Peking University is looking to recruit 100 postgraduate students for its new Yenching Academy, launching next year.
The students will earn a master's in Chinese studies through the one-year programme.
The academy will recruit 65 overseas students, including those from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.
The remaining 35 will come from the Chinese mainland, said Liu Wei, vice-president of Peking University and president of Yenching Academy.
Jiang Guohua, director of the executive office of Yenching Academy, said it is looking forward to recruiting students by working with international first-tier universities. The academy has not yet set up any form of cooperation with other Chinese universities, Jiang said.
"We will have recruitment details published on the academy's website soon," he said. "We may hold long-distance interviews for overseas students, such as through Skype."
He said the academy aims to recruit students with outstanding undergraduate academic performances and participation in social activities.
Peking University will provide Yenching Academy graduate students with full scholarships.
The new master's programme will offer compulsory courses in Chinese studies and optional courses in fields such as history, archaeology, business, management, public policy and international relations.
"The courses are aimed at helping students get an overall knowledge and understanding of China," Jiang said.
"For those studying in China with a particular major, it's not easy for them to grasp an overall picture of the country."
Most of the courses will be taught in English, Jiang said, and the ability to speak Mandarin will not be a strict requirement for admission.
"We hope students who graduate from Yenching will be able to work in different areas of society as they will possess good knowledge of China," Jiang said.
Ged Scheuber, a 28-year-old from Cambridge, England, who has been living in China for three years, said the one-year programme is appealing.
The manager of a private language school, Scheuber said people who understand China are in high demand.
"Peking University is also very well-known outside China," he said.
Some questioned the effectiveness of the courses being taught in English.
Yamaguchi Akio, who is from Japan and is a junior studying at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, said he has doubts about how well the students will understand China if most of the courses are delivered in English.
"If you want to understand China well, you have to know the language first," he said in fluent Chinese.
"Plus, it sounds to me that the courses cover a bit of everything about China. Personally, I prefer to study one particular area about the country."