How to Study in China for Free in 2024

China recently opened its borders, and many of you are eager to study here. In this post, I’ll show you how to study in China for free. We are going to mostly focus on applying for the CSC government scholarship. There are over 492,185 international students in China, and about 50,000 are on scholarships. Now, these scholarship opportunities can cover everything from partial costs to full expenses including miscellaneous, living, tuition, and housing.

How to Study in China for Free

I’ll explain the application process in 5 steps. In these steps, you will know all you need to when it comes to studying in China for free.

1. Do Research on Your Specific Program

The first step is research. You need to find a program that interests you and fits your future study plans. It can be difficult to transfer schools on a scholarship, so try to make a good choice at the start. Find out everything about the school you are applying to. Use different resources for research or even ask people who attend these schools, Research is key to making an informed decision.

Some of you asked about applying for the CSC scholarship, and this article will clarify this process for you. My advice is to narrow your choices down to three top schools. Generally, you can apply for a scholarship at only one school. Some say you can apply to more, but I could only apply to one. So, pick your top three, then select your best choice.

2. Know the City You Are Moving Into

Once you have picked your top three schools, it’s time to look into factors such as whether you prefer a warm or cool climate. Consider the city where the school is located, the clubs and activities available, and the academic strengths of the school.

Consider your major, whether it’s business, English, teaching, or something else. You have to understand why you want to study at a particular school. Look for schools that specialize in your major or have excellent facilities for it. This will help you choose the right school for you.

After narrowing down to your top three or even just the one school you want to apply to, you move to step two.

3. Start the CSC government scholarship application process

So, this is like the main thing when it comes to studying in China for free. There are three types of CSC scholarships.

Type A

The first one, Type A, is obtained through your home country’s embassy. Not every country offers this; I’m not sure about the US, but many Caribbean and African countries do have this partnership with China. So, check with your embassy to see if this option is available to you.

Type B

The second type of CSC scholarship is Type B, which is a direct scholarship from a Chinese university for you to study in China for free. This is the one I have, through ECNU.

Type C

The third type, Type C, includes other sources of scholarships. I know there are others like the Confucius Institute Fellowship. I haven’t applied for these, but I want you to know there are many options available, in case you don’t get the CSC government scholarship.

4. Check the Scholarship Requirements

Once you decide which type of scholarship to apply for, the next step is to ensure you meet the requirements. Different schools have different requirements. So, check them and make sure you are eligible to improve your chances of getting the CSC scholarship. These might include language requirements, such as if your degree is in Chinese, or tests like the GMAT or SAT, depending on the school. Another common requirement is a motivational essay. I had to write one for my degree. You have to understand what the essay should include if it’s required. Writing a great essay takes time, and that will help it to stand out. You need a strong backstory and good writing skills to really enhance your chances against other applicants.

5. Gather the Application Documents

Moving on to step 5, which is about gathering application documents. There are several documents and forms you need to complete for these scholarships. First, the application documents themselves, usually found on the website of the school you are applying to. They’ll provide all the necessary information you need to guide you to study in China for free after you receive the scholarship. You’ll also need your passport—this is something you can prepare well in advance.

You will also need a medical exam. It can be a physical one, usually done within 6 months of applying. This is to ensure you are in good health, and you’ll have another one when you arrive in China.

Your transcript is also required. Schools want a copy of your academic record from your previous education.

Then there is a background check, like your criminal record, which you can get from your local police department. This is to confirm you have no criminal record before coming to China.

Most schools ask for two recommendation letters from professors or teachers from your previous education. These should be high-quality recommendations, so choose someone who knows you well. If you are still in school and applying, some schools might require a reference form indicating your expected graduation date. This is for the school you are applying to, so they know when you are expected to complete your current studies.

As I said earlier, you can handle some of these tasks early on to save you time during the application process. You know, a lot of time, getting documents from government agencies can take time.

6. Attend the Interview

Now, onto step 6: the interview. Not all schools may have this step, but many do. The interview might be with the CSC board or the school itself. They’ll ask a variety of questions. In my experience, they didn’t ask what I prepared for. Treat it like a job interview. Be ready to discuss your past experiences. They might also ask questions related to the degree you’re applying for. For instance, if it’s finance, they might ask about the market or your past experiences in finance. Even if you are not fully knowledgeable, try to learn some basics about your field before the interview.

7. Receive Your Acceptance

The final step is receiving your acceptance, and then you are ready to study in China for free. You’ll get an email from the school or the government confirming your acceptance and the details of your scholarship. This can take a few months, and the timing varies by school. If you’re unsure when to expect this, ask the school’s coordinators. Also, remember to check your spam folder, as the acceptance email might end up there due to being from a foreign address. Keep an eye out for it.

So, now you know how to apply for a scholarship and study in China for free. There are plenty of scholarships available for you. But, I’ve got some important advice before you start applying. Firstly, knowing Chinese can really boost your chances of getting a scholarship, especially since China is the main setting here. Most programs are in Chinese, though there are some in English, like mine, but they’re not as common. So, if you’re familiar with Chinese or are thinking of learning it, that could really help your chances, especially for programs that are primarily in Chinese.

Scholarships in China

We have already talked about some of this but I need to clear up some things for you. Just a heads up, my experience is with a master’s degree program. If you are going for an undergraduate degree, it might be different, but there are likely similarities. It won’t be exactly the same as what others have experienced, but it should be close. Also, the application process varies a lot depending on the school and where you are from. I’ve seen many international students, from Africa, the Caribbean, or Pakistan, have different application processes. Some applied through their home country’s embassy, and others had interviews right on the spot. Everyone’s experience will vary.

Private Scholarships

Firstly, you can consider applying for Private Scholarships which we talked about earlier. These scholarships are provided by notable alumni, large corporations, and charitable organizations. They often cover the full or partial cost of tuition and are typically awarded to international students with outstanding academic achievements.

Chinese University Scholarships

Secondly, there are Chinese University Scholarships. Most universities in China offer scholarships to their students. These scholarships can take care of your tuition and accommodation expenses. For instance, Xiamen University provides five different scholarships for international students to study in China. To find programs and universities that offer scholarships, or to get updates on scholarships, you can follow the link below for more information.

Chinese Government Scholarships

Lastly, you can apply for the Chinese Government Scholarships, commonly known as CSC Scholarships. We have talked about this over and over. The CSC Scholarships are among the most popular scholarships given to international students and are provided by the Chinese Scholarship Council. This government scholarship initiative, created by the Chinese Ministry of Education, aims to foster education, cultural exchanges, political cooperation, and mutual understanding between China and other countries. CSC Scholarships may be partially or fully funded. Additionally, the Chinese government offers various other scholarships, such as the Confucius Institute Scholarships, CAST-WAS Scholarships, and Chinese Provincial Government Scholarships, to international students. Undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral students who are eligible for CSC Scholarships receive a monthly allowance, free tuition, and complimentary accommodation while studying in China.

Chinese Language Exchange Programs

There is also the option of language exchange programs, where you can get a scholarship not just for a degree but to learn Chinese full-time. These scholarships can cover your tuition and accommodation too. Another route is an exchange program, maybe for a semester, available in high school or university. Check with your school’s coordinators to see if they offer any exchange programs in China, and look into scholarships for those as well.

And again, remember, there are loads of other methods to apply for scholarships too. You have options such as Confucius scholarships or scholarships you can win through Chinese language competitions.


So, there you have it, the complete steps you can follow to study in China for free. There’s a whole bunch of ways you can get scholarships in China. Your best bet is to get into some research. Go ahead and use Google to look up various options or even check out some YouTube videos. Others might have more detailed information or different insights than what I’ve shared. So, keep exploring and figuring out which school or which approach is the most suitable for you.

Read Also: Cheapest Country to Study Medicine (Including China)

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