There are four main ways to study in China:
- Through a study abroad program at your university
- Through a third-party study abroad program
- At a Chinese language school
- Direct enrollment at a Chinese university
Study in China via your university
A study abroad program organized by your current university will be the most expensive option, but it also offers a guarantee of credits for the courses you take in China. Your university may have its own study abroad program or it may be working with a partner organization. In either case, you’re likely to be offered a selection of subject-area classes in either English or Chinese. On a study abroad program organized by your university, all the participants will be from your university. It’s worth considering how much contact you’ll have with students from China and other countries.
Study in China via a private program
A third-party study abroad program is a good option if your university’s program in China is either too expensive or doesn’t match what you’re looking for. There are lots of third party study abroad programs across China, and depending on your university and degree, you may still be able to earn credit for the courses you take. It’s a good idea to check that point before booking. These study abroad programs in China can be language-focused, subject-focused, or a bit of both. They often attract students from several countries, so there may be a more international mix, but that’s worth looking in to before you book.
Study at a Chinese language school
Studying abroad at a Chinese language school is the most flexible option, and the one most focused on improving your Mandarin skills. Many study abroad programs in China will include a language component, but they usually aren’t exclusively language focused. A few are entirely in English. You can pick your own start date when you study at a Chinese language school. If you need a 6-week program, a 3 month program, a program starting in May… a language school should be able to accommodate you. A language immersion program in China may also earn you university credits back home, depending on your degree and university.
Enroll in a Chinese university
The fourth option is direct enrollment at a Chinese university. This is a challenging path unless your level of Mandarin is very good, but it’s certainly possible. Chinese universities are actively trying to recruit more foreign students to improve their international university rankings. The assumption is that you will earn your entire degree in China, not just study abroad for a semester or a year. More information on how to apply is available on each university’s website.
Whichever type of program you choose to study in China, you’ll first need to identify, apply, and be accepted before moving on to applying for a visa and arranging the logistics of your stay. Student visas are generally straightforward for China, although they take time to be processed. Even short-term students require a visa, so it’s a good idea to plan your experience studying in China well in advance.