I notice that in the recent evaluation of first-rate universities and disciplines in China, no colleges of vocational education are granted the honor. But I learn from other sources that such colleges are the integral part of higher education of this country, which have outnumbered the traditional colleges that offer four-year long undergraduate education.

They say such colleges were changed from the former secondary schools of vocation, so that they are simply 大专, not 本科. But I understand that all colleges are known in Chinese as 大专院校, so what is the difference?

  • bkrs:大专 three-year college junior college professional training college 1) 大钧。指天,大自然。 2) 指大学与高等专科院校。如:大专院校。 3) 特指高等专科学校。如:大专毕业. 大专院校 [institution of higher education] 高等院校的简称。 专指专科学校 universities and colleges; institutions of higher education
    – user6065
    Sep 24, 2017 at 2:48
  • You might get a moot point here. The term 大专院校 is on the fence. It could be either 专科 or all kinds of colleges including 专科 and 本科,IMO.
    – dan
    Sep 24, 2017 at 2:49
  • I think most of time 大专院校 refers to 专科, but it relies on the context to determine.
    – dan
    Sep 24, 2017 at 2:56
  • The New Century Chinese-English Dictionary: junior college for professional/vocational training Sep 30, 2017 at 7:17

3 Answers 3


Your understanding of "大专院校" is probably right.

But "大专" used alone is different from "大专院校". It is probably the short form of "大学专科", and is a kind of education after secondary schools but has shorter terms (usually 2~3 years) and does not provide a bachelor's degree. On the contrary, "大本", or "大学本科" usually takes 4~5 years and will provide a bachelor's degree.

  • What is the official name for that in English given by education authorities in China, do you know? Like sometimes you have to tell or show other colleges or employers in other countries such an education experience? Sep 24, 2017 at 3:41
  • See the comment 1: "大专 three-year college; junior college; professional training college " I put couple of ';' from the copied text.
    – dan
    Sep 24, 2017 at 3:52
  • I found a lot of posts asking the official English translation but didn't find a definitive answer.
    – fefe
    Sep 24, 2017 at 4:22

Most direct translation:

大专学位 99% equals to "Associate Degree"

Drop the mic.

The College(A school, not "those colleges(schools) under a university) in China, is totally different from College you heard in USA. And why? That's another good question that out of the scope of your question.


I think the closest match in English would be a diploma vs a degree. The courses that finish with a diploma instead of a degree are 专科 and the schools that can only issue diplomas but not degrees are 专科院校

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