Skip to content

Top Universities in China for International Students

As the opportunities growing in China, there are more and more foreigners who look forward to experiencing life in China. Besides traveling or working, studying in China is absolutely a great way to come and experience the culture, as well as learn to adapt to Chinese society. For many foreigners, the student visa is comparatively good for a long period of stay and easier to apply than the working visa. What’s more, it’s quite an efficient way to learn more about the Chinese language and China. However, China is such a big country that has hundreds of colleges in different areas and cities. Lots of people who are interested in studying in China face a huge challenge whether which university is more suitable for them. Thus, if you are one of those who are facing this kind of challenge, I will give you a general all aspects introduction about the universities in China.

Below are all the recommended universities with top rankings and high reputations in China (such as the universities in “project 985” “project 211” or with language teaching specialty). All the courses they offer vary from the Chinese language and culture to real-time issues in China’s development and traditional Chinese art studies. It’s also up to your needs to choose the degree program or non-degree program. Most of the programs in each university are open seasonally so that there must be programs that could adapt to your schedule perfectly. Moreover, in these recommended universities, various scholarships that can be applied. For more related information you can check the articles below.

China is very big with people of different ethnic groups and dialects. Consequently, the lifestyle and habits are all very different in each area. Here we will talk about the real helpful and practical information of the recommended universities in China for international Students including the environment, the weather, the food, the daily lifestyle and etc.

Northern China

Universities in Northeast Region of China

Main cities: 北京Beijing, 天津Tianjin, 哈尔滨 Harbin, 沈阳 Shenyang,大连 Dalian,青岛 Qingdao,郑州 Zhengzhou

Weather: The climate is characterized by clear four seasons throughout the year, hot and rainy in summer, and cold and dry in winter.

Although the weather is quite cold and snowy outside in winter, the indoors are very comfortable with heaters.

Main Languages: Mandarin 

In most parts of northern China, the dialects are all based on the Mandarin Chinese. Thus, the pronunciations have very few changes. Only if you can master the Mandarin Chinese, there will be no obstacles communicating with the northern Chinese.

Characters: Simplified version

What’s famous:

The Great Wall, The Forbidden City, The Summer Palace, Harbin Ice and Snow World, Tai Mountain, Inner Mongolia Prairie, Shaolin Temple, Beijing Roast duck, tea house, dumplings etc.


Since the weather is comparatively colder in northeast China, the activities at night are not as many as in South China. Many places are closed and dark after 8 p.m.especially in smaller cities in winter.

Traffic in big cities like Beijing are annoying when in peak time. There are often traffic jams. The subways in Beijing is also a little bit old and uncomfortable. Crowded people make you doubt your whole life sometimes.

The air pollution problem is a big issue in the recent years. The smog is comparatively severe here. But now it’s getting better with more environmental protection.


Beijing is the capital and political core of China. So, there are many universities and colleges in Beijing. The options are much more than in other cities. The local culture is maintained very well like the Hutong, the Siheyuan and etc. Many foreigners who live in northern China have more opportunities to practice their speaking and listening ability with the residents. Many international shows, concerts and matches are often first start from Beijing. The life here can be very colorful.

Many universities are much closed to each other. You can easily make friends with students in other universities.

It’s also very convenient to visit the embassies of your country.

There are lots of international flights in Beijing which could make your journey in and out easier.

Recommended universities for international students:

Universities in Northwest Region of China

Main cities: 西安 Xi’an, 兰州 Lanzhou,银川 Yinchuan,太原 Taiyuan,乌鲁木齐 Urumchi

Weather: Northwest China is deeply inland in northwestern China. It has a large area. It’s arid and scarce water with widespread deserts. There are more wind and sands.

Main Languages: Mandarin Chinese

Though there are some northern Chinese dialects, they are all based on the Mandarin Chinese. Some tones and vocabulary may vary, but very similar to Mandarin.

Characters: Simplified version

What’s famous:

The ancient city wall, the Terracotta Warriors, Hua Mountain, Mogao Grottoes, desserts, roast whole lamp, various noodles and etc.  


It’s very dry in northwest China since it’s far away from the sea. Although the area is very big, there are fewer big cities here. The general prosperous degree is not as high as the east area of China.

The choices of universities are less.

The famous food in northwest China is mainly about various meat. If you are a vegetarian, you may have fewer choices.


西安Xi`an is the center of culture, politics ,and economy in northwest China. Many universities, companies and trades are all found there. Xi`an is one of the ancient cities in China with thousand years of history. Even now, the ancient city wall is still maintained and used. If you are interested in the ancient history, Xi`an is the place you should stay.

In recent years, the public traffic is getting more and more convenient. For example, the subway lines are getting more now.

Recommended universities for international students:

East Coastal Region of China

Universities in Yangtze River Delta Region of China

Main cities: 上海Shanghai, 杭州Hangzhou,南京Nanjing, 苏州Suzhou,温州Wenzhou,合肥Hefei,宁波Ningbo,无锡Wuxi

Weather: The Yangtze River Delta has a subtropical monsoon climate. The weather there is quite humid with lots of rain in early summer.

Main Languages: Mandarin and many dialects such as Wu dialect, Jianghuai Mandarin and etc.

Characters: Simplified version

What’s famous:

The bund, Disneyland of Shanghai, the West Lake, the Lingyin Temple, Suzhou Gardens, various ancient water towns, Huang Mountain and etc.


Though the temperature in winter is not as low as in north China, it can be really cold in winter too since there is no available public indoor heaters.. The continuous rain can be really annoying in rain season.

There are various local dialects in different cities. Sometimes when they speak their own dialects, you may feel frustrated and baffled. But take it easy, the people from other areas can not understand the dialects too.

Since the city like Shanghai is very international, many people can speak English which may make you feel lazy and unnecessary to practice your Mandarin Chinese.

上海 Shanghai:

上海Shanghai is the economic center of China which can represent modern China. It’s a real international metropolis like New York, London, Hong Kong. No matter the public transportation or the living conditions are all very convenient and efficient. There are also various activities and parties which can make your life busy and fantastic. Unlike the extremely wide roads in Beijing, you can take a walk in Shanghai and enjoy the view of the streets.

If you want to find some financial works in China, you should definitely consider Shanghai first. There are a lot of international companies, organizations and factories set their branches in Shanghai. There are also many excellent universities for you to choose.

Recommended universities for international students:

Universities in Southeast Region of China

Main cities: 广州Guangzhou, 深圳 Shenzhen,厦门Xiamen,福州Fuzhou,桂林Guilin,三亚Sanya

Weather: The southeast region has a mild climate, and most regions are long summer and no winter, with an average annual temperature of 17-21 ° C. The climate is humid with heavy rainfall.

Main Languages: Mandarin, Cantonese, Hakka, Min nan dialects and etc.

Characters: Simplified version

What’s famous:

Kulangsu of Xiamen, Fujian earth building, various dim sum, dim sum brunch, various soups, rice noodles, seafood and etc.


Many of the residents used to speak their own dialects. By the influence of the dialects here, their Mandarin is not as good as the other regions of China. They have comparatively stronger accent when speaking Mandarin. So, it might be a problem when the foreign learners want to practice speaking Mandarin with them.

广州 Guangzhou, 深圳 Shenzhen:

The first-tier cities in China are 北京Beijing,上海Shanghai, 广州Guangzhou and 深圳Shenzhen. 广州 and 深圳 are both in Guangdong province which share the same culture and dialects. There are many factories and companies in Southeast area of China and many of them are located in Guangdong province. Many foreigners come here to do business with Chinese. Hong Kong and Macau are both very closed to this province which makes the transportation and communication easier.

广州Guangzhou is more localized. You can understand a real local life in this city. 深圳Shenzhen is more international and all people from different regions come to work and live in this city.

The food in southeast area is lighter than northern area. The seafood is their specialty. You may find many of the famous Cantonese dim sum brunch which is still in their daily life habits. It’s said you can eat whatever you can imagine here.

Since the weather is hotter in this area, the night life is more colorful and longer. The night markets are open very late until the next morning.

It’s also the best place to learn Cantonese if you want.

Recommended universities for international students:

Southwest and middle Region of China

Universities in Southwest and middle Region of China

Main cities: 成都 Chengdu,重庆Chongqing,长沙Changsha,武汉Wuhan,贵阳Guiyang,昆明Kunming,拉萨Lhasa

Weather: The climate in this region varies from subtropical monsoon to continental climate to plateau climate.

Main Languages: Mandarin and many dialects such as Xiang dialect, Southwest mandarin and etc.

Characters: Simplified version

What’s famous:

Hot pot, spicy Procambarus clarkia, stinky tofu, sour spicy soup, various mushrooms, panda,
Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area, Huangguoshu Waterfall, hima alaya, Potala Palace, snow mountains and etc.


Most of the residents, especially the young, can speak Mandarin, though comparing to northern China, their accent is not very standard. It might be an obstacle when communicating with the residents.

The transportation, especially the international airlines, is not as many as the east region of China. But it’s been developing all the time and getting more and more now.

The food in this region is usually more spicy than other regions. The top spicy food cities are all here.

成都 Chengdu:

This is the hometown of the famous hot-pot and pandas. The life in Sichuan province is quite relaxing. People enjoy drinking tea and playing mahjong after work. Here you can rarely see the busy life scenes like other big cities. Slow down and enjoy the life is the key of Sichuan people.  

The economy here in 成都is also quite good which can be the center of southwest region. More and more working opportunities appear.

Recommended universities for international students:

Other Region of China

Universities in Other Region of China

Main cities: 香港 Hongkong,澳门Macau,台湾Taiwan

Weather: They are all in southern China. The climate in these three places has a mild climate, and most regions are long summer and no winter, with an average annual temperature of 17-21 ° C. The climate is humid with heavy rainfall.

Main Languages: Mandarin, Cantonese, Hakka

Characters: traditional version

What’s famous:

Hong Kong Ocean Park, Disneyland of Hong Kong, Victoria Peak, Lantau Island, casinos in Macau, Ruínas da Antiga Catedral de São Paulo, Tamsui River, Sun Moon Lake, Ali Mountain, Tailuge Xia and etc.


Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan are different from mainland China. If you want to study or work there you may check the visa requirements individually.

The main language in Hong Kong and Macau is Cantonese. You may not have many opportunities to practice Mandarin Chinese there.

If you want to learn traditional Chinese characters, these three places are good choice.

Recommended universities for international students:

Online Chinese Tutors

  • 1:1 online tutoring
  • 100% native professional tutors
  • For all levels
  • Flexible schedule
  • More effective
Learn more

Jing Cao is the chief-editor and co-founder of DigMandarin. She has a master's degree in Chinese Linguistics and Language Aquisition and has taught thousands of students for the past years. She devotes herself to the education career of making Chinese learning easier throughout the world.

This Post Has 0 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top