If you are planning to further your graduate studies in the Middle East, then consider getting your doctorate in Saudi Arabia! The country offers higher education with excellent study programs at affordable rates. This is the major reason why a large number of international students are willing to pursue their doctorate degrees here.

However, not everyone is aware that the country offers Ph.D. programs to international students, mainly because of the lack of information you see on the internet. In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know on how to apply to a doctoral program in Saudi Arabia. Read on to learn more!

Is it Expensive to Study Ph.D. in Saudi Arabia?

Saudi Arabia is recognized for its affordable education, therefore getting a Ph.D. would cost nearly nothing when compared to European or American countries. The majority of Saudi Arabia’s popular and highly regarded universities are in Riyadh and Jeddah. As a result, studying there may cost more than in other surrounding cities.

Furthermore, the cost of a Ph.D. program can vary depending on the field of study. Tuition fees for arts and humanities courses are cheaper compared to other academic disciplines. The most expensive are medicine and engineering programs.

Admission Requirements for Doctoral Degree in Saudi Arabia

Now, let’s discuss the documents you’ll need to submit in your application. Below is a list of a few essential documents that you must acquire:

1. Application Form

Every university has an application portal where international students can easily register and apply. To submit your application, you must first register and log in to the university application system. Before submitting your application, be sure to double-check everything you input, there are cases in which you may misspell a word or input a different number or date. Go over your application twice or thrice as providing misinformation may be one of the grounds of not being selected.

2. Proof of Bachelor’s and Master’s degree

One of the major requirements in applying for a doctorate program are your diplomas (bachelor’s and master’s). For online applications, provide scanned copies of all certificates. If your credentials are in another language, you must get them translated into English.

At King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, applicants for a Ph.D. must show proof that they have completed an undergraduate or master’s degree in a relevant or related field. Since this is a science and technology institution, an applicant should have at least graduated with an engineering, mathematics, or physical, chemical, and biological sciences degree.

3. Curriculum Vitae

The university may require you to submit a curriculum vitae (CV). A CV is a summary of all your academic background, this document should include a brief overview of your interests as well as some of your extracurricular and academic accomplishments.

4. Research Proposal

The research proposal is the most crucial element of the application. A Ph.D. candidate should provide a summary of his/her research and it should explain how it will contribute to a specific field of study in general. The proposal must impress the committee as this will be your ticket to gaining admission to your chosen university.

For instance, if you are interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in Chemistry, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals lists all of the requirements on their Ph.D. entrance requirement website for chemistry programs.

5. Personal Statement and Letter of Recommendation

A recommendation letter is another important document you need to submit. Recommenders may be your professor or mentor, or if you have prior work experience, it can be your manager.

In addition, the university may also require you to write an SOP. Candidates should write an SOP that will entice the admissions committee. Our tip is to provide a clear and concise statement of purpose that should discuss how your academic goals align with your program of choosing.

Language Proficiency Tests Needed for Doctoral Programs

The medium of instruction at several universities in Saudi Arabia is English. Most of these Saudi universities accept several certified English proficiency examinations such as the TOEFL and IELTS. English-track programs have a minimum score for English proficiency. For example, one of Saudi Arabia’s best universities, King Saud University, demands a TOEFL-iBT score of at least 45 and an IELTS Academic score of 4 for admission to the PhD program. However, to ensure a higher chance of acceptance, you must score higher than the minimum score indicated on the institution’s admissions pages.

Steps to Apply for a Doctoral Degree in Saudi Arabia

We will now go over the procedure for applying to Saudi universities for a PhD. Following the steps outlined below may make it appear that submitting your online application to your selected program is simple. Let us start!

Step 1. Prepare university list

When considering whether to pursue a Ph.D. in Saudi Arabia, you should first look for universities that accept doctoral students then compile a list of those that offer Ph.D. programs in disciplines that interest you. This stage should be completed for a while before applying, as you must select your research topics based on the available Ph.D. positions.

Step 2. Choose the subject of research

Universities have varying requirements for Ph.D. applications. While certain universities welcome candidates with open arms, others have authorities that clearly state the research topic. Choose a topic where you will perform new research and contribute to society depending on your interests. Never forget that to be admitted into a university, your research topic must be compelling and engaging.

Step 3. Gather all documents

The relevant documents must be obtained and prepared in advance. Most of the time, brilliant applicants miss out on great opportunities due to incomplete submissions. Make sure to assess deadlines regularly and take the necessary steps.

Step 4. Apply accordingly and stay alert

Applying on time does not always work; instead, you should submit your application way earlier. The vast majority of Ph.D. applicants are highly educated and capable of proposing excellent research ideas. As a result, you should apply as soon as possible to boost your chances of being accepted for a doctoral position, and always keep an eye on your email and application site to see further requirements and announcements. A lack of response frequently leads to the university withdrawing an applicant’s application.


The information provided here is intended to motivate you to pursue your dreams and achieve your desired Ph.D. in Saudi Arabia. You won’t believe how many chances await you in Saudi Arabia. You can also check out these Open Courses to explore your study-abroad 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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