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.

See Also: How to Study in China for Free

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 the 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.

Learn More: Full-Tuition Scholarships in China for International 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.

11. Sichuan University (SCU)

Located in the cultural-rich region of the Sichuan Province, Sichuan University is regarded as one of China’s top universities. It is viewed as a national key university and is under the direct control of China’s Ministry of Education.

The university’s efforts to become one of the world’s leading research universities are evident in the region, being a consistent ranker in the China University Rankings and the main driver for the region’s socio-economical development.

It also has 33 colleges offering degrees for both local and international students. Its quality does not suffer either, as 13 of its courses are globally ranked at 1%, with chemistry being the leading discipline.

12. Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST)

Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST) is a top-rated research university under the direct control of China’s Ministry of Education. HUST boasts its achievements in its fast-growing science and liberal arts disciplines and its fast expansion seen in its four national research facilities.

HUST’s main campus is located in Hubei Province, sitting beside the banks of the Yangtze River, and because of its vast blanket of trees on campus, it is locally regarded as “The University in The Forest.” Its proximity to the scenic East Lake and its location in Wuhan makes it ideal for students to live in since it sits atop the Yangtze Economic Zone.

HUST also deeply cares for its international students and accepts international students going as far as the 1960s. Over time, the university has produced 10,000 students from more than 160 countries worldwide.

13. Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT)

Famously known as the “cradle of engineers,” Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT) is a national key university specializing in the science and engineering fields.

The university’s achievements are the first of many in China. Its most significant ones are the first to independently develop and launch various satellites into the moon’s orbit and being the first to uncover the virulent factor found in the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

HIT currently has 23 schools and 86 programs available on its three campuses. Due to the quality of its education, HIT is globally ranked 1% in 11 disciplines, most notably material science and engineering. Many of its alums now occupy significant positions both nationally and internationally.

14. Wuhan University

Wuhan University is regarded as the “Most Beautiful University in China.” The university grounds are built between Luojia Hill and East Lake. They are surrounded by natural flora all year round, with elegant architectural buildings you can find inside its campus grounds.

The university is not just aesthetically developed but also competitively prestigious too. It currently offers 712-degree programs across its campuses, partnering and establishing relationships with 415 universities and research institutes in 45 countries and regions.

Wuhan’s achievements in the field of academics and its worldwide reputation as a leading institute in research make it one of the outstanding universities in China for international students.

15. East China Normal University (ECNU)

Initially founded in Shanghai in 1951, East China Normal University (ECNU) is one of China’s most prestigious national key universities. Since then, the university has massively developed its structure and is now the leading institute focused on international Chinese education, a position it gracefully enjoys.

ECNU’s determination to become a world-renowned research university is seen in its efforts in the fields of scientific research and teacher training programs. Due to that, its 58 departments currently offer both local and international students on its campus grounds 171 various degree programs to choose from.

The university also placed significant priority on its international students, having established academic partnerships with more than 200 universities and institutions worldwide.

16. Tongji University

Established by a German doctor named Erich Paulun in 1907, Tongji University is one of China’s earliest Double First Class Universities. It grew to be an institute specializing in engineering disciplines, making it the university with the most significant scale that would offer those programs.

The university firmly prioritized nurturing talents and providing its students with the highest quality of education possible. Its personalized educational principles are deeply ingrained in its undergraduates and postgraduates, ensuring that every student has the necessary tools to become the top talents to act as the backbone of Chinese society.

Due to that, many of its alums have held numerous positions of power in society, notably politicians, scientists, business magnates, and engineers.

17. Southwest University

Established in 2005, Southwest University (SWU) is a school with long-standing fame through its perseverance in being the leading institute to strive toward academic excellence and social development. SWU is also a university focused on its agricultural and teaching education, which expanded into various disciplinary categories from philosophy to the realm of art.

SWU offers many amenities to its students, most of which can be found within its campus grounds. The top university in China is known to take pride in its state-of-the-art facilities that produce quality graduates; they have many sports and cultural facilities that the students can thoroughly enjoy.

This can include its central library, indoor swimming pools, indoor sports courts, and student activity centers, with more facilities under construction up to this day. The university is also situated within view of its local mountains, which makes it more or less a tourist destination. All of which makes it one of the best universities in China available for international students.

18. Shanghai University (SHU)

Located deep within the heart of Shanghai, Shanghai University (SHU) is a research-intensive university famously known for its cooperation with various organizations worldwide. Its connections spread far and wide, having established academic partnerships with several foreign universities and facilitating many faculty and student exchanges.

Due to that, the university has enjoyed significant progress and advancement in its pursuit of knowledge. With its eyes dead set on cultivating its students to excel in all aspects, the university is bound to reach even further heights.

SHU is now on the path to developing a top-rated research university in China equipped with a quality education system backed by the economic flourish of a metropolis like Shanghai, making the prospects of enrolling here very desirable for international students.

19. Tianjin University

Tianjin University is famously known as the oldest university in the history of contemporary China. Initially known in 1895 as Peiyang University, it has developed to be the bastion of modern Chinese higher education and culture in its 125-year tenure.

Its three-century growth has fueled the university’s resolve to become a pioneer in several fields of study. Thanks to that, it has become one of the leading research and best universities in China.

Its delicate care in fostering its national and exchange students to develop inventiveness and innovation has paid off in the long run. They now reap the results from creating the first aero engine to the first drone in China.

20. Southeast University (SEU)

Southeast University is a research-focused university specializing in engineering disciplines while also expanding into several fields of study, ranging from philosophy to art. The university currently holds a stellar reputation for its education, with its teachings primarily focusing on talent cultivation; the university has produced 330,000 graduates employed nationally and worldwide.

This is supported by the university’s vast array of facilities, including three national key laboratories, six engineering centers, a national professional laboratory, and several laboratories and research centers owned by China’s Ministry of Education. Its Mengfang Library also holds the record of being one of the oldest surviving university libraries in all of China.

International students may find SEU a desirable university. Around 1,600 international students are currently enrolled and part of the student body active in organized events and internship opportunities available through the university’s partnership with regional companies.

21. University of Hong Kong

Established in 1887, the University of Hong Kong (HKU) is the oldest educational institution in Hong Kong. It is known for being the first institution to identify the SARS virus. HKU is recognized as one of the leading research universities in the world and has several accomplishments in different fields.

As a top institution in China, HKU offers both local and international students the best campus experience in Hong Kong. It has 17 residential halls, on-campus cafeterias that serve delicious and religiously safe options, and state-of-the-art facilities that allow each student to pursue different hobbies. Whether a student needs stadiums, fitness facilities, or learning spaces, HKU has it all.

22. Xi’an Jiaotong University

Formerly known as Nanyang Public University, Xi’an Jiaotong University (XJTU) was founded in the city of Shanghai in 1986. XJTU is named a Double First-class University by the Ministry of Education of China because of its comprehensive programs. Over 2,800 students are enrolled in the university.

XJTU offers local and international students quality education in ten major disciplines, ranging from science to philosophy. Students’ education is supported by XJTU’s facilities, which include libraries, laboratories, and 20 affiliated training hospitals.

The university also houses the famed Qian Xuesen Library. It has 5.63 million books and other literature, including a digital collection of over 1.5 million ebooks.

23. Beijing Language and Culture University

Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU) is an institution directly under the Ministry of Education of China. It is often referred to as a “Mini-United Nations” as it is the only university in China specializing in Chinese language and culture courses.

This top Chinese university also offers other courses, such as information science and linguistics, to its students. Since its establishment, the university has trained thousands of students from over 160 countries, with some becoming prominent diplomats and journalists after graduation.

BLCU has facilities that include top-of-the-line multilanguage laboratories and multimedia interpretation rooms, fully furnished with the latest equipment available. There are also restaurants, sports facilities, banks, and various school offices near the campus to cater to students’ needs.

24. Jinan University (JNU)

With a 110-year-long history within the economically-dynamic Guangdong Province, Jinan University (JNU) is considered one of the oldest universities in China. Today, JNU sits among the country’s top universities.

JNU’s rich history and prestige, paired with its strategic location, make it suitable for cultivating the talents of Chinese and international students.

The university administration takes care of its international student body of 11,000 students from over 100 countries and regions by encouraging a vibrant and engaging culture on campus grounds.

25. Huaqiao University

Established in the city of Quanzhou in Fujian Province, Huaqiao University’s (HQU) specialty lies in its academic research. It has been ranked in the national Top 100 of the Annual Nature Index for four years in a row. With a strong focus on research, the school administration is consistently improving its laboratories and other facilities.

HQU encourages its local and international students to intermingle through student activities. Through these, the university has become a melting pot of different cultures, ultimately leading to a unique campus culture that all students will enjoy.

26. Shenzhen University (SZU)

Shenzhen University (SZU) is located in Shenzhen’s Special Economic Zone (SEZ), an area between the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Area.

As one of the top Chinese schools, SZU prioritizes providing teaching, research, and social service in the Shenzen Special Economic Zone, often teaching its students its university motto of “Self-reliance, self-discipline, self-improvement.”

SZU offers its students a variety of undergraduate and postgraduate programs while also providing them with a multicultural learning environment. With state-of-the-art facilities, students enjoy and pursue quality education at Shenzen University.

27. Hunan University

Originally named Yuelu Academy, Hunan University (HNU) is an educational institution that has been around for thousands of years. Since its establishment in 976 AD, the university has maintained its cultural roots and continues to be an embodiment of China’s ideals for higher education.

HNU is located within the most important and best-maintained scenic areas of China. It is nestled between the vibrant landscapes of Changsha, where students enjoy nature and a rich cultural atmosphere.

With a campus that blends ancient and modern architecture, HNU is regarded by many as the most poetic and picturesque university in China.

28. Shandong University (SDU)

Established in 1901, Shandong University (SDU) is the second national university founded in China. It has been around for 120 years, consistently working on its mission to cultivate talent for the world.

SDU has produced over 600,000 students who now contribute to economic and social development in different countries.

The university currently offers a large number of educational facilities to its students, including six national talent training academies, four key social science bases that align with the Ministry of Education’s standards, and several provincial laboratories and research centers.

29. Chongqing University (CQU)

Chongqing University (CQU) is located between the economic center of southwestern China and the upper areas of the Yangtze River. CQU is a national key comprehensive university that receives full support from the Chinese Government and Chongqing Municipal Government.

CQU maintains a beautiful environment that inspires learning. It has modern campuses with updated facilities for learning, research, and student activities.

Today, CQU offers 293 programs across its four campuses and six faculties, ranging from sciences to information technology. As one of the best Chinese schools, it receives a large number of applications every year. It currently has a total of 47,000 students, including over 1,800 students within its four campuses.

30. University of International Business and Economics

Originally known as the Senior Business School for Business Leaders in 1951, this university was established by the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation with support from the Ministry of Education. It was later renamed the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE).

UIBE is a national key university with academic expertise in various disciplines such as economics, management, law, literature, and science. Since its founding, the school administration has emphasized its core values through its motto of “Erudition, Honesty, Endeavor, and Perfection.”

The university has facilities specifically set up for its international students, with on-campus and off-campus residences and accommodations available. Various internships abroad are also available through its academic partnerships.


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!

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