The Republic of the Philippines is one of the most popular study destinations in Asia for international students. Named the Pearl of the Orient Seas, the large archipelago country is known for having varied topography, diverse cultures, delectable cuisine, and warm and friendly people. It is also regarded for academic and research pursuits, producing ingenious solutions to relevant world issues. Not to mention, the country’s love for sports, music, and the arts is deeply embedded in their culture.

In this article, we will be discussing higher education in the Philippines, listing the best universities in the country where international students are welcome to apply.

Click to See: Universities in the Philippines with the Highest Acceptance Rates

Top Universities in the Philippines for International Students

1. University of the Philippines

The University of the Philippines is a state university system of the most prestigious higher education institutions in the Philippines and Asia. It has a network of seven independent units and one autonomous college spread out on 15 campuses across the archipelago. Each university has its focus areas, but all of them offer first-rate teaching and research in a wide range of disciplines. For instance, UP Manila is known for courses in medicine, UP Visayas for marine sciences, and UP Mindanao for biotechnology and architecture. The largest unit and the UP System’s flagship campus is in UP Diliman, located in the country’s capital region.

UP has a reputation for producing the cream of the crop in several industry sectors. It is the best in the Philippines for international students: its alumni include seven Philippine presidents, several Supreme Court Chief Justices, and the most National Scientists and National Artists among any institution.

2. De La Salle University

De La Salle University is a private Catholic university in Manila. This top university in the Philippines is the oldest constituent of the De La Salle Philippines (DLSP) network of academic institutions. The university offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in a coeducational setting, and students can choose among a range of study areas across its seven colleges. Disciplines include business, education, engineering, science, economics, computer studies, liberal arts, and law. A trailblazer among universities, it was one of the first to offer innovative degrees such as mechatronics and robotics.

DLSU continues to provide quality research outputs, most of which are pioneering in many industry sectors. Furthermore, learning at DLSU extends outside the lecture halls. The university features year-round activities and active student organizations for sporting, artistic, and cultural pursuits.

3. Ateneo de Manila University

The Ateneo de Manila University, one of the best universities in the Philippines for international students, is a private research university guided by the Jesuit congregation in Quezon City, Philippines. It offers undergraduate and graduate degrees across four schools in the subject areas of humanities, social sciences, management, and science and engineering. Students can pursue further education in four professional units in business, medicine, law, and government, and one school of theology. Several notable personalities from the Philippines graduated from the Ateneo, including the country’s national hero, José Rizal.

The university manages several research units and publishes over five academic journals. AdMU is involved in various international cooperations as well, such as student exchange programs and global research projects. International students are very welcome for long-term study, and there is even a dedicated international residence.

See also: Best Scholarships in the Philippines

4. University of Santo Tomas

The University of Santo Tomas is the oldest extant institution in the Philippines and Asia. It is also one of the largest Catholic universities in the world concerning enrollment. UST started as a seminary college in 1611, and through the centuries, it has expanded into 22 colleges, 19 offering civil courses and three teaching ecclesiastical programs. Research at UST spans all its disciplines – from religious studies to health research to education technology. Furthermore, its university press, the UST Publishing House, is one of the world’s oldest continuing academic presses, only next to Cambridge University.

UST has been recognized by international university rankings and rated excellent in categories like employability, social responsibility, and inclusiveness. Locally, it has received Center of Excellence accreditations from the government for many programs as well.

5. Centro Escolar University

  • Location: Manila, Philippines | Medium of Instruction: English

Centro Escolar University is a private higher education institution recognized for its excellence in the health sciences. While particularly notable for nursing, optometry pharmacy, medical technology, and dentistry, it also excels in biology, education, hospitality management, information technology, and many other fields.

This top university in the Philippines has four campuses – two in the country’s capital region, which is most accessible to international students, plus one branch each in provinces north and south of the capital respectively. All these campuses have state-of-the-art facilities, modern library services, sports centers, and more to support the high-quality teaching and research of the university.

6. University of San Carlos

Easily one of the top universities in the Philippines, the University of San Carlos is considered one of the internationally acknowledged institutions in Asia. Its distance from the capital city of Manila provides a calm and distraction-free environment. With four campuses offering education at all levels, this university attracts many international students. It is also one of the long-standing universities in the country, arguably the oldest.

This Catholic educational institution is a system of its own, offering education from kindergarten to graduate school. Programs in higher education offered by the institution are accredited and recognized by international organizations like FAAP and the Filipino Commission for Higher Education.

7. Mindanao State University

  • Location: Marawi, Philippines | Medium of Instruction: English, Filipino

From among the state universities in the country that provide education at very affordable rates, Mindanao State University is often an A-lister. With its main campus located in Marawi City and multiple other colleges and research centers, this university is a popular choice among international students.

Since its inception in 1962, the university has grown exponentially becoming the second-largest state university in the Philippines. The university is also especially acclaimed and renowned among other Asian universities and institutions from ASEAN countries.

8. Silliman University

  • Location: Dumaguete, Philippines | Medium of Instruction: English

Home to a large student body of over 10,000 students, Silliman University located in the formerly lesser-known city of Dumaguete is one of the older universities in the Philippines. Established by Dr. Silliman in 1901 as the Silliman Institute which was mostly an industrial school that started with just 15 students, the now reputed institution gained its university status in 1938.

Quality education is something that most top universities boast about, however, in addition to high standards of education, the university stands apart thanks to its sprawling green campus surrounded by the natural environment which includes mountains and seas in its vicinity. This has attracted both local and international students for their higher educational programs.

9. Mapúa University

Known for its premier engineering and technology programs, Mapúa University proudly calls itself the “Home of the nation’s top builders and creators”. The university was founded in 1925 by Dom Tomas Mapúa, the first architect registered in the Philippines, who studied at Cornell University New York. Today, the university offers undergraduate and graduate programs in fields like engineering, mathematics, physics, biology, and chemistry.

The university’s programs are recognized by various local and international accreditation bodies as well. Mapúa University is the first university in Asia to be recognized by the ABET, a United States based-based non-profit accreditation organization. With its significance in engineering, the university continues to produce many skilled professionals in the engineering industry.

10. Mariano Marcos State University

  • Location: Ilocos Norte, Philippines | Medium of Instruction: English

Established in relatively recent years, Mariano Marcos State University is among the top universities in the Philippines for its programs in arts, agriculture, and natural sciences. With 66 degree programs offered at both graduate and undergraduate levels across its six campuses, MMSU is one of the largest professional and educational centers in the country.

The Commission on Higher Education of the Philippines has recognized MMSU as a Center of Excellence in Teacher Education and a Center of Development in Forestry, Biology, Agriculture, and Information Technology Education.

11. Visayas State University

  • Location: Leyte, Philippines | Medium of Instruction: English

Yet another tuition-free education provider in the Philippines, the Visayas State University is a globally acclaimed higher education provider in the country. The university is known for its courses in agriculture and allied fields, and the university’s flagship campus located in Baybay City, Leyte is considered the most beautiful campus in the Philippines.

For over 130 years the university has grown and become one of the best, especially in research and innovation. The eight faculties of the university offer a range of undergraduate and graduate programs in engineering, education, arts, and sciences.

12. Central Luzon State University

  • Location: Nueva Ecija, Philippines | Medium of Instruction: English

Dubbed “a premier institution for agriculture” in the Southeast Asian region, Central Luzon State University is especially known for its research on water management, crops, orchards, and aquaculture. With the Philippines being one of the best locations to study aquaculture, the university sets the stage for students from across the world who might be interested in the subject.

Having started as a farm school in 1907, the university is now known as “the mother of vocational agriculture schools” in the Philippines for providing an excellent four-year curriculum for training teachers of vocational agriculture. To date, Central Luzon State University continues to hold its reputation in the field with acclamation and accreditations from the National Agriculture and Fisheries Education System and the Commission on Higher Education of the Philippines among many others.

13. Polytechnic University of the Philippines

Polytechnic University of the Philippines is one of the top public universities in the capital city of the Philippines. With a relatively selective acceptance rate, the 119-year-old institution accepts only the best performers in entrance examinations and overall academics.

The Polytechnic University of the Philippines offers a wide range of Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral degree programs in multiple fields including languages, sciences, engineering, and law. In perfect resemblance to the diversity in offerings, students at the university also come from different backgrounds with a sizable international student population.

FAQS About Studying in the Philippines

Is the Philippines a Good Place to Study for International Students?

The Philippines is known as the most hospitable country in the world, meaning Filipinos are very generous to visitors and welcoming to people from different backgrounds. What’s more, the Philippines is largely an English-speaking nation, and English is the primary language of instruction in all universities.

Many international students take English language courses in the Philippines. But more than these subjects, the country also offers internationally accredited programs in many fields. The most recognized study areas include the health sciences, engineering and technology, humanities, and social sciences. Study and living expenses are also relatively more affordable than in other Asian and Western countries.

Can International Students Work in the Philippines While Studying?

Foreign nationals who intend to study higher education in the Philippines must apply for a student visa from the Bureau of Immigration. According to the Bureau, one of the requirements to secure this visa is having sufficient means of support for education while in the country. This means that international students are not allowed to work during their studies. They are encouraged to allot their time to their courses and experience the many cultural attractions in the Philippines instead.

Check Also: Available Programs for International Students

Can International Students Stay in the Philippines after Graduation?

Foreign nationals who want to stay in the Philippines after graduation need a different form of resident visa depending on their purpose. For a short-term stay, students can apply for single-entry visas valid for three months or multiple-entry visas for six months to one year.

For most university graduates, the ideal track is to obtain a work visa if they wish to practice their profession. They have to secure an Alien Employment Permit (AEP) from the Department of Labor and Employment of the Philippines. This permit is valid for one year, and the requirements and procedures are outlined on their official website. However, like any country, the AEP is issued when there are no available Filipino citizens to perform the job that the foreign national desires.


This article listed some of the top public and private universities to consider when you are applying for higher education in the Philippines. We are sure that these universities would not only provide quality education but also provide a supportive environment for international students.


We hope that this article on the best universities in the Philippines for international students was helpful. If you’re interested in this lovely country, make sure to check out the Philippines Page and browse through this list of Open Courses to explore your options.

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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