The motto of Xiamen University is: Pursue Excellence; Strive for Perfection.

The phrase "Pursue Excellence" can be traced back to the Book of Changes in which there is a sentence that goes "As the movement of the heavens is forever dynamic, so the superior man pursues excellence all his life."

The phrase "Strive for Perfection" is taken from the chapter of Great Learning in the Book of Rites in which great learning is defined as "the ability to explain and exemplify virtues, to show love and concern for people, and to strive for perfection."