China and the US: How to Make the Most Of Student Life in Both Countries

China and the US: How to Make the Most Of Student Life in Both Countries

Craig OCallaghan

Updated February 15, 2024 Updated February 15

Sponsored by Duke Kunshan University

When it’s time to plan for your postgraduate degree, often choosing what to study is the easiest bit. Deciding where to study, however, is the harder part and so it’s not surprising that so many students choose to stay at the same institution. After all, if you liked living and studying somewhere for your undergraduate, doesn’t it make sense to stay put?

However, failing to explore the options available to you can mean missing out on fantastic life-changing experiences, especially if you widen your search to consider studying abroad.

China and the US are two of the most exciting and interesting countries to study in right now, particularly at postgraduate level where the connections between industry and the student population are vital to boosting your career prospects. For example, Master of Electrical and Computer Engineering students at Duke Kunshan University get to experience studying in both of these global superpowers.

This two-year master’s program includes one year in China and one year in the US. Students start their postgraduate study at Duke Kunshan University in Kunshan, China and continue their second year at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, US.

Here are some of the biggest benefits to studying in both China and the US, according to Duke Kunshan.

Work in both the US and China after graduation

The benefits of studying in both the US and China are most notable when it comes to your career. Professor Xin Li at Duke University told us: “A global program is key not only for students wishing to return to China, but also for those who remain abroad.”

The Master of Electrical and Computer Engineering program at Duke Kunshan is a STEM degree which enables international students from outside the US to apply for a 12-month post-completion OPT (optional practical training) after they finish their second year of study at Duke University. They are also able to extend their OPT by up to 24 months.

In the summer of first year, students have the opportunity to participate in an internship with multinational companies based in either China or their home country. While in the US, you’ll also have the opportunity to attend courses focused on business fundamentals and industry management, further burnishing your academic credentials.

China and the US are vital markets for the world’s biggest companies

You might not have thought too much about your future career path just yet, but there are considerable advantages to studying somewhere with strong industry connections. As two of the world’s biggest markets and financial centers, you’d struggle to find a business that won’t see your experience of both China and the US as an advantage.

This is particularly true for Duke Kunshan’s electrical and computer engineering students as many of the world’s largest technology firms, from Alphabet Inc. (Google’s parent company) to Apple have dedicated significant resources to ‘cracking’ the Chinese market. Even if you’re not interested in being based in China after you graduate, the knowledge you’ll gain from living and studying there will be enough to give you the edge in the graduate job market.

Also, students on the Master of Electrical and Computer Engineering program are expected to spend the summer between their first and second year as an intern working in industry, enhancing the knowledge they’ve developed on the program and putting it into practical use.

Duke Kunshan offers a degree that’s internationally well-regarded

As much as the career benefits and cultural highlights mentioned above are important factors when choosing a postgraduate degree, they obviously can’t take as much precedence as the quality of the institution itself. Fortunately, studying at Duke Kunshan University means getting to experience not one but two world-class academic campuses, with your time split between Duke University in the US and Duke Kunshan University in China. At the end, you’ll graduate with a degree from Duke University.

According to data collected by Duke University, 85 percent of master’s graduates from December 2016 and May 2017 who actively pursued employment were hired within six months of graduation, with an average salary of $109,100. Key employers include Airbnb, Amazon, Apple, Cisco, Facebook, Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft and NVIDIA.

China and the US offer unforgettable cultural experiences

Of course, there’s more to the experience of studying in China and the US than how it will impact your career. Living in both of these countries also means getting to sample the best of Eastern and Western culture, from traditional Chinese customs to American fraternities and sororities.

Duke Kunshan understand that moving to a new country can be daunting and in China in particular there are a range of social events organized throughout the year you’ll be studying there. There’s also the opportunity to take language courses and further develop your understanding of the Chinese language and culture.

If the idea of studying in both China and the US sounds appealing to you, or you’d like to learn more about the Master of Electrical and Computer Engineering program at Duke Kunshan University, click here to find out more.

This article was originally published in November 2018 . It was last updated in February 2024

Written by

As editor of, Craig oversees the site's editorial content and network of student contributors. He also plays a key editorial role in the publication of several guides and reports, including the QS Top Grad School Guide.


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