Applications Preparation University

Overview: Applying to Singaporean Universities

Known as Asia’s financial hub, home to the biggest companies in the world, and famous for its safety and inclusivity, many students are enchanted by what Singapore has to offer. 

If you are one of these students and are considering Singapore as a university destination, you have come to the right place! In this article, I will tell you about the application process to Singaporean universities and about applying as an international student. 

What is the university system of Singapore?

The public universities in Singapore comprise of: National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore Management University (SMU), Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT), and Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS). The first three of this list are known colloquially as the “Big Three” due to their prestige and competitiveness. 

Despite the international recognition of Singapore’s public universities, many private universities have also taken center stage in recent decades. Lasalle College of Arts, MDIS, SIM, INSEAD, James Cook, and ESSEC are some of these private universities. It is important to note that these universities usually have main campuses in their country of origin with satellite campuses in Singapore. Additionally, depending on how the curriculum is structured, the universities may or may not offer an option of an exchange semester in either the main campus of the university or with a partner university. It’s always best to thoroughly research before applying. 

Here are some of the private universities in Singapore:

Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS)

QS Ranking: (N/A)
Country of origin: Singapore
Best known for: Business and Management, Tourism and Hospitality Management
Acceptance Rate: (N/A)

University of New South Wales Asia

QS Ranking: UNSW Sydney ranked 54
Country of origin: Australia
Best known for: STEM
Acceptance Rate: 60% (for UNSW Sydney)

Ecole Supérieure des Sciences Economiques et Commerciale (ESSEC Business School)

QS Ranking: (N/A)
Country of origin: France
Best known for: Business
Acceptance Rate: 13.7%

Institut Européen d’Administration des Affaires (INSEAD)

QS Ranking:
Country of origin: France
Best known for: Business
Acceptance Rate: 32%

SIM University

QS Ranking: #301-350
Country of origin: Singapore
Best known for: Partnerships with leading universities
Acceptance Rate: (N/A)

LASALLE College of the Arts

QS Ranking: #150-200
Country of origin: Singapore
Best known for: Arts and Design
Acceptance Rate: 81%

Singapore Raffles Music College

QS Ranking: #51-100
Country of origin: Singapore
Best known for: Music and Dance
Acceptance Rate: 70-80 %

James Cook University

QS Ranking: #415
Country of origin: Australia
Best known for: Marine and Freshwater sciences, Biology, Zoology, Evolutionary Biology, Environmental Science
Acceptance Rate: 40%

Curtin University

QS Ranking: #183
Country of origin: Western Australia
Best known for: Earth and geosciences
Acceptance Rate: 50%

    Note: This list may not cover all the private universities in Singapore, so I highly recommend you do thorough research before shortlisting your choice of universities!

    How competitive are public universities in Singapore?

    Continuing with the example of NUS, let us take a look at how competitive public universities in Singapore are. 

    While the requirement for the SAT subject test has been discontinued, it is highly recommended to submit a standardized test score (SAT/ ACT/ AP) to gain an edge since public universities in Singapore are highly competitive and have very low acceptance rates, especially for international students (10%), meaning only the crème de la crème get in. While NUS has not published any statement regarding average test scores, or average IB scores, for instance, unofficial sources going by internal surveys say that an IB score of 37 is a minimum.

    Though the statistics stated above are specific to NUS, Nanyang Technological University (NTU), and Singapore Management University (SMU), the other two universities in the ‘big three’ as well as  Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT), and Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) are similarly just as highly competitive.

    So IB warriors, put your best foot forward! 

    PS. Always apply directly through the official university websites and not through agents since that is what the public universities say on their official websites.

    How do you apply to public universities?

    Applying to Singaporean public universities is relatively straightforward. You are required to submit your predicted grades from your high school curriculum/A levels/ IB and your SAT/ ACT/ AP scores. Please note that the application requirements for each curriculum differ and it is always best to cross-check with the curriculum-specific links provided on the website.

    For example, the following is the application overview page of the National University of Singapore (NUS):


    How to apply to private universities?

    Applying to private universities in Singapore follows a similar process to applying to universities in other countries such as the US, UK, or Canada. 

    First, do thorough research about the rankings, tuition fees, culture, curriculum, professors, and representation of international students at the universities by either consulting the official university websites or talking to alumni/ current students. 

    Second, after you finish your research, create a shortlist of universities you want to apply to, and that you see yourself thriving at. After this, begin your application. 

    Third, since each private university in Singapore has a different set of core values and standards, tailor your resume and essays to fit each school you are applying to. Of course, apply keeping the score requirements in mind.  Once this is done, submit your applications to the specific universities.

    After you pass the first round of application, you will get a call to enter the second round which is known as the Application Round. Clearing the interview round will bring you the coveted offer letter you’ve been dreaming of. 


    IBlieve wishes all you IB warriors the best of luck with your university application process and a friendly and ever-so-important reminder to always keep track of the university application deadlines!

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