China is the world’s most important country in terms of international education. China is such a country where the number of Chinese students enrolled in degree programs abroad increased by 590 percent to more than 900,000 with 2 decades. It is also the country of sending largest international students worldwide by far, according to UNESCO statistics. It has put great impact on global higher education due to higher outflow of international students worldwide.
Chinese students are widely spread on universities and campuses in Western countries which become ubiquitous phenomenon. The enrollment of Chinese international students are three times more than that of Indian international students. As a result, the expenditures and tuition fees of these students have great impact on the economy of the universities of different countries including United States, Canada, Australia and United Kingdom. In Australia only, about 30 percent international students were Chinese nationalities in 2017. This makes Australia as the largest education center in the world.
China itself has undergone unprecedented changes, advancement and development with modernization in the field of education. It is now the world’s largest education system after the number of tertiary students surged sixfold from just 7.4 million in 2000 to nearly 45 million in 2018, while the country’s tertiary gross enrollment rate (GER) spiked from 7.6 percent to 50 percent (compared with a current average GER of 75 percent in high income countries, per UNESCO). China has now achieved universal participation in higher education.
China is now training more PhD students in compare with United State. The research papers published in 2018, by the Chinese researchers exceeded the research papers published by the U.S. scholars. China is also spending to more in the field of research and development and it is soon expected to overtake the U.S. in research expenditures.
China has altogether 514,000 educational institutions and 270 million students enrolled at all levels of education. Similarly, Chinese higher education institutions (HEIs) is currently producing around 8 million graduates per year which is more than the US and India. It has also expected number to grow by 300 percent until 2030.
Chine is also providing high quality education from the China’s top universities. The universities like Tsinghua University and Peking University are the most reputable institutions in Asia and appear in the top 30 in THE (Times Higher Education) and QS world university rankings. The positive change and improvements in the quality of education system and other various factors make China as an important destination country for international students.
Economic Development of China
The adoption of Deng Xiaoping’s economic liberalization reforms in 1978, has delivers spectacular economic growth and developments. There is no history that take such rapid and large scale industrialization. Even in very few decades, China has turned the country from agricultural society to an industrial manufacturing powerhouse. The average economic growth rate since 1980s to now stood approximately 10 percent.
Despite the economic growth, China is still classified as developing country. The GDP per capita is USD$ 9,770 in 2018 which is still comparatively low. This is due to unequal distribution of wealth and uneven development of the country. Chine became the world’s second largest economy in 2011 and overtaking the US economy. The country has the highest number of skyscrapers and the largest airport.
The people of China has been growing at a breathtaking pace due to change in education pattern. There is too much participation in education and increased in outbound student mobility.
The urban dwellers was 19 percent of the total population in 1980 and it reached to 58 percent in 2017. The remarkable about this transformation is that it has far not affected political stability. China’s Communist Party (CCP) remains firmly in control.
Demographic and Other Problems
Like other Asian countries, China is also facing decline in population. Despite China has abolished longstanding and rigid one child policy with its two child policy in 2016, the population of the country is expected to decline due to decreasing fertility rates. As a result, it dropped to 12 percent in 2018.
The decline in population caused shortage of labor workforce and shrinking by 25 million workers between 2012 and 2017. On the flip side of this shortage of mid-level technicians, growing numbers of university-educated Chinese remain unemployed or underemployed amid an ever expanding pool of university graduates. Besides many of the young educated people are not getting good jobs due to mis-match of their skills with the demand of Chinese labor market. Thus, they are compelled to do low-paying jobs after graduation.
In order to handle the problems, the government of China is investing a huge resources for the modernization of Chinese universities and research institutes. It is also seeking to increase the country’s vocational training system.
Outbound Student Mobility
The rapid social change has brought great impact in the international education. The great changes in educational sectors and the swift of fast expanding middle class have made hundreds of thousands of more students able to afford for the overseas education. This fueled an unprecedented outflow of Chinese international students.
Many of the Chinese students prefer to overseas education. This is because, they think that they can expand their academic horizons, gain intercultural skills and obtain a top level education in international education. Chinese people perceived that Western Universities particularly US institutions are far better and produce innovative graduates and critical thinkers than Chinese HEIs.
Academic and financial barriers are no longer the obstacles they once were, so that more Chinese students can more easily fulfill their academic ambitions to study abroad. In fact, large numbers of Chinese international students, many of whom come from China’s top-tier academic institutions, are exceptionally well prepared to enter the best universities in countries like the United States. More than 6 percent of the student body at Harvard University, for instance is currently made up of Chinese students. Chinese doctoral candidates, likewise, “accounted for 34 percent of all first-year international doctoral students in the United States” in 2016.
Language may be the problem for Chinese students. But many of the school industries in China have directly prepared for an overseas education. There are more than 800 international schools that teach either wholly or partially in English language.
Majority of the Chinese students are self funded and able to pay for an international education. But many Chinese particularly from less developed, inland provinces are dependent on scholarships or loans to send their children overseas.
The another main reason to choose overseas education is to avoid the country’s extremely challenging university entrance test, also known as gaokao. This test is also called as China’s “examination hell.” The test was so stressful that some students commit suicide during the exam. It is the extremely competitive admission procedures of top Chinese universities and very less gaokao test takers gain admission into these schools.
The overseas degree is valuable and given more priorities in the competitive labor market of China. They get better employment opportunities and also paid well. Immigrating to Western countries is also the another factor for studying overseas.
Even hundreds of thousands of Chinese prefer to study overseas and migrate to Western countries, there is a trend of returning back to home country after graduation. According to ICEF Monitor, “Official government statistics show that 339,700 Chinese students went abroad during 2011, with 186,200 overseas graduates returning to China that same year. In 2016, 544,400 Chinese students went abroad while 432,500 returned from overseas study. Between 2009 and 2018, the percentage of students returning home after graduation jumped from 48 percent to 80 percent.
According to the Open Doors data of the International Institute of Education (IIE), China become the largest country to send international students in the United States in 2009/10. Since then, the number of Chinese students had increased to 369,548 in 2018/19 which is close to 34 percent of all international students in the U.S. are now Chinese nationals.
Most of the Chinese students are concentrated in New York and California. But they study on campuses all over the country. About 44 percent of the international students in Ohio are Chinese, according to IIE. Likewise 40 percent of Chinese students are enrolled in undergraduate programs, 36 percent in graduate programs and close to 5 percent in non-degree programs, 19 percent pursue Optional Practical Training. Computer science and mathematics, engineering, and business are the most popular majors among this students.
Even most of the Chinese have dreams to study in US, but the number of Chinese students in US increased by only 1.7 percent in 2019. The growth rate of enrollments has slowed in recent years. Growth rate is used to be considered at the average of 20.9 percent between 2009/10 and 2014/15. This is the time for ringing alarm bells for US universities. To mitigate the effects of slowdown of Chinese students enrollment, the University of Illinois’ Gies College of Business went so far as to take a USD$61 million insurance policy to financially protect itself against the potential loss of Chinese students.
Australia: The another Destination of Chinese Students
Australia is becoming the third most popular international study destination worldwide. It is also applicable to Chinese international students. The number of Chinese enrollment in the Australian institutions increased by 434 percent from 47,931 to 255,896 according to the Australian Department of Education. As a whole, 30 percent of the international students in Australia are Chinese.
There is higher proportion of Chinese and international students in several universities than the entire United States. More than 50 percent of the international student body of the University of Sydney, the most popular university among Chinese students, is reportedly made up of Chinese nationals. The scale of these proportion has raised alarms about financial risks due to an over-reliance on tuition fees from Chinese students. There are also concerns that this trend has negative implications for academic quality. As Australian economist Salvatore Bobones has noted, “Australian universities routinely compromise admissions standards to accommodate international students” and use “preparatory programs for students with lower English language test scores …. as a … work-around for international students who do not meet admission standards.”
United Kingdom: The Destination of Chinese Students
The another destinations for the Chinese international students is United Kingdom. China is sending large amount of international students to UK. As per the record of U.K. Statistics, the number of Chinese students rose from 87,895 in 2013/14 to 106,530 in 2017/18.
According to the Guardian, “University of Manchester has the largest population of Chinese students in Europe. With about 5,000 Chinese students out of a total of just over 40,000, about one in eight students is Chinese.” Mostly they are enrolled in business and engineering programs. Similarly, there are about 72,000 students enrolled in transnational programs and branch campuses of U.K. institutions in China. Overall, offshore international enrollments in British transnational progrmas exceed the number of enrollments in the UK itself, but there are several countries with a greater market share than China.
Canada: The Destination of Chinese Students
Canada is also the most preferred country of Chinese international students over the past two decades. China overtook South Korea for sending largest international students in Canada in 2001. Since then, the number of Chinese students reached form 22,000 to 143,000 in 2018, according to federal government statistics.
One-fourth of the international students in Canada come from China. Most of them clustered in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. Nearly two-thirds of the international students at the University of Toronto is Chinese students. Likewise, one-third at the University of British Columbia and one-fourth at McGill University.
Inbound Student Mobility
China is not only the sender of international students worldwide, but it has become the major destination country over past decades. According to government statistics, 492,185 international students from 196 countries came here for the study. China is the world’s fifth largest destination country international students for tertiary degree seeking students. The government report revealed that 258,122 international students get enrolled in degree programs.
Chinese universities are boosting the enrollment of international students quotas. The government has also set official target to meet 500,000 international students enrollment in China by 2020. The enrollment rates slowed to less than 1 percent in 2018. There are now 227,000 more international students in China than is 2014, and the government is ramping up spending to hit its recruitment target. The amount to scholarship for international students increased by 20 percent to USD$560 in 2018. China funded 63,041 international students that year.
China is also becoming the destination country for international students from less developing countries. The cost for education is affordable and getting opportunity to obtain an education of better quality than at home country. It is also the major destinations for acquiring medical education for underdeveloped and marred by capacity shortages in developing countries.
About 60 percent international students enrolled in China are from Asia. Many of them are from South Korea. The second largest international students are from Thailand. Many of the Thai students learn Chinese in order to get an opportunity of employment. Likewise, Pakistan, India and even US are the top senders of international students in China.
Africa has emerged as the second leading world region of international students in China in the wake of China becoming the continent’s largest trading partner and source of foreign investment. The number of students from Africa increased to 64 percent in between 2015 and 2018. Ghana is the leading sender country from Africa. The other senders are Nigeria, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Education System of China
Although China’s modern universities were not founded before the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The history of formal education in China predates the establishment of Western-style educational institutions by centuries. The imperial education and examination system developed, as a meritocratic means to train and select civil servants, by some reckonings as early as the Han dynasty (206 BCE to 220 CE).
Some characteristics of education in Imperial China continue to influence education in the country. Contemporary China retains a meritocratic approach to education with an emphasis on examinations, the most well-known of which is the gaokao university entrance exam. Said to be one of the most demanding exams in the world, success on the gaokao is of paramount importance for students’ future career and income prospects. This focus on examinations encourages a disciplined, top-down learning style that relies mostly on rote memorization and leaves less room for discussion and criticism when compared to Western education.
After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the country established a highly centralized system of education steered by China’s one-party state. The higher education system was initially based on the Soviet model, a system that separated teaching from research. Universities became primarily teaching institutions, affiliated with specific government bodies. They taught related subjects, such as medicine, art, or agriculture. The result was a high degree of specialization and lack of cross-fertilization between the disciplines. Research, on the other hand, was mostly conducted by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and other research institutes.
During the Cultural Revolution, schools and universities became targets of political violence and remained closed, often for years, as many students joined Mao Zedong’s Red Guards to purge China of alleged “representatives of the bourgeoisie” while city youth were sent to “rural areas to be ‘re-educated by peasants.”
After the death of Mao, the education system underwent drastic changes with Deng Xiaoping’s free market reforms. The government of China realized that economic modernization is only possible through education system. During 1980s and 1990s, China’s HEIs joined to form larger and more diverse universities. These institutions were given greater autonomy, even though university autonomy in China is still very limited by Western standards.
The administration of education system became more decentralized with Beijing and more functions and responsibilities were given to the local governments. From then the education system was commercialized to some extent with tuition fees and private education is gaining greater prominence in China.
Administrative System of China in Education
The people’s Republic of China is divided into 23 provinces, four municipalities i.e. Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Chongqing, the five autonomous regions (including Tibet and Xinjiang) and two specially administered regions (Hong Kong and Macau). Similarly, provincial level divisions are further subdivided into thousands of counties, cities and townships.
The administration of education system of mainland China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau) is as follows:
The Ministry of Education (MoE) is established at national level. It formulates the policies and guides the educational reforms. The content of examinations and school system’s curricula are all set by it. It also supervises 75 prestigious universities and control the higher education system by setting overall directives. Similarly, it controls the national gaokao university entrance examinations as well.
The department of education of the province approve the establishment of HEIs and monitor their performance. Apart from the universities directly controlled by the MOE and other central government bodies, such as the Ministry of Defense, as well as a few universities administered jointly by the central and provincial governments.
Likewise, the elementary and secondary education is managed by the local level counties and municipal governments.
Language Used and Academic Calendar
Mandarin is the main official language of China. So, elementary and secondary schools use this language as the language of instruction. Since China is also very rich in ethnicity, the local language as well as Mandarin language is used for instruction. In China, 55 ethnics minorities is recognized. In the case of Tibet, the CCP seeks to curb the use of Tibetan language for instruction.
Mandarin is the main language used for instruction in higher education. But English language and courses are increasing in order to internationalize the China’s higher education system.
The academic calendar in both schools and universities runs from September to July. Universities usually divide the academic year into two semesters of 20 weeks each. Some of the institutions follow the quarter system. In semester system, the last two weeks are usually reserved for examinations.
Compulsory Education: Elementary and Lower-Secondary Education
All the children must complete nine years of compulsory education as per the China’s Compulsory Education Law. The age of schooling may start from age of six or at least, seven. Children of 2 or 3 can enroll in kindergarten but pre-school education is not compulsory.
China has adopted compulsory education law in 1986 which set universal basic education and literacy as the two basic targets. The enrollment for elementary education reached about 95 percent in 2018. But the literacy rate of among the 15 and above decreased to 4.85 percent. The literacy rate of so called wealthy cities like Beijing and Shanghai reported to 98.52 and 96.85 percent in 2014. But the literacy rate of Tibet is only 60.07 percent in the same year.
Generally, compulsory basic education comprises six years of elementary and three years of lower-secondary education. Cost of these education are fee at public schools. Since, MOE in Beijing set the curricula, it is implemented nationwide by provincial and municipal governments.
Most of the schools in China are public, but there is increasing in number of private school. As the law promoted the establishment of more private schools in 2003, it grew to 35 percent of elementary, junior secondary and senior secondary schools as of 2018. Similarly, according to the 2016 amended version of the law, these schools need to be licensed and comply with official regulations. The Chinese schools follow the national curriculum except the international schools that teach foreign curricula. Likewise, the private schools are not allowed to operate for profit motives but can charge tuition fees so as to maintain school’s expenses. They may also get tax break and subsidies from local government.
The current curriculum follows the ministry’s Guidelines for Compulsory Education Curriculum Reforms, implemented nationwide in 2005. It encompasses moral education, Chinese language and literature, mathematics, art and music, and physical education. The third grade curriculum introduces science, a foreign language (generally English), and “comprehensive practice”, a subject that may entail community service, information technology education, or basic vocational education.
Pupils are free to remain within the same school or can transfer to local junior high school after the completion of elementary education. It is not compulsory to attend entrance examination to access lower-secondary education in public schools. But private schools may have different criteria for admission. The entrance examination was existed until 1990s.
The curriculum at this level expands on the basic subjects taught in elementary schools to include the additional subjects of history and geography, biology, physics, and chemistry. The foreign language taught at junior high schools is most commonly English, though schools may also offer Japanese or Russian, and students at some schools have the option of learning a second foreign language. There is no junior high school graduation examination. As long as pupils pass ninth grade, which generally means a score of 60/100 in core subjects, they are awarded the Compulsory Education Certificate.
Senior Secondary Education
There are two types of schools at the senior secondary level i.e., general academic high schools (gaozhong) and vocational high schools (zhongzhuan). The length of the regular program is 3 years and 3 to 4 years for vocational programs.
General High Schools
Students must pass an entrance examination (zhongkao: It is an important benchmark in Chinese education.) to be admitted in high schools. This exam is held during the final year of junior secondary school in June or July of each year. All the guidelines for the writtern examination is set by MOE and administered by local educational authorities and not standardized nationwide. It tests knowledge of the junior secondary curriculum and covers subjects like Chinese, mathematics, foreign language, political education, physics and chemistry. Students are also compulsory to pass a physical fitness test.
The test result of zhongkao is used to assign students to different schools. The high grades students are assigned to be admitted into top schools. Those who scores low can only be admitted into vocational schools.
Once the students are admitted in 11th grade, students had to choose a science stream or arts stream. However, the curriculum has recently revised to allow for greater customization. The revision introduces elective subjects and also eliminated the practice of streaming so that student can now elect subjects from both streams.
The old model was called 3+1, a formula that referred to the subjects later tested in the gaokao university entrance examinations. That is, three compulsory subjects (3)—Chinese, mathematics, and a foreign language, as well as one pre-set subject combination (1) of three subjects in the specialization stream: physics, chemistry, and biology in the case of science; and politics, history, and geography in the case of arts. In addition to these core subjects, there were other mandatory subjects, including arts, physical education, technology, and comprehensive practice. All these subjects were examined, but only the compulsory core subjects and the subjects from the specialization stream were tested in the gaokao. In this sense, the streaming concept largely predetermined which type of university programs graduates entered.
Students can gain high school diploma by passing a national graduation examination and must meet a minimum requirement of 144 credits. The examination used to be called the General Examination for High School Students (huikao or joint exam). But this exam has been phased out in recent years and will soon be completely replaced with the Academic Proficiency Test.
The graduation exam is conducted by local education departments under the MOE directives. Similarly the 3 + x core subjects are examined at the end of grade 12. Students can appear in examination in the other subjects earlier and take the exam in parts. They are issued a certificate of high school graduation after successful completion of credits in specific subjects.
The grading scale set forth by the MOE for the APT exams is shown below. But grading practices may vary by province. Passing the APT is a prerequisite for appearing the gaokao.
Vocational High Schools
Vocational high schools are generally designed to provide training to mid level technicians. The schools are also called as specialized secondary school or skilled worker school. These schools also provide a way for higher education. The graduates from these schools can also appear in gaokao. Since 2014, it is very mandatory to take a skills test rather than sitting for the gaokao to get admission into higher vocational colleges. More than half of the students entered into higher vocational schools through this pathway over past three years.
The vocational schools were introduced in China in 1960s but the tremendous enrollment grew in the previous century. The formal vocational schools took pick up as the government addressed the demand of skilled workers in foreign countries during the early phase of China’s market reforms.
About 96 percent of the vocational students find employment after completion of graduation. But the Chinese considered the vocational education as the inferior education than a university education. The number of vocational secondary school dropped to 35 percent in between 1998 and 2008 and again 27 percent by 2016. The funding for vocational secondary school became the problem. As a result, such school received only 10 percent of total budget and about 90 percent for academic education in 2013.
Due to shortages of labor in China, the government of China again gives more emphasis on vocational training. In 2010, it also set goal to boost enrollments in vocational schools to 23.5 million by 2020 which is very hard to achieve. In 2018, there were only 10,200 vocational secondary schools nationwide which is 4 percent less than previous year.
In 2019, the government of China put forward a comprehensive National Vocational Education Reform Implementation Plan. The main objectives of the plan was to increase the enrollments in vocational secondary schools from 40 percent to 50 percent by 2022 and to reform its entire vocational education framework, including occupational standards, assessment and evaluation mechanisms, teachers training & recruitment and industry engagement.
The government is also piloting a new 1 + x certificate system. Under this certificate system, students from both secondary schools and universities can earn a vocational skills certificate in the fields of information technology, transportation logistics or elder care.
The MOE and Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security are the key government bodies that is responsible for funding and oversight of most of the vocational secondary schools. The standards and curricula for the nation is set by MOE’s Department of Vocational and Adult Education. It publishes the catalogue of program that stipulates the length of programs and defines the skills profile and learning outcomes for different occupations in the fields like computer technology, construction, finance and trade, mining, textile production or allied health.
The curricula set by MOE are applied as well as practical in nature. It also includes general academic foundation subjects which make up a third of the curriculum. They include moral education, Chinese, mathematics, foreign language, history, computer applications, physical education, art, career planning, laws and ethics of the occupation, philosophy and law, economics, politics, and society.
Students can get admitted to secondary vocational schools after completing junior secondary school. Most of the vocational programs are of three years in length. But it may be vary according to the field of study. Those students who complete the program receive a graduation certificate which means the completion of vocational school. But the final qualification is considered on par with the general high school graduation certificate. A vocational skills certificate may also be awarded.
Growing International School Sector
China is the country with the highest number of International Schools worldwide after the United Arab Emirates. The number of international schools increased to 821 in between 2010 and 2018 according to Chinese market research. They are mostly located in developed areas like Guangdong, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Beijing or Zhejiang.
International schools traditionally catered exclusively to expats. Called “schools for children of foreign workers,” these specific types of schools continue to be barred from enrolling Chinese nationals—a fact that has caused rich Chinese to obtain passports of African or Caribbean countries for their children to attend these schools. Top schools in this category charge tuition fees of up to USD$40,000 a year.
The number of Chinese owned schools that offer international curricula for local Chinese children is increasing. About 58 percent of 359,000 students enrolled in international schools in China are Chinese nationals. Chinese middle-class household prefer these schools because they have smaller class sizes and bilingual curricula and they provide a springboard for an international university education. Most students enrolled in these schools proceed to study abroad after graduation.
There are different forms of Chinese international schools. Among them, some private schools teach well-established international curricula exclusively, such as British curricula or the International Baccalaureate (IB). Similarly, some of the superior schools offer college preparatory programs including excellent training in English language skills.
There are other so-called Sino-foreign cooperative schools that teach both international and Chinese curricula. These dual-track joint venture upper-secondary programs often require the Zhongkao for admission and enable students to sit for the APT exams and subsequently the gaokao. Students can earn a foreign qualification such as the British IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) if these institutions are recognized by the relevant overseas authorities.
The Higher Education Degree Structure in China
As aforementioned, China has two system of education i.e., vocational education system and formal academic education system. Vocational education system includes vocationally oriented short term, non-degree programs (zhuanke) whereas formal education system includes academic degree programs (benke). There are 1,388 post secondary institution that offer non-degree programs and 1,242 degree granting institutions. In 2018, 16.7 million students were enrolled in undergraduate degree programs (benke) and 11.3 million studied the short term non-degree program (zhuanke).
Non-degree Programs (Zhuanke)
Zhuanke is a non-degree programs which is specially focuses on employment. It is a vocational program with two or three years. These types of education are provided by vocational colleges but universities also offer such programs. Zhuanke is less academic and more practical education program. The curricula are usually specialized with few courses such as English, Chinese history, communist ideology, or physical education, depending on the program. An industrial internship or a graduation project is often required.
The successful completion of Zhuanke program will awards students with a graduation certificate (biye zhengshu). The graduates can directly enter into the labor market or even apply for two or three years of bachelor’s degree.
Degree Programs (Benke)
Degree programs (Benke) are relatively new programs in China. Formal degree programs including bachelor, master, doctor were introduced on a large scale in the early 1980s after the Cultural Revolution. The degrees are awarded in 13 different academic disciplines set by the MOE which are as follows:
- Medical Science
- Military Science
Similarly, there are 40 officially approved degree types in professional disciplines like accounting, architecture, psychology or veterinary medicine, mostly at the master’s level.
Bachelor’s Degree in China
Bachelor’s Degree generally required 4 years of full time study in standard academic disciplines. But it took 5 years of study in professional degrees like architecture, medicine and some few engineering programs. Credit system is not standardized nationwide. So, full time students may take 24 to 32 credits in a semester, with courses often carrying between 2 and 5 semester credits each for a total of approximately 130 to 170 credits for a four-year degree. A semester consists of 18 weeks of classroom type direction followed by a two week period dedicated to examinations.
Students of bachelor’s degree must earn the required credits according to the curriculum plan, submit a thesis and maintain a minimum GPA (usually at least 60 or C/D) to graduate. Many institutions also require to past the CET English test. Students are awarded both a graduation certificate (biye zhengshu) and a bachelor’s degree certificate (xueshixuewei zhengshu) after the successful completion of the program. If the students are not able to score enough GPA in core subjects or failed the CET test or do not meet the full requirements for degree, then such students are only awarded graduation certificate.
Master’s Degree in China
Those students with bachelor’s degree or with graduation certificate and relevant work experience can apply for admission to master’s degree programs. It requires 2 years or 2 and half years or three years of length. Similarly, it has 27 to 39 credits of coursework depending on the program. The degree program may be either academic or professionally oriented. Full time academic programs are mostly three years long whereas professional degree programs are mostly two years long.
Master’s degree programs are generally of two types i.e., two certificate (shuangzheng) programs and single certificate (danzheng) programs. Admission to two certificate programs is curbed by entrance examinations. They require full time study and a submission of thesis (for academic but not for professional programs). Graduates earn two certificates i.e., a graduation certificate and a degree certificate (shuoshi xuewei zhengshu). Those students who only completed the coursework components may be awarded the graduation certificate or the certificate of completion of coursework but not the degree certificate.
On the other hand, single certificate programs are self-study adult education programs where students can entered without entrance examination. In this programs, only one certificate is awarded. These one certificate programs are considered “equivalency degrees” (tongdeng xuelixuewei), officially on par with regular degrees. Students also must pass national graduation examinations set by MOE and usually must write a thesis.
Doctoral Degree in China
The highest level of degree programs in China is Doctoral programs. A master’s degree graduates can get admitted into the programs. Generally, it takes 3 years to complete. Students can also join this programs with bachelor’s degree but must complete a five-year program with more coursework. This pathway requires sitting for entrance examinations and is reserved for top students. For a regular doctorate, students must complete approximately 30 credits of coursework, pass a final examination and write and defend a dissertation. A doctoral degree certificate (boshi xuewei zhengshu) is only awarded after successful completion of all requirements.