study abroad in singapore

Study Abroad in Singapore: Top Ranking Universities For Expats

Team Expat Education Leave a Comment

For a number of expats in Singapore, studying abroad eventually lands them a job and permanent residency in the island-city. It’s a great stepping stone to a professional career, in a highly globalized environment known to host the highest paid citizens in the world, and where there’s much to be thankful for every day in terms of a safe modern lifestyle, great access to high-tech amenities, a premium-quality education system, an exciting high-growth startup culture, economic strength and opportunities.

Besides ‘by-default expats’ who initially come to Singapore as students and continue working there, there are many reasons why expats opt to study abroad in Singapore:

  • To be gainfully employed—For the trailing wife or husband, spare moments spent away from home and one’s familiar routines can leave a gaping desire in their lives to fill up that time with new skills and learnings. Whether its to upgrade one’s current career skills, learn a completely new one, or pivot in terms of career choice—moving abroad is a life changing move that can open up a wealth of opportunities, depending on one’s perspective!
  • To undertake a foreign assignment abroad—Expat executives may seek access to top ranking international programmes to further enhance his or her career opportunities, e.g. Take up a respected MBA course, upgrade from Master’s to a Doctorate degree, etc.
  • To enroll your child in a good university—Singapore is renowned for its strong education system; we elaborate on that in our previous article on “Why Singaporeans Are The Smartest… “. If you have made a secure life for yourself as an expat in Singapore, there’s no reason why your older child or children cannot do the same as well, with a wealth of study options.

The key priority as an expat studying abroad is to define your goal: whether it’s to upgrade your skills and credentials in your current line of work, to gain new credentials in order to make a career switch, or to pick up a completely new skill—something you’ve always dreamt of pouring your heart into but never had the chance to, perhaps? Like literature or art?

Once you’re clear on your goals, survey the advanced study options available in your area of interest. Select a course or program that is accredited by a respected educational body, as it will play a big role in helping you gain employment abroad. You’ll want to maximize the return on your investment of time and money, considering the fact that Singapore can be one of the most expensive cities to live in!

So Where Do I Start?

For a tiny island nation, Singapore has achieved much, boasting top world ranking universities under its belt. The National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) was voted 12th and 13 th in the world respectively by QS World University Rankings for the year 2015/16.

Whether you’re interested in the arts or science stream, NUS has a wealth of study subjects. Among the programs offered are arts, law, business, medicine, and many more. For expat students having to adapt to a completely new culture, the university’s Student Buddy and Host Family Program is a good way for international students to learn how to blend in with their local settings and get peer support.

Just like NUS, NTU offers similar programs and more information for international students can be found here. Apart from the two top ranking universities mentioned above, Singapore has many more other quality higher-learning institutions such as MDIS, Raffles College, among others, which you should survey as well before deciding on where to study.

Here are more pointers to help you get started:

How Do I Apply?

Just as its universities are top ranking, so is the level of competition you may face trying to get into universities in Singapore! Don’t let that dampen your hopes however of applying for world-class education! Do your research and apply early. When applying, be sure to bring along academic transcripts and other appropriate documents such as recommendation letters and extracurricular activities reports. Be sure to also check out visa requirements when applying.

What Qualifications Do I Need?

A-Levels, American High School Diploma and Australian High School (ATAR) qualifications are widely accepted at universities and colleges around Singapore. For further verification of other acceptable forms of qualifications, it’s best to contact your university of interest directly. Students may also be required to pass an English test such as TOEFL or IELTS.

What’s The Language of Delivery?

Most Singaporeans speak English pretty well as it is one of the official national languages, so expat parents and students need not worry. Courses at universities are taught in English. The standard of English is Singapore is high, preparing students to be well equipped upon graduation and prepared to enter the work force in any country with a strong command of English.

Cost of Studying Abroad

University education in Singapore can cost on average around USD $10,000 a year, depending on the course and study institution of choice. With the current exchange rate, it is still a relatively cheaper study abroad option compared to the US, Australia or the UK.


Singapore is a multi-racial society and one could say, a splendid microcosm of Asia. Diverse races include Chinese, Malay and Tamil… and over the past years, a burgeoning population of foreign expats! International students far from home will have plenty of opportunities to experience a new way of life amongst richly diverse cultures. With ample international students’ organizations available on campus, expats can also make new connections and bond easily with local students. With so much to do, see and explore (here’s an article we covered on 20 Reasons To Be Thankful About Living Abroad in Singapore), there’s really no reason to stay home and dwell on homesick blues. But if you feel the lonely pangs coming on, Team Expat understands… While we know that nothing can replace the warm hug of a loved one back home or smell of home-cooked food, we think that it’s crucial for your wellbeing—to keep moving, try exploring new hobbies and keep yourself gainfully distracted—well, at least, while you still have the time and coursework does not take over!

We’ve covered some useful facts on advanced study for expats in Singapore, but if you have more pointers to add, we value your comments! If you’re looking for further advice as well on education in Singapore, connect with our resident Education Experts. Or why not come on board as one, if you have a wealth of expertise in this area? :)

Founded by expats, provides city-specific news, expert advice and resources to expats, covering major cities across Asia & all things expat!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *