You know what the question I get asked the most? “Which university should I pick in Taiwan for a degree/master’s/Mandarin program?”
There is no easy answer to give people. It really depends on what you want to major in, what city you want to live in, and if you have a scholarship. If you’re interested in the process of getting an MOE scholarship, I have a blog on it, and a podcast on the entire process.
You should also check out my pros and cons to studying in Taiwan blog post, as this might be helpful for you when it comes to deciding if you want to learn practical skills or learn to be a researcher.
If you get the opportunity to study in Taiwan, it’s worth it. Well, if you have a scholarship that is. I don’t think I would’ve come to Taiwan without one, and despite the relatively affordable semester fees, it would be less hassle for me to study in Europe. So yes, having a scholarship is a good motivator. You might be wondering, what’s the first step? Well, it’s all down to having a game plan for where you want to study, and what you want to study.
What universities are there in Taiwan?
A good place to start looking for universities are the rankings. You should always aim high because you will probably do better if you overshoot, than if you just settled for what you thought you were capable of. That advice goes for the rest of your life and it’s free.
Below is a table of universities with their rankings and the city they’re in. You can check them out further by clicking on them to see what their international department offer international students.
Taiwan’s top 10 universities (DISCLAIMER – every ranking system is different)
|#1||National Taiwan University||Taipei City|
|#2||National Chiao Tung University||Hsinchu|
|#3||National Tsing Hua University||Hsinchu|
|#4||National Cheng Kung University||Tainan City|
|#5||Tamkang University||New Taipei City|
|#6||National Taiwan Normal University||Taipei City|
|#7||National Chengchi University||Taipei City|
|#8||National Central University||Taoyuan City|
|#9||National Sun Yat-Sen University||Kaohsiung City|
|#10||Ming Chuan University||Taipei City|
No surprises on this list as National Taiwan University is #1. Also, what’s up with “National” in so many university titles? It’s always looks like some bad translation that nobody decided to fix.
Anyway, you will find international departments are your best bet for finding out relevant information on programs and what universities have to offer.
Find a university with international programs in English
The first thing I tell people when they ask me about which university to choose is to basically find out which university has an international program with your major in English.
I’ve had people ask me about engineering, business, science, and marine programs, and to be honest, I’m have no idea what to recommend for those. I’ve never had to find this information out for myself, so I don’t know. What I do know is, a lot of universities have specialities.
For example, I went to National Chengchi University, and they had international programmes in business, communications, Asia studies, and diplomacy. Besides that, I don’t know of any other international program outside of these few areas.
There are a lot of international programs in Taiwan and once you find one, you should do your homework. Find out how long the program has been running for, how the university ranks in Taiwan, and if the university is known for the area that you want to major in. You don’t want to major in business studies if your university is known for agriculture after all!
The problem you might be facing now is that you aren’t sure about what is a good university in Taiwan. You might just want to settle for the first thing that makes sense to you, and rightly so. Universities in Taiwan don’t make the process of finding out information on their programs easy, and applying isn’t much easier either, but you absolutely need to take the time to research universities before you make a commitment to apply.
After all, it’s around $100 USD per application, so choose wisely!
It’s difficult to find information online in English
One of the most annoying things about applying for university in Taiwan is that half the information you need might not even be in English. When you call or email the international department about what you should do, half the time they will tell you to ask a Taiwanese friend to translate or they might be nice and talk you through the process.
I’m not joking about the “ask a local” comment either. At the end of every semester, you can give feedback on your modules and lecturers. Only one problem, the system for this feedback was in Mandarin. For a lot of students, they were advised to get a local to help them. Not very internationalized.
Anyway, my biggest problem wasn’t choosing a university, it was trying to figure out the process of applying to a university. Information on university websites is rarely straight-forward and it looks like it was written without the person applying in mind.
My advice would be to call the international department of the school and nail down the process. I’ve helped friends apply to NCCU, and other universities too, and all I can say is, it’s a pain in the ass.
Why I chose National Chengchi University
If I told you that I chose NCCU because I researched the university a lot, I’d be lying. I chose NCCU because it was convenient. I spent my undergrad in Dublin Institute of Technology, and they turned out to have quite a few partnerships and agreements with universities across the world. When I graduated, I made friends with a man from the international department in DIT. He told me about the MOE scholarship and how he could send my details along to the Taipei consulate in Dublin.
A few weeks later, I had my application in for the MOE scholarship finished and I applied to NCCU because it was partnered with DIT. I already had a good idea about the quality of education there because my former classmates spent a year in NCCU for their year abroad. I spent mine in Beijing, so I guess that’s also what pushed me to come to Taiwan. I had already seen what Beijing had to offer and it wasn’t what I wanted.
I found the international programs and chose IMICS (International Master’s in Communications Studies). The course hit on what I like most, marketing, journalism, and new media.
I called up the international department for more information, and after dozens of emails and several phones called, I applied before the deadline. It was a long and annoying process, but I’m glad I did it.
I would love to tell you that I spent months researching where I wanted to study, but my choice was really just down to the convenience of having good relations with a university that already knew where I was coming from. I did spend time researching a few other universities, but I didn’t find a lot of good options for communications studies, and NCCU had their IMICS program running for quite a while, so it made sense to apply there.
Rankings aren’t everything – Location, location, location!
This is a very personal opinion, and perhaps this will trigger a few people, but, I don’t think I’d study anywhere except Taipei and Taichung. Taipei has a lot going on and it’s got many opportunities outside of English teaching for part-time work. It’s also got an amazing public transport system. Seriously, when I go back to Ireland for a holiday, I don’t shut the hell up about the MRT. I love it.
Other cities might have the university you want to attend, with the program that appeals most to you, and I say “go for it.” But I also suggest thinking about the area that you will be living in and if it has all the amendments you need.
No matter what choice you make, I really suggest coming to Taiwan to study over a lot of other places in Asia. The truth is, Taiwan is Asia’s little secret that not a lot of people know or care about. Hell, my friends still think I’m in Thailand! Universities here are all right, and they are relatively inexpensive compared to a lot of places. You could get a degree without the life-crippling debt.
So, to summarize, look at the rankings of universities in Taiwan, find one that has international programs, find all the information you can about the courses, make a decision based on your needs (what city, what course, and your future prospects) and go for it.