double First-Class University Plan, Project 211, and many more. Through these, Chinese universities continue to improve and soar high in world university rankings. Six universities are included in the top 100 of the T.H.E. World University Ranking 2021, and several made it to the top 500.

Chinese universities excel in international relations, economics, and information technology. This displays China’s enthusiasm for internationalization and local and global development. Moreover, university programs are taught in Chinese and English, both essential languages in the world today.

Tuition fees are lower in comparison to western countries. And living costs range only $500 to $1000 monthly. Studying in China also provides you with global exposure as you meet students from many nationalities. Many institutions provide partially and fully funded scholarships too.

Check Also: Available Programs for International Students

Can International Students Work in China While Studying?

International students are allowed to work part-time on and off-campus or take on internships while studying. Foreign nationals must secure a residence permit, approval from their respective academic institutions, and authorization from the entry and exit administration. He or she will provide the location and duration of his or her work or internship for approval.

Almost every university has platforms for job-seekers and hosts networking events. Many companies and businesses go to the university themselves to present opportunities to students.

Can International Students Stay in China After Graduation?

Students with a master’s degree or higher can find employment in China immediately after graduation. To apply for a work permit, qualified foreign college graduates must be over 18 years of age, have a B grade average (80%), and have no criminal record. Their employment must match the major they have studied.

After receiving an offer of employment, they should apply for social security and to the local human resources that will grant them employment certificates. These certificates are valid for the first 12 months (1 year) of employment. Upon expiry, the employer can extend it but not exceed 5 years.

Best Universities in China for International Students

1. Tsinghua University

Tsinghua University is a major university situated in the former royal gardens in Beijing. Tsinghua University is the best university in China and the top 20 in the world. A member of the elite C9 League, it is renowned for high-quality teaching and research with an emphasis on leadership, entrepreneurship, and innovation. They are outstanding in engineering, computer science, materials science, and chemistry. The Ministry of Education supports no less than 500 projects in each of their research units.

Tsinghua believes that the collaboration of students across nations is the answer to solving global problems. That’s why they have worldwide partnerships and welcome more than 4000 foreign students per year. Its vibrant campus is a regular venue for talks from business leaders from all over the world.

2. Peking University (PKU/Beida/Beijing University)

Peking University is Beijing’s first university to cover comprehensive disciplines since its foundation in 1898. Formerly called the Imperial University of Peking, its current name retains the older transliteration of “Beijing.” It is a member of the C9 League, ranks second in China, and 23rd in the world. The institution has diverse branches of learning such as education, applied sciences, medicine, and management.

PKU had many prominent students over time, including Mao Zedong. It also has a history of being the center of China’s progressive and republican movements. Presently, PKU has one of the largest libraries in the world. In its imperial garden campus, you can find a performing arts theatre, a museum for arts and Archaeology, and year-round student activities.

3. Fudan University

Next on our list of best Chinese universities for international students is Fudan University, a prestigious and selective public research university in Shanghai, China. It is the first university independently established by the Chinese people. Another C9 League university, Fudan is renowned for its liberal atmosphere and serious academics. This high-grade education can be seen in their best study areas such as Chinese humanities, medical studies, natural sciences, and technology. Fudan University encourages practical training and has programs that fund the students’ independent research.

Fudan is one of the first few universities that accepted foreign students, starting way back in the 1950s. Until now, the university supports international students with reserved dormitories, living assistance, language courses, and more.

4. University of Science and Technology of China (USTC)

The cradle of scientists, the Caltech of China, is what the University of Science and Technology of China is known for. USTC places emphasis on scientific and technological research, management, and humanities. It is a national research university in Hefei, Anhui founded to address urgent needs in improving China’s economy. These include studies in defense infrastructure and science and technology education. It is the only university in mainland China that possesses two National Laboratories. USTC’s achievements in research include nanoscience and technology and clean energy research.

This top university in China for international students has targeted institutions such as the Special Class for the Gifted Young and the Experimental Class for Teaching Reform. USTC is rich with extracurricular activities too. It has quality on-campus societies in areas of artistic performance, sports, culture, and comprehensive practice. They have a campus hospital and a modern library.

5. Zhejiang University (ZJU/Zheda)

Zhejiang University is one of the most selective and prestigious universities in China. It is a research university with a significant impact locally and globally. It cultivates a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. This C9 League university ranks in the top 1% in 15 disciplines in the Essential Science Indicator rankings. ZJU is also renowned for its research work focusing on artificial intelligence, clean energy, global public health, and other global challenges.

ZJU has 7 campuses in the Zhejiang province to house its diverse academic disciplines like agriculture, economics, art, and natural science. It has one of China’s largest academic collections too. Around 7,000 international students are currently enrolled in this institution.

6. Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU)

Shanghai Jiao Tong University is a C9 League member and a major research university in Shanghai. It was founded in 1896, then as Nanyang Public School, by the Ministry of Posts and Communication. Its present name “Jiao Tong” means transportation or communication which reflects this history. It has 31 schools teaching in the areas of science, engineering, medicine, arts, agriculture, and more. Its research units top several fields like clinical medicine, computer science, and pharmacology & toxicology.

Since 2000, SJTU has developed facilities and programs for internationalization. They are in close cooperation with universities abroad like MIT, Georgia Tech, and Cornell. The institution’s proximity to Zizhu Science Park provides valuable interaction between the academe and the industry.

7. Nanjing University (NJU/NU/Nanda)

Nanjing University is the oldest higher education institution in Nanjing, a city known to be the center of education in the early dynasties. In the ancient years, it established the earliest faculties for history and literature. Presently, it is well-known in many fields like the Chinese language and literature, and natural sciences. The university also founded the first modern physics and chemistry laboratories and herbarium in China. When it comes to research work, they rank second-best university in China

Because of its history, NJU provides the best Chinese language training for international students. NJU’s campuses in Gulou, Xianlin, and Pukou include several museums, gardens, and institutes.

8. Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech)

A new type of tertiary education can be found in the Southern University of Science and Technology. The Chinese Ministry of Education is experimenting with better ways for education, and SUSTech is the platform for such innovation. SUSTech is the top university in China in the T.H.E. Young Universities ranking. Its areas of learning are science, engineering, business, medicine, entrepreneurship, and social science.

SUSTech offers general education programs for International students. These programs are designed for foreigners to have a solid foundation of the Chinese education system. SUSTech also places importance on lab practice and internships so students can get practical guidance.

9. Sun Yat-sen University (SYSU/Zhongshan University/Zhongda)

Named after the founding father of the Republic of China, Sun Yat-sen University is a comprehensive institution looking toward economic and social development. It provides teaching in the areas of social sciences, natural sciences, technology, medical science, pharmacology, and managerial science. The university’s assets include the world’s second-fastest supercomputer, the Tianhe-2.

SYSU has the largest educational building in Asia by acreage. Its community is also active in music, performing arts, and sports. Many prominent sports figures come from this university. SYSU promises a first-class academic experience for foreign students.

10. Beijing Normal University (BNU/Beishida)

Humanities, educational science, and teacher education are the main programs of Beijing Normal University. It is one of the most prestigious universities in China and receives special support from the government in making it world-class. BNU is consistently the top-ranking university in China for Education. It also has strong advocacy on educational equity. 16 of over 300 (undergraduate and graduate) programs are honored as “national key disciplines.” These programs are very diverse from Folklore/Anthropology to Theoretical Physics.

BNU was also one of the first Chinese institutions to accept foreign nationals. Presently, there are 1800 long-term foreign students with the institution. BNU is also popular for its Mandarin Chinese classes.


I hope that this article on the best universities in China was helpful. Make sure to also check out the Available Programs for International Students to know more!