Best universities in China 2019

Find out all about China’s top universities, and explore their world university ranking performance

October 1 2018
Forbidden City, Beijing

Higher education in China has gone from strength to strength in recent years, with an increasing number of institutes appearing among the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2019

Directives including Project 211 and Project 985 – which aim to improve the standards of the top 100 and 40 Chinese universities respectively – combined with huge national investment has seen China’s reputation in the education sector rocket up the rankings.

And who wouldn’t want to study there? An enormous country, home to more than 20 per cent of the people on Earth, China has one of the fastest developing economies. From cuisine to culture, China offers something completely unique.

The huge country is home to some of the most diverse and stunning landscapes on the planet; from the Rainbow Mountains in Zhangye, to the fishing villages along the coast and even the incomprehensibly vast cities that continue to expand, there’s something in China for everyone. 

Best universities worldwide 

Best universities in Asia
Best universities in Singapore
Best universities in Hong Kong
Best universities in the United States
Best universities in Australia
Best universities in the UK
Best universities in the world 

With an ever-increasing number of universities, the choice of places to study in China may seem overwhelming.

However, a number of initiatives from the Chinese government have helpfully categorised the top universities, similarly to the UK’s Russell Group system and the Ivy League in the United States.

Established in 1995, Project 211 was designed to raise the research standards of China’s top universities. Institutions that reach a certain standard are rewarded with significantly increased funds. Today there are 112 higher education institutions that are part of Project 211.

Project 985 was established three years later and uses a very similar strategy, although just 39 universities have received sponsorship as a result of this project and in 2011 it was announced that no new universities would be able to gain membership to this exclusive group.

The final and most selective group is the C9 League, a group of the country’s top nine elite universities who between them receive 10 per cent of China’s national research budget.

Top 5 universities in China

1. Tsinghua University

Tsinghua University is located in the Haidian District of northwest Beijing. It was established in 1911. 

It retains much of its traditional architecture, juxtaposed with many buildings built in the Western-style reflecting the historical American influence on the campus.

Tsinghua University is a comprehensive research university. Its 20 schools and 54 departments cover disciplines in art, economics, education, engineering, history, management, medicine, law, literature, philosophy, and sciences.

In terms of life outside of studying, the university has more than 110 student associations covering science and technology, physical training, humanities, arts and public welfare. 

Many successful people in politics, academia and industry have graduated from Tsinghua University including two Nobel Prize winners, Tsung-Dao Lee and Yang Chen Ning.  

2. Peking University 

Peking University is a member of the C9 league which is similar to the Ivy League group in the US and is generally one of the highest-ranked institutions in China. 

It was the first modern national university in China, and since its founding in 1898 it has had a reputation as a leading educational institution.

The institution is well-known for its campuses, situated in the Haidian district in northwest Beijing. It is home to some of the capital’s most prominent and recognised gardens and traditional architecture. These include traditional houses, gardens, pagodas, as well as many notable historical buildings and structures. There are several gates that lead into campus, with the West Gate being the most well-known for the painted murals on its ceiling. 

The university has established joint degree programmes with Cornell University, Yale UniversityLondon School of Economics and Political Science, Paris School of International Affairs, Waseda UniversitySeoul National University and The University of Tokyo to encourage international exchanges for students. 

The student experience in China

My experience as a foreign student in China led to a job with Google
Five reasons why you should study in China
University life in: China
International perspective: an American student in China
Why more students are choosing to study in China
The cost of studying at a university in China

3. University of Science and Technology of China

The University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) is a national research university in Hefei, Anhui and was founded to boost science and technology education in China. 

There are 15 schools, spanning physical sciences, life sciences, software engineering and electro-optical technology, among many other science and technology disciplines.

There are also two national labs – the National Synchrotron Radiation Facility and the Hefei National Laboratory for Physical Sciences at the Microscale – the only university in the country to do so.

The university is also home to a large library, a first-class computer network, and a hospital which treats students, employees and their families as well as providing teaching facilities for medical students. 

4. Zhejiang University

Zhejiang University is one of China's oldest, most selective universities having been founded in 1897. 

Research at the university covers 12 academic disciplines: agriculture; art; economics; education; engineering; history; law; literature; management; medicine; natural sciences; and philosophy. 

There are a number of research centres located on campus including six national engineering research centres, three national key research centres of humanities and social sciences and 13 academies of independent studies. 

The university has strategic partnerships with more than 140 universities in 30 countries worldwide including Imperial College LondonPrinceton University and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

5. Fudan University

Fudan University is composed of four campuses in downtown Shanghai: Handan, Fenglin, Zhangjiang and Jiangwan.

The university takes a liberal arts approach to teaching with a number of its courses taught in English. Internationalisation is also a high priority at the institution with global connections and exchange programmes at almost 200 overseas universities including Columbia University, University of TorontoUniversity of SydneyKU Leuven, University of Manchester and Sciences Po.

Students are also encouraged to go on international exchanges, with around 40 per cent electing to do this. 

The university is extremely selective, with less than 0.2 per cent of National College Entrance Examination ("Gaokao") takers being accepted. 

Top universities in China 2019

Click on each institution to see its full World University Rankings 2019 results 

China Rank 2019 WUR Rank 2019 University Province/Area
1  22  Tsinghua University Beijing
2  31  Peking University Beijing
3  =93  University of Science and Technology of China Anhui
4  101  Zhejiang University Zhejiang
5  104  Fudan University Shanghai
6  134  Nanjing University Jiangsu
7  189  Shanghai Jiao Tong University Shanghai
=8  301–350  Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) Guangdong
=8  301–350  Sun Yat-sen University Guangdong
=8    301–350 Wuhan University Hubei
=10  351–400  Huazhong University of Science and Technology Hubei
=10  351–400  Nankai University Tianjin
=13  401–500  Harbin Institute of Technology Heilongjiang
=13  401–500  Tongji University Shanghai
=15  501–600  Beihang University Beijing
=15  501-600 East China Normal University Shanghai
=15  501–600  Hunan University Hunan
=15  501–600  Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology Jiangsu
=15  501–600  Renmin University of China Beijing
=15  501–600  Shandong University Shandong
=15  501–600  Soochow University Jiangsu
=15  501–600  South China University of Technology Guangdong
=15  501–600  Southeast University Jiangsu
=15  501–600  Tianjin University Tianjin
=15  501–600  Xiamen University Fujian
=15  501–600  Xi’an Jiaotong University Shaanxi
=26  601–800  Beijing Institute of Technology Beijing
=26  601–800  Central South University Hunan
=26  601–800  China Agricultural University Beijing
=26  601–800  China University of Geosciences, Beijing Beijing
=26  601–800  Dalian University of Technology Liaoning
=26  601–800  East China University of Science and Technology Shanghai
=26  601–800  Fuzhou University Fuzhou
=26  601–800  Huazhong Agricultural University Hubei
=26  601–800  Nanjing Agricultural University Jiangsu
=26  601–800  Nanjing Medical University Jiangsu
=26  601–800  Nanjing Normal University Jiangsu
=26  601–800  Nanjing Tech University Jiangsu
=26  601–800  Northeast Normal University Jilin
=26  601–800  Northwestern Polytechnical University Shaanxi
=26  601–800  Shenzhen University Guangdong
=26  601–800  Sichuan University Sichuan
=43  801–1000  Beijing Jiaotong University Beijing
=43  801–1000  Capital Medical University Beijing
=43  801–1000  China University of Geosciences, Wuhan Hubei
=43  801–1000  China University of Mining and Technology Beijing
=43  801–1000  China University of Petroleum, Beijing Beijing
=43  801–1000  China Pharmaceutical University Jiangsu
=43  801–1000  Chongqing University Chongqing
=43  801–1000  Jiangsu University Jiangsu
=43  801–1000  Jilin University Jilin
=43  801–1000  Jinan University Guangdong
=43  801–1000  Northeastern University Liaoning
=43  801–1000  Northwest University Shaanxi
=43  801–1000  NorthWest A&F University Shaanxi
=43  801–1000  Ocean University of China Shangdong
=43  801–1000  University of Science and Technology Beijing Beijing
=43  801–1000  Shanghai University Jiangsu
=43  801–1000  Shantou University Guangdong
=43  801–1000  Southern Medical University Baiyun District
=43  801–1000  Wuhan University of Technology Hubei
=43  801–1000  Xiangtan University Hunan
=43  801–1000  Xidian University Shaanxi
=43  801–1000  Yangzhou University Jiangsu
=65  1001+  Guangxi University Guangxi
=65  1001+  Harbin Engineering University Heilongjiang
=65  1001+  Huaqiao University Fujian
=65  1001+  North China Electric Power University Beijing
=65  1001+  Shanghai Maritime University Shanghai
=65  1001+  University of South China Hunan
=65  1001+  Southwest Jiaotong University Sichuan
=65  1001+  Yanshan University Hebei

Editor's note: This page was updated on 22 November 2018 to reflect minor changes in the positions of a small number of universities. More information can be found here.

Read more: Best universities in Japan  

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Study Business & Management in China

Study Computer Science in China

Study Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering in China

Study Electrical & Electronic Engineering in China

Study Accounting & Finance in China

Study Biological Sciences in China