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The basics
Singapore: Applying to University - Must read

Applying to study in Singapore

Our breakdown of the application process to study abroad in Singapore

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Consistently scoring well on global charts for academic excellence and innovation, Singapore is a keenly sought-out destination for international students. Ranking amongst the world’s top ten leaders in subject areas such as law, computer science, mechanical engineering, accounting and finance, studying abroad in one of Singapore’s universities is an invaluable academic experience. But before you even think about booking your flight, it’s important you understand the application process to study abroad in Singapore. Let our breakdown of how it works help get you started.


There’s no such thing as being too prepared. It’s never too early to begin researching potential institutions to host your study abroad experience, and as it can take a considerable amount of time to get approval from relevant bodies students are advised to begin the process at least an academic year before their proposed commencement date. Singapore’s educational sector is highly international so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find the resources you need to find correct credit equivalents and programme options.

Singapore has a high proportion of international students that have gone through the same applications process that you will. As well as sourcing university prospectuses, students are advised to look up student reviews, video testimonies and forums for insider tips and advice on what to expect. For example, online discussions regarding course choices and content may prove helpful.

Intake and Deadlines

The admissions process is handled directly by individual institutions in Singapore, and so varies considerably depending on the requirements of your host. Very broadly however, there are three major intake periods in Singapore: February/March, July/August, and October/November. The academic year in Singapore begins in August and runs through until about May.

The main intake period for government-funded universities is around August, with some having a mid-year intake in February. Polytechnics typically have their main intakes in April and September, whilst private institutions have multiple intake dates depending on the programme. On average, an application should take between two-four weeks to process.

Some universities have different application deadlines depending on specific criteria. For example, application deadlines for undergraduate study at the Nanyang Technological University are different for students holding an International Baccalaureate (IB). All institutions have an admissions office that will be able to provide you with the exact requirements of your application.

Entry requirements

Entry into tertiary programmes however is first and foremost academically weighted, and relies on the recognition of your academic qualifications to date. As courses are taught in English, students will be required to prove their English language proficiency, via an IELTS, TOEFL or PTE test score. IELTs students should note that their exam score is valid only for three years after the sitting date, and should double check theirs will still be valid at the date of application.

Students are also often required to submit work experience letters and proof of identification documents such as a photocopy of a passport photo page or local drivers licence. It is also common for students to have to submit letters of recommendation from previous professors or superiors. At some universities, such as the National University of Singapore, candidates are not permitted to be students at another institute at the time of application, whilst some universities have different requirements depending on your country of origin. Specific sanctions should always be pursued, double checked and confirmed with admissions offices of host universities.

Those applying at a postgraduate level will also need to have completed a Bachelors Degree in a relevant field, and will often need to submit a research proposal if applying for a research-based programme. Students applying to programmes in Medicine or Law may also be required to sit additional graduate aptitude tests.

Once receiving your university offer, you should apply for a Singapore student’s pass.

Learn more about Singapore immigration requirements


International students can apply directly to a university online through their website (you can click through to their site from their profile here on Hotcourses Abroad). You can also apply through our free i-Apply service.

Application tips

Admission into Singapore universities is highly competitive, and students are advised to put as much time into their application as possible. Academic culture in Singapore takes a general, holistic approach to education, with recent national shifts away from the importance of grades as indicative of a student’s progress. Students are advised to emphasise their understanding of the breadth of their proposed subject area: what ‘real-world’ skills do you hope to foster through your studies? And, more importantly, how can studying at your particular host institution help you do that?

Admission officers go through hundreds of applications per semester, and so any kind of work experience or lateral skills you might have to demonstrate your breadth of character should be mentioned in some way to make your application stand out.

Academic achievements are the most highly regarded component of your application, so students preparing to sit additional tests as part of the process should invest as much time and effort as possible into obtaining a good score. Having said that, a poorly written personal statement or lukewarm letter of recommendation can let you down too: students should ensure that all elements of their application sufficiently reflect their enthusiasm.


Now that you’ve got more of a grasp on the application process to study abroad in Singapore, why not start browsing courses in Singapore now?


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