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Number of college and university graduates in China 2009-2019

In 2019, a record high of around 7.6 million students graduated from undergraduate programs at public colleges and universities in China. That number was nearly double as high as the number of degrees earned at all levels of higher education in the United States. The vast number of graduates from Chinese universities originates from the increasing enrollment in colleges and universities across the country. Of the 7.6 million Chinese graduates of 2019, around 3.95 million earned a bachelor's degree, whereas 3.64 million earned a more practically oriented short-cycle degree. On a graduate and postgraduate level, around 640 thousand master's and doctor's degree students graduated from public colleges and universities in China in 2019.

What are the popular majors?

In recent years, the most favored majors among Chinese students were finance, civil, electrical and mechanical engineering, international trade, economics, accounting, clinical medicine, law, and the English language. Meanwhile, archeology, veterinary medicine, translation, transport engineering, and physics were among the least desirable subjects. However, even the popular, highly competitive fields of study do not always guarantee quick and successful employment after graduation.

What are the labor market prospects for graduates?

The graduate employment rate within half a year after graduation has been generally stable in China over the past seven years, exceeding 90 percent on average. Those that struggle to find a job are usually graduates from less technical, quantitative majors who often lack both practical “hard skills” and “soft skills” such as communication, critical thinking, and managerial abilities. Engineering, technology, IT and science majors top employment rates as well as secure higher-starting salaries. The average monthly salary of a university graduate in China has increased more than 120 percent in the last ten years. However, high rent and costs of living in cities like Beijing or Shanghai often force young graduates to return to their hometowns or to seek employment in the second and third tier cities.

Number of graduates from public colleges and universities in China between 2009 and 2019

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Release date

October 2020



Survey time period

2009 to 2019

Supplementary notes

Numbers include graduates from bachelor and more practically oriented short-cycle degree programs at public colleges and universities in China.

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Statistics on "Tertiary education in China"

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