Tuition fees for Singapore PhDs can be expensive, but the good news is there are plenty of scholarship and support options available, to encourage international talent. The fees you will face as well as the support options available will vary by university and by the subject area but this should provide an overview of what is available.
The typical fee for an unsubsidised postgraduate course for international students is around S$38,780 (USD $28,770). However, many courses are eligible for government subsidy, reducing the cost of tuition to around S$20,000 (USD $14,800). This subsidy is available from the Ministry of Education (MOE).
Service obligation scheme
Singapore residents and citizens who are eligible for the MOE subsidy will have the subsidy applied to a supported programme by default. International students need to apply for the Service Obligation (SO) Scheme to have access to the same government subsidy.
In order to be eligible for the SO Scheme you must be applying for a graduate degree of a higher level to any you already hold, and your previous degree(s) must not have been sponsored by the Singapore government or government agency.
If you successfully apply for the Scheme then once you have acquired your doctorate, you will be required to undertake three years of work in a Singapore-based company. This is to ‘repay’ the Singapore government for subsidising your education.
Singaporean PhD Scholarships
There are also several scholarships that you can apply for that can cover the cost of tuition and in many cases provide a monthly stipend to help with living costs. Depending on the scholarship you acquire, these monthly stipends can be quite generous.
Here is a list of the most common scholarships you can apply for. They are subject to change and it’s always worth checking with your chosen institution for the most up to date information on available scholarships.
A*STAR Singapore International Graduate Award (SINGA)
The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) is a government affiliated body that supports research and development projects that intend to improve lives in Singapore. Supported projects fall into one of the following technology domains: Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering (AME), Health and Biomedical Sciences (HBMS), Urban Solutions and Sustainability (USS), and Services and Digital Economy (SDE).
The SINGA award represents a collaboration between the A*STAR, and the universities of NTU, NUS and SUTD. The award is only available for selected research projects and these are typically in the areas of biomedical sciences or physical science and engineering, in line with A*STAR’s aims.
The award is open to all international students, although to be successful you will need to be able to demonstrate a passion for research as well as excellent academic records. If you are successful, the award will cover 4 years of tuition fees and includes a monthly stipend of S$2,200 rising to S$2,700 after passing the QE. The award also includes an allowance for relocation.
Applications should be made to A*STAR before the deadline which is usually at the start of December.
University research scholarship
Each university has its own equivalent of this scholarship, which is awarded to outstanding graduates undertaking research in one of their faculties. Typically, to be eligible you must possess at least a second-class honour or equivalent in your undergraduate degree.
If you are successful in your application this award with cover your tuition fees and you can expect to receive around S$2,200 (USD $1,620) monthly stipend as an international student or around S$2,400 (USD $1,765) as a Citizen of Singapore. This often increases after passing your PhD Qualifying Examination.
If you wish to apply for this scholarship it is best to contact the university directly about how to go about this. Usually you will need to indicate your interest in the scholarship during your application to the PhD programme
Presidents graduate fellowship
The President graduate fellowship is similar to the research scholarship and is also issued by the university that you are applying to. It is significantly more competitive than the research scholarship and is only awarded to students who show exceptional promise or accomplishment in research.
The fellowship comes with more funding than the research scholarship. As a successful applicant you can expect a monthly stipend of around S$3,000 (USD $2,220) as an international student and S$3,500 (USD $2,600) as a Singapore citizen. The funding also includes provision for air travel and a settling allowance, to help with relocation to Singapore.
As with the research scholarship you will normally need to make your interest in the fellowship known in during your PhD application.
Tuition fee allowance
If you cannot acquire a scholarship the universities offer a tuition fee allowance to cover the cost of study. The requirements for eligibility vary by university but are largely similar to the research scholarships offered by the same.
This award will cover your tuition fees but will not provide a monthly stipend.
Loans / Work
Other forms of financial aid which are available include study loans and part-time appointments as graduate student tutor or student researcher.
If you wish to undertake part-time work at your institution or externally, make sure that your visa allows you to undertake paid work (see Visa/Immigration section) and that the institution where you are doing your PhD does not have regulations preventing it.