The Republic of the Philippines is one of the most popular study destinations in Asia for international students. Named as 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 looking at the best universities in the Philippines for international students.

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

Is the Philippines good for international students to study in?

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 a 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.

Learn More: Cost of Studying and Living in the Philippines

Can international students work in the Philippines while studying?

Foreign nationals who intend to study higher education in the Philippines applying 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.

Best Universities in the Philippines for International Students

1. University of the Philippines (UP)

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 of several industry sectors. The University of the Philippines is the best university 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 (DLSU)

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 graduates 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 (AdMU)

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 graduates 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 (UST)

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 (CEU)

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.


We hope that this article on the best universities in the Philippines for international students was helpful. If you’re interested in studying abroad, make sure to 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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