Studying in China on Scholarship: The Complete Guide

study china scholarship

In this article, I present the three most popular ways of studying in China on scholarship. Even though you have to plan sufficiently in advance and it takes time to deal with the bureaucracy, I think that this is an opportunity that is really worth it.

In the majority of cases, scholarships won’t only cover your tuition and accommodations during your studies, but will also provide you with a monthly allowance for your personal expenses.

Here you will find information to help you decide what scholarships are the most appropriate for you as well as the steps and documents necessary to apply for them. Good luck and 加油! Jiayou! (You can do it!).

What scholarships are there?

The most commonly applied for scholarships for studying at universities across China are basically three:

They are universal (citizens of the majority of countries can apply for them depending on the educational conventions established between the countries) and don’t have too many application requirements. It’s worth mentioning that given how expensive university education is in the country, these financial endowments are quite generous.

Of course there also exist other scholarships, such as inter-university ones, those from some private organizations, those specific to Chinese universities and others that may be granted by the educational entities in your country. Nonetheless, in this article, I’m going to exclusively focus on the most popular and universal ones.

What type of scholarship should I choose?

This is a difficult question. The first thing you need to ask yourself is what you’re going to study. Basically, you have two options: either you can study Chinese (for which you will obtain a college diploma) or you can do a bachelor’s or postgraduate degree (bachelor’s degree, Master of Science or a Ph.D.). After that, you have to think about where you want to study, as this will also have an effect on your choice of scholarship.

To give you an idea, the entities that grant scholarships have agreements with a huge number of universities on the national level (you have to keep in mind that in China, everything pertains or is connected to the government in some way. In the end, the government departments that promote financing, the Confucius Institute and multiple universities all form a part of the governmental fabric).

These agreements establish the scholarship quotas that each financer grants to each university per type of studies. For example, the Chinese central government will grant 4 scholarships to study any degree (bachelor’s degree) at the Shanghai University of International Business during the 2017-2018 school year.

Scholarships from the central government are applicable to students from the majority of countries, which results in extreme competition. Keep in mind that learning Chinese is turning into a tool to set yourself apart and is becoming progressively more valued internationally.

Because of this, it’s very important that once you have a clear idea of what you are going to study and in what city you would like to do it, investigate the following points university by university: 1) whether they accept scholarships to study what you want to study (master’s degree, Chinese course, etc.) and 2) how many scholarships each entity grants for the type of studies that you have chosen.

You can do your research online, but not all universities publish this data on their webpage (especially on the English version), so I recommend that you ask them directly via email. This way, you can analyze what type of assistance you are most likely to receive. It’s absolutely essential that you do this research if you want to have the option of having your studies in the Middle Kingdom financed.

Below, I will give you a series of explanations that I hope will help orient you a little more.

Starting or continuing to study Chinese

A large number of foreigners venture to take a Chinese course at a Chinese University. It’s a great idea if you are already studying the language in your country; you will see your level progress exponentially compared to the minimal progress that you can at times perceive in your city.

If you have never studied Chinese before, this is the perfect chance to try it out and see if you like it and are good at it. I have some friends who after studying for one year in China knew more than I learned in five years studying in Spain, but obviously this depends on you.

The three scholarships mentioned in the previous section accept Chinese language course students, with Confucius Institute scholarships being the ones most directed at this purpose (they also offers scholarships for PhD students and researchers, but these aren’t very popular). Even so, these scholarships require you to have previously studied Chinese, and preferentially at one of the innumerable branches that the institute has across the globe.

To apply for national and provincial government scholarships for Chinese courses, it’s not necessary to have previously studied the language. Nonetheless, because of this, many more people apply for them, which means that they are also more difficult to obtain.

Between these two scholarships, the Chinese government provides additional support for Chinese language courses at a larger number of universities. However, not all provincial governments grant scholarships to study Chinese. You will have to research university by university.

To summarize, if you have studied Chinese at the Confucius Institute, I strongly recommend that you apply for their scholarship to study Chinese in China. If you meet all of the requirements (I will explain this in detail in the section dedicated to it), it’s very likely that they will give you the scholarship for the university of your choice.

If you’ve never studied Chinese or haven’t been a student of the Confucius Institute, you have to apply for either a Chinese central government or provincial government scholarship corresponding to the city where you want to study. Between the two, I suggest that you apply for the first one, as the offering is broader and therefore you will be more likely to get a scholarship for the place of your choice.

Studying for a bachelor’s or postgraduate degree

Other people, although less numerous, decide to go to China to study for a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD, whether in Chinese or English. In this case, like in the previous case, you have to first research what universities offer the studies that you want to take and second of all check if those universities accept students on government scholarships (whether national or provincial) for your studies (the majority do accept them, especially for courses given in Chinese). Click here to start your search.

Once you have this clear, contact the university to find out how many students they admit both for the Chinese central government scholarships and provincial government scholarships pertaining to it (this specific information is hard to find online).

In this section, it’s worthwhile to make a distinction: to apply for a Chinese central government scholarship (national), there are two ways. One is via authorized agencies (basically the Chinese Embassy in your country or certain international organizations in your place of residence, such as the European Union, etc.). The second is directly at the destination university.

Both of these options have the power of granting Chinese government scholarships, and both have a different scholarship quota, with that of authorized agencies normally being greater. In addition, if you apply through the Chinese Embassy in your country, for example, you will only be competing with students with your same nationality (as it will only accept applications from the country where the embassy is located).

On the other hand, if you decide to apply for the scholarship directly at the destination university, you will be competing with students from all around the world, given that they accept applications from all five continents. Because of this and considering that the quantity of scholarships granted directly by the university is smaller, it’s more difficult to obtain a scholarship from the Chinese government if you choose to do it this way (if you’re already in China, for example).

In addition, there are provincial government scholarships. The way to apply for these is exclusively by submitting your documentation to the destination university. This means that it’s necessary to already be in China to apply (you can also entrust someone to do it for you or send the documentation via mail, but I don’t recommend the last option).

Obviously, this requirement greatly reduces the competition, as there’s a smaller number of candidates already present in China before starting their studies. Nonetheless, unless you want to study Chinese, provincial government scholarships require you to already have an official Chinese or HSK diploma (normally 4 for a bachelor’s degree and 5 for a master’s degree or PhD, depending on the university).

This last requirement greatly favors people that already have the necessary Chinese certification. There are only few people that have that Chinese level, and an even smaller number are already in China during the application process.

To summarize, choose the option that gives you the most possibilities depending on your situation and your background. In general terms, if you’re in your country of origin and don’t speak Chinese, I recommend that you apply for a Chinese government scholarship from the Chinese Embassy in your country.

This scholarship also includes financing for you to take a Chinese leveling course of up to two years in duration that will allow you to take undergraduate or postgraduate degree courses in Chinese. You can also opt for a program taught in English, but it goes without saying that the applicants will be multiplied exponentially.

If you are already in China and have HSK4 or greater, applying for the provincial government scholarship that interests you will drastically increase your chances of obtaining financing. Remember to check if the university accepts students on scholarship for the program you want to study.

To finish, a few considerations:

  • The more national or international prestige that the university you are considering has, the more likely it will be the first option of a larger number of people, and as a result, you will be competing with many more candidates.
  • In the case of central government scholarships, you have to decide whether you want to apply for complete or partial financing (more information in the sections on these aspects). It’s much easier to obtain partial financing.

If it isn’t clear to you in any event, I recommend that you apply for as many scholarships as possible (so long as you meet the minimum requirements). Even though you can’t receive two scholarships during the same year (I’m talking about government scholarships, including those from the Confucius Institute), you can apply for as many as you want, thus increasing the chances that you will get one.

Most popular scholarships to study at Chinese universities

Chinese central government scholarships (national)

Chinese central government scholarships finance university studies for bachelor’s degrees, postgraduate degrees, Chinese language study programs and research terms abroad across the country.

The main feature of these scholarships is that they must be preferentially (although not exclusively) applied for via authorized agencies. Authorized agencies are organizations that through the agreements that they maintain with the Chinese government, have the ability to grant scholarships to study at universities in the Asian country.

While multiple of these exist, the main ones are the Chinese diplomatic missions in each country. Even so, not all Chinese embassies in the world have this power. You have to check the case of the Chinese embassy or consulate closest to you.

Another type of authorized agencies are those that belong to concrete study programs. For example, the European Union or UNESCO accept applications for Chinese central government scholarships to study for undergraduate or postgraduate degrees.

The alternative way to apply is to directly submit the required documentation to the destination university. Although it’s possible, it’s not very advisable to choose this way, as the quota of scholarships granted by the university itself is much smaller (compared to authorized agencies). It’s even possible that some universities may not accept applications directly. Check your case on the website of the university that you’ve chosen or by directly contacting it via email.

Classification of Chinese central government scholarships:

In terms of the type of financing, Chinese central government scholarships are divided into:

  • Total scholarship or type A: This type of scholarship includes tuition, accommodations (at a university residence in a room shared with another person), basic health insurance and an allowance for personal expenses (between 2,500 and 3,500 Yuan per month, approximately $350 and $500 USD respectively).
  • Partial scholarship or type B: In general, this type of scholarship covers the same things as a total scholarship except for the allowance for personal expenses.
  • Type C scholarship: This is another type of partial scholarship that indistinctly includes certain of the benefits of a total scholarship.

Precisely because total scholarships are more attractive for a larger number of people, they will also be harder to obtain due to the high demand for them. If you have the option of financing yourself, even if just for living expenses, it’s a better idea to apply for a partial scholarship, as it will be easier to obtain.

Minimum requirements for applicants:

  • You must not be a Chinese citizen
  • You must not possess another scholarship issued by the Chinese government or any of its delegations.
  • Age: Bachelor’s degree students must not be more than 25 years of age, 35 years of age for master’s degrees and 40 for PhD studies.
  • Minimum educational requirements: High school diploma for bachelor’s degree students, a bachelor’s degree for master’s degree students, and a master’s degree for PhD students.

Required documentation :

  • Highest level academic diploma and a transcript of the personal academic scores for this diploma (transcript).
  • Official medical form or Foreigner Physical Examination Form. You must attach a copy of this form filled out by a doctor. Ensure that the form signed by the doctor contains an official seal from the hospital or medical center where you are examined. At least one seal must be stamped on top of the passport photo previously stuck onto it. Forms are not accepted if they date back to more than 6 months prior to the application date.
  • Study plan written in English or Chinese: You can attach a document that contains information on your specialty and academic interests, or can fill it out directly in the corresponding section of the application form (the space is quite small, so I recommend that you attach this information as a separate document).
  • Two letters of recommendation written in English or Chinese from a professor.
  • Although this is NOT an essential requirement to apply for a scholarship, if you have an HSK diploma (Chinese proficiency level), you should attach it. The Chinese government plans to finance you for up to a maximum of two years of university studies in the Chinese language for you to obtain the level of Chinese required for the program that you have chosen. Therefore, if you already have a Chinese diploma, your training will imply a smaller cost, which will increase your chances of obtaining a scholarship. This logic does not apply for studies taught in English, as tuition costs are double those of courses taught in Chinese.
  • Another important but not essential requirement is the pre-admission letter from the destination university. This letter can be issued by the university in the event that it decides beforehand that it wants you as a student. Nonetheless, this is not easy to obtain unless you’ve studied at this university and are known for your achievements. The advantage of having it is that it increases the chances that they will give you a scholarship for this university. If you don’t have one, they might send you to another university in your priorities (during the application process, you have the possibility of selecting three universities in order of preference) or in the worst case, a university of their choice.
  • Other documents: If you are under the age of majority, have published articles or are applying for studies related to art, you must attach additional documentation. Check your case on the website of your destination university.

NOTE: All documentation must be written in English or Chinese. Otherwise, you must present a sworn translation into one of the two languages. The documents will not be returned under any circumstances, because of which you should NOT send the originals but rather certified or notarized copies.

Application process:

  • Application period: From January to April of each year. Some authorized agencies or universities shorten this period. Check your particular case to be sure.
  • The application must be done online first (in English and Chinese) and later you have to submit documentation to the authorized agency or the university of your choice prior to the end of the application period.
  • At the beginning of the online application procedure, you will be asked to choose the type of scholarship based on its financing type (A, B or C) and the number of the authorized agency or university (a code that you will find online or that will be provided to you by the entity that you have selected).
  • Once you have filled out all of the information on the online application, you will be required to attach the required documentation in PDF format. All of this documentation plus a copy of the application form is what you will have to submit to the authorized agency or chosen university.
  • The results will be made public on the same application webpage starting as of mid-July. Starting at this time, the entities will start to mail the documentation necessary to apply for a student visa in the candidate’s country of origin (or, if you select the option during the application process, you will be able to pick it up directly at the Chinese university).
  • If your studies have a duration of more than one year, you will have to apply to renew the scholarship each school year.

Provincial government scholarships (local scholarships)

These types of scholarships are granted by provincial governments, including the governments of the four Chinese cities considered “direct-controlled municipalities” (Beijing, Tianjin, Chongqing and Shanghai), as they operate as provinces in themselves.

These apply to bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees and PhD studies as well as to Chinese language courses. Nonetheless, not all universities are allocated scholarships from their provincial government for all types of studies. You should carefully review your case.

These are divided into three types:

  • Type A: Postgraduate degree studies (master’s or PhD)
  • Type B: Undergraduate degree studies (bachelor’s degree)
  • Type C: Large-duration diploma studies (for example, Chinese language courses)

The main feature of these scholarships is that the application is done directly and exclusively via the destination university.

To do so, first you have to check if the university that you have chosen admits students on scholarship from the provincial government for the studies of your choice. For example, the Zhejiang A & F University (ZAFU) admitted, for the 2016-2017 school year, 12 students with a type B scholarship (bachelor’s degree) and 4 students with a type C scholarship (language studies).

Normally, students applying for scholarships are already in the destination city (or at least live somewhere in China). Once again, the main reason is that you have to apply at the university itself, and not through an entity or organization (such as consulates, international agencies, etc.).

These scholarships also tend to be the first choice of bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD students and not for studying Chinese. Although it’s possible, the quantity of scholarships destined for the latter program is much smaller. For example, the government of Shanghai does not offer scholarships to study Chinese at any of the universities under its jurisdiction.

Nonetheless, keep in mind that if you are planning to study for a bachelor’s or graduate degree with the scholarship, it’s essential for you to have a valid HSK diploma or Chinese proficiency certification (4 and above; check your case on the website of your university).

Special features of provincial government scholarships:

  • Amount of financing: This will depend on the province where you are applying and the type of studies. The cost of living and of tuition vary greatly from province to province and based on the level of studies. It’s not the same to live and study Chinese in a province in the interior of China as it is to study for a PhD in Beijing. Nonetheless, in the majority of the cases, scholarships will cover tuition, accommodations at the university residence (sharing a room and bathroom with another person) and health insurance. If you are given a total coverage scholarship, you will also receive an allowance per month for personal expenses.
  • Number of scholarships granted: Each university has a quota of scholarships per type of studies (master’s degree, language course, etc.). If, for example, the university where you want to study your master’s degree only offers 4 type A scholarships (postgraduate scholarships), it will be hard to get one, as the offering is too small. Take care to inform yourself well beforehand and to evaluate your possibilities.
  • Duration of scholarships: The duration of financing will also vary based on the universities and type of studies. Even so, in general, bachelor’s and doctoral degree studies have a maximum duration of 3 or 4 years, master’s degrees 2 to 3 years, and language courses between 1 and 2 years. Each year, you will have to apply to renew your scholarship, which will be given to you if you demonstrate that you are an excellent student.

NOTE: The government of Shanghai categorizes its scholarships in a special way, only distinguishing two types, A and B. Type A are total coverage scholarships (they cover the costs of tuition, accommodations and health insurance, and provide a monthly allowance for personal expenses) and type B are partial coverage scholarships (they only cover tuition and health insurance). Remember that the government of Shanghai does not offer scholarships for Chinese language courses.

Minimum requirements for scholarships granted by provincial governments:

  • You must not have Chinese nationality.
  • You must not possess other scholarships from the Chinese government.
  • Maximum age of candidates: This varies depending on the university, but the majority are between:
    • 25-30 years for bachelor’s degree studies
    • 30-35 years for master’s degree or Chinese language studies
    • 40 years for PhD studies

Check the specific requirements of your university for information on minimum educational requirements.

Required documentation:

  • Application form duly filled out: You will find this form on the website of your university in the scholarships section (that of the provincial government of the university of your choice). If, for example, you were thinking about studying at a university in the city of Kunming, you will have to download the application form for a scholarship from the Yunnan (province) government on the website of the university in question.
  • HSK diploma (Chinese proficiency) if you are going to complete your studies in Chinese: Generally, it’s necessary to have HSK4 for undergraduate studies and HSK5 for master’s or PhD studies. Check your case on the website of the university you choose. They don’t tend to ask for HSKK (oral Chinese proficiency). As opposed to scholarships from the Chinese central government, the majority of provincial government scholarships do not plan to finance a Chinese leveling course.
  • TOEFL or IELTS diploma if you are going to study in English and don’t come from an English-speaking country: The minimum scores for each diploma are specified by each university for each type of program.
  • Official medical form or Foreigner Physical Examination Form: For students who want to study in China for a duration of greater than six months, they must present a medical report that certifies they are in good physical and mental health. This form must be filled out and signed by a certified doctor (they can be from your country) and must contain an official seal from the center where you got the check up. It’s necessary for this seal to be stamped on top of the passport photo that you must attach to it.
  • Highest level academic diploma and the transcript of the academic scores obtained during it (transcript). If this documentation is not written in English or Chinese, you must present a sworn translation into either of the two languages.
  • Study or research plan written in English or Chinese: The required number of words will be specified by each university (between 400 and 800 words).
  • In the case of a master’s degree or PhD, the majority of universities request two letters of recommendation written in English or Chinese by a permanent or associate professor (from your university, the destination university, or whoever you can find).
  • Other documents: On some occasions, they may ask for other additional documentation, such as certification of guardians in China if you are less than 18 years of age or a portfolio of your prior work if you are applying for studies in the domain of art and music.

NOTE: All official documentation must be presented as certified or notarized copies. At some universities, they may request that these documents be legalized. Check your particular case. Each country has different procedures, so you need to investigate the process in your own country.

Application process:

  • Application date: between February and April of each year (in some cases until May).
  • Application procedure: First of all, the application must be done via the online platform of the provincial government to which the university belongs. Once you have done your online application and attached all the required documents in PDF format, you must submit all of this documentation before the deadline (including a copy of the application form filled out) directly to the chosen university. It’s preferable to submit all documentation directly at the university, as that way its receipt is guaranteed. If you’re not in China around these dates, try to get a friend or an acquaintance to do this process for you. If you don’t know anybody, you can send documentation by mail (some universities even accept documentation in digital format via email) but I don’t recommend that you do so, as it’s less reliable.
  • Decision date and sending of visa application documents: Before July 31 of each year. The results are published on the same webpage where you did your online application.

Confucius Institute scholarships

Confucius Institute scholarships are very popular among Chinese students across the globe. This is a governmental body whose goal is to promote knowledge of Chinese language and culture throughout the world. With a presence in more than 120 countries, it annually offers numerous scholarships for studies at a total of 150 universities in China.

Although it also subsidizes certain PhD studies, research terms, participation in international conferences, etc., in this section, I’m going to exclusively focus on the support offered by the entity for Chinese language and culture studies, as these are the most sought after. If you are interested in checking out the financing that it offers for postgraduates and researchers, you can take a look here (in Chinese and English).

Categories and duration of Confucius Institute scholarships for studying Chinese:

  • Scholarships for studying Chinese language and culture. There are three types:
    • Scholarships for one school year: These are for a total of 11 months, and may start in September (until July of the following year) or in March (until January of the following year).
    • Academic semester scholarships: The real duration of these scholarship is 5 months. It can be the semester from September to January (winter) or the one from March to July (summer).
    • Scholarships for studying for four weeks: One-month courses are taught during Chinese winter vacation (December-January) or during summer vacation (July-August).
  • Scholarships for future Chinese professors. There are three types:
    • Scholarships for studying the Master of Teaching Chinese to Speakers of Other Languages (MTCSOL): This has a duration of 2 school years.
    • Scholarships for one school year in Chinese culture and language + 2 years of MTCSOL: In total, this consists of 3 school years.
    • Scholarships for studying the Bachelor’s Degree in Teaching Chinese to Speakers of Other Languages (BTCSOL): This has a duration of 4 school years.

    Scholarships to train Chinese teachers can start in either September or March.

Applying for scholarships must be done online. During the process, the system will offer you the possibility of choosing two universities by order of priority out of the 150 centers offering this throughout the country. Take a look at the centers that you are most interested in (register first to be able to access all information, which is in Chinese and English,) and ensure that you can study the program of your choice at that center (not all centers offer all of the programs mentioned above).

What the scholarship covers:

Scholarships from Confucius Institute include the cost of tuition and accommodations (at the university residence in a room shared with another person), basic health insurance and a monthly allowance for personal expenses divided in the following way:

  • 2,500 Yuan per month for BTCSOL students or students of Chinese language and culture courses (around 350 USD/month).
  • 3,000 Yuan per month for MTCSOL students (equivalent to around 420 USD/month).

Recently, the Institute has been considering the possibility of allowing students on scholarship to live off campus (and therefore choosing not to live at the university residence). In these cases, the Confucius Institute is offering 700 Yuan per month (in addition to the monthly allowance) to help with rental expenses.

In the case of scholarships with a duration of greater than one year, the Confucius Institute will annually revise the grades obtained by recipients, requiring excellent scores to be able to renew the entirety of the financing for the following year.

If the grades of the student are not considered to be above average, the Confucius Institute reserves the right to not renew the scholarship or in any case, to offer partial financing (which covers all expenses except for the monthly allowance for personal expenses).

Depending on your country of origin, the Confucius Institute will also cover the cost of the incoming and outgoing international flights to/from China (one flight there and one flight back in total). Check your case.

Minimum requirements and necessary documentation:

  • To not be of Chinese nationality and to be in good health. If you are going to study for a period of greater than six months, you need to demonstrate that you are in a good physical and mental condition to be able to apply for your Chinese residency permit. To do so, once you are at your destination university (this is not a document that is required during the application period), you will have to submit a duly filled out copy of the official Chinese medical form or Foreigner Physical Examination Form.
  • For the selection of candidates, the Confucius Institute gives absolute priority to the Chinese students in any of its classrooms across the globe. Therefore, if this isn’t your case, I don’t recommend that you apply for this type of scholarship.
  • Applicants must be between the ages of 16 and 35 years old. This is extended to 45 years old for people who can demonstrate at the time of applying for the scholarship that they are working as Chinese teachers). Applicants for undergraduate scholarships cannot be more than 20 years of age.
  • It is essential that you have Chinese proficiency level certification (HSK written and oral and in some cases, BCT and BCT oral are also accepted). This requirement depends on the type of scholarship. For example, for a scholarship to study one school year of Chinese language and culture, you need a minimum of 180 points on the HSK3 written and a minimum of 60 points on the HSK oral. To check your particular case, click here.
  • Minimum educational requirements: For the MTCSOL scholarship, it’s necessary to submit your degree and an academic transcript for undergraduate studies. In the case of the BTCSOL or Chinese language scholarship, you will have to have finished your high school studies. If you don’t have this documentation in English or Chinese, you will have to present a sworn translation into either of the two languages.
  • One letter of recommendation in the case of applicants for the scholarship to study one year of Chinese or BTCSOL, and two in the case of applicants for the MTCSOL scholarship. The letter(s) must be signed by the authorized individual at the Confucius Institute via which you are applying for the scholarship (and must specify if you are a student of them or not).
  • In the case of the MTCSOL scholarship, preference will be given to applicants who demonstrate that they will have a job as a Chinese professor following the completion of their master’s studies in China.
  • In the case of single-semester or four-week scholarships, you are not permitted to have previously studied in China to apply for them.

NOTE: During the online application process, you will be required to write a short letter of motivation detailing your reasons and expectations with regard to the scholarship (around 300 words).

Process for applying for scholarships from the Confucius Institute:

  • Application deadline: Until the beginning of May (generally the 1st) if you want to apply for a scholarship to start in September, and until the beginning of November if you want to start in March.
  • Submission of applications: If you are a student of the Confucius Institute (ideal for applying for this scholarship), contact the person in charge of scholarships. The application must be completed online on the official website of Confucius Institute scholarships (you will need to scan all of your documents, including your passport and a passport-size photo).Later, you have to submit hard copies of all of the required documentation (preferably certified copies, as this documentation won’t be returned to you). The person in charge of scholarships at the Confucius Institute will take care of sending it via mail to the Hanban headquarters (the central offices of the Confucius Institute in China). If you’re not a student of the Confucius Institute, you can fill out the application online and present the physical documentation at the Confucius Institute closest to you, at a Chinese embassy or consulate in your country, or at certain examination centers and educational institutions in your country that are linked to Hanban.
  • Decision date: A definitive decision regarding the students receiving the scholarships can be consulted on the official website of Confucius Institute scholarships at the beginning of July (if you’re going to start in September) or at the beginning of January (if you start in March).
  • Mailing of documents to apply for the visa: The necessary documentation for applying for the visa will be sent by conventional mail during the 15 days following the publication of the decision. When this point in the process has arrived, I recommend that you be patient, as you might have to wait for more than a month to receive the letter.

Other scholarships

Scholarships for high school students

Although these are a lot less popular than the scholarships we mention above, there also exists a possibility of getting a scholarship to study for one year at a Chinese high school.

As far as we know, unlike in the previous cases, there don’t exist general scholarships aimed at all nationalities, and because of this, your only opportunity will be via bilateral conventions between China and your country or supranational entities or organizations.

If you would like to find out more about this possibility, you can read our interview with Marta, who at the age of 16 spent one year studying at a high school in Nanjing.

Post-doctoral scholarships

One of the specific characteristics of the Chinese research system is that there exists a postdoctoral degree. This means that if you receive a postdoctoral scholarship, at the end, you will have to write a “postdoctoral” thesis and defend it before a panel.

Postdoctoral scholarships are normally managed directly by universities or research centers, which means that the requirements, procedures and conditions may vary greatly. Below, I give a general overview of these aspects.

Features of postdoctoral scholarships at universities:

  • Value of scholarships: This will depend on the province and university where you are applying. In the majority of cases, in addition to the base wage, you will receive financial assistance to rent accommodations, the option of choosing an apartment at the university at a very reduced rate (with a private bathroom and kitchen), basic health insurance (normally this covers 75% of all medical expenses at public hospitals), and a down payment to purchase a house (which you obtain upon graduating). The monthly salary is around 4,000 Yuan (including housing assistance).
  • Number of scholarships awarded: Each university has a specific number of postdoctoral scholarships, but they tend to not be covered, even at the most important universities, and especially in fields related to science.
  • Duration of scholarships: Postdoctoral scholarships tend to have a duration of two years that can be extended by another year or half year.

Note: Having a postdoctoral scholarship is actually compatible with other national and international scholarships. In reality, many universities have talent seeking programs that supplement the base postdoctoral wage.

Minimum requirements:

While the only requirement is having a PhD, every university has its own specific requirements.

Required documentation:

  • Application form duly filled out: The university should provide you with the documentation.
  • Letter of acceptance from the head researcher.
  • Official medical form or Foreigner Physical Examination Form: This form must be filled out and signed by a licensed doctor (they can be from your country), and must contain the official seal from the center where you get the check up. It’s necessary for this seal to be stamped on top of the passport photo that you must attach.
  • PhD degree: If this documentation is not written in English or Chinese, you may need to present a sworn translation into one of the two languages.
  • Research project written in English or Chinese.
  • Two letters of recommendation written in English or Chinese by a full or associate professor.
  • Curriculum Vitae: This must clearly specify your publications and participation in conferences.

Application procedure:

  • Place to apply: The documentation must be submitted directly to the university or research center.
  • Application date: Many universities tend to allow you to apply at any time of the year.
  • Application process: Varies greatly depending on the university.

Note: It’s possible that when applying to postdoctoral programs, a lot of information is not clearly stated (and normally it is only in Chinese), and they may even ask you to submit documents partially written in Chinese, which means that it’s important for you to ask for help from your research group at the destination university.

I hope that this overview has helped to give you an idea of what scholarships are most popular for studying in China and to guide you in choosing which is most appropriate for you. While it may seem very complicated, there are thousands of students from all around the globe that benefit from this funding each year.

If you meet the requirements and are thinking that you would like to study in the Asian giant, I encourage you to start the application process. If you don’t yet meet one of the requirements but you really want to have this experience, this article gives a breakdown of the steps to follow to be able to have the opportunity to have your studies in the Middle Kingdom paid for in the future.

Photo Credits: Creative Commons License Wang Qinsong’s “follow me” by michael davis-burchat

15 thoughts on “Studying in China on Scholarship: The Complete Guide”

  1. Hello. Good article. I want to know whether a citizen from a country that doesn’t have diplomatic relations with China (Paraguay, for instance) can apply to and actually get any of the scholarships you mentioned.

  2. Hello namaste i am from nepal i want to learn chinese language course in bachelor level with confusios scholarship when i meet chinease people i asked about chinese university he suggest me that joint the confusios scholarship but i dont know about visa process and apply process

  3. Hello! I want to apply for a scholarship in China but the problem is it’s been 5 years since I graduated high school and I wasn’t able to finish College. Are they strict about this?

  4. Thank you! it’s a very informative article.
    You stated clearly that applicants must not possess other scholarships. What about if the applicant is not currently on a scholarship but has been on a scholarship?
    Is it still possible to get a one-year language-course scholarship through any of the three options you listed?

    (As you might have guessed I have been on a 6 months hanban scholarship program and now regret I didn’t ask for 1 year)
    *eager to hear some good advice*

    1. Hello Marian,

      your situation is quite “particular”. I suggest you to ask to the entity where you want to apply for your next scholarship

  5. Hello . I applied for Chinese government scholarship in Greek embassy . They say that offer 6 scholarship for Greek people.all the applicants together are just 5. I have hsk 5 and pre admission letter . You think how many chances I have to get the scholarship ? Please answer me

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