PhD in Singapore


Singapore, a small island country in the Malay Peninsula, has grown from a small trading country to one of the most developed economies in Asia over a span of few decades. It consists of one main island and several small islets that form a sovereign nation. The country now boasts of its great business centre and high standard of living, and has created a home for world-class academic institutions. The population comprises of people from Chinese, Malay, Indian and European background, making it very culturally diverse. Additionally, there is a vibrant student and professional community consisting of people from all over the world. The lion-country has also been successful in developing a robust law and order structure, thus making it a safe haven for its residents and travellers alike. It has a well-developed transport network and great infrastructure which form the backbone of this nation’s growth trajectory.

Singapore is rated as a very popular student destination for the following reasons:

• World Class Academic institutions and universities at comparatively less cost than Australia and the USA
• A wide array of program choices suiting students’ varied preferences
• Scholarships are available for meritorious students
• A buzzing business hub boasts offices of many MNCs, and employment opportunity is high
• Exciting city life and state of the art infrastructure
• Very low crime rate makes Singapore a safe place to study
• English is one of the official languages and the programs are mostly conducted in English
• An international destination closer to India lowers travelling costs


Some of the common subjects are related to natural sciences, management, health, social sciences, engineering, architecture and medicine. Students who have completed their Masters at a first-class or upper second-class institution can apply for a PhD, as Indian degrees are accepted in Singapore. Some of the Business/Management programs require work experience. In addition, minimum test score requirements (GRE and TOEFL/IELTS) must also be met, but meeting the minimum does not guarantee admission. Networking with potential supervisors prior to application is not mandatory but is advisable. In certain cases, submission of a research proposal at the time of application may be necessary. To apply for a PhD, students are also expected to have a strong research background, with relevant experience and strong letters of recommendation. Candidates whose initial application is accepted may be shortlisted for further rounds of interview before an admission decision is made by the university.


IELTS and TOEFL are both accepted. Universities have the discretion to give exemptions on English Language requirements.


The average duration of PhD in Singapore is around 4 years, with a minimum of 2 years and a maximum of 5 years full-time. There are 2 primary intakes, in August (Fall) and January (Spring), and each intake has a specific deadline for application.


Students usually pursue coursework for 1 to 1.5 years and then take qualifying examinations. Upon successful completion, students move on to pursue their research for the remaining 3-4 years under the supervision of a professor. The course is complete after the student successfully writes up their research in the form of a thesis and defends it before a pre-determined panel of professors.


The standard of living is quite high in Singapore but students do get concessions, and on average a student would need SGD 1200 per month for living costs. Tuition fees would range between SGD 22000–SGD 30000 [Per what period?] but can vary by subject. Tuition fees for pursuing PhD degrees related to medicine and nursing tend to be higher. Scholarships are available for meritorious students. International universities with a campus in Singapore range from having nominal or no tuition fees to higher tuition fees compared to local universities.


PhD scholarships are mainly awarded based on academic excellence. The scholarship amount usually covers tuition and cost of living. Examples of some scholarships include:

• NUS research scholarships
• Singapore International Graduate Award (SINGA)


Universities in Singapore are either private or public campuses or branch campuses (satellite campuses) of other popular higher education institutions. There are six autonomous universities in Singapore:
• National University of Singapore
• Nanyang Technological University
• Singapore Management University
• Singapore University of Technology & Design
• Singapore Institute of Technology
• Singapore University of Social Sciences

National University of Singapore: Ranked 2nd in Asia and among the Top 20 Universities in the World by the QS ranking, NUS is a research-intensive university and applies a multi-disciplinary approach to academics. The major areas in which PhDs are conferred include natural sciences, social sciences, business, public health, engineering and medicine.

National Technical University: Taking the number one rank in Asia 11th in the world by the QS ranking, this is a research-intensive public university. The major areas in which PhDs are conferred include engineering, business, social sciences, medicine, international studies and education. The PhD program in education is conducted through NTU’s National Institute of Education, which is reputed to be the world’s best education system. NTU has joint and dual PhD degree programs with highly reputed international universities. Some of the university’s key partners in academia and research include Imperial College London, the Technical University of Munich, and the University of California, Berkeley.

Singapore Management University: Modelled as one of the top business schools in the world, the business and accountancy programs are ranked by AACSB and EQUIS. It is located in the downtown area, near the Central Business District. The university works closely with industry experts for various workshops and seminars allowing students to simulate real-life scenarios. The various PhD programs offered by the university are in the areas of accounting, business, economics, psychology, and more.

Singapore University of Social Science: This is one of the newer Universities in Singapore and offers limited programs in Business, Social Science, and various other subjects. The degrees are conferred through 5 major schools, namely, the School of Arts and Social Sciences, the School of Business, SR Nathan School of Human Development, the School of Law and the School of Science and Technology. The major areas in which PhDs are conferred include engineering, gerontology, Chinese language and literature, and business. In many cases, work experience of 2-3 years may be required to apply to the PhD program.


There are various collaborative PhD programs with leading global universities offered by the premium Singaporean universities. The various university collaborations are as follows:

• Singapore- MIT Alliance
• Singapore-Stanford partnership
• Singapore- University of Washington Alliance in Bioengineering
• Singapore-CMU

The following are some of the collaborative PhD degrees on offer:
• PhD in Engineering through NUS-IIT collaboration
• PhD in Integrated Biology and Medicine through Duke-NUS collaboration


The student visa application process is very simple and can be completed online. The visa documents comprise of copies of the student’s passport, birth certificate, academic documents, C.V., employment certificates (if applicable) and proof of adequate finances to cover the expenses for at least one year (financial documentation requirements can vary with academic institutions – private or public). Students in National Universities and Polytechnic can work part-time up to 16 hours weekly. Students attending private institutions are not allowed to work. Upon completion of their studies, students can extend their visas for job search.


Singapore, as a world economic hub, has lots of job opportunities in the field of business, banking & finance, engineering & manufacturing, information technology, service and hospitality. Other sectors like transport & logistics, retail, media and communication, and education also boast a significant international workforce. It is called the New York of the East for its concentration of MNC and local industries, and students benefit from the vast array of options to find their ideal career.