If you speak Mandarin well enough to pass the TOCFL level 3, you’re eligible for a MOE scholarship in Taiwan, which will cover all your tuition costs for five years undergraduate study in Taiwan plus a $530 monthly stipend to help cover living expenses. If you couldn’t currently pass the TOCFL level 3 or you’re in high school, you can apply for the MOE Huayu scholarship, which will cover tuition at a registered Mandarin Language center and a $1800 stipend for two months study over the summer in Taiwan. If you’re interested in learning more, read on.
Presuming the free tuition and monthly stipend interest you, you’re probably wondering how legitimate this is. Well, the MOE scholarship originates from the Taiwanese Ministry of Education or MOE, which provides the scholarship money to, in its words, “promote communication, understanding, and friendship between Taiwan and the international community.” It’s a diplomatic, international community building program run through the government. That means you will need to submit some bureaucratic paperwork, on actual paper no less, and go through a bit of hassle but it also means there’s nothing questionable or sketchy, the scholarship and tuition are guaranteed and well-funded, and thousands of students have successfully gotten the scholarship before.
Actually applying is not hard but it can be a little tricky. First, there’s a few eligibility issues to consider. No Taiwanese or Mainland citizens, for obvious reasons. You need to be a new student, so no previous admission or study at a Taiwanese university. You must have a 3.0 GPA if you’re seeking an undergrad degree, 3.5 for a masters degree. You’ll need to submit the full MOE application, provide two letters of reference, and have a completed college application to a Taiwanese university. And, of course, you’ll need to pass the TOCFL 3. Finally, be aware that you’ll need to apply between February and March, you should expect to hear if you’ve won the scholarship at the end of May, you’ll officially win the award in July, and you should start receiving the money in September. While it has nothing to do with applying for the scholarship, remember that you’ll also be required to get a student visa and sign up for the national health system, both of which should be relatively easy but you’ll need the visa before you can go to Taiwan and you’ll need to sign up for the health system within a month or two of being in the country.
So if you apply and get it, what do you actually get? There’s two big awards, the tuition scholarship and the stipend. The tuition scholarship is 40,000 NTD (New Taiwan Dollar) per year. While this should cover all tuition-based fees, if tuition is more then you should contact the college, because they may be responsible for covering the extra cost, depending on how the program is set up. Also note that this doesn’t cover administration fees, insurance premiums, living spaces, or internet. The stiped is 15,000 NTD/month, 20,000 for those pursuing a master’s degree or doctorate, and there are not limitations on how this money may be spent.
Also, a quick note on the MOFA and MOST scholarships. These are special scholarships which provide additional money. The MOFA is an enhanced version of the MOE which provided a 20,000 NTD/month stipend and is identical to MOE in every aspect except you must be from a country with full diplomatic recognition of Taiwan, which is a very limited list and will not apply for 99% of you. The MOST is a little more relevant for some of you, specifically those of you from Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, or Paraguay. This is highly similar to the MOE except it provides a 30,000 NTD/month stipend and you must go to Taiwan to pursue a STEM degree.
So, since the main challenge to winning the scholarship is passing the TOCFL, you’re probably wondering how difficult the TOCFL 3 is. Well, first, go take our TOCFL practice test and see how well you do.
If you passed, great! Make sure to get a good night’s sleep and eat a big breakfast, you should do ok.
If you didn’t pass by a decent margin, then you need to start studying pretty hard. I’d strongly encourage you to reach out to us for tutoring. We specialize in passing Chinese tests like the TOCFL 3 and we’ll connect you with an experienced tutor who can help you pass the TOCFL 3 in time to win your scholarship to Taiwan.
One other option is the MOE Huayu. We’ve got a full article on the MOE Huayu scholarship, so check that out, but the short version is that you can win another scholarship, this one focused just on studying Chinese in Taiwan. A common strategy is apply for the scholarship and study Chinese full time before beginning your undergraduate studies, either just studying for the summer or taking the fall semester to keep studying Chinese full time and begin college classes in the spring.
If you’re worried about your ability to pass the TOCFL, this is definitely a strong option and in extreme cases you can even spend an entire year in Taiwan studying Chinese before applying and passing the TOCFL. Just remember that you have to pass the TOCFL before your official college classes start.
My advice would be to get a tutor now, apply for the MOE Huayu for the summer, and plan to take the TOCFL in May. If you pass the TOCFL in May, no problem, and you can relax and explore Taiwan a little over the summer. In the rare case where something goes wrong in May, you’re well positioned to take the test again in August before classes start in September.
How to apply
So there very first thing you should do, usually in October or November, is apply to a Taiwanese college or university. There’s too many to list here and they all have their own admission criteria, so this will take some research, but you should be able to find 3-4 colleges you’d be excited to attend. This isn’t that normal from applying to a college in the US or elsewhere.
Next, you need to submit this application to your local Taiwan embassy or consulate. You should aim to send this on March 1st. Technically, the local embassy or consulate sets the exact dates generally between February 1st and March 31st, so if you send it in on March 1st you should be safe no matter what.
This will be followed by an interview at the Taiwan embassy or consulate. While it may not be asked for, make sure you’ve prepared:
- Your application.
- A photocopy of your passport.
- A copy of your academic transcripts.
- A copy of your application to a Taiwanese college or university.
- A copy of your most recent TOCFL test scores.
That’s it, you should be informed by May 31st whether you’ve won the scholarship. Once you get there, there’s a few final pieces of paperwork that aren’t part of the scholarship but that you will need to do:
- 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