Types of Degree Programs in China

Degree programs in China are centred on undergraduate, graduate and doctorate education. There are various different types of degree programs in China. Numerous higher education degrees, certificates and diplomas are available in China for domestic as well as international students. Vocational as well as regular Bachelor’s programs are offered at higher educational institutions in China.

Types of Degree Programs

Higher educational institutions in China offer quality programs for students. Traditional as well as other programs are offered by Chinese institutions. These include degree and diploma programs. The recognized programs are those which are approved by the Ministry of Education or the Academic Degrees Committee. Following the resumption of higher education programs since the 1970s, some changes exist in entry requirements and advanced standing opportunities.


Sub-degree programs are referred to as diploma programs. These last for 3 years.  These programs are offered at two levels and both are post secondary. Each of these two levels is discussed below.
  • Post-secondary zhuanke programs that are vocationally oriented are mostly in applied disciplines.
  • Undergraduate benke programs are more academically oriented
Both programs are completed after a graduation project. A graduation certificate or diploma is attained following the completion of this program.  The benke program is similar to the undergraduate programs although the latter have the approval of the Academic Degree Committee.


The xueshi or Bachelor’s degree program is awarded after the completion of 4 years of study. It is a full time course. There are various degree programs in architecture, medicine and engineering available in China which may take 5 to 6 years. Students who complete this degree programs are given two types of certificate namely the graduation and the degree certificate.

Students receive only the graduation certificate in case of the following scenarios:
  • They fail the National English Examination
  • They do not pass certain courses
  • They get extremely low marks
Students who complete non-degree programs are also only awarded the graduation certificate. The requirements of the graduation certificate are less than the degree certificate.

The bachelor’s degree is a competitive and important program which has great value for academically inclined students. Other students can opt for vocational aptitude tests. Students who opt for sub degree programs of 2 to 3 years can also follow this up with 2 to 3 year bachelor’s degree programs to qualify for a degree certificate.


Since the year 1981, the applicants to the master’s degree programs (shuoshi) must ensure that they are not above 35 years of age. They must also possess a bachelor’s degree certificate. Master’s degree programs last for a total of 3 years following the acquisition of an undergraduate degree. The master’s degree program can even be completed between 2 to 2.5 years for those who make special attempts.

Master’s degree programs include the following:
  • Completion of specialized and theoretical courses
  • Complete study of Marxian theories and perspectives.
  • Submission of thesis and passing of the oral or practical examination
  • Ability to read and conduct research in at least one foreign language
Submission of the thesis is compulsory to attain a master’s degree program. Those who complete the degree program without submitting the thesis can only attain a diploma. Only upon successful completion of the thesis will the degree be attained. Graduates are given 2 diplomas following a master’s program namely a graduation certificate and a degree certificate.


A doctoral degree (boshi) in China can be attained from universities and research institutes. Candidates must hold a master’s degree before they can be admitted into a doctoral program. Candidates should ideally be around 40 years of age and posses a master’s degree before they can apply for a doctorate in China. All students who want to enrol for doctoral studies in China have to take admission through an entrance test. Though it is rare, exceptional students with bachelor’s degree may be allowed to obtain doctorates as well.

For those who possess a bachelor’s degree, doctoral programs can be completed in 4 to 5 years. Master’s level students can attain their doctorate within 2 to 3 years. Doctoral degree programs in China are very extensive. They require coursework including mastery of 2 foreign languages and completion of advanced and specialized courses as well.Honorary Doctor's degree is given by a college or university following approval of the Degree Committee of the State Council to the elite scholars.


The government in China stresses on a well-developed educational system that has all the capabilities for inculcating important skills in students. China’s degree programs are comprehensive and well-structured. The Chinese education system is quite well designed.
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