MBBS in Singapore: A Study Guide for International Students

    MBBS in Singapore is a 5 year degree offered by only two universities. The country houses the Asia’s top university National University of Singapore, which is ranked 11th in the world by the QS News Ranking of 2020. For medicine, it is placed in the 21st position. Despite being an expensive city, funding is readily available and the unemployment rate is also negligible at 2.2%.

    • The average cost of study is 28,004 SGD per year which is considered cheaper than the UK or the USA.
    • Government scholarships for international students in Singapore like the Ministry of Education tuition grant scheme cover a portion of the living costs also.
    • According to WHO, Singapore is ranked 6th in the world for its health care systems.
    • There is a lot of scope after completing MBBS in Singapore universities with an average salary of doctors being 96,499 SGD - 109,668 SGD per annum. 

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    Why Study MBBS in Singapore?

    From 2016 to 2019, the average annual salary of doctors in Singapore increased by 7% according to 

    Average Salary of Doctors in Singapore

    Following are some other reasons for pursuing MBBS from Singapore:

    • Expenditure on Education: Singapore has a literacy rate of about 94.45%. It spends nearly 19.6% of its total revenue on education with 35.28% of the share on higher education only. There are about 2.35 doctors for every 1000 people in Singapore.
    • High Employability: Singapore has a high rate of employment, accounting to nearly 88%. It has an unemployment rate as low as 2.2%. 
    • Easy accessibility of scholarships: The Ministry of Education in Singapore offers tuition grants to international students. As per the scholarship deed, a student has to stay back after the course completion and work to pay off the loan amount. 
    • Permanent Residency: About 82% of the candidates get successful Permanent Residency out of all the applied. Over the last decade, there has been a steady rise in the number of international students granted Permanent Residency. Till 2017, it stood at 6000.
    • Safe environment: Singapore had topped the Law and Order Index for 5 consecutive years as per a global study published in 2018. The environment is favourable and conducive. According to Gallup, 94% of adults in Singapore feel comfortable while travelling at night which is much higher than the global average. Also, the Global Smart City Performance Index had named it as the safest city in 2017.
    • Multicultural Ethnicity: Singapore is the melting pot of culture. There are over four official languages that include English, Malay, Tamil and Chinese.

    Universities for MBBS in Singapore

    Only two universities, namely National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Nanyang University of Technology offer MBBS in Singapore. A brief summary of them is provided below:

    Feature National University of Singapore Nanyang University of Technology
    School Offering MBBS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine
    Program Duration 5 years 5 years
    Annual Program Fees (in SGD) 61,850 70,500
    QS News World University Ranking for Medicine 2020 21 -
    THE World University Ranking 2020 25 48

    Course Curriculum of MBBS in Singapore

    The curriculum of MBBS in Singapore is divided into 5 phases. Phase 1 and 2 consists of general subjects related to medicine and human anatomy. They build a foundational knowledge of students. Phase 3, 4 and 5 delves deeper into the field and teaches specifics of medicine and surgery. Students are given options to choose electives in these last three phases.

    Some of the courses taught in various phases are:

    Foundations of Human Biology: The Cell Musculoskeletal System
    Endocrine & Reproductive Systems Cancer Biology
    Principles of Pharmacology and Systemic Pharmacology Neuroscience & Musculoskeletal
    Medicine Orthopaedic Surgery
    Obstetrics and Gynaecology Forensic Medicine
    Dermatology Acute Care comprising Anaesthesia and Emergency Medicine
    Immunology Clinical Skills Foundation Programme

    Practical training is part of each course and universities ensure this with the help of tie-ups with hospitals and medical clinics. 

    Admission Process of MBBS in Singapore

    MBBS in Singapore is considered a first degree. Hence, students completing a high school diploma can directly apply to this program. 

    Where to Apply: Students can apply for admission in Singapore universities directly via the official website. 

    Admission Requirements for MBBS in National University of Singapore

    Students can apply via two methods for the MBBS program in NUS. Shortlisted students are invited for an interview. 

    • Option 1: Normal Scheme

    All the applicants are firstly considered for admission via normal scheme. Following are the requirements for this route: 

    • Completion of senior secondary diploma or Class 12
    • High school and senior school completion certificates
    • Passing score in 5 subjects including English
    • Passing score in University Entrance Exam (UEE)
    • Option 2: Aptitude-Based Admission

    If you are not shortlisted for admission via normal route, you have the option of reapplying through aptitude-based admission route. You have to submit a medicine portfolio to apply via this route. Requirements of medicine portfolio are:

    • A personal statement of approximately 500 words
    • List of co-curricular activities
    • Official certificate of junior college or high school
    • Nomination of two 2 referees who will complete online referee report

    Admission Requirements for MBBS in Nanyang Technological University

    • Completion of 12 years of education or appearing for the final year of high school exam
    • Passing score in NTU entrance exam
    • BMAT test score
    • Personal statement of approximately 300 words
    • Completed online referee report by at least two individuals
    • Non-academic achievements (in any)
    • Pass standardised set of screening and vaccination requirements set by the Ministry of Health, Singapore
    • Criminal record declaration 
    • Interview of shortlisted students

    English Proficiency Requirements for International Students

    International students are required to demonstrate proficiency in English langauge by submitting TOEFL/IELTS scores. The average IELTS score accepted is 6.5.

    Visa Requirements for International Students

    After receiving the letter of offer from the particular Institute of Higher Learning (IHL) student has to register for a Student Pass in Singapore. The application has to be made via SOLAR , that requires the applicant to fill eForm 16. The applicant must pay a fee of 21.74 SGD while registering and 43.48 SGD after successful acceptance. 

    Students must have the following documents to apply for student pass: 

    • A valid travel document
    • Offer Letter from the college
    • Notification from the applied institute
    • 4 passport size photograph
    • Permanent address and contact information in Singapore
    • Personal Email ID
    • A compilation of residential, academic, employment and financial records Information on parents (if needed).

    After arrival, a student is required to submit three things namely Passport, Original copy of IPA and the D/E card.

    Cost of Studying MBBS in Singapore

    Studying abroad has basically three types of expenses associated with it: Pre-arrival Cost, Tuition Fees and Cost of Living.

    Pre-arrival Cost

    Following are the one-time expenses that you might have to pay before arrival to the country: 

    Type of Expense Cost (in SGD)
    Application Fees 10 – 30
    IELTS 365
    TOEFL 355
    Visa Fee 65

    Cost of Living in Singapore

    According to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s worldwide cost of living report, Singapore has been placed above all other countries. It is considered to be the most expensive city in the world. However, a student can make choices accordingly to save more, like one can opt for a renter shared apartment or an on-campus residency over a furnished fully-owned flat or choose public transport over a personal car.

    Following table provides an average cost of living in Singapore for students: 

    Types of Expenses Costs (in SGD)
    Monthly rent (900sqft) in normal area $2,636
    Basic meal (lunch and dinner) $12 for lunch and $54 for dinner
    Internet 8mbps for a month $43
    1 min of prepaid tariff (without any plans) $0.25
    Monthly ticket for public transport $91
    Utilities like electricity, gas etc (monthly cost) $160

    Accommodation Available for Students in Singapore

    There are majorly two types of accommodation in Singapore available for students. 

    • On-campus: Halls of residence and student residences are offered by many colleges catering especially to their international students. However, there is a shortage in the number of halls in comparison to the active number of full-time students opting for it.
    • Off-campus: This arrangement is more readily available to students. There are Housing Development Board flats that are available for 1590 SGD - 2022 SGD. The cost range varies with factors such as type of room, location and condition of the room. Apart from that, there are shared flats or self-owned flats accessible to the international students.

    Scholarships for MBBS in Singapore

    As per Observatory on Borderless Higher Education, out of 70,000 international students in Singapore 3000 are Indians. Also, 52% of international students in Singapore are eligible to borrow from their top banks. 

    Some of the grants and scholarships for international students in Singapore are provided below: 

    MOE Tuition Grant Scheme: As per the grant an international student is eligible to borrow a loan amount after the letter of invitation from his/her host college. 

    • There is no stipulated loan amount mentioned. 
    • The borrower must sign the 3-year bond, and stay back after course completion to pay off the grant money.
    • The deadline for the application depends upon the host college.
    • For NUS the special term 1 is between 25-29th May 2020, and special term 2 is between 6-10th July 2020. 

    ASEAN Undergraduate Scholarship: The ASEAN scholarship is meant for undergraduate students studying in Singapore. The scholarship aims to pay off the remaining tuition fee after sanctioning of the MOE scheme. 

    • The living allowance offered is around 4206.42 SGD per/year. T
    • Three major institutions that accept the grant are National University of Singapore(NUS), National Technical University(NTU) and Singapore Management University(SMU). 
    • The deadline for the scholarship is 14-15th October.

    Dr Goh Keng Swee Scholarship: Dr GKS Scholarship is accessible to students from Brunei, Cambodia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, PRC, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos and Myanmar. 

    • The scholarship is for colleges like NUS, NTU, SMU or SUTD. 
    • The applicant must reflect leadership qualities and with a fairly good record of co-curricular activities. 
    • The scholarship covers tuition fees, airfare, an annual allowance of 6500 SGD, hostel allowance as per chosen college and an additional allowance of 200 SGD after arrival. The official deadline for the scholarship is 15th March.

    There are other scholarships offered by host colleges like Undergraduate Scholarships at NUS, and the SMART Scholarship Program. 

    For the scholarships awarded by host colleges, the eligibility criteria is quite high as most of them are merit-based. The applicants must have a GPA of 3.8 or above with an ACT score of 31 or SAT score of 1430. The applicant must also hold a place within the top 5% of his/her class.

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    Scope for MBBS in Singapore

    INSEAD placed Singapore on the 7th position in its Global Innovation Index for the year 2015. The World Economic Forum in its Global Competitiveness Report has placed Singapore in the 2nd position. 

    • As per and, General Practice Physicians in Singapore are paid approximately 97,299 SGD - 1,11,184 SGD per annum. 
    • Also, the Doctors Directory of Singapore puts a figure of 30,02,305 SGD as the annual salary of Senior Specialist Doctors working in hospitals.

    As per the ranking of the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy, the healthcare facilities in Singapore is placed at number 3 in the world. Medical Practitioners are rated highly in Singapore. Doctors can work in two types of healthcare facilities broadly divided into Private and Public Healthcare.

    • Private Healthcare facilities offer better services and the waiting hours is also minimum but the price is slightly higher than public facilities.
    • Public Healthcare facilities are usually divided into 6 clusters. They set high standards for hi-tech equipment, cost efficiency and more hospital beds.

    Medical tourism is also something that is widely explored by people visiting Singapore for treatment.


    Ques. How much does it cost to study MBBS in Singapore?

    Ans. The average cost to pursue MBBS in Singapore is around 28,004 SGD which is cheaper than the US or UK

    Ques. What is the minimum duration of studying MBBS in Singapore?

    Ans. The duration of study for MBBS in Singapore is 5 years for native students and six years for foreign students.

    Ques. What is the basic cost of living in Singapore?

    Ans. Since Singapore is one of the most expensive places to live as a foreign student. An international student has to shell out 750 SGD - 2000 SGD every month for living expenses despite taking a cheaper route.

    Ques. Name some of the colleges that offer MBBS in Singapore

    Ans. National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University are the two universities of Singapore offering MBBS degree.