For those looking for a non-conventional study destination, you should consider the Middle Eastern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Renowned for the world’s largest deserts, a thriving oil industry, and a deep Islamic heritage, the nation is adapting – and even leading – the fast-changing global scene.

International students who are all about innovation and technology, as well as a rich cultural experience, will likely feel at home in Saudi Arabia. In this article, we will be looking at the best universities in Saudi Arabia for international students.

Top Universities in Saudi Arabia for International Students

1. King Abdulaziz University

King Abdulaziz University located in Jeddah is Saudi Arabia’s top public university. It bears the name of the founder of the country and serves as the flagship university as well. It was established in 1967 beginning with the Faculty of Economics and Administration, and through the years it grew to offer programs in the areas of law, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, information technology, communication and media, arts and humanities, and the sciences.

KAU has always pioneered academic systems and programs of higher education in the Kingdom. International students can choose to pursue undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at KAU. They will gain access to state-of-the-art facilities, including the KAU hospital, sports clubs and stadiums, a convention center, and many more.

2. Alfaisal University

Situated in Saudi Arabia’s capital city, Alfaisal University, one of the best universities in Saudi Arabia for international students, is an ideal institution to study whilst being immersed in the Kingdom’s affluent business hub. The private, not-for-profit university admitted its first students in 2008 but has rapidly gained recognition globally. It now accepts international students from over 40 countries and comprises 33% of the student body. The university even actively encourages diversity through scholarships to students, regardless of faith, citizenship, or gender.

Alfaisal University boasts a modern campus but maintains a friendly and inclusive environment. It houses state-of-the-art teaching buildings, laboratories, student centers, cafes, and recreational spaces. Alfaisal also has several clubs where students can gain additional skills to top off their rich, academic experience.

3. King Saud University

King Saud University was founded in 1957 as a response to the professional and educational needs of Saudi Arabia when it was a young nation. Today, this top university in Saudi Arabia is more than just keeping abreast with another nation’s academic culture but is one of the trailblazers in higher education. It welcomes male and female international students and comprises about 7% of the student body.

International students can choose specializations from four colleges, namely community, science, health, and humanities. Each college has several sub-departments for undergraduate to postgraduate programs. To help international students adjust to higher education in the Kingdom, KSU offers a preparatory year program that includes Arabic language classes, though English language support is still available at any level.

4. King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals

The King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals is a public university most regarded for its programs in engineering, science, business, and management. Its most globally recognized subject is mathematics. In 2018, it was ranked fourth among 100 research universities worldwide that were granted US Utility Patents, and for several years, it placed among the top 50 universities under 50 years. With all these awards, the KFUPM has established its presence on the international scene.

The university was first established to study the country’s greatest resource – petroleum and minerals. Today, it comprises seven colleges in science and engineering, in the allied disciplines like environmental design, computer science, business, and general studies.

5. King Khalid University

King Khalid University, one of the best universities in Saudi Arabia for international students, was established as a merger of two universities in Southern Saudi Arabia, beginning with only four colleges in 1998. Today, it has expanded to 29 colleges encompassing a wide range of subject areas, including medicine, engineering, education, humanities, and computer science. The university is the primary institution for the growing academic needs in the Aseer region but is rapidly becoming one of the forerunner universities of the Kingdom as well.

King Khalid University is currently constructing a University City that will consolidate university buildings in different locations. This single campus will include first-rate facilities for international students, including an 800-bed medical complex, art and sciences academic complex, sports complex, and student housing.

FAQs about Studying in Saudi Arabia

Is Saudi Arabia a Good Place to Study for International Students?

Universities in Saudi Arabia are establishing a strong presence in prestigious global university rankings. The generous support of their government to higher education has rapidly paid off and the country is presently leading a knowledge economy.

The Kingdom is best regarded for programs in engineering and technology, as well as STEM subjects. Students who wish to study business, education, tourism, architecture, and humanities will find first-rate institutions offering them as well. These and more programs are usually taught in English to be more accessible for international students.

Students have a lot of opportunities to travel in Saudi Arabia. Besides being a picturesque country itself, it lies near equally beautiful places like Oman and Dubai. The Red Sea is also just a short drive from major cities and a favorite destination during breaks.

Healthcare, transportation, and utilities are generally very efficient in the country, while accommodation is usually arranged by universities. All in all, students can expect around 1500 USD a month for living costs.

Can International Students Work in Saudi Arabia While Studying?

Regardless of nationality, international students and student visa holders are not allowed to work in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Your chance to work will only be after completing your studies and acquiring a degree diploma. International students are instead encouraged to focus on their programs and optimize the good quality education offered by Saudi Arabian universities.

Can International Students Stay in Saudi Arabia After Graduation?

Obtaining a degree from a Saudi Arabian university provides you with a ticket to your chosen career in your home country or anywhere in the world. But if you choose to stay in the Kingdom after graduation, you can do so by securing a work visa and entering one of the many thriving industries in the country.

The majority of work opportunities are in the oil and gas industry, but you can also pursue major industries such as construction, manufacturing, IT, healthcare, finance, education, telecommunications, and mining.


We hope that this article on the best universities in Saudi Arabia for international students was helpful. To learn more information about studying abroad, check out our Study in Saudi Arabia and Available Programs for International Students 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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