Where to Study Chinese Abroad: Shanghai Edition

We’ve said it before: The best way to learn a language is to be immersed in it!

That said, if you want to learn Chinese, what better place is there to learn it from than in China? Previously, we’ve run through some of the best places to study Mandarin in Beijing. But as many of our readers have pointed out, there are so many other cities that also offer amazing learning experiences and cultural exposure. 

Shanghai is probably one of the most popular cities if not the city of choice for international students to study in. Not only is it home to some of the best universities in the country, but it is also a highly urbanized hotspot with the perfect blend of tradition and modernity — from cultural sites and museums to nightlife and shopping, you can find it all right here!

For those looking to explore the modern Chinese lifestyle and language, here is a list of some of the best universities and institutions that Shanghai has to offer:


What you will need

Since the majority of the international programs offered by universities will be held online due to the ongoing pandemic, you shouldn’t need to worry yet about obtaining a Chinese visa or completing your Chinese COVID-19 vaccinations. 

That said, the universities listed below will be regularly releasing updates on the continued availability of both their online and face-to-face programs. As of this writing, only international students who are currently residing in Mainland China may avail of the offline courses offered by the universities. Official notices for Filipino student visas (i.e. X1 and X2) have yet to be announced. 

Other requirements, as necessitated by each university, are specified in the program details below. 


Fudan University (复旦大学)

Founded in 1905, Fudan University is recognized as a member of China’s “Big Four” — one of the most prestigious educational institutions in the country — and is especially renowned for its studies in natural sciences, medicine, and Chinese humanities. Its International Cultural Exchange School (ICES), which hosts plenty of international and other non-degree programs, particularly makes Fudan a top choice for many overseas students looking to study the Mandarin language. 

Although notorious for being selective towards undergraduates, Fudan University is very much open to international students wanting to explore the country’s culture, so don’t let the application process scare you! For language learning, ICES offers several options: The long-term programs, for example, can last up to a period of two and a half years depending on the results of your online placement test. Meanwhile, the short-term Summer Chinese Immersion (SCI) program is held in periods of four to eight weeks from July to August. 

Both courses already include cultural workshops, field trips, and electives, but those further interested may also find business, cultural, and other tailor-made programs to be available. 



East China Normal University (华东师范大学)

East China Normal University (ECNU), known to locals as Huashida (华师大), is the place to be for those wanting to engage in community-building and fun! Crowned as the “Garden University” for its picturesque campus, ECNU is not only reputed to be a leading academic institution but is also well-loved among students for its highly social environment, which features a variety of clubs, societies, and festivals that international students can enjoy. 

ECNU’s Chinese Language Program has long been in practice since the 1960s, making it more than qualified to provide international students with high-quality cultural education. As of this writing, ECNU offers a Standard Chinese Program (available in both offline and online options), a Business Chinese Program (available offline), and a Chinese and Culture Program (available online). All programs currently have a duration of one four-month semester. 



Shanghai Jiao Tong University (上海交通大学)

Fun Fact: Jiao Tong (交通), taken from the university’s name, can literally be taken to mean  “communication.” Isn’t this a great sign for those wanting to take up a language? 

Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) is considered to be one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in China, highly regarded for its mission of preserving the country’s cultural heritage and developing the Chinese nation. With a rich background that spans more than a century of history and experience, SJTU possesses world-class programs for both local and international students. 

As one of the more popular choices for international students looking to study Chinese in Shanghai, SJTU currently offers a wide variety of choices for online classes, featuring short and long-term programs that cover courses in Comprehensive Chinese. Short-term programs typically last one month while long-term programs are held over the course of a four-month semester. Those possessing a more advanced level of Mandarin fluency (passing at least the HSK 4 level) may also take up the long-term Business Chinese program. 



In general, all three universities possess great reputations and beautiful campus grounds for international students to enjoy, especially when the pandemic begins to subside, and the world becomes a healthier place. In the meantime, however, those interested are free to take up the online programs offered. 


Want to see other things you can do in Shanghai once the pandemic is over? Check out our travel recommendations now!


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