Student Experience

Living in Kunshan

The Yangtze River Delta Region is one of China’s most developed regions, and the city of Kunshan lies right in its heart. To its east, there’s Shanghai, a large international metropolis. To its west, there’s Suzhou, one of the country’s most renowned cultural and historic cities. This enviable location lets Kunshan provide its residents with geographic convenience, a well-developed infrastructure, and a unique living experience that combines culture and modernity. While studying here, you’ll experience firsthand how cities transform—Kunshan has grown from a small, ancient Chinese town to a manufacturing hub. And its growth hasn’t ended yet. Kunshan is ambitiously reemerging as a global high-tech center.

Kunshan occupies an area of 931 square kilometers (359 square miles), a quarter of which is covered by lakes and rivers. This superior combination of nature and urban living has made it home to a number of world famous Chinese water towns, such as Zhouzhuang. These water towns have drawn people from all over the world who have come to live and work in Kunshan.

Another advantage of Kunshan’s rapid social and economic development is that it’s spurred the growth of various recreational, dining, and lifestyle offerings. These benefit longtime residents and newcomers alike. Residents have equal access to the best urban infrastructure and amenities, including large shopping malls, state-of-the-art cultural and sports facilities, open cultural and nature parks, and public transportation.

Over the past decade, Kunshan’s rapid economic growth and its advanced level of development has landed it numerous awards:

  • Ranked # 1 on the governmental “Top 100 Best Developed County-level Economies in China” list since 2005
  • Ranked #1 on Forbes China’s list of Chinese Mainland’s Best County-level Cities since 2010
  • Winner of UN-Habitat Scroll of Honor Award in 2010

With an average GDP per capita of 29,957 USD in 2015, Kunshan is considered the richest county-level city in China. Kunshan is home to more than 6,000 foreign-funded projects from 65 countries and regions around the world. After decades of development, a complete industrial chain has formed. It includes software, integrated circuitry, flat-panel displays, computer and network equipment, and communication technology. This sizable foreign capital inducement has drawn a large amount of immigrants, increasing the city’s regional demand for goods. In turn, this has been a driving force behind the local development of retail, food and beverage, and service industries.

Kunshan’s economic development is experiencing an upward trend in the value chain. In 2010, the Kunshan New and High-Tech Industrial Development Zone was promoted as a national high-tech zone. Since then, it has attracted an influx of high-tech enterprises and emerging industries, including digital equipment and biopharmaceutical industries, such as robot and siRNA manufacturing.

Kunshan is considered a successful model of China’s social and economic development, and for good reason. It provides you a glimpse into the vibrant changes that are happening right now in China.

While Kunshan has experienced tremendous economic growth, city residents also enjoy and preserve its rich cultural and historical resources. Kunqu Opera, one of the oldest forms of Chinese opera, originated in Kunshan and is now listed by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Zhouzhuang, Jinxi, and Qiandeng, three of Kunshans ancient water towns, are among China’s nominations for inclusion in UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

Rapid advances in rail traffic has brought Kunshan’s people much closer to surrounding areas: the high-speed train reaches Shanghai and Suzhou within 20 minutes, and Shanghai’s No.11 subway has already extended to Kunshan’s Huaqiao area. Take a high-speed train, and you can get to Nanjing in 1.5 hours, or the capital city of Beijing in 5 hours.

The Duke Kunshan campus is about a 20-30 minute drive from the Kunshan South Railway Station, which is also accessible via many public buses and the free Duke Kunshan campus shuttle bus. In addition, the city’s convenient bike rental system gives you quick and easy access to bicycles located throughout the city.

Kunshan is about a 2-hour drive away from Shanghai Pudong International Airport and a 1-hour drive away from Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport.

Campus Life at Duke Kunshan University

The Duke Kunshan University campus blends traditional Chinese elements with advanced educational technology in a spacious, modern setting. Extensive aquatic elements throughout the campus, including an aquatic quadrangle at the center of campus, symbolize the region’s famous ancient water towns.

The campus has an academic center, a conference center, housing for students and faculty members, and an outdoor recreation space adjacent to the residence hall. There’s a variety of options available to you: on campus, you can go to the gym, a football pitch, or an outdoor basketball court; off campus at the Kunshan Sports Center, there’re recreational facilities for swimming, bowling, squash, badminton, tennis, and basketball. Scheduled shuttle transportation is offered for students to key travel hubs, as well as to local recreation, shopping, and support venues.

Multi-purpose meeting spaces and breakout rooms, study areas, and a dedicated library allow students to work individually or in groups. You’ll have full access to Duke University’s virtual resources through leading information technology. This same technology lets you connect with colleagues and classmates around the world. Bi-lingual (Chinese and English) professional staff members are available to assist students with personal and academic issues, and to enhance their abilities to learn.

Housing in Kunshan

MMS students of Class of 2023 will stay on campus at the Student Residence Hall (SRH), or the new graduate building that is part of Phase II construction and expected to be ready in the fall of 2022.  The Student Residence Hall is a suite-style accommodation that is Silver LEED certified. The entrance to all suites is on the 2nd floor and is into the suite’s living room. All suites have 2 bathrooms and 4 students living in them on the 1st or 3rd floor, accessible by in-suite stairs. Some suites have four single bedrooms while others have two single bedrooms and one double bedroom. The new graduate building will accommodate 100 total students.  There are 25 apartments that each have 4 single bedrooms within.  Each apartment will have a kitchen, 2 toilets, and come furnished.  

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