Education

Alice in the Confucius China Studies Program

I agreed to fairy exchange some knowledge service with a friend few hours ago, and here I am, trying to figure out how and why I ended up being a PhD Student officially enrolled at Peking University. To make a long story short: I think I was made for China. and studying in China, and now I am supported to do this by the Confucius China Studies Program, which I herein explain.

I applied for the Confucius program in 2013. I had a BA and MA from Italy’s Venice University in Asian Studies, one fresh HSK (Chinese language test) certificate, one semester at Beijing Capital Normal University, one year at Fu-ren Catholic University in Taipei and one year working experience in Jiangsu province. I hoped I had a good shot in applying for a PhD in China. And I love studying. I got through, and now am now in my second semester at Peking University’s School of Journalism and Communication.

But what is the Confucius China Studies Program (孔子新)?
“Confucius China Studies Program” is a program set up by Confucius Institute. Its main aim is to foster deep understanding of China and the Chinese culture among young high-achieving students from around the world. Grants go beyond scholarships toward study for PhD. Funding for participation in conferences, for help to publish related research, and other research toward a research degree on a subject related China is still evolving.

For students wanting to apply for a PhD Scholarship, there are 14 elite universities in China participating in the program. At these universities you must opt to research one of eight different research directions. To find out all the details you can create an account here, and follow the steps. For enrolment in September, the deadline is usually between December and February. Both an English and Chinese version of your application should be submitted.

Tips for your application:

1) Think ahead: It takes a lot of time to prepare the application well – don’t underestimate this. Understand your research interests as clearly as you can, and the relevance of undertaking that study in a Chinese university.

2) Maximise Information: Study all the information that is available on Confucius Institute websites, both the main homepage and respective Institutes in your home country. If you are a currently a student, it may help if your home institution has a Confucius Institute.

3) Be Prepared: There are a lot of application forms, and its best that you have support of professors from your earlier degrees and even Chinese Professors in your target School and University. Also, refresh your Chinese as much as possible to maximise your HSK score – for applicants for the joint Sino-Foreign PhD subprogram for example, passing HSK 3 is the minimum requirement; while for a PhD program entirely in Chinese in China, HSK 5 is the minimum. It is useful as well to have a digital signature for signing all the forms.

4) Have patience: Even after you have got through the application process, it takes about 6-7 months to hear from your chosen university;

5) Don’t expect to be rich: The scholarship provides everything you need to live in China, but it will not make you rich. It is also only provided on a 10-month basis through the academic year, rather than 12.

Why a PhD in China?

I began my adventure under the Confucius Studies Program in September 2013. Since then I have been asked many times “Why a PhD in China?” I easily summarize my answer like this:

– My research interests are China and EU. I spent most of my life in Europe, and already have two Italian degrees. Being here in China will help my understanding;

– In China I have easy access to primary sources, including the PKU library, the national library and the CNKI database, and so on. Being in China also helps field research and case studies and/or in-depth interviews;

– Contrary to what many people think, I found there is a wide availability of foreign sources here, with professors often using English books and articles as references for their courses;

– My Chinese will improve exponentially, since the pre-research courses are all in Chinese;

– I have an immediate feedback mechanism through Chinese professors and colleagues that help me to understand how Chinese scholars study Europe and what they are focusing on that Europeans are not;

– I keep myself young, with (a lot of!) daily self-challenges.

I am one of the guineapigs of this project, and it is early days. I am only in my second semester. I am terrified by the fact of the road that lies ahead, let alone that my final thesis will have to be submitted and examined in Chinese.

Good luck! 加油! 

More information on the Confucius China Studies Program

Academic and Research Areas:

Humanities, namely traditional Chinese culture: Chinese language, literature, history and philosophy
Social Science, namely contemporary Chinese studies: economics,  law, political science and sociology

Partner Universities in China:

Peking University, Renmin University of China, Fudan University, Nanjing University, Sun Yat-sen University, Nankai University, Sichuan University, Jilin University, Wuhan University, Xiamen University, Lanzhou University, Yunnan University

Qualification and Application Requirements:
For PhD Program Applicants 
(International students who have received graduate degree, and apply to pursue a PhD degree in China on a related major during 3-4 years)

Application Requirements:

  • Complete and submit an online application (http://cis.chinese.cn) Print and sign the form.
  • Notarized transcripts, degree certificates from colleges and professional schools with a Chinese translation
  • Two letters of recommendation from faculty or professors
  • HSK Level  5 test score report

Scholarship Coverage

The scholarship covers tuition and research fees, accommodation and living allowance, subsidy for books and materials, medical insurance and round-trip international transportation.

The scholarship recipient will receive RMB 170,000 each year: RMB40,000 will be paid to the host university as tuition fees, and RMB20,000 to China-side advisor as research and administration grant. RMB110,000 will be provided to the recipient to cover relevant expenses as mentioned above.

For Overseas PhD candidates:
(Current overseas PhD candidates that apply for funding through collaborative programs to study or do research in China for at least one academic year.)

Application Requirements: 

  • Complete and submit an online application (http://cis.chinese.cn) Print and sign the form.
  • Proof of Enrollment .  Students may request a verification transcript through URSA for a fee.  They may also print out a copy of their course and grade information for free on URSA. 
  • Two letters of recommendation from faculty or professors (one of them should be from the China-side advisor)
  • In-China Research Plan
  • HSK Level  4 test score report
  • Scholarship Coverage

Scholarship Coverage: 

In general, the scholarship covers tuition and research fees, accommodation and living allowance, subsidy for books and materials, medical insurance and round-trip international transportation.

The scholarship recipient will receive RMB 190,000 each year: RMB40,000 will be paid to the host university as tuition fees, and RMB20,000 to China-side advisor as research and administration grant. RMB110,000 will be provided to the recipient to cover relevant expenses as mentioned above. In addition, RMB20,000 will be offered for the recipient’s advisor at his or her home university to travel to China for academic exchange or conferences. This grant will be issued by the host university in China upon the actual visit.

Research grant for overseas PhD candidates and young faculty members 
(Current overseas PhD candidates and young faculty members may apply to Chinese partner universities for collaboration research grant in the area of sinology or China studies.)

Application Requirements: 

  • Complete and submit an online application (http://cis.chinese.cn) Print and sign the form.
  • Proof of Enrollment .  Students may request a verification transcript through URSA for a fee.  They may also print out a copy of their course and grade information for free on URSA. 
  • In-China Research Plan
  • HSK Level  4 test score report

Research Grant Coverage 

The research grant will be given from the Chinese partner universities. The total amount is no more than RMB20,000.

For Young Sinologists

  • Complete and submit an online application (http://cis.chinese.cn) Print and sign the form.
  • A copy of recent resume
  • Proof of current position and title
    In-China Research Plan
  • HSK Level  4 test score report

Scholarship Coverage:

In general, the scholarship covers tuition and research fees, accommodation and living allowance, subsidy for books and materials, medical insurance and round-trip international transportation.

The scholarship recipient will receive RMB 180,000 each year: RMB40,000 will be paid to the host university as tuition fees, and RMB20,000 to China-side advisor as research and administration grant. RMB120,000 will be provided to the recipient to cover relevant expenses as mentioned above.

Lauren has worked in economic policy and research at the World Bank, World Economic Forum, EIU and for the governments of Sierra Leone and Guyana. She has learned Chinese since 1995, and lived in Beijing for almost six years, on and off since 1997. Lauren has a PhD in Economics from Peking University, an MSc in Development Economics from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and a B.A/B.Com from the University of Melbourne.

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