Yang Meiping|2022-12-03
How to find a school for your children as a new arrival to Shanghai

Shanghai's education system consists of preschool education, basic education and higher education.

Preschool education, which is non-compulsory, covers nursery schools for toddlers and kindergartens which usually lasts three years.

Basic education here covers primary schools, junior high schools and senior high schools.

How to find a school for your children as a new arrival to Shanghai

Expat children learn to make leaf specimens during a World Earth Day event in 2021 in Shanghai.

Pre-university education

There are three main options for foreign children in Shanghai ― regular schools attended by local Chinese students; international schools; and the international divisions of local schools.

First, local regular schools. Children of expat parents who hold a Shanghai Residence Permit can apply to study at local regular preschool institutions, primary and secondary schools and enjoy access to the same basic education as local students, including the nine-year free compulsory education in public primary and junior high schools. The fees for senior high schools and preschools are the same as those for children of local Chinese.

For admission to the above schools, you can directly submit an application to the education bureau of the district where you live.

Once the application is approved, foreign students can attend classes at their nearest school after passing language and academic tests.

Second, international schools. These schools are run by foreign institutions, foreign-funded enterprises, international organizations in China or expats legally residing in China.

They, including kindergartens, primary schools and secondary schools, are designed to provide preschool education, basic education and degree courses for children of expats holding Shanghai residence permits and students from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

At present, there are more than 20 international schools and kindergartens, which provide American, British, the International Baccalaureate diploma program, other international curricula, and courses on Chinese culture.

Third, international divisions of local schools. These are special departments set up by local preschool institutions, primary and secondary schools.

International departments are usually run independently from the main school and have separate school buildings, dormitories, curricula and management.

Expats who choose to enroll their children in international schools or the international departments of local schools should contact the school to check their child's eligibility to attend.

Visit Study in Shanghai (http://study.edu.sh.gov.cn/en/) for a list of international schools and international divisions of local schools.

Higher education

Shanghai ranks among the top cities in China in terms of education quality and is also home to some of China's top higher-education institutes.

In 2022, there were 64 colleges and universities in Shanghai including many first-tier universities.

You can find more information on Study in Shanghai. It offers seven languages – Chinese, English, French, Korean, Spanish, Russian, Arabic and Japanese.

Some useful links

Shanghai Education Commission


Examination and Approval of Qualification of Study for Children of foreigners in Shanghai


Blue Book of Schools for Children of Foreign Personnel in Shanghai