Applying for the CSC Chinese Government Scholarship

By Keri Schnabel


Have an interest in learning Chinese? The best way to learn a language is to immerse yourself as much as possible. Imagine an opportunity to study at almost any university in China, on a full scholarship, with housing provided and a stipend to cover most other living expenses! It’s all possible with the CSC Chinese Government Scholarship. When I first heard about this opportunity, I thought it was too good to be true. After going through the application process, I was able to study Chinese at Yunnan University in beautiful Kunming for a year. It was an amazing opportunity. Though I had to return to the USA early due to COVID-19, I had an incredible time learning Chinese while also immersed in the culture. I encourage anyone interested in living abroad and studying Chinese to consider this opportunity.

The process for each University varies slightly, so research which universities you would like to apply to first. I applied through the Chinese embassy in the USA, so I used the CSC scholarship website to apply, and I had to list my top 3 choices. I was accepted at my first choice which was Yunnan University in Kunming.

  1. Determine what program you want to go for and what requirements are needed. 

You can apply for the following programs: 




-Studying Mandarin for one year (General Scholar)

I will be focusing on the process for studying Chinese for one year, however the other programs ARE available if that is something you are interested in! 

I knew going in that I only wanted to study Mandarin. I received my bachelor’s degree already, and though I considered applying to receive my master’s, I actually found out about the scholarship a little late in the process to decide on a course of study. I decided to take the year studying Mandarin, as becoming more fluent in the language is one of my principal goals. 

  1. Gather documents

Gathering documents to move abroad always feels like a daunting task. It really isn’t too bad for this scholarship. You will have to get a few documents notarized and do a health examination as part of the application. Take a look at this step-by-step guide here that lists documents you will be required to submit.

For me, the health examination was the most difficult part of the application. You will have to find a doctor to fill out this form It can sometimes be hard to find a doctor who will do this specific exam. After trying some Urgent Care locations, I ended up going to my primary care doctor. I recommend starting there first, if you have a PCP. The health exam itself is not too bad, however be aware that if you do receive the scholarship, you will have to do this exam again when you arrive.

  1. Determine your top 3 choices for Universities

Think about where you really want to be. Beijing is probably the best city to study Mandarin, as Beijing Mandarin is what is generally taught when studying Chinese. I really wanted to be in a smaller city with good weather, so I chose Kunming as my first choice. Location is definitely an important point to consider, so take your time to do as much research as possible before choosing your top 3 schools. 

  1. Wait…

This is DEFINITELY the absolute hardest part of the whole process. I submitted my application in March 2019, and then had a few months of waiting…I’m not going to lie, it’s a little hard because you have to plan as if you are moving to a new country, even though you aren’t 100% sure if you will receive the scholarship. I’m someone who always feels most comfortable when I have a backup plan, so I recommend this for anyone who feels a bit stressed out by the uncertainty. I believe the odds are relatively high when applying as a General Scholar to study Chinese, though the program can be a lot more competitive if you are applying to study for your master’s or PhD.

  1. Toward the end of July/ beginning of August, expect results!

I found out that I received the scholarship mid-July, though I didn’t get any information from my University until the very beginning of August, in which I was told I had to be there for registration around August 25th. Don’t wait to make all of your preparations until you find out, start early if you can! There’s a good possibility you won’t get too much advanced notice about your departure date.

  1. Fly to China!

Congratulations! If you received the scholarship, get ready for the journey of a lifetime. Be prepared for lots of studying, hard work, and adventure ahead. 

Helpful Links:

  1. Check out this forum to chat with and hear from other people currently applying for the CSC scholarship- I found this really helpful at the beginning to get some tips on the process, as well as afterwards as I was waiting for the results
  2. CUCAS has lots of information about schools and was really helpful when I was doing research on which schools to choose as my top 3 choices.