The top ten universities in China

Studying in China can be a great opportunity, but if you’re going to do it, you should do it right. Below you’ll find the top 10 universities in mainland China, according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2014-2015. Further detailed information, including available programs, can be found on the Study in China website.    

Please remember that the rankings below take into account the overall strength of a university across various disciplines; on specific courses, some universities may be stronger than those higher up this list.


1. Peking University (北京大学)

Peking University (source: galaygobi)

Given that ‘Peking’ is the old Romanization of Beijing, we won’t give you any points for guessing where Peking University is located. Its attractive campus grounds (it is based in what was once the imperial family’s garden, near the Old Summer Palace) and traditional architecture prove attractive to tourists and students alike, and it has been hailed by some as one of the world’s most beautiful universities.

Perhaps more importantly, its long history – it was founded in 1898 – means that it has long been established as one of the most respected institutions in China. The university embraces diverse branches of learning such as basic and applied sciences, social sciences and the humanities, and Western medicine, management and education. 

It now has 11 master’s programs fully conducted in English in various areas including international relations, Chinese law, public policy and business administration. Chinese language proficiency requirements in other areas vary depending on the program; more information can be found here. You can also visit the international student division here.


2. Tsinghua University (清华大学)

Tsinghua University (source: Auditorium of Tsinghua University)

Tsinghua University is also based in Beijing, having been established there in 1911, and is now a comprehensive research university. At present, it has 14 schools and 56 departments, with faculties in science, engineering, humanities, law, Western medicine, history, philosophy, economics, management, education and art. 

It also has the largest numbers of academics affiliated with the Chinese Academy of Science and the Chinese Academy of Engineering (the highest academic institutions in China), and the largest number of national awards in science and technology. 

Some of the master’s programs are instructed in English, though not all; details can be found here, and the international students office can be found here


3. Fudan University (复旦大学)

Fudan University (source: Nanmus)

In 1905 it opened as Fudan Public School; since then it’s had an upgrade and become Fudan University, a research-focused organization with departments of philosophy, economics, law, education, literature, history, science, engineering, Western medicine and management.

The university’s resources include 11 national first-tier disciplines, 19 national second-tier disciplines, five national key laboratories and four ministry research centers. Fudan was one of the first institutions in China to admit foreign students, and has both degree and non-degree courses in English. Details can be found here, while the main website can be found here


4. University of Science and Technology of China (中国科学技术大学)

University of Science and Technology of China (source: JLDragon)

Although it was established by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in 1958 in Beijing, the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) is now located in Hefei, Anhui province – which helpfully breaks the capital’s stranglehold on this list. 

The university aims to meet China’s science and technology needs, and has integrated its resources with those of the CAS, with the aim of educating top talent in cutting-edge, interdisciplinary science and technology. It is the only university in China operating two national labs, and along with the CAS it jointly operates two other major national science facilities. 

At the time of writing, USTC employed 42 academics from the Chinese Academy of Science or Engineering and 14 academics from the World Academy of Science teaching fields such as quantum manipulation, nanotechnology, high-temperature superconductivity, speech processing, fire science and life sciences. Many doctoral programs in the university are bilingually instructed; more on them can be found here, and the main website is here.


5. Nanjing University (南京大学)

Nanjing University (source: Meisam)

Located in the country’s former capital, Nanjing in Jiangsu province, Nanjing University (NJU) opened its doors in 1902 and now has two campuses: one in the central district of Gulou and in one in Xianlin University City, an area further out of the centre of Nanjing that contains many university campuses. 

NJU has developed multi-disciplinary programs in humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, technological sciences, life sciences, modern engineering and management. 

It is also a national test site for the Chinese Proficiency Test (HSK), the Test of Practical Chinese (C. Test) and the Teaching Chinese as Foreign Language (TCFL) Capability Test. It has hosted more than 10,000 international students from over 70 countries. 

The various programs open to foreign students can be found here and the main website can be found here


6. Shanghai Jiao Tong University (上海交通大学)

Shanghai Jiao Tong University (source: PhilHu)

As its name suggests, Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) is located in Shanghai; it opened in 1896 and in the century-and-a-bit since then it has fostered great talents including China’s “Father of Space Technology” Qian Xuesen; mathematician Wu Wenjun, winner of the State Preeminent Science and Technology Award, celebrated chemist Xu Guangxian and famed hematologist Wang Zhenyi. Over 200 members of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering are SJTU alumni. 

SJTU aims to strengthen its international features and a number of English-taught programs to students from all over the world; you can read more on them here, or visit the main website here


7. Renmin University of China (中国人民大学)

Renmin University of China (source: chenyingphoto)

Renmin University of China, located in Beijing, is a research university with humanities and social sciences at its core. It was established in the 1950s, and has its roots in the Shan Bei Public School, which was first set up during the War of Resistance against Japan in 1937. Now it offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and doctoral programs. 

The university has eight national first-tier disciplines and eight national second-tier disciplines. In 2013 an assessment on national first-tier disciplines conducted by the Ministry of Education saw Renmin University ranking first in nine disciplines: theoretical economics, applied economics, law, political science, sociology, journalism and communication, statistics, business administration, and public administration. 

In 2013, the university hosted 1,630 international students, and employs Nobel Prize winners and prestigious economists as some of its honorary professors. Their programs can be found here, and the university website is here.


8. Sun Yat-sen University of China (中山大学) 

Sun Yat-sen University (source: SYSU)

Sun Yat-sen (Zhongshan) University, located in the city of Guangzhou in Guangdong province, was founded in 1924 by Dr Sun Yat-sen, the leader of the democratic revolution in China. It is now a comprehensive and multi-disciplinary university spread across four campuses; three in Guangzhou and one in Zhuhai. 

The north campus hosts the entire medical school, while Zhuhai campus offers programs that suit local needs, such as international business, biotechnology, physics, chemistry, computer science and languages. Meanwhile, the Guangzhou campuses offer humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, technical sciences, and management, among others. 

The medical science department of the university has eight affiliated comprehensive and specialized hospitals. The university has also focused on building international cooperation and exchange relationships with universities across the world. More on its programs can be found here, while the university website is here


9. Zhejiang University (浙江大学)

Zhejiang University (source: ddr9334)

Zhejiang University (ZJU) is located in the historical and picturesque city of in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. A research university, ZJU covers a number of academic disciplines, including philosophy, economics, law, education, literature, history, science, engineering, agriculture, Western medicine and management. 

In 2013, ZJU admitted over 5,200 international students from 130 countries. There are English-taught bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and non-degree programs. The international education section of the website can be found here


10. Wuhan University of Technology (武汉理工大学)

Wuhan University of Technology (WUT) is located in Wuhan, Hubei province. The university has 23 research centers, including two State Key Laboratories, one State Engineering Laboratory and ministerial- or provincial-level laboratories in the areas of new materials; new energy; transportation and logistics; mechatronics and automobiles; information technology; and resources and environmental technology. In 2012, WUT was ranked in the top one percent by the Essential Scientific Index (ESI) in the three disciplines of materials science, engineering and chemistry. 

WUT has also established cooperative relations for student exchanges and scientific research with more than 100 foreign universities and research institutions from countries including the USA, UK, Japan, France, Australia, Russia and the Netherlands. It also invited over 260 international scholars to be guest professors or honorary professors. The WUT’s programs can be found here, while its international students office is here


Useful links

China Education and Research Network’s University Rankings

Study in China’s university directory

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2014-2015

Top Universities’ university rankings

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