Singapore is home to world-class universities and a diverse student body, making it an inspiring learning environment for all levels of study
Located in the heart of southeast Asia, Singapore has plenty to offer international students.
With its diverse population of Chinese, Malay, Indian, and expatriate citizens, it offers a unique blend of cultures, languages, and religions. While densely populated, the city is known for its cleanliness and safety.
Studying in Singapore offers a fast-paced, big-city lifestyle, with a tropical climate and many activities to keep students occupied in their spare time.
Visitors to Singapore can marvel at the tallest indoor waterfall in the world at Jewel Changi Airport or embark on a nocturnal adventure at the Night Safari, the world's first night zoo. The city also boasts a vibrant arts scene, perfect for creative individuals.
With its superb transport links, Singapore is also a great base for exploring the rest of Southeast Asia.
Singapore's higher education landscape is varied and well-respected for a small country - it is a world leader in research and innovation, adding to its appeal as a destination for foreign students.
The country houses several public and private universities, as well as polytechnics, art schools and foreign institutions.
It has six national universities (five public and one private). These are:
- Nanyang Technological University (NTU)
- National University of Singapore (NUS)
- Singapore Institute of Management (SIM)
- Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT)
- Singapore Management University (SMU)
- Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD).
The NUS (the oldest higher education institution in the country) and NTU are the largest and most high profile, placing 9th and 26th respectively in the QS World University Rankings 2024.
Many world-leading foreign institutions also have campuses in the country, for example:
- INSEAD (France)
- James Cook University Singapore (Australia)
- Newcastle University Singapore (UK)
- Yale NUS College (USA)
- University of Nevada Las Vegas Singapore (USA).
The academic year in Singapore is usually split into two semesters. Semester one runs from August to December, while semester two runs from January to May.
Degree courses in Singapore
National institutions offer Bachelors courses, which typically take three to four years to complete. Popular subjects include business, creative arts, engineering, law, and medicine. Entry requirements vary, but you'll typically need a high school diploma to be admitted to an undergraduate course.
There are also options to study certificates and diplomas.
Postgraduate study in Singapore, often referred to as graduate study, is available as either coursework or research.
Masters by coursework are typically taught as a series of lectures, seminars, and group work, and are completed with the submission of a dissertation. Full-time study usually lasts one to two years, with intakes in August and, for some courses, January. Part-time study is also possible, but the duration of courses varies depending on the institution and curriculum. MBA programs can take 12 to 18 months to complete full time.
Postgraduate entry requirements include a good undergraduate degree in a relevant subject, proficiency in English (as the majority of Masters courses are taught in the language), and evidence of financial support. Certain programs may also require work experience. Please check with your institution, as requirements vary.
A Masters degree from a Singaporean university should be recognised by UK employers.
Singapore's top universities, such as the NUS and NTU, are research-led and offer an ideal environment for PhD study. Applicants typically need a Masters degree in a related subject, proficiency in English, and strong research skills to be successful. Some programs may also require entrance exams and/or research proposals.
There are also research institutes in Singapore that offer opportunities for PhD study in collaboration with local universities. Applications for these programs are typically made through the relevant faculty.
PhD study in Singapore generally lasts two to five years full time with a qualifying exam after year one before starting the thesis.
Singapore is one of the most expensive places in the world, and the cost of living and tuition fees reflect the high quality of education. However, compared to other top-ranked universities around the world, tuition fees in Singapore are relatively reasonable. The cost of tuition varies widely depending on the level of study, subject, and institution.
At the NUS, undergraduate fees for international students range from S$30,331 to S$64,650 (approximately £18,165 to £38,718), while postgraduate fees range from S$22,000 to S$46,000 (approximately £13,175 to £27,549), with science, engineering, and medical programs typically falling at the higher end of this scale.
Fees will typically be divided into separate sections, with tuition as the main expense - but other costs may include application, matriculation, amenities, computer and exam fees.
Funding to study in Singapore
Singapore makes regular appearances on lists of the most expensive cities in the world so it's worth seeking out additional sources of cash to help with your finances. Over half of international students receive financial aid when studying in Singapore.
Check with your university to see what financial help they offer - it's also worth researching what government support is available in the form of scholarships and bursaries.
Funding may be available depending on your country of origin. For example, students from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations member countries can apply for ASEAN scholarships.
International students on many degree programmes (who have not been awarded a scholarship) are eligible to pay significantly reduced tuition fees. However, if you accept this offer, you'll have to agree with the MOE to work in the country for at least three years after your course ends.
Alternatively, repayable tuition fee loans are available to postgraduates who are not on a scholarship. These are worth up to 90% of the fees payable by Singaporean citizens for the same course.
You can work up to 16 hours a week part time while studying and full time during holidays, which can help offset some costs, but remember to get approval from your university first.
When your university accepts your application, it will issue an in-principle approval (IPA) letter. Your entry visa is included in this document.
Within two weeks of receiving your IPA letter, you need to apply for a Student's Pass, issued by the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA). The pass covers the duration of your course, and you'll need to apply for one at least one month - but not more than two months, before your course starts.
On arrival in Singapore, you'll have to produce various documents, including your passport, disembarkation/embarkation card and a medical report, at a pre-booked appointment with the ICA.
You don't need a Student's Pass if you already hold a Dependant's Pass or an Immigration Exemption Order.
Find out more at ICA.
How to apply
Most applications for Masters programmes are made online through the university website. You may have to send supporting documents, such as exam transcripts and a copy of your passport and pay an application fee.
Check with the university, as some courses have different application processes. For example, there may be different deadlines depending on your home country, previous qualifications, or for the January and August intakes.
For international students, admission to Singaporean universities is increasingly competitive as the government is capping the number of foreign students.
Singapore has four official languages English, Malay, Tamil, and Mandarin. Most Singaporeans are multilingual. Your course will be taught in English, as it's the official language of business and education.
Be aware that universities in Singapore set high standards for proficiency in English, so if you're a non-native speaker you'll need a good score on a test such as the IELTS (International English Language Testing System).
Comparison to UK qualifications
Degrees in the country follow a similar structure to those in the UK, so most employers will accept them.
However, to be certain that your Singaporean qualification will be recognised in your home country, check with your higher education institution.
Find out more
- Discover what it's like to work in Singapore.