Applications IB Overview University

Overview: Applying to Vietnamese Universities

As university application season approaches, the vast majority of DP2 students are considering applying to priority countries such as the US and the UK. More often than not, developing countries are overlooked as destinations for international students despite their great potential as world-class schools. Vietnam is one of these countries.

With over 200 universities nationwide, Vietnam offers a unique destination choice for international students. Due to its commitment to attracting international students, its universities have been developing English language programmes and unique research opportunities that will make you competitive on an international stage. However, something that universities may lack is a set of concise instructions on how these students can apply . Thus, this article hopes to elaborate on the international student application process in Vietnam to encourage more people to come study in the country.

What has Vietnam done to attract international students?

While the country logged in 16,000 international students studying locally in 2021, it aims to further attract international students through:

  • offering undergraduate programmes taught in English, alongside Vietnamese language training programmes for incoming foreigners
  • providing scholarships to ~30% of international students under exchange agreements with other countries.
  • offering low-cost tuition fees ($1500 – 3000 per year) compared to other countries.
  • refurbishing dormitories and learning spaces within the universities alongside facilitating visa processes and medical checkups.

However, we must note the difficulties that international students may encounter. One major restriction is taking one-year courses or exchange programmes without being offered a degree. Vietnam continues to strive for improvement in these core difficulties to ease the journeys of international students. 

What requirements are needed to apply?

For most universities in Vietnam, the application documents needed are roughly the same.

However, note that there must be an English and Vietnamese translated version for most documents submitted to Vietnamese universities.

High school transcriptIELTS/TOEFL score certificate
High school graduation certificatePersonal statement (depending on the university)
Passport photosRecommendation letter
Vietnamese language proficiency certificate (for some courses)Vietnamese visa if possible

What is the application process like?

The application is quite simple. The first step is to simply search the admissions page of the university. Next, fill in the application form and provide the necessary documents mentioned above (or depending on the requirements of the university. Applications should be filled in 4-6 months before the start date though some courses may have earlier deadlines.

There may also be application flexibility as many universities in Vietnam now divide the school year into trimesters (February, June and October).

Notable Vietnamese universities (with English-taught programmes)

  1. Vietnam National University – Hanoi branch
  • Founded in 1906, VNU-Hanoi is a public institution providing 167 undergraduate programmes, with 12 sub-sections and 2 specialist schools providing interdisciplinary programmes from the natural sciences to humanities.
  1. Vietnam National University – HCMC branch
  • Founded in 1995, VNU-HCMC consists of 9 distinct institutions with a student body of 60,000 undergraduate students. It has strengths in engineering and technology, with its own Technology Management Center and government support as well as the new innovation hub located in Thu Duc New City.
  1. RMIT Vietnam – HCMC
  • As a local branch of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, it offers world-class higher education opportunities with campuses in Hanoi and HCMC. With 9% of the student body being foreigners, undergraduate programmes naturally range from business administration to engineering and beyond.

Is the application process the same for Vietnamese high school students?

For Vietnamese students, the application process goes as follows:

  1. Students take 5 end-of-year exams in their final year of high school in mid-late June.
  2. Students choose their first and second choice public universities.
  3. Their high school results will be announced (maximum of 30 marks) before the deadline for university selection (end of July).
  4. The public universities will announce the entry grade (in mid-August). If high school students do not make it to either of their two choices, they can choose to enroll in private universities, colleges or other training institutions.

Unlike international students, final high-school exam grades will determine the university destination for Vietnamese high school students. Vietnamese high school students take 5 exams during this period: Maths, Foreign Language, Vietnamese, Natural Sciences (Biology, Chemistry and Physics) and Social Sciences (History, Geography and Social Studies). Once their grade is announced (maximum 30 marks), they will choose their first and second choice for public universities. After this, they wait until the universities announce the entry grade for the courses they are interested in, and begin applying to them.


With an internationalised and improved higher education system along with its low cost of living and bustling atmosphere, Vietnam offers a great choice for international students to embark on a memorable experience during their studies. 

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