Chinese Education system
Secondary education has two routes: academic secondary education and specialized/vocational/technical secondary education. Academic secondary education consists of junior (three years) and senior middle schools (three years). Junior middle school graduates wishing to continue their education take a locally administered entrance exam, on the basis of which they will have the option of i) continuing in an academic senior middle school; or ii) entering a vocational middle school (or leave school at this point) to receive two to four years of training.
Admission to Higher Education
Senior middle school graduates wishing to go to universities must take National Higher Education Entrance Exam (Gao Kao). According to the Chinese Ministry of Education, in June 2015, 9.42 million students took the exam.
The main goal of most senior middle schools or high schools is to prepare their students for higher education. In fact, the quality of a high school is often measured by the number of students they send off to college. This has a lot to do with the limited number of spots at China’s universities and the high number of applicants.
Higher education in China centers on a system of 2,000 universities and colleges. The system includes Bachelors, Masters and Doctoral degrees, as well as non-degree programs, and is also open to foreign students.
The Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China (MOE) is the government authority for all matters pertaining to education and language. The MOE notes that higher education in China has played a significant part in economic growth, scientific progress and social development in the country “by bringing up large scale of advanced talents and experts for the construction of socialist modernization.
University level studies:
First Cycle: Bachelor/undergraduate programs
A bachelor’s degree (学士学位 xueshi xuewei) is awarded at the conclusion of a 4-year undergraduate program (benke). The length of programmes in Medicine, traditional Chinese Medicine, Architecture and some Engineering and Music programmes is 5 years.
Second cycle: Master’s programs
A master’s degree (硕士学位 shuoshi xuewei) takes 2 to 3 years to complete, half of which is devoted to coursework (on which students are examined) and the other half to writing the final paper. Admission is granted based on a bachelor’s degree and an entrance examination. Candidates may not be older than 35 years of age. Students who only successfully pass the coursework section receive a Certificate of Graduation (biye zhengshu), but no certificate of degree conferment. Master’s degrees can be awarded by either higher education institutions or research institutes.
Third Cycle: PhD programs
Admission to a Doctorate (博士 boshi) program requires a master’s degree, an entrance examination and recommendations from at least 2 professors or (senior) lecturers in the field. Candidates should not be older than 40 years of age when commencing the program. Candidates without a master’s degree may still gain admission via an entrance examination. Doctorate programs take 3 to 5 years to complete, including 1 year containing only coursework, as well as a doctoral thesis. There is an entrance examination comprising political theory (Marxism), the relevant subject area and 2 foreign languages.