Types of Higher Education Institutions

Singapore is coming forth as the hub of higher education with its world renowned quality of education. The education system of Singapore is the product of a unique set of historical, institutional and cultural influences. Singapore follows a flexible approach, thereby, availing students to develop their potential and achieve a global perspective. Higher education system in Singapore offers a range of different educational profiles and degrees.

Singapore has the following kinds of higher education institutions:
  • Universities
  • Polytechnic
  • Institute of Technical Education
  • Specialised Arts Schools
  • Private Education


Singapore has a number of universities. These Universities are publicly-funded, private, national, and branch campuses of foreign higher education institutions. Singapore has five autonomous universities: the National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Management University, Singapore University of Technology & Design, Singapore Institute of Technology and one private university: SIM University.

Courses Offered 

Most universities offer a broad range of subjects from theology, arts and humanities, law, economics and business administration, sociology and social sciences, medicine, natural sciences, mathematics and computer science, engineering, agricultural and forestry sciences through to the various teacher training subjects. 


The time span of the degree courses at Universities is 3 to 5 years.

Degrees Offered

  • Bachelor
  • Master
  • Doctoral

 Admission Requirements  

International students planning to pursue higher education in Singapore should be above 17 years of age as per the Ministry of Education (MoE).
Admission criteria for undergraduate and postgraduate study vary from institution to institution and from program to program. The most important prerequisite is English language proficiency. At all Singaporean universities, English is the language of instruction. An applicant has to provide evidence of proficiency in the English language - IELTS or TOEFL.


The polytechnics in Singapore offer practice-oriented studies at the diploma level. Polytechnics are key providers of continuing education and post-employment professional development services. Presently there are five polytechnics in Singapore, namely, Nanyang Polytechnic, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Republic Polytechnic, Singapore Polytechnic and Temasek Polytechnic. 

Study Areas 

A wide array of courses is offered at polytechnics that include Info-communications, Business Studies, Design, Engineering and Mass Communication. For students who aim to carve a specific career path, the polytechnics also offer specialized courses like Marine Engineering, Film & Arts, Nautical Studies, and Optometry. 


The duration for study at Polytechnics is generally 3 years.

Degree Offered

  • Certificate
  • Diploma
  • Advanced diploma
  • Specialist diploma

Admission Requirements

Polytechnics accept students based on their GCE "O" level, GCE "A" level or Institute of Technical Education (ITE) results. The most important prerequisite is English language proficiency. An applicant has to provide evidence of proficiency in the English language.

Institute of Technical Education

The Institute of Technical Education (ITE) offers technical-oriented studies. ITE develops technical knowledge and skills of the students and prepares them for several industry sectors. Students are given the option of choosing between full or part-time educational or traineeship courses. ITE is additionally the central developer of national occupational skills certification and standards to enhance Singapore's workforce competitiveness. ITE comprises of three Colleges: ITE College Central, ITE College East and ITE College West.

Study Areas

Courses offered at ITE are applied sciences, business, design and media, electronics and information communications technology, engineering and hospitality.


The duration of courses offered at ITE is 1 to 3 years.

Degree Offered

ITE provides four main levels of certification:
  • Master National ITE Certificate (Master Nitec)
  • Higher National ITE Certificate (Higher Nitec)
  • National ITE Certificate (Nitec)
  • Technical Engineer Diploma (TED) 

Admission Requirements

The Institute of Technical Education (ITE) accepts students based on their GCE "O" level or GCE "N" level results. The most important prerequisite is English language proficiency. An applicant has to provide evidence of proficiency in the English language.

English Language Requirements

 It is mandatory to provide evidence of proficiency in English language to study in higher education institutions in Singapore. You can take one of the following:

  • IELTS: IELTS or International English Language Test. Most universities require international students to take this test.
  • TOEFL: TOEFL or Test of English as a Foreign Language is important to take for admission in Singaporean Universities/Institutions.

Specialised Arts Schools

The Nanyang academy of Fine arts (NAFA) and LASALLE College of the Arts (LASALLE) are the specialized arts schools that offer specialist creative education to enhance your artistic ability. These arts schools offer both diploma and degree courses.

Study Areas

Courses offered at Specialized Arts Schools are as follows:
  • At NAFA – Advertising, Dance, Fashion Design, Furniture, Jewellery, Landscape & Architecture, ,  Illustration Design with Animation, theatre,  and more.
  • At LASALLE – Fashion, Animation, Music, Broadcast Media, Interior Design, Production, and more.

Admission Requirements

The Arts schools accept students based on 5 GCE O-level results including English language test- TOEFL/IELTS scores or a Nitec/ Higher Nitec certificate. You likewise need to pass an entrance exam or audition, which may include submitting a portfolio. You can apply directly to NAFA and LASSALE.

Private Education

Private Education offers alternative choices to those trying to boost their studies or enhance their skills.
Visit the website of the council for Private Education (CPE) at www.cpe.gov.sg to check the private schools and courses of study.
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