Q:What does a successful applicant look like?

Successful candidates have outstanding academic backgrounds and broad curiosity. They demonstrate strong motivation and potential to become leaders in their chosen fields. Candidates’ personal statements should offer specific and persuasive explanations of how they could benefit from studying in our interdisciplinary China Studies program. Evaluation criteria include academic merit, leadership potential, international experience, and long-term aspirations.

Q:What is the selection process and timeline?

Finalists from Mainland China will interview in late spring or in September. International, Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan candidates will interview in the winter and early spring. We will contact finalists to schedule interviews approximately one week before their interview dates.

Candidates from Mainland China will receive admissions decisions no later than October. We make admissions offers to International, Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan students by the end of March. Those who accept our offers are then approved through an internal process at Peking University, and receive their official acceptance letters the summer before enrolling.

Q:Is there an age requirement?

The Yenching Academy does not have a strict age cut-off for applicants, but to date, no person over the age of 28 has been admitted to the program. The average age of students entering the program is 23.

Q:I have a previous master’s degree; am I eligible to apply?

International, Macao, Hong Kong, and Taiwan candidates holding a master’s degree are welcome to apply. Roughly 20% of 2017 Cohort Yenching Scholars have previous master’s degrees. Those who hold graduate degrees are not favored in the selection process. Note that requirements vary for Mainland Chinese candidates. (See “What are the eligibility requirements for PRC passport holders?”)

Q:If my previous major was not related to China Studies, am I still eligible for the program?

We welcome scholars from a wide range of academic fields, and value the unique perspectives that students from various disciplines bring to our program. While candidates are not required to have formally studied China or the Chinese language in the past, they must be strongly interested in doing so at the Yenching Academy, and should articulate a study plan related to their career goals.

Q:What are the eligibility requirements for PRC passport holders?

PRC passport holders are recruited according to the Chinese Ministry of Education’s regulations; therefore, they must qualify for exemption from China’s Graduate Entrance Examination based on their universities’ recommendations. Only certain universities have the privilege to recommend; a list of eligible universities is available here: https://yz.chsi.com.cn/kyzx/kp/201809/20180905/1718817601.html. Those who do not currently attend a university in Mainland China do not qualify for the exemption, and thus, cannot be considered for the Yenching Academy.

Q:What are the program targets for international diversity?

The Yenching Academy annually enrolls approximately 125 new students from both China and abroad. International students and students from Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan comprise roughly 80% of the student body. Among them, students from the U.S. and Canada are roughly 30%; students from Europe 30%; students from other Asian countries 20%; and students from the rest of the world 20%.

Q:How should I prepare for my Skype interview?

To prepare for the Skype interview, you should choose a location with a strong internet connection and ample lighting. You may want to use wired internet for a more stable connection. Please test Skype before the interview to ensure that your microphone and camera are working properly. We suggest using ear buds with a built-in microphone. You should be ready at your computer 15 minutes before the appointed time, open the Skype application, and check your email for any updates. Please wait for the Academy to call you.

To see a Yenching Scholar’s comments on the interview process, you may visit this blog.

Q:What paths have scholars taken since graduating?

Our scholars take many paths. Roughly 30% continued to Ph.D. level studies at esteemed universities, including Cambridge, Oxford, Harvard, Yale, Duke, The University of Chicago, Georgetown University, Peking University, and more. Our alumni are employed by UNESCO, UNDP, the European Commission, the British Embassy in Beijing, the Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, Lenovo, Aurecon South Africa, The Associated Press, Tencent, the Indian Political Action Committee, the Federal Administrative Court of Switzerland, Panasonic, General Electric, HNA Group, the Singapore Police Force, Bank of Korea, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, and more.

Q:What costs does the Yenching Fellowship cover?

All admitted students receive the Yenching Fellowship for the first academic year, which covers tuition, accommodation in the Yenching Academy House, a travel stipend for one round-trip journey between your base city and Beijing (the base city must be a city within the country of your nationality; cost of this round-trip will be estimated and calculated by YCA), basic medical insurance, a monthly stipend, and expenses related to research.

Students who maintained a good academic standing, and plan to stay in Beijing during their second academic year can apply for the second-year Yenching Fellowship. This will cover the tuition, accommodation in the Yenching Academy House, basic medical insurance, and a monthly stipend.

Q: What accommodation will be provided?

Scholars live in newly renovated single rooms in the Shaoyuan 6 dormitory on Peking University’s campus. Most scholars are placed in two-bedroom suites, sharing a bathroom with one person of the same gender.

Q:What type of diploma will Yenching Scholars receive?

Upon graduating from the Yenching Academy, each scholar receives a Master’s diploma in China Studies issued by Peking University. The specific text and degree type corresponds to the scholar’s chosen research area: Master of Law in China Studies (Politics & International Relations); Master of Law in China Studies (Law & Society); Master of Economics in China Studies (Economics & Management); Master of History in China Studies (History & Archaeology); Master of Literature in China Studies (Literature and Culture); or Master of Philosophy in China Studies (Philosophy & Religion). This is in accordance with the Chinese Ministry of Education’s curricular system, which designates 13 disciplinary categories for master's diplomas: philosophy, economics, law, education, literature, history, science, engineering, agronomy, medicine, military science, management science, and art.

Q:What is the program length?

The Yenching Academy program is two years in duration. Fellowships for students are initially for twelve months, during which they complete their coursework and may write their theses.

All Yenching scholars are required to live on campus during the first academic year. During the second academic year, it is compulsory for the Chinese students (including those from Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan) to continue staying in Beijing, while international students can choose whether or not to stay in Beijing to complete thesis writing and the defense. Students who maintained a good academic standing and continued to live in Beijing can apply for the second-year Yenching Fellowship. Furthermore, second-year students who choose to live on campus and serve in student assistantship roles can receive additional funding support.

Degrees are granted after the completion of all coursework and satisfactory defense of the thesis. They are awarded in January and July of each year.

Q:Is a thesis required?

All Yenching Scholars write a Master's thesis under the guidance of an advisor and defend it orally before an academic committee. Mainland Chinese, Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan students must complete thesis defense in person. International students who leave Beijing before they have completed their oral defenses may complete thesis defense via Skype, with the permission of their advisors. Scholars must complete and defend their theses within two years of enrollment.  

Q:What are the program requirements?

All students are required to take the following four courses:

  • The Topics in China Studies Lecture Series offers expert perspectives on a broad range of China-related issues.

  • China in Transition is a team-taught course about China’s post-1978 development from the perspectives of the economy, society & culture, politics & law, and environment & health.

  • The weeklong Field Study Trip to historical and cultural relics and modern industrial parks gives insights of the local development and changes from the aspects of history, architecture, religion, folklore and contemporary economic development.  

  • Academic Writing course offers practical workshops to cultivate academic writing skills.  


Students are free to select elective courses from any of the six research areas (see below). Choice of thesis topic and advisor will determine the type of degree awarded upon graduation.

The Chinese language course is compulsory for international scholars. Those with high Chinese proficiencies can apply to waive this course and take Chinese-taught courses offered in Peking University.

To fulfill the graduation requirements, students outside of the Chinese mainland, including international students and students from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, must receive at least 31 credits along with a passed Master's thesis.  

Mainland Chinese students are required to take the Political Theory Course and the English course (can be waived). To fulfill the graduation requirements, students must complete at least 34 credits along with a passed Master's thesis. 

Q:What are “research areas?”

Each Yenching Scholar selects one of six research areas in the field of China Studies, and writes a thesis with guidance from a faculty advisor. A scholar's choice of research area does not affect course selection requirements, but will determine the type of Master's diploma issued upon graduation (see above).

Research areas are as follows:

• Economics and Management

• History and Archaeology

• Philosophy and Religion

• Politics and International Relations

• Law and Society

• Literature and Culture

Q:Do students have opportunities to intern and volunteer?

The Yenching Academy offers career advising services and encourages scholars to engage in internships and volunteer work during the second year of the program.

Q:How will the academic calendar be organized?

The Yenching Academy's calendar is aligned with that of Peking University. Major holidays include Chinese National Day (a week-long break around October 1) and the Chinese New Year (a month-long break between the fall and spring semesters, in January and/or February). The academic year begins in early September, and Spring Semester ends in early July.

Q:When will the course catalogue be available?

Updated course information will be provided to incoming Yenching Scholars before they begin their Fall Semester studies.

Q:If I am accepted, may I defer admission for one year?

If you are unable to attend the Yenching Academy due to an unforeseen and unavoidable conflict, you may apply for a deferral. Deferrals will not be granted to those who choose another program, job, or internship.  

Q:If I am not admitted, may I apply again the following year?

You are welcome to reapply. It is important that you can explain how you have used the intervening year to strengthen your skill sets and work toward your career goals.

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