There is no doubt that China is a fantastic destination for many people worldwide, whether for business, education, leisure, or work. Apart from being known for the Great Wall of China, a manufacturing hub, or the most populous nation in the world, China plays host to several reputable and top-ranking universities that span the different cities of the vast country.

With the number of international students increasing by the year, China continues to be a preferred study destination for several international students thanks to its welcoming culture, thriving technology sector, scholarship opportunities, and several universities offering English-taught programs.

If you are interested in studying in China, this guide will help you understand what you need to know from the entry requirements for most universities to how you can apply to the school of your choice.

University Application Process at Chinese Universities

If you plan to apply to Chinese universities, here are some general steps to take to boost your chances of a successful application. Note that this process may vary with the institution or program of study.

Step 1. Research and List Your Preferred University and Program

This includes narrowing down to the institution or institutions that best offer what you are looking for. Do they have the program you are looking for? Are they located in a place favorable for you? And do they offer any student support services for international students like you? Other factors to look at include the program’s language of instruction and the university’s reputation.

For example, If you want to study engineering, you can sample this list of top engineering universities in China to see which best fits your needs.

Step 2. Research and Gather the Admission Requirements

Since the application process for universities differs, you have to ensure you meet the admission criteria of your chosen university. This includes meeting the academic qualifications, language requirements like Chinese language proficiency, and other required documents.

Ensure you check the deadlines for applying to your program to give you ample time to gather the needed admission requirements and documents.

Step 3. Register for the Online Application

Once you are satisfied that you have all the documents needed and meet the criteria for admission, you can log into the university’s admission portal or other applicable platforms and create an account to start working on your application. Ensure you provide accurate, authentic, and detailed information as you fill in your application. Additionally, ensure that your internet connection is excellent so that you can upload documents and move along with your application seamlessly.

Step 4. Fill Up the Application and Upload the Requirements 

Once you are done filling in your application and ensuring that all the required documents have been uploaded and any additional materials specified by the university, you can then submit your application on the online portal. Remember once you’ve made your submission, you cannot go back to make changes.

Step 5. Pay Application Fees

There is an application fee required by most Chinese universities for admission ranging from 400-800 RMB. The amount varies by the institution and program, while in some instances, there is no application fee needed. Most of the time, this fee is non-refundable.

For example, Fudan University charges an application fee of 800 RMB for a degree program while it is 500 RMB for Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology.

Step 6. Track Application Status

The most anxious stage comes when you have to wait for a decision on your application. Ensure you monitor the status of your application on the application portal. Sometimes, additional requirements may be requested or other further assessments like interviews may be done before a final decision is made on your application. Ensure you are ready should you receive additional requests and that you get to see the application outcome on time.

It may take 8 to 10 weeks to complete the application process and for the university to decide on your application.

General Admission Documents

1. Application Form

The first standard document you are likely to interact with is the online application form found on the university’s application portal. The application may vary per institution unless using the CUCAS online portal. For example, if you are interested in applying to Zhejiang University, you can find the application form for international students here.

2. Academic Transcripts

You will be required to submit notarized copies of transcripts or academic records from your previous educational institutions depending on the program you are applying to. These include diploma certificates and high school transcripts if applying to undergraduate programs. If your documents are in another language other than English or Chinese, you will be required to translate and notarize them before submitting them.

Note that you will be asked to bring the original copies to the university should your application be successful.

3. Passport

You will be asked to provide proof of identity in the form of a copy of your passport, including the photo page. Your passport has to be valid for the duration you intend to study in China.

4. Language Proficiency Certificate

A language proficiency certificate will be required depending on your program’s language of instruction. If your program is taught in Chinese, then a certificate of Chinese language proficiency like the HSK (Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi) will be required. For English-taught programs, you can submit proof of English language proficiency through tests like IELTS or TOEFL.

For example, Xi’an Jiaotong University requires one to have at least HSK4 180 points for Chinese-taught bachelor programs, at least 80 points in TOEFL, and at least 6 in IELTS for English-taught programs.

5. Financial Statements

You must prove that you can take care of yourself financially by submitting proof of financial ability to cover tuition and other living expenses in China. A bank statement or award letter if you receive a scholarship may be used in this case.

6. Research Proposal (for Ph.D. applicants)

If you are applying for a Ph.D. program in a Chinese university, you will have to include a research proposal detailing your proposed research topic and how you are going to carry out your research. For example, Peking University asks for a research plan to accompany your personal statement when applying to one of their Ph.D. programs.

7. Portfolio

If you are applying to some specialized programs like arts, architecture, or design, you may be asked to showcase a portfolio showcasing your creative work or personality, like in the case of Xi’an Jiaotong Liverpool University. Other programs especially at the postgraduate level may ask for proof of working experience.

Optional Materials / Documents to Consider

Apart from the standard documents, there may be other supplemental documents that could boost your application depending on the program or university. It is not mandatory to have them but could make your application stand out in case the competition is too high. Let’s look at some of them below.

1. Standardized International Test Scores

You may find that results of international standardized tests including, SAT, ACT, or GMAT could greatly enhance your application. The score depends on the country you are coming from and while they are not mandatory for admission to Chinese universities, they could offer more insight into the kind of candidate you are.

2. International Baccalaureate (Undergraduate)

The International Baccalaureate is a renowned academic program known for its rigorous assessment to prepare one for higher education in prestigious institutions or work. Scoring high in the exam will be a testament to your high academic achievements and prove that you can handle academically challenging assessments. This is one factor that most prestigious Chinese schools look for hence giving you an upper hand in the admission process.

Key Facts for Applying to Chinese Universities

Before starting your application to a Chinese university, here are some facts you need to keep in mind to increase your chances of a successful application.

1. Varying Admission Periods for the Programs in Chinese Universities

The majority of Chinese universities typically have specific admission periods for each academic year. The different semesters have varying application deadlines hence you need to be aware so that you make your application in good time. For the fall semester, applications run between early September to mid-January, early March to early July for the spring semester, and early July to early August for the summer semester.

2. Several English-Taught Universities in China

Degree programs in Chinese universities are offered in English and/or Chinese (Mandarin) with several universities continuing to increase their English-taught programs. This is convenient, especially for international students not conversant in Chinese but comfortable with taking programs in English. While this is the case, having some knowledge of conversational Mandarin will help you interact with the locals or make friends with other Chinese students.

It is important to find out the language of instruction for your chosen program and prepare to meet the necessary language proficiency requirements.

3. Scholarship Opportunities Available for International Students

International students can explore the several scholarship opportunities provided by the Chinese government (CSC scholarships) or individual universities. Ensure you check the eligibility criteria and application procedures and submit your application, as study costs for international students can be quite high. You can explore this list of scholarships for international students in China or check with your university of interest for the availability of financial aid opportunities.

FAQs: University Applications in China

Can International Students Apply to a University in China?

Yes, international students can apply to most Chinese universities through the university’s application portal or use platforms like China’s University and College Admission System (CUCAS). International students gain admission to Chinese schools as long they meet the eligibility requirements like language proficiency and other specific requirements as they vary by university.

Cantonese and Mandarin are the most widely used languages in China hence international students are mostly asked to provide proof of sufficiency to take programs taught in those languages. This means taking the appropriate language tests and getting the minimum score required for admission into the different programs.

Fortunately, Chinese universities also offer several English-taught programs making it easy for international students not conversant with Chinese to take up classes. For example, Tsinghua University and Zhejiang University offer several undergraduate and graduate programs taught in English.

What are the Entry Requirements to Study in China?

To be admitted to the majority of China’s universities, you must meet certain entry requirements including

  • Passing certain previous academic levels by proof of official transcripts. For undergraduate programs, you will have to present a notarized copy of your high school or diploma certificate. The qualifications vary with the program of study.
  • Fulfilling the required language proficiency requirements (Chinese and/or English). The Chinese Proficiency Test is the most preferred for non-English programs while tests like TOEFL and IELTS are options for English-taught programs. For example, international students planning to take Chinese-taught programs at Peking University must score over 180 points in the new HSK6 (Chinese proficiency) exam.
  • Having a valid passport that is valid for the period you intend to study in China.
  • Proof of financial support showing that you can take care of your study costs and living expenses during your study period. It could be bank statements or proof of scholarship award.
  • Being of a certain age, with the majority of universities requiring one to be between 18 and 25 years of age to apply for undergraduate degree programs, though exceptions may exist depending on the university and the program of study. Students applying to postgraduate degree programs should not be more than 40 years of age.


China provides an excellent study destination for international students looking to expand their educational horizons and explore a new and exciting culture. With top-ranking institutions like Peking University and Fudan University, you need to understand the factors that will help streamline the application process and increase your chances of successful admission. However, be sure to check the specific requirements and guidelines of the university you are applying to, as details may vary.


Hopefully, this article on how to apply to universities in China was of big help. To know more information on studying abroad, check out the Available Programs for International Students.

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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