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A Guide to Chinese Degrees Abroad

Nǐ hǎo! With the Chinese language containing 52 different dialects and stretching back over 5,000 years, earning Chinese language degrees abroad is no small feat. However, as the most-spoken language in the world (with more speakers than the next three languages combined!), this skill also puts you at the forefront of one of the largest economies and world powers. Global domination will be a piece of mooncake. Get ready to stuff your face with jiǎo zi (dumplings) and hop in the next rickshaw abroad!

Why Earn Chinese Degrees Abroad

Language is one lens through which we view the world and is best polished by cultural immersion that expands job opportunities and enriches life. Understanding and using the Chinese language will help you not only navigate the Great Wall, but also meet with potential clients, practice calligraphy, or kick some butt in kung fu!

Language learning doesn’t come naturally to all people, and throwing over 50,000 foreign characters into the mix doesn’t make it sound any more inviting. However, the best way to facilitate the learning process is by immersing yourself in a country where Chinese is spoken. Earning a Chinese degree abroad exposes you to local customs and slang phrases that will set you apart from all others who only studied in a non-Chinese speaking country. Besides, what’s the point of learning a language if you’re not there to talk with that Buddhist monk or to translate for a lost group of tourists?

From a financial point, the Chinese economy is bustling and anxious for more clients that can communicate in the local language. Chinese degrees put you in a great position to meet businessmen, college students, and future clients. China has the largest manufacturing economy in the world, with the greatest exports. Available jobs are not limited to translating, but cover anything from a policy analyst to an import/export broker. With all those exchanges going on between countries, why shouldn’t it be you that works with the latest IT company in Singapore? They say the dim sum is amazing, and there’s only one way to test that claim….


Large economic hubs like Hong Kong and Shanghai are emerging every day, and there’s an ever-growing need for Chinese speakers. Each country is unique in geographic climate and learning style, so see exactly what you’d like to do with your Chinese before making the move.

Singapore is a small tropical island south of Malaysia, where nearly the whole country is surrounded by picturesque beaches. What makes earning a Chinese degree in Singapore so appealing isn’t just the scenery; the island is also an economic hub for the financial district, with top companies (Sony, DHL, HSBC) opting to have a home base here.This collection of companies from all over the world has turned Singapore into a melting pot… or maybe a hotpot!

For those that love Chinese food, take your language studies to where this culinary treat is simply called… food. Earning Chinese degrees in China exposes you to the most authentic variation of Chinese, while also showing off all that makes up their unique culture. Whether it be hiding from Nian, hanging out with Buddha, or taking part in the Chinese Spring Festival, China is filled with such a wide array of activities and people, that one life just isn’t enough. Or is it? Guess you’ll have to go and find out.   

While maybe not at the top of the list for students pursuing a degree in Chinese, Germany is actually a clever choice for those thinking ahead. With the strongest economy in the EU, and with China recently becoming its second-largest trade partner, Germany offers its top-notch education system in a field that links economics and international relations (and a new language!). Efficient, no? And, of course, there’s Oktoberfest, lots of sausage, and some spectacular mountain hikes through enchanted forests to jazz up any study break.

Chinese Degree Programs

A Chinese language degree is much more than just translating and brute memorization; it combines every aspect of the Chinese culture. A diverse curriculum awaits you in the Far East, ranging from Taoism to Chinese Film and TV. Decide on which Chinese characters you’d like to focus on, and then pick the corresponding degree type at one of the best Chinese universities for international students.

Earning a bachelor’s degree in Chinese language takes dedication that will pay off when you are seen by your peers as a chopstick-yielding guru. Degree programs at the best Chinese universities generally vary between three to five years, which are spent taking classes such as calligraphy, traditional/simplified Chinese, and Confucianism. Language classes will start at the basic level, integrating the four language skills needed to communicate fully. Admissions often requires applicants to start at the basic level of Chinese unless they can test into the next level. 

Investing the two years it usually takes to complete a master’s degree in Chinese (sometimes called a Master’s in Translation) offers knowledge of the language with a deeper understanding of local traditions and customs. Application requirements for this level of education include a completed bachelor’s degree in a related field, GRE scores, and transcripts. Similar to a bachelor’s application, it usually takes between a few weeks to a few months to hear back. Better start practicing your tone; you’ll be on the ground before you can say si shi si, shi shi shi, shi si shi shi si (four is four, ten is ten, fourteen is fourteen)!

When you’re learning Chinese in a country where it is spoken, your learning extends far beyond the classroom into the lives of everyone with whom you interact. The opportunities to improve your language ranges from more formal internships and work-study programs, to ordering yáng ròu chuàn and asking directions from a passerby. Take advantage of all of these!

Benefits and Challenges

International students pursuing a degree abroad in Chinese language are exposed to every aspect that is Chinese culture. From the temples that are hidden throughout the countryside of many Chinese-speaking countries, to the stinky tofu (yes, it really is stinky) in every Chinatown, there’s almost as many cultural components as there are bicycles in Beijing. And, with such a widespread Chinese population, this vibrant community can be found in most large cities of the world.

Languages aren’t easy to learn. There’s plenty of difficulties in Roman languages, and those only have 26 letters to deal with. If you think that Chinese has five tones and around 50,000 characters, it can be a bit overwhelming. However, take it slow and take comfort in the fact that only around 3,000 of these are commonly-used. Living  in a Chinese-speaking country comes with the advantage of daily practice needed to master a language, and twice as many priceless experiences than there are character strokes.

So, if befriending the next table tennis champ, dieting on instant noodles, and writing your own fortune cookies sound like a pretty good future, study one of the most intricate and historically-rooted languages abroad. Getting a foot in the Asian market by earning Chinese degrees won’t just change your location, it will change how you see the world.

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A Guide To
Chinese Degrees Abroad


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