Best Universities in China

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

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.

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 categorized 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 Universities

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

recognized 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 programs with Cornell University, Yale University, London School of Economics and

Political Science, Paris School of International Affairs, Waseda University, Seoul National University, and The University of Tokyo to

encourage international exchanges for students.

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 that 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 centers located on campus including six national engineering research centers, three national

key research centers 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 London,  Princeton University, and the 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 teach with a number of its courses taught in English. Internationalization

is also a high priority at the institution with global connections and exchange programs at almost 200 overseas universities

including Columbia University, University of Toronto, University of Sydney, KU Leuven, University of Manchester, and Sciences Po.

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

The university is extremely selective, with less than 0.2 percent of National College Entrance Examination (“Gaokao”) takers being accepted.

Top universities in China 2019


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.