Choosing a Suitable University

At present, nearly 200 Chinese public universities and 10 language schools are making use of CUCAS's online admission system. How do you choose your ideal university? We suggest that you consider the following aspects:

Personal Preference

Do you have a favourite city or are you intimately familiar with a particular university? In this case, you may already have a university in mind. If not, one of our friendly consultant can help you narrow down your list based on your preferences.

Budget for Program

In comparison to Beijing, Shanghai, and large coastal cities, the cost of living in China’s inland regions is relatively low. For example, Chengdu, Xi'an, Chongqing, Changsha, Wuhan, Zhengzhou, and other cities are all well-developed with beautiful scenery and many excellent universities. If you don't have a large budget, you may wish to consider these cities.

Reputation and Ranking

An increasing number of Chinese Universities are appearing in the Times Higher Education and QS World University Rankings. You may want to refer to the respective ranking systems as an indication of the quality of education provided by Chinese Universities. However, experts have cautioned against over reliance on ranking results for the selection of universities as they have no guaranteed bearing on the learning or career outcomes of their students. It is more important to match your interest and strengths with the characteristics of the university in order to enable your learning and unleash your inner potential.

The country and its Ministry of Education have implemented several initiatives that aims to identify the best institutions as role models and promote the development of excellence in teaching and research across higher education in China. Project 211 and Project 985 are the best known among such initiatives.

Culture, Heritage and Strengths

If you have a clear decision on your choice of specialisation, you may consider programs that universities have a reputation for. For example, Beijing Language and Culture University is the earliest, one of the most established university that is recognised for teaching Chinese to international students. Every year, thousands of foreign students read Chinese language and culture at this university.

Population of Internal Students

Depending on your social objectives, personality and learning style, the proportion of international students and support from universities for such students may influence your choice of university. For instance, postgraduate students pursuing an MBA program may benefit more from a program conducted by a university with a higher mix of international students, that enhance a candidate's global business network. Where else, an extroverted applicant who wish to immerse in deep Chinese Studies may find a student body that largely constitutes domestic students to be more enriching.

One of the things you’ll need to consider is the city where you want to study. China's universities are located in various cities throughout the country, with a higher density found in the more developed eastern region. In fact, chances are you might already have heard of cities like Beijing and Shanghai, but China has plenty of other cities  which are home to excellent universities. To help give you a better idea of what the cities are like, we’ve categorised them into six groups.

Cosmopolitan Metropolis

An international metropolis is usually the political, economic and cultural center of a country, with a population in excess of 10 million. Beijing and Shanghai are 2 of them, among others. These cities' degrees of modernisation are the same as New York and Paris. But in some parts of the city, there still some preserved traces of ancient China, such as Beijing's "hutong"s and courtyards. China’s comprehensive universities are set up in these two cities where a great diversity of programs are available. While there are other cities like Guangzhou and Shenzhen that nearly match up to the status, they may not enjoy the same reputation in Education as these 2 cities currently do.


A metropolitan city is usually the political and economic center of a particular region or province. China has a very comprehensive and efficient transportation system that connects nearly every city in the country. Within metropolis' the public transport system are efficient, convenient and affordable. Subway systems are usually available. Population densities are lower compared to Beijing and Shanghai. Most of the universities in China are also located in these cities.
Harbin Tianjin Jinan Wuhan Guangzhou Chongqing Fuzhou
Chengdu Zhengzhou Changsha Changchun Taiyuan Shenyang Haikou
Shijiazhuang Nanning Shenzhen Kunming Urumqi Nanchang Guiyang
Affordable Cities These mid-sized cities have a lower urban population than metropolises, and possess their own unique characteristics. The cost of living in these cities is relatively more affordable, and the smaller community of foreigners there means you will have plenty of chances to practice your Chinese. If you like this kind of environment, you can choose to go to:
Dezhou Fuxin Baoding Huhehaote Wenzhou Tangshan
Zhenjiang Hefei Lanzhou Binzhou Yangling Jinzhou
Cultural Cities These are cities rich with historical and cultural heritage that typically served as China’s political, economic and cultural centers during ancient times. Boasting more than 1,000 years of history, they have become celebrated tourist destinations and can certainly provide an enriching environment that compliments your study term. We highlight a few of them for you here:
  • Nanjing (the ancient capital of six dynasties)
  • Xi'an (the famous Terracotta Warriors)
  • Suzhou (China's most famous architectural landscape)
  • Hangzhou (China's beautiful ancient scenery, and home of beautiful girls)
  • Kaifeng (One of the ancient cities with 2700 years of history)
Ya'an Zibo Jingdezhen Yinchuan Leshan
Guilin Qufu Wuxi Yuxi Mudanjiang
Coastal Cities China's coastline is 18,000 kilometers long; many cities are located along coastal areas, where there are also many excellent universities. These locations enjoyed advance standing in terms of economical development due to the proliferation of trade since ancient times.
Dalian Qingdao Ningbo Xiamen Weihai Yantai Qinhuangdao
Project 211 is a project of National Key Universities and colleges initiated in 1995 by the Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China, with the intent of raising the research standards of high-level universities and cultivating strategies for socio-economic development. The name for the project comes from an abbreviation of the slogan "面向21世纪,办好100所高校 (For the 21st century, to manage 100 universities successfully)". 100 was approximate number of participating universities.

China today has 117 institutions of higher education (about 6 percent) designated as 211 Project institutions for having met certain scientific, technical, and human resources standards and offer advanced degree programs). Project 211 schools take on the responsibility of training four-fifths of doctoral students, two-thirds of graduate students, half of students from abroad and one-third of undergraduates. They offer 85% of the state's key subjects, hold 96 percent of the state's key laboratories, and consume 70% of scientific research funding.

Since 2014, Project 211 was less mentioned and gradually succeeded by a new project called plan 111 (Program of Introducing Talents of Discipline to Universities). The MoE has announced the creation of 100 innovation centers for the plan.

To date, the following institutions have been identified as 211 Universities:

  1. Anhui University
  2. Beijing University of Technology
  3. Beijing Foreign Studies University
  4. Beijing Forestry University (also known as Beilin University)
  5. Beijing Institute of Technology
  6. Beijing Jiaotong University
  7. Beijing Normal University
  8. Beijing Sport University
  9. Beihang University (formerly known as Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics)
  10. Beijing University of Chemical Technology
  11. Beijing University of Chinese Medicine
  12. Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications
  13. Beijing University of Technology
  14. Central China Normal University
  15. Central Conservatory of Music
  16. Central South University
  17. Central University of Finance and Economics
  18. Chang'an University
  19. China Agricultural University
  20. China Pharmaceutical University
  21. China University of Geosciences
  22. China University of Geosciences (Beijing)
  23. China University of Mining and Technology
  24. China University of Mining and Technology (Beijing)
  25. China University of Petroleum (Beijing)
  26. China University of Petroleum (Huadong)
  27. China University of Political Science and Law
  28. Chongqing University
  29. Communication University of China
  30. Dalian Maritime University
  31. Dalian University of Technology
  32. Donghua University
  33. East China Normal University
  34. East China University of Science and Technology
  35. Fourth Military Medical University
  36. Fudan University
  37. Fuzhou University
  38. Guangxi University
  39. Guizhou University
  40. Hainan University
  41. Harbin Engineering University
  42. Harbin Institute of Technology
  43. Hebei University of Technology
  44. Hefei University of Technology
  45. Hohai University
  46. Huazhong Agricultural University
  47. Huazhong University of Science and Technology
  48. Hunan Normal University
  49. Hunan University
  50. Inner Mongolia University
  51. Jinan University
  52. Jiangnan University
  53. Jilin University
  54. Lanzhou University
  55. Liaoning University
  56. Minzu University of China (formerly known as the Central University for Nationalities)
  57. Nanchang University
  58. Nanjing Agricultural University
  59. Nanjing Normal University
  60. Nanjing University
  61. Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics
  62. Nanjing University of Science and Technology
  63. Nankai University
  64. Ningxia University
  65. National University of Defense Technology
  66. North China Electric Power University
  67. North China Electric Power University (Baoding)
  68. Northeast Agricultural University
  69. Northeast Forestry University
  70. Northeast Normal University
  71. Northeastern University
  72. Northwest A&F University
  73. Northwest University
  74. Northwestern Polytechnical University
  75. Ocean University of China
  76. Peking University
  77. Qinghai University
  78. Renmin University of China
  79. Second Military Medical University
  80. Shaanxi Normal University
  81. Shandong University
  82. Shanghai International Studies University
  83. Shanghai Jiao Tong University
  84. Shanghai University
  85. Shanghai University of Finance and Economics
  86. Shihezi University
  87. Sichuan Agricultural University
  88. Sichuan University
  89. South China Normal University
  90. South China University of Technology
  91. Southeast University
  92. Southwest University
  93. Southwest Jiaotong University
  94. Southwestern University of Finance and Economics
  95. Sun Yat-sen University
  96. Soochow University
  97. Taiyuan University of Technology
  98. Tianjin Medical University
  99. Tianjin University
  100. Tibet University
  101. Tongji University
  102. Tsinghua University
  103. University of Electronic Science and Technology of China
  104. Beijing University of International Business and Economics
  105. University of Science and Technology Beijing
  106. University of Science and Technology of China
  107. Wuhan University
  108. Wuhan University of Technology
  109. Xiamen University
  110. Xi'an Jiaotong University
  111. Xidian University
  112. Xinjiang University
  113. Yanbian University
  114. Yunnan University
  115. Zhejiang University
  116. Zhengzhou University
  117. Zhongnan University of Economics and Law
Project 985 is a project that was first announced by CPC (Communist Party of China) General secretary and Chinese President Jiang Zemin at the 100th anniversary of Peking University on May 4, 1998, to promote the development and reputation of the Chinese higher education system by founding world-class universities in the 21st century. The name derives from the date of the announcement, May 1998, or 98/5 according to the Chinese date format.

The project involves both national and local governments allocating large amounts of funding to certain universities in order to build new research centers, improve facilities, hold international conferences, attract world-renowned faculty and visiting scholars, and help Chinese faculty attend conferences abroad.

The Project has since identified the following 39 institutions as members, and assigned funding to them as follows:

  1. Peking University (RMB1.8 billion)
  2. Tsinghua University (RMB1.8 billion)
  3. Zhejiang University (RMB1.4 billion)
  4. Nanjing University (RMB1.2 billion)
  5. Fudan University (RMB1.2 billion)
  6. Shanghai Jiao Tong University (RMB1.2 billion)
  7. Xi'an Jiaotong University (RMB900 million)
  8. Harbin Institute of Technology (RMB1 billion)
  9. University of Science and Technology of China (RMB900 million)
  10. Beijing Normal University (RMB1.2 billion)
  11. Beijing Institute of Technology (RMB1 billion)
  12. Beihang University (RMB900 million)
  13. Central South University (RMB400 million)
  14. Minzu University of China (RMB500 million)
  15. Renmin University of China (RMB500 million)
  16. China Agricultural University (unknown)
  17. Chongqing University (RMB540 million)
  18. Dalian University of Technology (RMB400 million)
  19. East China Normal University (RMB600 million)
  20. Huazhong University of Science and Technology (RMB600 million)
  21. Hunan University (RMB400 million)
  22. Jilin University (RMB700 million)
  23. Lanzhou University (RMB450 million)
  24. Nankai University (RMB700 million)
  25. Northwestern Polytechnical University (RMB900 million)
  26. Northeastern University (RMB400 million)
  27. Northwest A&F University (RMB450 million)
  28. Ocean University of China (RMB300 million)
  29. Southeast University (RMB600 million)
  30. Shandong University (RMB1.2 billion)
  31. Sichuan University (RMB720 million)
  32. South China University of Technology (RMB400 million)
  33. Sun Yat-sen University (RMB1.2 billion)
  34. Tianjin University (RMB700 million)
  35. Tongji University (RMB600 million)
  36. University of Electronic Science and Technology of China (RMB360 million)
  37. Wuhan University (RMB800 million)
  38. Xiamen University (RMB800 million)
  39. National University of Defense Technology (unknown)
It was announced in 2011 that the project has closed its doors, and no more new schools will be able to join in.  
The C9 League is relatively unheard of on the international education scene. But think Ivy League (U.S.), Russell Group (U.K.) and Group of Eight (Australia), and you will get an idea. The C9 is an official alliance between the 9 founding universities of Project 985, widely considered to be China's most prestigious and influential universities in various disciplines. They are:

  1. Fudan University
  2. Harbin Institute of Technology
  3. Nanjing University
  4. Peking University
  5. Shanghai Jiao Tong University
  6. Tsinghua University
  7. University of Science and Technology of China
  8. Xi'an Jiaotong University
  9. Zhejiang University
Although accounting for 3% of the country's researchers, they receive 10% of national research expenditures. This alliance also produce 20% of the nation's academic publications and 30% of total citations. People's Daily, an official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, refers to the C9 League as China's Ivy League.

They have a higher fraction of elite academics who have been awarded one of China's top academic honors, the Thousand Talents Plan Professorship and the Changjiang (Yangtze River) Professorship, and often have a few who have been awarded both. C9 League schools receive substantial funding from both national and local governments in order to build new research centers, improve facilities, hold international conferences, attract world-renowned faculty and visiting scholars, and help Chinese faculty attend conferences abroad.