The basics
Malaysia: Student Finances

3 Scholarships in Malaysia to start you off...

Our overview of three key scholarships for international students in Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur streets

Whilst tuition fees and living costs are comparatively low in Malaysia, as an international student you will still need to pay for your education and be able to support yourself. Between visa costs, rent, airfares and inescapable start-up costs, footing the bill with tuition fees might seem a bit of a nightmare.  Not to worry: Malaysian institutions are well-connected internationally, and often have many funding options available to foreign students. As well as from your host, scholarships are granted from both the Malaysian government and many external companies and funding bodies. Let our overview of three key scholarship options for international students help get you on your way to studying abroad in Malaysia.

If you aren’t eligible for any of the scholarships listed, don’t worry: we’ve included plenty of links and tips to point you in the right direction to find the funding option for you.

Funding bodies

Ministry of Education (MOE)

The MOE is the Malaysian national body of education, and offers three scholarships for international students in Malaysia: the Malaysian International Scholarship, Malaysian Technical Cooperation Programme and Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan.

Host University

Most Malaysian institutions offer a range of scholarship, grant and funding programmes to students exclusively enrolled in one of their study programmes. These scholarships will always be retrievable on your host’s website, where you’ll be able to find details of the application process and how much each award is worth.  Generally speaking, you will be more likely to find a funding programme for your Bachelors studies through your host institution than externally.

For example, the University of Nottingham, Malaysia has an entire online section that details scholarships awarded at all study levels, including a list of external funding sources for you to chase up if you need to.

External Funding

You may also have the chance to apply directly to an external company or funding body for a grant or scholarship. Many company-sponsored schemes require students to sign a ‘Bond Agreement,’ in which they are obliged to work for the company for a set amount of time after the completion of their studies. This is called a ‘Bond Period’.

If you break your bond agreement then you will be required to pay back the ‘Liquidated Damages’ incurred. This means that you will need to pay the funding body an amount of compensation based on how much you will have cost them by breaking the agreement, taking into account the amount you would hypothetically have made whilst working for them.

You can search for externally-granted funding programmes through scholarships search engines such as Scholars4Dev or Scholarship-Positions, or pursue them directly through a company’s website.

You can also search for a scholarship directly on our site via the scholarships page.


The Malaysian Technical Cooperation Programme (MTCP) and Malaysia International Scholarship (MIS)

Available to Masters and Doctorate students of high academic standing, both MIS and MTCP awards operate on a government-to-government basis and do NOT require students to complete a bond agreement after completion of their studies. The application process and selection criterion for both awards are the same.

Selection is competitive and primarily based on academic merit, study field, and English language proficiency test scores. Prospective Masters students will need to hold a Bachelor Degree with a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA or GPA) of 3.5/4.0, and PhD applicants will need to have scored within the same range at Masters level. PhD students will also need to present their previously published academic work, including books, journal articles and portfolios as part of their application.

Applicants at both levels will need either an IELTS score of at least 6.4, or a TOEFL score of 580 for the paper-based test, 230 for the computer-based test or 92 for the internet-based test. You will also need to submit a research proposal that outlines how your studies will work towards technological advancement, and how this will improve societal well-being.

Students within the following study fields are eligible:


Remuneration for each award is generous, covering your air ticket to Malaysia, complete tuition fees, a monthly living costs allowance, a thesis allowance (if applicable), an annual grant for books and travel, visa costs, and any medical/ health insurance costs. PhD students will receive funding for 36 months, whilst Masters students are eligible for 12-24 months of funding.

You will need to apply online for these awards through the Malaysian MOE website during application dates. Exact dates are subject to change on a year-to-year basis, but for example, in 2014 students had from January 1- March 31 to submit their application. Before you apply, you will need to scan a number of supporting documents and convert them into PDF format. You will need to attach these files to your online application.

Click here to calculate your CGPA

Click here for a full list of required supporting documents

Maybank Scholarship Programme

Maybank, a major banking group in South East Asia and Malaysia’s largest financial services group has to date sponsored over 1,000 students via its scholarship programme.

Depending on your study level, there are two types of funding programmes available: category one and category two. Students completing Foundation or bridging Pre-Degree courses are eligible for category one funding, whilst category two offers financial assistance to students enrolled in Foundation or Undergraduate studies at any Malaysian institution. Both programmes offer access to a number of career preparation and training resources such as workshops and advice, as well as opportunities to complete internships and external business assignments.

Students with a category one award are required to complete a Bond Agreement of 3-5 years. There is no bond agreement for category two students.

Students in the study fields of Accounting, Finance, Management, Marketing, IT, Economics, Banking, Actuarial, Mathematics, Human Resources, Psychology, Business, Law, Statistics, Investment, Risk Management and Engineering may apply for category one funding. There is no restriction on study field for category two funding.

Both awards cover full tuition fees, laptop costs, and accommodation and living costs. There are separate financial requirements to be considered for either programme that you can check on the Maybank scholarship webpage.

Students in both categories may either apply online, or download the application form and post their application to the address of the relevant Maybank office during application times, as listed on the website. The 2014 deadline was March 31.

High Achiever Award

Some Malaysian institutions, such as Monash University Malaysia, the University of Nottingham, Taylor’s University and International Medical University, Malaysia, offer high-achievement students a yearly grant to partially cover tuition fees and living costs. Application requirements, the exact amounts awarded and the nature of programmes eligible for funding vary across institutions, and should be confirmed directly through their website.

For example, Undergraduate students at Monash University Malaysia are automatically awarded funding if they have achieved above a certain level in their high school qualification. Once accepted, you will need to fill out a Scholarship Acknowledgement form and maintain the conditions of the award. You can find out the international equivalent of your high school qualification and see a full list of eligible programmes here.

High-achieving Diploma and Foundation students across a selected range of disciplines may likewise be considered for a High Achiever Scholarship, with amounts awarded increasing depending on how high your high school result is. For example, students with the equivalent of 9A’s and above in a Malaysian SPM Certificate (the Malaysian high school qualification) will receive a full tuition waiver, whereas students with 5 grades from A+ to A- will receive RM2,000(US$).

Students should apply directly to their university and carefully check the exact nature of both the application AND acceptance process: after being awarded funding, you may still need to sign an additional declaration or agreement by a certain date, or else risk forfeiting the funding.

Click here to find out the equivalent of a SPM certificate


Now that you’ve got a good idea of the funding options available, why not browse courses in Malaysia and start planning your study abroad adventure?

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About Author

Kuala Lumpur streets

Monica Karpinski received her BA (Media and Communications) and Diploma in Modern Languages (French) from the University of Melbourne, Australia. An art and culture aficionado, in her spare time Monica enjoys film, reading and writing about art.


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