Higher education is highly valued in the Philippines. That may be because Filipinos highly prioritize academics and recognize the importance of acquiring knowledge and skills through higher education. Thus, over the years, numerous universities and colleges have been established to provide quality education that ensures career advancement for students and improves the country’s academic systems.

This article will cover general information international students should know about studying in the Philippines. For instance, it will discuss some crucial aspects like the grading system, the types of higher education institutions, and different degree levels. Thus, read until the end for all the vital information about higher education in the Philippines.

Types of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the Philippines

1. National University

The University of the Philippines, a public, nonsectarian university, was established in 1908 and is regarded as the country’s national university. This distinguished institution of Philippine higher education has now evolved into a university system with eight constituent universities that comprise 17 campuses scattered across the archipelago.

In addition, the status of UP as a National University is mandated by law to give it institutional autonomy. This then allows the school to set its academic standards, provide advanced studies, and foster academic collaborations with international institutions.

2. State Universities and Colleges

State Universities and Colleges, also known as SUCs, are established by and have their operations determined by the Philippine Congress. They are also subsidized or fully funded by the government. Examples of SUCs include Pangasinan State University-Alaminos City and Mariano Marcos State University-College of Teacher Education-Laoag City.

Public higher institutions in the Philippines under this category are regarded as non-sectarian entities, which means these universities are not affiliated with any religious body or specific organization.

3. Local Universities and Colleges

Some examples of Local Universities and Colleges or LCUs are Urdaneta City University and Mabalacat City College. Unlike SUCs, LCUs are Philippine higher education institutions that are controlled and funded by local government units, such as city councils, and are established through local ordinances. Students who complete a graduate or undergraduate program from LCUs will be awarded a degree certificate.

4. Other Government Schools

Government Schools or OGS and Special Government Schools are Philippine higher institutions established to train students in specific or unique fields. These schools include the Development Academy of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police Academy. OGS also offers graduate and undergraduate programs and issues certificates after completing the programs.

5. Private – Sectarian Universities and Colleges (Religious)

Private sectarian institutions are usually non-profit institutions that are owned and controlled by religious organizations. A prominent example would be the Ateneo de Manila University, which is managed by the Jesuits, where students can obtain bachelor’s degrees in courses like the Communications Technology Management Program. Another well-regarded secular university in the Philippines is the De La Salle University, run by the De La Salle brothers, which offers several programs including Master’s of Arts in Development Policy.

6. Private – Non-Sectarian Universities and Colleges (Non-Religious)

Nonsectarian private institutions are not affiliated with any religious or political group. They run diverse and inclusive educational systems and are mostly profit-oriented. Such schools include Mapua University and Adamson University, which offer graduate and undergraduate programs.

Types of Degree Levels in the Philippines

 1. Bachelor’s Degree

Bachelor’s degrees in the Philippines are awarded by universities and colleges, where students are provided with academic training in different fields of study. These programs typically run for at least four years. Students will only be awarded a bachelor’s degree if they meet the requirements to graduate, including passing necessary exams and earning the required number of study credits.

The required study credit usually varies, depending on the school and study program. Some universities, especially sectarian ones, require students to take up additional studies like religious subjects so they will have more course units or credits. Meanwhile, specialized courses would also require more study credits.

2. Master’s Degree

Earning a master’s degree from a Philippine higher education institution involves completing advanced studies in a specific field of study. A master’s degree program will typically run for at least two years, depending on the chosen field of study.

However, before students can earn a master’s degree, they must meet specific admission requirements, which include earning a bachelor’s degree. They must also complete their coursework, pass required exams, defend their thesis, and meet academic financial requirements, which include paying tuition fees and semester fees.

3. Doctoral Degree

A doctoral degree is an advanced study and research done at the highest academic level, after earning a master’s degree. Doctoral programs in Philippine higher education institutions run for at least two years and candidates must meet specific requirements before being accepted into a program.

These requirements typically include passing admission exams, submitting academic transcripts, providing letters of recommendation, and writing an impressive statement of purpose. Once students submit those and are accepted into the institution, they must fulfill academic requirements like exams, class attendance, research, and dissertations, among others.

FAQS About Studying in the Philippines

What Grading System Do Higher Education in the Philippines Use?

The grading system used by Philippine higher education institutions is the Grade Point Scale System, similar to the Grade Point Average used by the US higher education system. It is usually implemented as a 4-point scale system where students are graded between 0.00 and 4.00, wherein 4.00 is the highest grade possible and 0.00 is the lowest. However, some higher education institutions prefer to use the 5-point Scale system, which grades students between 0.00 to 5.00.

In the grade point scale system, the numerical grade (e.g., 1.00, 2.00, 3.00, 4.00) that students get is usually obtained after considering all their assessments during the semester. Thus, it can be considered a reflection of the student’s overall performance. They can then use the grade to evaluate themselves, identify their strengths and weaknesses, and assess the institution’s quality and teaching methods.


The Philippine higher education institution plays a crucial role in developing the nation’s future by turning individuals into assets equipped with the skills, knowledge, and information needed to contribute meaningfully to society. HEIs in this country also offer undergraduate and graduate programs that foster academic excellence, critical thinking, and economic growth and development.


We hope this article has introduced you well to higher education in the Philippines. That said, allow us to introduce you, as well, to Open Courses you can pursue in Philippine HEIs and additional articles that talk about studying in the Philippines!

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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