Introductory Guide to Postgraduate Study in China

Peking University

Postgraduate study programs in China are growing as a popular choice for international students and for different reasons. These include the drawcard of studying a degree in Chinese, to deepening an understanding of China, laying the foundation for a career built around China and often for receiving a free education!

The Chinese Government Scholarship program is a good option to consider for those looking for free post graduate degrees in China. For those with the financial freedom to select more elite education programs, there is also a growing list of degrees to choose from which fall outside the scope of the Chinese Government Scholarship.


The Chinese Government Scholarship Program

The Chinese Government Scholarship program entitles students to complete either:

  • A two-year Masters degree in English; or
  • A three-year Masters degree taught in Chinese with an additional preliminary year of Chinese intense language training (depending on your HSK level). 

Scholarship recipients must choose from a standard mainstream postgraduate program taught through the Chinese university system and not a joint program with another university.

Most international students who complete a postgraduate degree in China do so through this scholarship program. Many students are attracted by the offer of furthering their study overseas without racking up a huge debt and often have some pre-existing exposure to China or learning Chinese.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to speak Chinese or have to be in China to apply as the program does offer the English option. However, you shouldn’t expect the same standards of education as you would receive completing a degree in an English speaking country.

The academic rigour and relevance of your study to the professional workplace may at times seem stretched and of a lower standard to the West, but the friends you will make, campus life and of course fee education does make a compelling case.

The key is to manage expectations and choose carefully where you study. Studying at a third tier city an hour away from downtown is a far different experience to picking a top university in Beijing or Shanghai.

The scholarship funding is adequate for a simple existence in China, but students may need to supplement their stipend with part-time work teaching English, freelance work or personal savings to enjoy the full expat lifestyle.

Here are some links to popular English-taught Masters degrees:

Tsinghua University


Joint Programs

A growing number of international universities operate in China and offer study abroad as well as full degree programs for local and international students. This allows you to conduct postgraduate studies in China but still enrol in an international program and be awarded a degree or credit from two universities.

Prominent international universities operating in China include:

  • The new Monash University campus in Suzhou;
  • The Hopkins-Nanjing Centre for Chinese and American Studies in Nanjing; and
  • The Beijing Centre of Macquarie Applied Finance located at Tsinghua University.

Most joint programs are taught in English, with modules in Chinese available.

Selection of joint programs:

  • Joint Masters in Applied Finance, Macquarie University and Tsinghua University
  • Joint MA in Health Administration, La Trobe University and Peking University
  • Joint MA in Hospital Administration, Flinders University and Nankai University
  • Joint MA in International Studies, Johns Hopkins University and Nanjing University/Tsinghua University
  • Joint MSc, London School of Economics and Peking University
  • S3 Asia MBA Program, tri-semester MBA at Fudan University, University of Korea and National University of Singapore.

Joint PhDs are available and are often arranged case-by-case with individual students, their supervisors and counterparts in China. Some formal examples are:

  • A variety of joint PhDs at University of Technology, Sydney
  • Joint PhDs in chemical engineering and material engineering at Monash University


The Hopkins-Nanjing Center for Chinese and American Studies (HNC)

The Hopkins-Nanjing Center (HNC) is a joint US-China program with over 25 years history and can boast to being the only university in China with academic freedom of speech and an uncensored library.

The Johns Hopkins School of International Affairs in Washington is regarded as a top two school for foreign policy in the world alongside Georgetown University, and the Nanjing campus is one of two overseas campuses including Bologna in Italy. While it may be expensive, for I.R enthusiasts there’s no going past HNC.

The Hopkins Nanjing Center offers two options for students interested in studying in Nanjing:

  • A one-year Certificate in Chinese and American Studies, and
  • A two-year Master of Arts in International Studies degree, conferred by both the Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and Nanjing University.

These programs bring both Chinese and international students together in the classroom, allowing all students to develop their understanding of the complex relationships at work between China, the United States and the global environment. While the program is known for foreign policy, there are also various academic streams including Economics, Finance, Law and Cultural Studies. 

Students seeking to combine their studies in Nanjing with further degree studies in the United States can also apply simultaneously to the Hopkins Nanjing Center and the Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, D.C. This is commonly referred to as the Five-Semester Option.

Hopkins Nanjing Center


Business Schools

Business schools in China are gaining in popularity as a result of China’s economic pull and the flood of postgraduate scholarship programs available. Virtually every university in China has a business school but for those looking at the top end of the market should consider Tsinghua University, Fudan University and Peking University. These three universities are considered as having the best business school programs in China and all offer both MBA and EMBA programs, as well as various joint university programs. Macquarie University of Australia is one example with their applied finance postgraduate programs held on campus at Tsinghua – though classes are predominately taught in Mandarin for this particular program.

The China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) offers a joint venture program on the ground in China with the European Commission. CEIBS offers both English and Chinese-taught degrees, and holds itself as Mainland China’s largest, longest-running and top-ranked business school.

The Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business (CKGSB) is another leading international business school in China, with programs in both Chinese and English. This program, with campuses in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, attracts top-notch professors from around the world and returning Chinese professors from the U.S with impressive industry experience.

The CKGSB excels in company visits by plugging into its impressive alumni list of Chinese and foreign graduates working for major companies such as Baidu, Alibaba, and GE Motors. The program also offers excellent access to China’s next round of CEO’s and business leaders.

Studying at a business school in China is certainly not cheap. Tuition fees often compare with programs taught in the west and you probably won’t have the option of a student loan studying in China. Joint university programs in particular are very expensive. Scholarships offered by your home country or the program will therefore come in handy if you’re lucky enough to receive one.


S3 Asia MBA

Another unique program to consider is the S3 Asia MBA, which is a tri-university global MBA program. Students enrolled in this program study one semester each at three business schools:

  • School of Management of Fudan University;
  • Korea University Business School; and
  • NUS Business School of National University of Singapore.

If one semester in China is enough for you or if you’ve already spent significant time in China this could be the right option for you.

Nanjing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine 2012-2013

To see a publication Asia Options developed in cooperation with the Australian Government check out AddChina.


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Olly Theobald

Director at Asia Options.
Olly works in Hangzhou China and is enthusiastic about entrepreneurship, e-commerce, Asia education, data science, and foreign languages. Olly is a graduate from RMIT University and the Hopkins Nanjing Center for Chinese and American Studies. Olly speaks Mandarin and Korean.

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