Want to study Chinese but not sure how to pay for it. The government of Taiwan will award you a $900/month scholarship to study Chinese in Taiwan for up to a year. They only require that you be over 18 years old, not already enrolled in a Taiwanese school, and able to take and pass Chinese fluency tests, called TOCFL tests, while you learn. If you’re looking to learn Chinese, this is a terrific option that will let you study Chinese in an immersive environment with some of the best teachers in the world. If you’re interested, read on.
MOE Huayu scholarship
So what exactly is being offered. Well, the Taiwanese Ministry of Education offers a special scholarship for foreigners to come study the Chinese language in Taiwan, known as the MOE Huayu scholarship. If you win the scholarship, they’ll provide you with a $25,000 NTD monthly stipend (roughly $900 USD). This is to help cover your tuition and living expenses in Taiwan; the scholarship doesn’t cover tuition and you should expect to pay $24,000-$42,000 NTD for a 3 month course at an official Mandarin Learning Center. This also makes the getting a Taiwanese student visa pretty easy.
While the scholarship can last anywhere from 2-12 months, most students opt for one of two options. First, you can get the scholarship for a full year and study Chinese intensively, both in the classroom and practicing with Taiwanese friends and neighbors. The other usual option is to take it over the summer before studying at a Taiwanese college. There’s another great scholarship in Taiwan for foreigners to come and study in any field in a Taiwanese university, called (inventively) the MOE scholarship, and a lot of foreigners use this scholarship to polish their Chinese in the summer before the fall classes begin. Incidentally, if you’re a high school student looking forward to college, I’ve got a great article on the MOE scholarship and how the Taiwanese government will pay you $24,000 and free tuition to come get a degree in Taiwan, so check it out.
Now for the MOE Huayu scholarship, you might be wondering what the requirements are and how to maximize your odds of winning. Well, there’s a few strict requirements:
- You can’t be Taiwanese or overseas Chinese, meaning from the Mainland, Hong Kong, Macau, etc.
- You can’t already be enrolled in a Taiwanese school or an exchange student.
- You can’t have previously received a Taiwanese scholarship or financial assistance.
- You must be over the age of 18 with at least a high school diploma.
- While it’s not explicitly stated, you should not have criminal record and you should be in good academic standing, meaning a 3.0 GPA or higher.
So basically, you need to be a decent student who doesn’t already speak Chinese and isn’t already studying Chinese. It’s honestly pretty easy to get. It can be more difficult to keep because there’s a couple situations where your scholarship can be canceled or suspended.
- You have to study at a registered Mandarin Language Center, most of which are local Taiwanese universities.
- You need to take 15 hours of language courses a week and you can’t miss more than 12 hours in a month. This can be tough if you get sick, so make sure you talk with your teacher immediately if this becomes an issue.
- You need to score well in your classes and meet the Mandarin Learning Center’s moral and attendance standards. I wouldn’t worry too much about “moral standards”, I’ve only ever heard it used to punish really blatant misbehavior, but if you have an alternative lifestyle and you’re worried, this standard is specific to each Mandarin Learning Center, so reach out to a couple different Mandarin Learning Centers and find the one that’s right for you.
- If you get a long scholarship, meaning 9 months or more, you have to pass the TOCFL 3 before the end of the scholarship, otherwise you won’t get your last month’s stipend.
Sounds great, how do I apply?
The first step is to apply for a Mandarin Language Center. This is the place you’ll be studying Chinese while you’re in Taiwan. I’ve included a complete list at the end of the article but in general, these are all run through a local Taiwanese college. Look through, the different programs, make some calls, pick which two or three you like the best, and try to apply around November or December before the summer you’ll start studying.
Then between February and March you’ll submit the official MOE Huayu Scholarship applications. For this you’ll need:
- A completed application form (download here). There’s no online application, you have to print and deliver the physical form.
- A copy of your applications to the Mandarin Language Center.
- A photocopy of your passport.
- A photocopy of your high school transcript.
This has to be delivered to your local Taiwanese consulate or embassy. It can be a little tricky because there’s a lot of sensitive information included that you might not feel comfortable sending through the mail. That can be difficult to balance against travel time and costs if there’s no consulate near where you live. Which course you take will depend on your personal situation.
The Taiwanese consulate or embassy should then inform you of whether you’ve won the scholarship by April 30th, which gives you some time to confirm your plans. At this point you should be confirmed for both the Mandarin Learning Center and the scholarship, so all of that is taken care of. There are, however, a few final pieces of paperwork that should be done, although the consulate should be able to help you with this.
- You’ll need to get a student visa.
- You’ll need to get an Alien Residence Certificate.
- If you’re staying in Taiwan for six or more months, you’ll need to join the National Health Insurance Program. This may require you to purchase student accident insurance, so make sure to double check with the consulate and/or Mandarin Learning Center.
List of Mandarin Learning Centers