Graduate studies in Singapore – A student’s perspective

Choosing a country for your graduate school can be a difficult choice with each country having its own perks and quirks. You can’t really make a decision until you have heard the experiences of people who have actually been there. We got in touch with Jayantika Soni, who got her Ph.D. from the National University of Singapore and asked her to share her experience about the course and studying in Singapore.

Which course did you take and what are you doing right now?

I did my Ph.D. in power and energy area at the National University of Singapore.  I started RESync Technologies (, in Aug 2017 and I’m leading the technical team. We work in intelligent energy management domain for renewable energy. 

What is the general course duration for MS and Ph.D. students?

MS is usually 1.5-3 years and Ph.D. between 3-5 years depending on the workload of the coursework and thesis etc. 

How difficult is it to get into schools in Singapore?

It is a very subjective question – it can depend on a lot of factors like the course, the GPA, the GRE/GMAT, and TOEFL scores, the current research projects and your alignment with it. 

How much is the average tuition fees and cost of living for a student?

The tuition fee is subjected to the course selected, scholarship or waiver you get etc. The basic cost of living with campus housing can come around to around 1200-1800 SGD per month, but it totally depends on your lifestyle. I had a full scholarship with a monthly stipend for my Ph.D. course.

What are the funding options available to incoming students?

There are different scholarships depending on the course type. Master students have some option of signing a fee waiver for a bond (it is subjected to policy every semester and if you are accepted to it). There are multiple scholarships for Ph.D. programs, like NUS research scholarship, President scholarship, NGS scholarship, AStar scholarship etc (All of them have different criteria and policy on them keeps changing too). 

What are the average salaries for fresh grads?

It depends on the course, qualifications, previous work experience, industry you want to work in etc. It can lie from 4-8k SGD, but again a lot of factors come into play, primarily it being how good a fit you’re in the role you’ve applied. 

Is it difficult to find a job when you graduate?

A couple of things play a role. First and most important being how good fit you’re in the role you’ve applied. Second, Singapore companies have to prefer locals (Singaporeans and Permanent Residents) over foreigners when offering a job, right now there’s a 14 day cover period where the position is exclusively open to locals. The third is obviously how’s the economy doing and if your skill sets are useful in the industry you’re looking for. 

Why did you choose Singapore over other countries?

National University of Singapore (NUS) is ranked best university in Asia and in the top 1% worldwide. It is equipped with exceptional research facilities and amazing grant opportunities. I talked to my supervisor before coming to NUS and discussed with him possible research areas he was working on and it struck a chord with me. Additionally, I was offered a full scholarship with a stipend for my course. Another bonus factor was Singapore is closer to India both physically and culturally which mattered for me. I also had offers for MS  from the University of Minnesota and Illinois Institute of Technology and Ph.D. from the University of Central Florida. 

Are the immigration and visa policies helpful for international students?

The student visa process is a breeze as it totally depends if the university had selected you for a course. Anecdotally speaking, local foreign students are preferred over direct foreign hire, but I’m not aware of any formal policies or process. 

What is one thing that you liked the most about studying in Singapore?

I love how safe this country is! As a woman growing up in India, this was a game changer for me. Most of the bureaucratic processes are very straightforward. An additional personal bonus point was its closeness in cultural values to India. 

Do you have any advice for students planning to pursue higher studies?

While selecting the university for your masters don’t get fixated on university ranking alone. Look at the overall offerings of the program, research labs, supervisors, alumni network etc and how it adds value to your profile. 

We hope this gives you a better idea about studying in Singapore. We recently wrote an article comparing MS programs from popular countries.  Check it out if you haven’t already!

Tell us in the comments below where you are planning to go for your grad degree and why.

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