Studying in Singapore is an all-in-one package that constitutes quality education, affordability, decent living standards, and most of all access to a vibrant cosmopolitan community. Singapore is popular among international students as a study destination for their higher education, and rightly so. The Asian country has some of the top universities in the world, including the National University of Singapore with an education system that is comparable to some of the best global institutions.

Interested in studying in Singapore and enjoying all these perks? Read along until the end of this article as we break down the individual steps to successfully apply to a reputed university in Singapore.

University Application Process at Singaporean Universities

Here’s a simple step-by-step breakdown of how to apply to a Singaporean university.

Step 1. Pick a University and a Program You Wish to Pursue

Picking a course you wish to study and a university to study at is the initial step you would have to take regardless of the country you are planning to study in. Assuming that you have, ideally, one program of study that you intend to follow, it would be a good idea to begin by shortlisting the universities available down to a few.

The criteria you use to shortlist the universities might depend entirely on your preferences. You might take into account factors like the university’s rankings, the location of the university, the language of instruction used, and tuition fees. It would be helpful if you could narrow down your picks between three to five at this stage.

Step 2. Explore University-Specific Requirements

A lot of insight into the application process can be gained through the admissions tab of universities, forums online, and from past pupils. Now is a good time to take a look at the deadlines and important dates for your application. This includes examination dates, application deadlines, and commencement of the semester.

It is advisable to submit your application ahead of time so you have enough time to apply for a student pass. These requirements could be better understood if you access the university’s relevant web pages. For instance, the Singapore Institute of Technology and the Singapore University of Technology and Design have detailed information about the admission requirements and deadlines on their respective websites.

Step 3. Prepare your Application

Once you are aware of each of the university’s requirements for your specific program, it’s time to make your list narrower. Begin by preparing all the educational certifications and transcripts, language proficiency test results, and other documents required by the university like a statement of purpose or recommendation letter.

Different universities might also have different ways to apply. While some universities might have online applications others might have a different approach. If you are submitting your application online, it’s best to submit it way ahead of the deadline. This is also the time that you brush up on your language skills and get your language tests done. These requirements might vary from program to program and there might be some exceptions.

Step 4. Send in your Application

When submitting the application you might be asked to attach academic qualification reports, certificates demonstrating your extra-curricular and co-curricular achievements, personal contact information, identification documents, and other legal documents. It can help to have soft copies of all these before you begin your application process.

Applications that are completed online might require the applicant to use the official website of the university and fill up a form. You will also need to attach the said documents in the prescribed file format at this stage. If it’s an offline application you will have to fill it in advance and courier it to the university.

Step 5. Pay the Application Fee

You will have to have the receipt handy after settling the application fee while you wait for a response from the university. Application fees differ from university to university but most of them generally range from SGD 10 to SGD 25.

Step 6. Look Out for Word Back from the University

Generally, you will be informed about the outcome of your application within a month of your application so you can prepare for the next steps of the admission process. However, if you don’t receive any response from the university, you can still check on them after about two months.

If you are accepted into the university, congratulations! The next step is to get the legalities of migrating sorted. This is when you apply for a student pass using the confirmation from your university. When your student pass is approved, it’s time to pack your bags!

General Admission Documents

1. Application Form

Unlike some countries that offer standardized application forms for applicants regardless of the university, universities in Singapore have their own application forms. Most government universities in Singapore might require international students to fill out a form online whereas private institutions are more prone to require students to fill out a physical application form.

You can also try your luck at scholarships and grants. Not only do they help ease the financial burden but also help students stand a better chance of being accepted by the university.

2. Academic Certificates and Transcripts

A student’s previous educational background plays a significant role in deciding the success of an application. In Singapore specifically, applicants are classified under six categories based on their previous academic qualifications: Students with NUS High School Diploma, International Baccalaureate Diploma, Polytechnic Diploma from Singapore, Singapore-Cambridge GCE A Levels, Singapore citizens, and applicants with other international qualifications.

You might also be required to submit results for standardized entrance tests like the SAT, ACT, GMAT, and other GRE scores.

3. Personal Identification and Travel Documents

At the time of application, students might be required to submit receipts confirming the payment of application fees, valid passport details, scanned copies of National Identification Documents, criminal records (if any), and other medical reports.

4. Statement of Purpose

Almost all universities expect a student to write a document stating their interests, motivation behind choosing to study in the country, future career goals, and other personal information. This document may be called a statement of purpose, motivation letter, or student essay and plays a significant role in deducing the student’s suitability for a program of study at a particular university.

5. Recommendation Letter

A recommendation letter is a letter referring a student to a program that is given out by an employer, a teacher, a coach, or a mentor. This letter is written in a way that highlights a student’s educational background, skills, and other personal qualities.

6. Language Proficiency Test Results

Depending on the chosen program’s language of instruction you might be required to meet language requirements to be placed in the university. While there are rare exceptions, generally, most programs that are taught in English accept TOEFL, IELTS, and the Cambridge English Test. Ensure you are aware of the validity of these documents. For example, some IELTS certificates are only valid for two years.

7. Detailed Plan of Finances

The meticulous process of determining if a university accepts a student has a lot to do with whether the student can meet the financial requirements. Living abroad might be a cost that you need to be able to bear in addition to the tuition fees and other academic expenses. Universities might require students to detail the source of funds and their sponsors when applying.

Optional Materials / Documents to Consider

1. International Baccalaureate

Having previous qualifications in the field of study you are applying for is definitely a plus, however, an International Baccalaureate is specifically better for an application. When applying to most undergraduate programs, good performance in the International Baccalaureate program is sure to ramp up the standards of your application.

2. Awards, Recognitions, or Significant Extracurricular Achievements

All elite universities are constantly on the lookout for outstanding talent. Be it public speaking or sports, if you are good at something, why not showcase it in your application? While extras like these are not a deciding factor for the success of an application, they can definitely help.

Key Facts for Applying to Singaporean Universities

1. Take Extra Care of Your Language Test Scores

While there are native speakers of languages like Malay, Tamil, and Singaporean Mandarin, most universities in the country primarily conduct their programs entirely in English. With the quality of education they provide, proper understanding and command of the English language are sought out in students. While there are exceptions and ways to work around the language requirement, a good score on English language proficiency tests is sure to help you in the long run.

2. Make It a Point to Apply to Multiple Universities

With the competition to study in a country like Singapore, it is challenging to make your application stand out. It is important to know that you might not immediately be accepted into the first university that you apply to unless you have a track record of excellent academics.

It is advisable to submit well-curated applications to a few universities of your choice for the program that you intend to follow. In addition to good scores, ramp up the quality of your application with an excellent student essay, a strong letter of recommendation, and if available, a scholarship.

3. Begin Preparing for the Application in Advance

Competitiveness to get into the university means a sizable annual inflow of applications to universities in Singapore. There’s nothing as being too prepared, so it’s advisable that you begin preparing your documents, academics, and finances way ahead of filling out your application. A good few months of curation before beginning your application is sure to demonstrate the hard work you put in to stand out as an applicant.

FAQs: University Applications in Singapore

Can International Students Apply to a University in Singapore?

Yes, and not only do Singaporean universities accept international students, but, international students are a significant part of the country’s economy, which is why the country is open to bringing in talented and deserving individuals. The education system in the country reflects a bilingual approach, with English being the primary language of instruction across most university programs.

Today’s Singaporean community is diverse; a mix of cultures from elsewhere in the world, vouching for the country’s hospitality towards expatriates. Indigenous Singaporeans make up only a minority within the country, with most of the population made up of generations of immigrants. The living conditions in Singapore, especially in the city of Singapore, are known for their comfort. The country is one of the safest places to live, and for sure, a great environment for international students to pursue their higher education in.

What are the Entry Requirements to Study in Singapore?

Applying to a university in Singapore is a fairly simple and straightforward process. Before you concern yourself about applying for a student visa or a pass, you need to secure a seat at a university of your choice for a higher education program that you like. Suppose you are planning to apply for a bachelor’s degree in Singapore, you need to have a recognized high school diploma with decent scores, proficiency in the English language, a sponsor or source of funds to support you financially, and other subject-related requirements demanded by the university. Generally, entry requirements are outlined on official university web pages like National University of Singapore and the admission requirements of the Singapore University of Technology and Design.

Once you’ve received the acceptance letter from the university within a few weeks, it’s time to grapple with the legalities of moving to a foreign country. To apply for a student pass in Singapore you will need a valid passport, recent photographs, duly filled-out application form, standard admission test scores (based on the university), proof of English language proficiency (for non-native English speakers), a motivation letter, and a recommendation letter.

 

The thousands of international students currently studying in Singapore are also the ones who went through these meticulous admission processes. It can be daunting when starting out applying for a university abroad. We hope that applying to a university will be a little less challenging if you stick to the tips that are given in this comprehensive guide to applying for a university in Singapore.

 

Hopefully, this article will guide you in your application process in Singapore. Learn more about studying abroad by checking our Study in Singapore and Open Courses sections!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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