Graduate vs. Postgraduate
In the US, the term 'graduate' is used for master's and PhD studies. This is the equivalent of 'postgraduate', which is used in the UK. Universities in Singapore may use either graduate or postgraduate for studies at master's and doctorate level.
Types Of Education
Singaporean universities boast that they combine the academic rigour of British universities and the flexibility and personalisation of American universities. Each of the three Singaporean universities has slight variations on the flexibility offered, but undergraduate programmes usually include a combination of compulsory courses and electives.
Both the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have an international reputation for being research-intensive universities and have contributed greatly to Singapore's development and reputation as a scientific and technological hub.
Singaporean universities offer both basic bachelor's and bachelor's degrees with Honours. A basic bachelor's degree is usually three years of study and a bachelor's degree with Honours will normally require an additional year of study.
Modular system / Academic units
A bachelor's degree is awarded once you receive a certain number of credits or academic units, which usually takes four years to complete. Each course is assigned a number of academic units: one hour of lecture/tutorial per week is usually one unit; three hours of laboratory/fieldwork per week is one unit.
There are three types of undergraduate courses: core courses, which are compulsory to satisfy the programme requirements; prescribed electives, which allow for a specialisation in a degree programme; & unrestricted electives, which are chosen at the discretion of the student.
In order to complete a bachelor's degree, you will need to earn a certain number of credit hours. This will vary from one university to another as well as the programme you choose. The total number of credit units for compulsory and elective course varies with each individual degree programme.
Most programmes will also allow you to choose a minor where you can broaden your studies in an additional subject area.
Successful completion of the Indian Standard 12 examination (Central, State or ISCE Boards) or IB Diploma
International students are required to have completed 12 years of primary and secondary education before applying to a Singaporean university. For Indians, this means you need to present an Indian Standard 12 examination Certificate of IB Diploma before considering studying at university level in Singapore.
English language ability
For students whose medium of instruction in school is not English, you must provide proof of your English language proficiency. Universities in Singapore accept either:
- TOEFL 550 (paper-based) or 213 (computer-based)
- IELTS 6.0 to 6.5
Undergraduate application process
The admissions procedure for undergraduate international students usually opens around October of the previous year, therefore you should start your application process at least 12 months before your intended study date in order to research the different institutions and programmes.
Applications are made directly to the institution and include:
- Application form (usually online)
- Application fee
- Academic credentials (for Nigerians this is your Senior School Certificate of Education/Nigerian Certificate of Education or IB diploma)
Two types of postgraduate degrees are offered in Singapore: master's and doctoraldegrees.Graduate diplomas also provide additional professional training without the long-term time commitment of a postgraduate degree.
This terminal qualification provides professional training and usually lasts about a year full-time.
Coursework-based programmes (master's)
These degrees usually involve formal classes, lectures, tutorials, seminars, laboratory work and written examinations as well as a dissertation. They generally prepare students for the practice of a profession.
Researched-based programmes (master's, doctoral)
A research-based degree involves independent research on an approved topic based on a thesis submitted for revision. You may also be required to take several courses related to your subject.
You will usually be required to have completed an undergraduate (bachelor's) degree of four years in length to enter a master's programme. Admission into a PhD programme requires a good master's degree in a relevant discipline.
At master's and doctoral level, some departments may require you to take either the GRE (Graduate Recruitment Test) or GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test). Additionally, you may have to complete an admissions test or be interviewed.
If your mother tongue is not English and you did not study in an English medium at undergraduate level, you will also have to prove you have sufficient English language ability. Singaporean universities accept TOEFL or IELTS or you may have to sit an internal examination to verify your English language skills.
Postgraduate application process
You should start your application process between around a year before your intended study date in order to research the different institutions and programmes and complete any necessary tests. Once you have made your shortlist of institutions you wish to apply for, you'll have to prepare your application.
Each institution sets its own application deadline. These are usually between January and February to start in August, and between August and September to start in January. It is always a good idea to submit your application as soon as possible.
Applications to most postgraduate programmes are done online, however some programmes have specific admissions requirements and applications must be submitted directly to the department.
Applications usually include:
- Application form (usually submitted online)
- Application fee
- Test scores (GRE, GMAT, MAT, TOEFL or other)
- Optional: Recommendation letters, usually from a teacher or employer who will be able to write about your work and potential
Student Visa Process
Fluency in English is required to apply for a student visa to Singapore. The following certificates of English competency are accepted:
- GCSE - General Certificate of Secondary Education
- TOEFL - Test of English as a Foreign Language
- IELTS - International English Language Testing System
Apart from the English test, the students must have also received their letter of acceptance from the university where they wish to pursue their course of study.
The international and overseas students should ensure that their visa application reaches the ICA at least 2 months before the date of commencement of the course.
Except for applications to certain local polytechnics and to the universities, an overseas student needs a local sponsor who is a citizen of Singapore or a Singapore PR above the age of 21 so that he can apply for a student pass.
Normally, it takes four weeks or more to complete the visa processing stage.
All applications must be submitted online through SOLAR at least a month before the intended start day but not more than two months before.
Additional consular information can be obtained from High Commission of Singapore and the Singapore Immigration and Checkpoints Authority.