Study in Malaysia: Know top universities, courses and admission cycle
Updated on Jun 1, 2018 - 1:14 p.m. IST by Ranjini Basu #Malaysia
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Study in Malaysia - One of the primary reasons for Malaysia’s growing popularity among international aspirants is its affordable cost of education and high quality tertiary educational standards. To cite an example, candidates can acquire a UK engineering degree (three years) in Malaysia at an estimated cost of RM 68,000 (US$17,000), whereas the tuition fee of the same three-year degree programme at the host university in the UK will tentatively cost around £36,000 (or RM217,000 or US$ 54,250). Average living expenses may cost up to RM54,000 for three years. Presently, Malaysia is holding the world's 11th position as the most preferred study abroad destination for international candidates. According to UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation), Malaysia has captured a two percent market share of international students in the fast-growing education domain. According to recent statistics, Malaysia currently has accommodated more than 100,000 international students from more than 100 countries across the globe. Moreover, the country has established some of the top colleges and universities like the Universiti Malaya (UM), Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), and the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, which rank among the top 500 universities in the world (QS World University Ranking). The icing on the cake is that Malaysia is known to be travellers’ paradise over decades. Occasionally, some colleges organise class tours to one of its stunning beaches or adventure islands. Life in Malaysia can be a constant adventure where classroom lectures amalgamate with practical experience/application. 


Study in Malaysia: Country introduction


With immense popularity as one of the finest holiday destinations for tourists, Malaysia’s consistent track record in the field of education justifies its fast emergence as a sought-after study destination. Interestingly enough, almost one in every ten students who study in Malaysia is international-one of the highest proportions worldwide. As an Indian student in Malaysia, one may feel at home since India falls under the three largest ethnic groups in Malaysia, namely the Malays, Chinese and Indians. The country is multi-cultural, with people from different religions, customs, and practices. International students do not face any security issues and enjoy a comfortable living environment with modern amenities, good healthcare and medical facilities, excellent educational institutions, and world-class recreational and sports facilities. Malaysia offers international students many options of quality education programmes at much affordable cost. If an aspirant wants to explore a life away from his/her native country, Malaysia is the most viable place to opt for!


Study in Malaysia: Top 20 Universities in Malaysia 2018


According to the Institute of International Education (IIE), Malaysia is home to over 100,000 international students. The average ratio of international to domestic students who study in Malaysia is 1:10, thus competing with major study abroad destinations like Australia and Japan. Interesting news is that the Malaysian government has plans to attract more than 200,000 foreign students to its shore 2020 and has a variety of educational schemes in place for aspirants planning to study in Malaysia. Asian countries including Bangladesh, India and China among others dominate in terms of the number of students; they mostly pursue full-time and online degree courses in Malaysia.

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Top 20 Universities to study in Malaysia: QS World University Rankings (2018)

Name of University

QS Ranking

Universiti Malaya (UM)


Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM)


Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM)


Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM)


Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM)


Universiti Teknologi Petronas (Petronas)


International Islamic University Malaysia


Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM)


Universiti Teknologi MARA – UiTM


Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL)


Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM)


SEGi University


Management and Science University


Taylor’s University


INTI International University & Colleges


Universiti Malaysia Perlis


Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin


Asia Pacific University of Technology and Innovation (APU)


Sunway University


Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR)


Study in Malaysia: Admission Cycle


For candidates aspiring to study in Malaysia, the initial step is to start research on universities. The following steps include the understanding of the admission cycle in Malaysia, application process and deadlines, mode of payment, visa requirement etc. In this article, Careers brings information related to the admission cycle of Malaysia including the application deadlines of some of the universities. It is crucial to be well-versed the Malaysia admission cycle as it helps international students to keep themselves updated with the application deadlines and processes. In Malaysia, the academic session for both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes start in February.


Malaysia Admission Cycle: Timeline for February Intake

May- June (previous year):

Research on universities options


Register for the standardised test and appear for the test (TOEFL/IELTS/PTE Academic/GRE/GMAT/SAT)


Prepare the application package and obtain your test scores.


Begin application procedure


Applications close


Colleges start replying to received applications


Prepare your finances, explore scholarships avenues and apply for education loans, if required

December- January

Apply for the Student Visa


Departure preparations/Logistical arrangements

February end

Session begins


Study in Malaysia: Timeline of Admission Cycle


Candidates considering Malaysia for studying abroad are strongly recommended to start the application procedure 8-12 months prior to the respective intake schedules. Intakes in Public Universities are scheduled in September. Intakes in Private Universities are typically scheduled in the months of February, July, September.


Malaysia admission cycle 2017-18:


Level of study

Application deadline

Universiti of Malaya


February 2018 Intake- Two months prior to date of intake

September 2018 Intake- Two months prior to date of intake


February 2018 Intake- Two months prior to date of intake

September 2018 Intake- Two months prior to date of intake

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia


February 2018 Intake- November 30, 2017

September 2018 Intake- May 30, 2018


February 2018 Intake- 30th November 2017

September 2018 Intake- 30th June 2018

Universiti Putra Malaysia


February Intake – NA

September 2018 Intake- 31st May 2018



Universiti Sains Malaysia


April 2018


February 2018 Intake- Mid-October 2017

September 2018 Intake- Mid-June 2018

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia


NA (Online application open in January every year)


February 2018 Intake - October and November 2017

September 2018 Intake - April and May 2018

Source- University’s official website


Please note that- The Malaysia admission deadline dates for most of the universities are scheduled in October of the previous year for February intake and May-June of the same year for the September intake. If an aspirant plans to get into a good university, he/she should complete the application process within the mentioned time-frame. However, the deadline may vary depending on the university and its programmes/courses. Therefore, it is advisable to consult with the department concerned before applying to any particular university.


Study in Malaysia: Eligibility Criteria


The eligibility criteria for the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes differ in terms of educational qualification, countries where aspirants hail from, universities applying to.


Following are the eligibility criteria of a few renowned universities for both UG and PG courses-

Name of University

Undergraduate Eligibility Criteria

Postgraduate Eligibility Criteria

Universiti Malaya (UM)

  • IELTS- A band of 5.0 and above

  • TOEFL- 500 (PBT), 173 (CBT) or 60 (IBT) and above

  • National Higher School Certificate (or an Advanced Level equivalent) with the grade 80 percent and above


  • A Diploma from recognised institutions with at least a CGPA of 3.00.


  • Applicants must obtain a Bachelor’s degree from a recognised university with an overall CGPA of at least 3.00.

  • IELTS- 5.5/6 Band

  • TOEFL iBT- 80,

  • TOEFL CBT- 213,

  • PBT- 550.



Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM)

  • IELTS - Minimum overall score of 5.5

  • TOEFL- Minimum overall score of 500

  • National Higher School Certificate holder (or an Advanced Level or the

equivalent of 12 years of basic education) with the grade 80 percent and above.


  • A Diploma from recognised Institutions with at least a CGPA of 3.00.

  • IELTS- 5.5/6 Band

  • TOEFL iBT- 80,

  • TOEFL CBT- 213,

  • TOEFL PBT- 550.

  • Applicants must obtain a Bachelor’s degree from a recognised university with an overall CGPA of at least 3.00.



Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM)

  • IELTS (Academic)- An overall band score of 5.5 Band

  • TOEFL iBT- >59, PBT- 500.

  • Higher Secondary Course Certificate / Higher Secondary School Certificate

  • Higher Secondary Examination (Class XII) Certificate, Government of Kerala, Board of

Higher Secondary Examination

  • All Indian Senior School Certificate

  • IELTS ≥ Band 6.0

  • TOEFL PBT ≥ 550

  • TOEFL (IBT) ≥ 79

  • Applicants must obtain a Bachelor’s degree from a recognised university with an overall CGPA of at least 3.00 or higher/75 percent.

  • Some scores require work experience as well.


Study in Malaysia: Fee specifications


There are two classifications of the fee, namely Academic Fees and Non-Academic Fees.



Academic Fees

  • Registration fee

  • Tuition fee

  • Deposit

  • Computer/Science laboratory fee

  • Health & hospitalisation insurance premium

  • Library fee

  • Other incidental costs such as examination fees

Non-Academic Fees

  • Student visa fees

  • Medical check-up

  • Health and hospitalisation insurance premium


Study in Malaysia: Scholarships


Scholarships, assistantships, and fellowships are usually available for postgraduate students aspiring to study in Malaysia, depending either on availability within the institution and academic record of applicants. Moreover, a number of scholarships are available from other institutions and organisations, such as the Malaysian government itself. However, candidates should know scholarship deadlines vary amongst institutions. Some of the scholarships offered by some of the famed universities are as the following-


Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) :

  • IGSS (International Graduate Student Scholarship)

  • Malaysian International Scholarship (MIS) - For New International Students

  • Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) and Sime Darby (YSD) Collaborative Scholarship Programme

  • GRA (Graduate Research Assistantship)

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) :

  • Malaysian International Scholarship (MIS)

  • Islamic Development Bank (IDB)

  • Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan (CSFP)

  • Malaysian Technical Cooperation Programme (MTCP)

Study in Malaysia: Malaysia admission and Visa cycle


Once the prospective student gets confirmation from the university on his/her admission, the next major step is to obtain the visa. The students must apply for the Malaysian visa at least three months prior to the commencement of the academic session. International students need a ‘student pass’ similar to student visa as it is a key element to consider after applying for the chosen course. If a student is studying in Malaysia for more than a year i.e., two semesters, then he/she will have to renew the student pass as it is valid for one year only. Once students accept their study offer in Malaysia, they need to apply for the ‘Student Pass’. After which students will receive an approval letter which they will need to produce to the immigration officials at the Malaysian airport. The Malaysian Student Visa does not have any multiple categories. All international students, whether they have an offer from Private or government institution have to apply for the Malaysian Student Pass. Foreign students can apply for the Malaysian Student Pass through the Department of Immigration Malaysia.


Study in Malaysia: Key facts of student visa


Malaysian government provides ‘Student Pass’ to international students who aspire to pursue their studies in the country. In most cases, the Malaysian student visa is facilitated by the university that the student has been admitted to. Foreign students can apply at the Department of Immigration Malaysia as well. It tentatively takes around seven to eight weeks for the student pass to be processed, if all documents are submitted by the candidate. For international students who study in Malaysia, Student Passes are valid for a period of 12 months. The application process for the renewal of visas has to be initiated six weeks before the expiry of the student visa. Another key element for visa processing is candidate photo. Two recent photographs should be submitted. (One loose and one affixed on the application form). Photograph specification: 3.5cm X 5cm 60 percent-70 percent face appearance in white background. Photographs should clearly show from crown to shoulders.


Visa specifications:-


Following are the specifications for Malaysian visa required for study in Malaysia-


Malaysian Student Pass


Foreign students in government as well as private education institutions

Cost of application

INR 1000/-

Additional cost

Not Applicable


RM (Malaysian ringgit)


The Student Pass lasts for up to one year – or the length of one’s study period if that’s less than a year. Students need to renew it annually if they’re studying for more than two semesters.

Passport validity

Passport should be valid for at least six months upon arrival in Malaysia.

Part-time job

Allowed for 20 hours.

Note- International student aspiring to pursue higher studies in Malaysia must apply for the Visa With Reference (VDR), meant for students, and NOT Visa Without Reference (VTR). Malaysian Student Visa without reference is only for the purpose of social visit.


Depending on the course and type of school aspirants are applying to, they have the following types of application categories-

  • A foreigner in Government Schools;

  • A foreigner in Private Schools;

  • A foreigner in public higher education institutions;

  • A foreigner in private higher education institutions;

  • A foreigner in language centres;

  • A foreigner in training centres under Department of Skill Development;

  • A holder of Dependant Pass (Expatriate).

  • Dependents of students can also accompany them on the Malaysian Student Pass. However, only Postgraduate and PhD students can avail this opportunity. 

Study in Malaysia: Living Expenses


Malaysia is one of the affordable destinations to pursue higher education, especially, if compared with countries like the USA and Australia. The tuition fees in Malaysian universities are much lower than many universities across the globe with many charging just about USD 5,000 for engineering programmes against over USD40,000 in the USA for similar courses. The next big expense pertaining to accommodation also comes as a relief to candidates as the housing costs are just around RM300 in Malaysia. For maintenance, international students could require around RM500 including food, transportation, and other daily expenses.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


1> Is there any age bar to apply for student visa? 

Ans: No, there is no age bar for applying for a Malaysian Student Pass. One can apply for a Student Pass only after being admitted to a programme at a Malaysian university.

In fact, there is no age bar for applying to the university programmes either. Students aspiring for Bachelors should have passed their senior secondary and those vying for postgraduate programmes should have obtained undergraduate degrees.


2> Do I have to appear for an interview?

Ans: No. Unlike some countries, international students are not required to appear for an interview for the Malaysian student visa. Students have to submit their documents along with the application form and the immigration department responds to the application within a week’s time. Most of the visa work is done through the universities.


3> What are the documents required to apply for Visa for education abroad? (Please cover answer to "What funds do I have to show the immigration authority?") 

Ans: Here are the documents that applicants have to submit:

a. Two photocopies of a valid passport.

b. Two passport size photographs with white background.

c. Original copy of Offer letter from University

d. Pre-arrival medical examination reported

e. Academic certificates


4> What happens when my Student Visa expires? (Please cover answer to "What happens when my Student Visa expires and I want to pursue an additional programme?") 

Ans: Malaysian Student Passes are valid for just one year. After that students have to renew the Passes. Students can apply for renewal with their universities themselves. Education Malaysia Global Services requires students to submit their renewal applications within six weeks from the student pass expiry date. The Students do not have to go through medical screening for renewal of their visas.


5> Does my student visa allow me to work?

Ans: Yes, international students in Malaysia are allowed to work while pursuing their studies in the country. However, the country has some rules for foreign students who want to explore work opportunities. Here are some points: 

  • International students are only allowed to work part-time

  • International students are permitted to work during their semester breaks, holidays and if they have more than seven holidays.

  • Foreign students can work 20 hours per week. International students can choose to work in restaurants, petrol pumps, mini markets and hotels. Malaysia does not allow foreign students to take up jobs as singers, cashiers, masseurs, musicians and guest relation officers among others.

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Questions related to Malaysia

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My kid is doing A levels in Malaysia with Biology Chemistry & Maths only. No Physics. Is she eligible to apply for NEET 2020. It is compulsory to attempt NEET exam to get eligibility cert. to do MBBS from abroad. Is physics needed... as UK accepts Maths OR Physics for MBBS admission.

Priyaanka Sarkar Student Expert 30th Oct, 2019

Dear Sandeep, you haven't mentioned your kid's Nationality. If your kid has Indian Citizenship but is in Malaysia only to study but plans on appearing for NEET as an Indian National, then yes NEET is mandatory either to study in India or abroad. For beibg eligible for NEET, he/she should have completed 10+2 or equivalent with Biology, Chemistry and Physics as his/her core subjects. Physics is a mandatory exam for NEET. There cannot be any exception to that whether the country your kid chooses to study needs Physics or Mathematics. Physics, Chemistry and Biology are the mandatory subjects to appear for NEET. This rule applies to NRIs, OCI, and PIOs who want to study MBBS in India. But if your kid is a NRI/OCI/PIO then he/she doesn't need NEET to study in another country.

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