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Degrees Law of the People’s Republic of China

 

(Adopted at the 9th session of the Standing Committee of the 14th National People’s Congress on April 26, 2024)

Chapter I: General Provisions

Article 1: This Law is formulated on the basis of the Constitution to standardize the conferral of degrees; protect the lawful rights and interests of degree applicants; safeguard the quality of degrees; cultivate a new generation of young people to shoulder the great mission of realizing national rejuvenation; build a leading country in education, science and technology, and talent; and serve the building of a modern socialist country in all respects.

Article 2: The State implements a system of degrees. Degrees are divided into bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and doctoral degrees, including academic degrees, professional degrees, and other types, and are conferred based on the categories of academic disciplines and professional degrees.

Article 3: Degrees-related work is to uphold the leadership of the Communist Party of China; fully implement the State’s educational policy; practice the core socialist values; carry out the basic task of fostering virtue through education; follow the laws of education; adhere to fairness, justice, and openness; persist in the unity of academic freedom and academic norms; promote innovation and development; and improve the ability to nurture talent at home.

Article 4: Where Chinese citizens who support the leadership of the Communist Party of China and the socialist system have studied at institutions of higher learning or scientific research institutions or have received an education through other means prescribed by the State, and have met the corresponding academic requirements, academic levels, or professional levels, they may apply for the corresponding degrees in accordance with the provisions of this Law.

Article 5: The institutions of higher learning and scientific research institutions that have obtained the qualifications to confer degrees in corresponding disciplines or professions are degree-conferring entities, and their disciplines or professions that confer degrees are degree-conferring programs. Degree-conferring entities may confer the corresponding degrees in accordance with the provisions of this Law.

Chapter II: System for Degrees-Related Work

Article 6: The State Council establishes a Degree Commission to lead the degrees-related work nationwide.

The State Council Degree Commission is to have one chairperson as well as various vice-chairpersons and members. The chairperson, vice-chairpersons, and members are to be appointed and removed by the State Council and to serve five-year terms.

The State Council Degree Commission is to establish an Experts Group responsible work such as review and evaluation, quality supervision, as well as research and consultation relating to degrees.

Article 7: The State Council Degree Commission is to establish an administrative body at the State Council’s administrative department for education responsible for the daily work of the State Council Degree Commission.

The State Council’s administrative department for education is responsible for the work related to the management of degrees nationwide.

Article 8: The people’s governments of provinces, autonomous regions, and directly governed municipalities are to establish provincial-level degree commissions to lead the degrees-related work in their respective administrative regions under the guidance of the State Council Degree Commission.

The administrative departments for education of the people’s governments of provinces, autonomous regions, and directly governed municipalities are responsible for the work related to the management of degrees in their respective administrative regions.

Article 9: A degree-conferring entity is to establish a degree evaluation committee to perform the following duties:

(1) deliberate that entity’s implementing measures and specific standards for conferring degrees;

(2) deliberate matters such as the addition or revocation of degree-conferring programs;

(3) adopting resolutions to confer, not confer, or revoke corresponding degrees;

(4) study and handle disputes over the conferral of degrees;

(5) accept complaints or reports relating to degrees;

(6) deliberate other matters relating to degrees.

A degree evaluation committee may establish various subcommittees to assist it in carrying out work and may entrust the subcommittees with performing the corresponding duties.

Article 10: A degree evaluation committee is to be composed of the degree-conferring entity’s responsible persons as well as teaching and research personnel with senior professional and technical titles, and it shall have an odd number of constituent members no fewer than nine. The principal administrator of a degree-conferring entity is to serve as the chairperson of its degree evaluation committee.

A degree evaluation committee shall convene meetings to adopt resolutions. When deliberating the matters listed in Article 9, paragraph 1, items 1 through 4 of this Law or other major matters, a meeting shall be attended by two-thirds or more of all constituent members of the committee. Resolutions are to be decided by votes and adopted by a simple majority of all constituent members of the committee.

Article 11: Matters such as the constituent members and terms of service of a degree evaluation committee and its subcommittees, as well as their division of duties and working procedures, are to be determined and promulgated by the degree-conferring entity.

Chapter III: Degree-Conferring Qualifications

Article 12: Institutions of higher learning and scientific research institutions that apply for degree-conferring qualifications shall meet the following requirements:

(1) adhering to the path of socialist education and carrying out the basic task of fostering virtue through education;

(2) complying with the needs of national and local economic and social development and with plans on the development of higher education;

(3) having the teaching and research resources, such as faculty, facilities, and equipment, and the school-running capabilities that are suitable for the degree-conferring qualifications applied for;

(4) other requirements prescribed by laws and administrative regulations.

The State Council Degree Commission and provincial-level degree commissions may make specific provisions on the requirements for applying for the appropriate degree-conferring qualifications in accordance with the provisions of the previous paragraph.

Article 13: Institutions of higher learning that provide undergraduate education according to law and meet the requirements under Article 12 of this Law may apply for the qualifications to confer bachelor’s degrees. Institutions of higher learning and scientific research institutions that provide undergraduate or graduate education according to law and meet the requirements under Article 12 of this Law may apply for the qualifications to confer master’s and doctoral degrees.

Article 14: The qualifications to confer bachelor’s degrees are to be reviewed and approved by provincial-level degree commissions and filed with the State Council Degree Commission for the record.

The qualifications to confer master’s degrees are to be examined as organized by provincial-level degree commissions and reported to the State Council Degree Commission for review and approval.

The qualifications to confer doctoral degrees are to be examined as organized by the State Council’s administrative department for education and reported to the State Council Degree Commission for review and approval.

Expert evaluation and review shall be organized for the examination of degree-conferring qualifications.

Article 15: Applications for degree-conferring qualifications shall be submitted within the time limit prescribed by the State Council Degree Commission or provincial-level degree commissions.

The work units responsible for reviewing and approving degree-conferring qualifications shall adopt a resolution within 90 days of receiving an application and issue a public notice. The period of public notice must not be shorter than 10 working days. A reexamination shall be organized in the case of any objection during the period of public notice.

Article 16: Eligible degree-conferring entities may, upon approval by the State Council Degree Commission, independently carry out examinations of the establishment of additional programs that confer master’s or doctoral degrees. Any additional degree-conferring programs that are independently established shall be reported to the State Council Degree Commission for review and approval. The specific requirements and measures are to be formulated by the State Council Degree Commission.

Article 17: Based on the demands for all kinds of talents in economic and social development, the State is to optimize the structure of academic disciplines and the distribution of degree-conferring programs and strengthen the development of basic disciplines, emerging disciplines, and interdisciplinary subjects.

Based on the major needs of the country as well as the needs of economic and social development, scientific and technological innovation, cultural inheritance, and protections for the people’s lives and health, the State Council Degree Commission may prescribe separate requirements and procedures for the establishment and distribution of the relevant degree-conferring programs and their conferral of degrees.

Chapter IV: Conditions for Conferring Degrees

Article 18: Degree applicants shall support the leadership of the Communist Party of China, support the socialist system, follow the Constitution and laws, and abide by academic ethics and academic norms.

Where degree applicants have studied at institutions of higher learning or scientific research institutions or received an education through other means prescribed by the State, and have met the corresponding academic requirements, academic levels, or professional levels, they are to be conferred with the corresponding degrees by degree-conferring entities in accordance with the requirements of Article 19 through 21 of this Law.

Article 19: Bachelor’s degrees are to be conferred on degree applicants who have received an undergraduate education, passed the required course assessments or completed the requisite credits, and passed review of their theses, graduation projects, or other graduation activities, indicating that they have attained the following levels:

(1) having a relatively good command of the basic theories, specialized knowledge, and basic skills of their respective disciplines or professional fields;

(2) having the initial ability to undertake academic research or professional practice.

Article 20: Master’s degrees are to be conferred on degree applicants who have received a graduate education at the master’s level, passed the required course assessments or completed the requisite credits, completed training in academic research or professional practice, and passed a dissertation defense or the prescribed defense of their practical results, indicating that they have attained the following levels:

(1) having a firm command of the basic theories and a systematic understanding of the specialized knowledge in their respective disciplines or professional fields;

(2) applicants for academic degrees shall have the ability to undertake academic research, and applicants for professional degrees shall have the ability to understand professional practice.

Article 21: Doctoral degrees are to be conferred on degree applicants who have received a graduate education at the doctoral level, passed the required course assessments or completed the requisite credits, completed training in academic research or professional practice, and passed a dissertation defense or the prescribed defense of their practical results, indicating that they have attained the following levels:

(1) having a firm and comprehensive command of the basic theories and a systematic and in-depth understanding of the specialized knowledge in their respective disciplines or professional fields;

(2) applicants for academic degrees shall have the ability to independently undertake academic research, and applicants for professional degrees shall have the ability to independently understand professional practice;

(3) applicants for academic degrees shall have made innovative achievements in their fields of academic research, and applicants for professional degrees shall have made innovative achievements in their fields of professional practice.

Article 22: Degree-conferring entities shall formulate the specific measures for conferring the degrees in the various disciplines and professions in light of their respective standards of academic evaluation, by adhering to sound evaluation, and after having thoroughly listened to the opinions of the relevant parties.

Chapter V: Procedures for Conferring Degrees

Article 23: An educatee who meets the provisions of this Law may submit application materials in accordance with the degree-conferring entity’s requirements to apply for the corresponding degree. A new graduate of a non-degree-conferring entity may, upon the recommendation of his or her graduating institution, apply for a degree from the relevant degree-conferring entity.

A degree-conferring entity shall review and decide whether to accept an application within 60 days of the deadline for applicants and notify the applicant.

Article 24: In the case of an application for a bachelor’s degree, the degree evaluation committee is to organize a review and adopt a resolution on whether to confer a bachelor’s degree.

Article 25: In the case of an application for a master’s or doctoral degree, the degree-conferring entity shall, before organizing a defense, send the applicant’s dissertation or practical results to experts for review.

Where, upon expert review, the degree-conferring entity’s requirements are met, the application is to proceed to defense procedures.

Article 26: A degree-conferring entity is to organize master’s and doctoral defense committees based on disciplines and professions. A degree-conferring entity is to organize master’s and doctoral defense committees based on disciplines and professions. A doctoral defense committee shall have no fewer than five constituent members, among whom no fewer than two shall be experts from outside the degree-conferring entity.

The dissertation or practical result shall be sent to the constituent members of a defense committee before the defense, and the constituent members of the defense committee shall independently and responsibly perform their duties.

A defense committee shall organize a defense in accordance with the prescribed procedures and adopt a resolution on whether the applicant has passed the defense and announce it on the spot. Defenses are to be decided on by votes and approved by a two-thirds majority of all constituent members. Except where the contents involve state secrets, defenses shall be held publicly.

Article 27: Where a defense of a dissertation or practical result fails to pass, with the defense committee’s consent, it may be revised within the prescribed period, and a new defense applied for.

Where a doctoral defense committee finds that the degree applicant has not reached the level of a doctoral degree, but has reached the level of master’s degree, and where the degree applicant has yet to obtain a master’s degree in the same discipline or profession from the current entity, with the degree applicant’s consent, it may adopt a resolution recommending the conferral of a master’s degree and report it to the degree evaluation committee for review and approval.

Article 28: A degree evaluation committee shall adopt a resolution on whether to confer a master’s or doctoral degree based on the defense committee’s recommendation and after reviewing the degree application.

Article 29: A degree-conferring entity shall release a list of degree recipients based on the degree evaluation committee’s resolutions on conferring bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, issue diplomas, and report the information on the conferral of degrees to the provincial-level degree commission. Provincial-level degree commissions are to file the information on the conferral of degrees within their respective administrative regions to the State Council Degree Commission for recording.

Article 30: A degree-conferring entity shall preserve degree applicants’ application materials, dissertations and practical results, and other such archival materials; doctoral dissertations shall be deposited with the National Library and the relevant specialized libraries at the same time.

Secrecy management shall be strengthened for dissertations, practical results, and degree-conferring processes involving secrets in accordance with the secrecy laws and regulations and the State’s relevant secrecy provisions.

Chapter VI: Quality Assurance for Degrees

Article 31: Degree-conferring entities shall establish their own quality assurance systems for degrees, strengthen the quality management of the whole process including admissions, cultivation, and degree conferral, promptly disclose the relevant information, accept public oversight, and ensure the quality of the degrees conferred.

Article 32: Degree-conferring entities shall appoint teachers, research personnel, or professionals with good moral character and conduct and relatively high academic levels or relatively strong practical abilities to serve as advisors for graduate students, and establish mechanisms for selection, assessment, oversight, and dynamic adjustment.

Graduate advisors shall serve as role models, perform the duty of fostering virtue through education, care for students, and instruct the students to carry out the relevant academic research and professional practice, observe academic ethics and academic norms, and improve their academic or professional levels.

Article 33: Entities that confer doctoral degrees shall focus on the cultivation of high-level innovative talents, strengthen the development of programs that confer doctoral degrees, intensify the cultivation, management, and support for doctoral students, and improve the quality of the doctoral degrees conferred.

The advisors of doctoral students shall diligently perform their duties to cultivate doctoral students, strictly check the key stages of cultivation, strengthen guidance throughout the process, and improve the quality of cultivation.

Doctoral students shall study and practice diligently, carefully prepare for their dissertations or practical results, and ensure that they comply with academic norms and innovation requirements.

Article 34: The State Council’s administrative department for education and provincial-level degree commissions shall, within the scope of their respective duties, periodically organize experts to evaluate the quality of approved degree-conferring entities and degree-conferring programs. Upon quality evaluation, those that cannot guarantee the quality of the degrees they confer are to be ordered to rectify within a prescribed period of time; where the circumstances are serious, the original approving units are to revoke the corresponding degree-conferring qualifications.

Where, in the case of a degree-conferring entity that independently carries out examinations of additional programs that confer master’s or doctoral degrees, the quality of graduate cultivation fails to meet the prescribed standards or has serious problems in the quality management of degrees, the State Council Degree Commission shall revoke its qualification to independently carry out examinations.

Article 35: A degree-conferring entity may, based on the needs of its disciplines and professions apply to its original approving unit for the revocation of corresponding degree-conferring programs.

Article 36: The State Council’s administrative department for education shall strengthen informatization, improve the system for managing degree information, and offer information services to the public according to law.

Article 37: Where a degree applicant or degree recipient has one of the following circumstances while studying for the degree, upon a resolution by the degree evaluation committee, the degree-conferring entity is to not confer the degree or revoke the degree:

(1) where the dissertation or practical result has been ascertained to involve academic misconduct, such as ghostwriting, plagiarism, or falsification;

(2) stealing or fraudulently using another’s identity to obtain the admission qualifications obtained by the latter, or using other unlawful means to obtain admission qualifications or certificates of graduation;

(3) engaging in other serious unlawful conduct while studying for the degree based on which the degree shall not be conferred according to law.

Article 38: Where degrees are conferred and diplomas issued in violation of the provisions of this Law, the administrative departments for education are to declare the diplomas invalid and handle in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Education Law of the People’s Republic of China.

Article 39:Where a degree-conferring entity plans to make a decision to not confer a degree or revoke a degree, it shall notify the degree applicant or degree recipient of the content of the proposed decision as well as the facts, reasons, and basis therefor, and hear the applicant’s or recipient’s statements or defenses.

Article 40: Where a degree-conferring entity plans to make a decision to not confer a degree or revoke a degree, it shall notify the degree applicant or degree recipient of the content of the proposed decision as well as the facts, reasons, and basis therefor, and hear the applicant’s or recipient’s statements or defenses. The degree-conferring entity shall re-organize experts to conduct a reexamination and make a reexamination decision within 30 days of accepting the application for an academic reexamination, and the reexamination decision is final. Degree-conferring entities are to formulate measures for academic re-examinations.

Article 41: Where degree applicants or degree recipients object to such acts as refusing to accept their degree applications, refusing to confer degrees on them, or revoking their degrees, they may apply to the degree-conferring entities for reexaminations, or request that the relevant organs handle in accordance with the provisions of law.

Where a degree applicant or a degree recipient applies for a reexamination, the degree-conferring entity shall conduct a reexamination and make a reexamination decision within 30 days of accepting the application for a reexamination.

Chapter VII: Supplementary Provisions

Article 42: The military is to establish a Degree Commission. The Military Degree Commission is responsible for managing the degrees-related work of military academies and scientific research institutions in accordance with this Law.

Article 43: Honorary doctoral degrees may be conferred on individuals who have made outstanding contributions in their academic or professional fields or to the promotion of scientific education or cultural exchanges and cooperation, or who have made major contributions to world peace or human development.

A degree-conferring entity that has obtained the qualification to confer doctoral degrees may, after deliberation and approval by its degree evaluation committee and reporting to the State Council Degree Commission for approval, confer honorary doctoral degrees on individuals who meet the requirements of the previous paragraph.

The specific measures on conferring and revoking honorary doctoral degrees are to be formulated by the State Council Degree Commission.

Article 44: A degree-conferring entity is to confer the corresponding degrees on non-mainland individuals who apply for degrees in accordance with the academic requirements, academic levels or professional levels, and other conditions as well as the relevant procedures prescribed by this Law.

Where a degree-conferring entity confers degrees outside mainland China, apply the relevant provisions of this Law.

Where a non-mainland educational institution confers degrees in mainland China, it shall follow the provisions of relevant Chinese laws and regulations.

The recognition of diplomas awarded by non-mainland educational institutions shall be strictly handled in accordance with the relevant provisions of the State.

Article 45: This Law takes effect on January 1, 2025. The Degrees Regulations of the People’s Republic of China are abolished at the same time.

 

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