Can I teach English in China without a degree?

Short answer, no. Long answer, yes.

I’m a native English speaker, but I have only TEFL, can I teach in China? I have a friend who is already working in China for 5 years, can I do the same?

We at believe it is important to know all the ins and outs of teaching English in China legally. And so we’ve crafted this piece explaining what you’ll need to secure a legal Chinese work visa in the teaching category. We hope this information will save you time!

Do you need a bachelor's degree to teach English in China?

In order to get a Chinese legal work visa in the teaching category, you must have an undergraduate degree from a Native English-speaking country.

Keep in mind, if you haven’t got a degree and are eager to teach in China, you will still easily find predatory agencies who’ll offer full-time positions on a tourist or business visa. Mainly because they are driven by commissions. Unfortunately, this will expose you to being fined and deported.

We understand how dire the consequences of being fined and deported are — and that is why we feel it’s necessary to make you aware of it before you take further action.

Can you work in China without a bachelor's degree?

Yes, you can, this rule only applies if you are looking for a teaching position. There are other jobs in China, that are available for candidates without a degree.

Can I teach English with just a TEFL?

If you don't possess other qualifications, like Bachelor's or Master's degree, you won't be able to teach English in China on a work visa.

Can you teach in China with a diploma?

Most of the time, you won't be able to teach in China with a diploma, as it is not considered equivalent to a bachelor's degree.

Can I teach English in China with a criminal record?

Unfortunately not, a clean criminal record is one of the main requirements to teach English in China, along with a Bachelor's degree and TEFL certificate (or teaching experience) requirements.

What documents do I need to teach in China?

  • Valid passport from a Native English speaking country, if you are going to teach English
  • Bachelor's degree in any field
  • Police Clearance report - clean criminal background
  • TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate or 2 years of full-time teaching experience

If you meet these requirements, then you are legally qualified to teach in China. Read about the necessary steps to obtain a legal Chinese work visa (Z-visa).

We hope this information has been valuable and insightful to you. That is one of our goals at — to bring transparency to the international teaching market by letting you browse jobs from trusted schools and specifying all conditions upfront, including degree requirements and types of visas issued by the employer.

To find more information about teaching English in China for Non-Native English Speakers — please check out this article