Over the last few decades, Saudi Arabia has been making tremendous effort to attract overseas students to enroll in their programs, and the increasing number of international students in the country prove the effectiveness of this vision. According to OECD statistics, there are over 73,000 international students enrolled in a study program at the tertiary level. 

What makes Saudi Arabia attractive to international students? First, Saudi Arabian universities offer more and more English-taught programs with experienced faculty staff from all parts of the world. Second, completing a degree in Saudi Arabia comes with great work opportunities after graduation, especially in fields such as computer science, medicine, hospitality, and education. Read more to discover the top 5 English-taught universities in Saudi Arabia. 

Which City in Saudi Arabia is Best to Study English-Taught Programs?

Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, is usually the favorite city for international students due to its multicultural population, dynamic lifestyle, high rates of accessibility, and, most importantly, top-quality universities offering numerous English-taught programs for every degree. King Saud University in Riyadh is one of the most renowned universities for international students in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia is definitely the most significant country in the Arabian Gulf for its strong economy and critical role in Islam, one of the world’s most common religions, with over 1.8 billion followers. Saudi Arabia is home to many highly populated cities in the world, each of which is unique in their own terms. In addition to Riyadh, Jeddah, Dhahran, and Thuwal are other popular destinations for international students.

Top English-taught Universities in Saudi Arabia for International Students 

Studying in Saudi Arabia comes with lots of merits for international students, and the number of top-class universities offering English-taught programs is increasing day by day to contribute to the overall overseas student population in the country. Below, we state the top five privileged Saudi Arabian universities renowned for their English medium programs in various degrees.

1. King Saud University 

King Saud University is a great option for many international students thanks to its welcoming attitude towards overseas applications and a high number of English-taught programs. There is a wide range of study programs taught in English, such as Agricultural Economics, Computer Engineering, Accounting, Finance, and more. Subsequently, King Saud accepts only a limited number of students each year with its own admission criteria and seeks academic excellence from its students during their education.

Studying at King Saud is free for Saudi Arabian students, yet tuition fees are also affordable for international students, with about $1,000 per academic year. Moreover, there are plenty of scholarship opportunities international students can benefit from at King Saud, including stipends, excellence rewards, and other allowances, which can be found here.

2. King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST)

Ranked 95th best global university, KAUST is a privileged university of science and technology in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia. KAUST is well-recognized for its biological sciences and engineering and offers a high number of English-taught courses for talented and successful students from all over the world. Being a global research university, KAUST has numerous collaborations with scholars and researchers worldwide and is a leading name in the region for its innovation and research.

International students at KAUST can study tuition-free graduate programs with plenty of merits, including monthly allowance, housing, and medical support, besides full free tuition opportunities. In return, KAUST aims to train researchers and scientists in various fields, from bioscience to computer science and engineering, by giving access to its top-class labs and other facilities.

3. King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) 

KFUPM is well recognized in the region and is regarded as one of the pioneering universities in global terms for engineering and petroleum-related programs. KFUPM promotes world-class education in engineering fields, especially for petroleum and minerals research; thus, the majority of its courses are offered in English to encourage international students with the necessary skills and passion for their academic interests.

Some of the popular programs preferred by international students include aerospace engineering, petroleum engineering, geosciences, civil and environment engineering, and many more. However, getting into KFUPM can be challenging as the university has an acceptance rate of about 10% of all applicants. KFUPM is located in Dhahran, where one of the biggest oil reserves in the country is located. Besides, the city of Dhahran has a vivid lifestyle, allowing international students to spend time at large shopping malls, cafes, and restaurants.

4. Alfaisal University

Located in Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia, Alfaisal University is a leading higher education institution in the Arabian Gulf for its programs in business administration, medicine, biomedical sciences, clinical psychology, and engineering. The university is well-known for its international identity as many of its courses are offered in English with an international faculty staff. 

Alfaisal University is a private institution; therefore, unlike public Saudi Arabian universities, the tuition fees are the same for local and international students, ranging around $25,000 per academic year. However, there are many merit-based or need-based scholarship opportunities for successful students who meet the eligibility criteria to benefit from the 20% discount on tuition fees. The campus is rather small yet culturally diverse, with more than 900 international students among 2,700 students in total.

5. Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University (IAU) 

Established in 1975, Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University (IAU) is a public institution offering a wide range of courses at the higher education level for students from all around the world. IAU is known to be the oldest and largest university in medicine in its region, and there are more than 85,000 students from various faculties and degrees besides medicine, including arts, education, engineering, management, and technology.

One of the main reasons why international students choose IAU is the unique and prestigious employment offers after graduation, mainly thanks to the internship opportunities shared by the departmental offices. For reference, kindly visit the program/department’s web page at IAU to review the previous internship opportunities.


Saudi Arabian universities offer much more than quality education; they encourage their students to gain a brand-new perspective and vision toward their academic interests and career paths with outstanding facilities and opportunities during their studies. Apply today to the English-taught programs at the top Saudi Arabian universities so you don’t need to worry about the language barrier during your stay in the country.

We hope that this article on the best English-taught universities in Saudi Arabia for international students was helpful. To know more information like this, check out the Available Programs for International Students!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hyun is the founder at Global Scholarships. He has received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College as well as $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for his undergraduate degree and has been offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. Read more about his scholarship journey here.

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