Malaysia is known to have one of the most thriving higher educational reputations in Southeast Asia. Like other leading universities in the region, Malaysian universities are ranked one of the best in the world. These institutions have broad strategic partnerships with top-ranking universities in Australia, the United States, United Kindom, and other Asian countries. Moreover, the country offers a diverse, multicultural community, which will boost the student life experiences of international students. On top of that, studying in Malaysia is generally more affordable than in other countries, which offer the same quality of education and interdisciplinary research.

In this guide, we walk you through some of the best English-taught universities in Malaysia.

Top Universities for English-taught Programs in Malaysia

1. University of Malaya

The University of Malaya (UM), unofficially known as Malayan University, is a top-ranking public research university in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Its roots trace back to 1905 when its predecessor, King Edward VII College of Medicine, was established. In 1949, the medical college was merged with Raffles College, forming what is now known as Malaysia’s first university- the University of Malaya. The vision of creating a higher institution that will provide excellent educational services to produce a generation of skilled and educated individuals that will shape the nation’s future led to the establishment of the said university. However, in 1960 the institution rapidly grew, resulting in the division of the institution into two autonomous national universities- one in Singapore and the other in Kuala Lumpur.

UM is considered to be among the best English-taught universities in Malaysia. It serves as the country’s most prestigious and premier higher education institution receiving the highest ranking in two prestigious global academic league rankings. The 2022 QS World University Rankings place UM 65th in the world, 3rd in Southeast Asia, and 8th in Asia. Being considered Malaysia’s number one university, it has the highest international outlook of any other Malaysian university. Though UM’s primary language of instruction is Malaysian, it offers several degree programs in various languages. Its Department of English provides English-taught degree programs at undergraduate and graduate levels of studies.

2. Universiti Putra Malaysia

The Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) is one of the top English-taught universities in Malaysia. It is dubbed the second top-ranking university in the country, initially established with the main focus on agriculture. The institution is known for offering the broadest range of research and academic programs in engineering, medicine, veterinary medicine, business, languages, and social sciences. Although UPM was founded in 1971, its roots trace back to 1931. It grew rapidly over the years while maintaining its specialization in agriculture and becoming a prominent science and technology university in Malaysia.

UPM has an outstanding global reputation with partner universities in different countries worldwide, which opened its doors for student mobility and staff exchange programs, research and project collaborations, and technology transfer. It welcomes over 4,000 international students every year, creating a very diverse and international learning community. Moreover, the university not only focuses on providing a high-quality education but ensures that students receive the most of their university life throughout their study term. UPM allows many student societies and clubs, encouraging everyone to join many fun cultural and arts activities. The institution is well-known for awarding Ph.D. degrees in conjunction with two very prestigious UK universities- the Universities of Sheffield and Nottingham.

Although UPM teaches mainly in Malaysia, its Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication offers a range of programs in English.

3. Universiti Sains Malaysia

The Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) is a top-ranked research-intensive university in Malaysia. Its name technically means the Science University of Malaysia. The university is the second oldest university in the country. It is the first Malaysian academic institution to be granted by the government to participate in the Accelerated Programme for Excellence (APEX) to achieve world-class status. USM is one of the largest universities in Malaysia by enrollment and has an international population of over 3,000 students.

The university offers a broad range of disciplines in natural sciences, applied sciences, medical and health sciences, pharmaceutical sciences, building sciences & technology, social sciences, humanities, and education.

USM offers a range of English language courses, and most of its undergraduate courses in sciences (except for humanities and social sciences) are taught in English. Some postgraduate courses are also taught in English.

4. University of Nottingham, Malaysia

Another one of the best English-taught universities in Malaysia is the University of Nottingham Malaysia, an overseas branch campus of the UK’s prestigious University of Nottingham. It’s known as one of the top-ranking academic institutions in the country, with recognition from the Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education as a tier 5, “excellent” private university. The institution was established in 2000 and was awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in 2001 and the Queen’s Award for Industry (International Trade) in 2006 for its recognition as the first campus of a British university in Malaysia and outside the UK.

The branch campus in Malaysia offers the best British quality of education in an Asian setting. It follows identical standards of research and teaching to the main university in the UK. In addition, the institution was awarded a 5-star rating for its comprehensive education and research performance by the Malaysia Research Assessment (MyRA) in 2015. Onwards, the university became known as the topmost-rated international university in the country. All courses at the University of Nottingham Malaysia are taught in English.

5. Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia

The Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), also known as the National University of Malaysia, is one of Malaysia’s most research-intensive public universities. It offers a wide range of degree programs that meet international standards. It also continuously introduces new courses to ensure that it provides an education that caters to the needs and meets the industry’s demand. UKM is a significant player in the country’s economic development with its groundbreaking research in various disciplines, including engineering, architecture, and food science. Moreover, the institution has many collaborative projects and commercialized partnerships with other prestigious universities overseas, contributing to its global reputation.

UKM offers a very diverse and international learning environment. It provides a range of English-taught degree programs for international students in various subjects at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.


We hope you found this article on the best English-taught universities in Malaysia informative and helpful. Visit the Asia Scholarships Page to find out more about universities and scholarships in Asia!

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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