Follow a degree abroad in Malaysia and you will gain an international qualification that is recognized worldwide. International students coming to Malaysia enjoy quality education, an enriching student experience and benefit of low cost of living and affordable tuition fees.
Ranked in the top 20 most preferred study destination in the world among international students by UNESCO, in Malaysia you will be exposed to multiple languages, cultures and traditions and you will find numerous interesting places to explore.
Find the best information about what it’s like to study in Kuala Lumpur, including degree course offers, career opportunities, student life, living costs, and more.
In Malaysia, the higher education system is comprised of colleges, polytechnics and universities (public and private). You can even apply to reputed foreign universities that have set local branch campuses here.
The academic year usually starts in late February or early March and ends up in November, although some universities have adopted the Western university calendar, with the academic year starting in mid-September and finishing in June. Full-time Master’s degrees (MA, MSc/MS) usually last between two and six semesters (each consisting of 12 weeks), although sometimes it depends on the chosen course.
When applying to a private university or foreign university branch, always check whether if they are licensed and approved to accept international students, as according to local regulations, the institutions are required to be authorized by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency. In the case of public universities, they can all accept international students; however, they are restricted by a limited number and thus, carefully examine the eligibility of all the prospective students.
General Application Requirements
Most universities in Malaysia have set-up an easy application procedure that can usually be realised online. Many universities in Malaysia have agreements with representatives and recruitment partners overseas that you can turn to, in order to find more details about the application procedure, especially for undergraduate programmes.
These are the usual documents required in the application process:
1. Completed application form
2. Certified copies of all the academic qualifications (together with English translation where applicable)
3. Copies of IELTS/TOEFL etc. that prove English language proficiency (where applicable)
4. Receipt of the student visa processing fee
5. One (1) full set of photocopy of your passport – include all pages, including blank pages. (The passport must have a validity period of at least 12 months);
6. An updated resume (for purposes of MBA programme applications only);
7. English translations of all documents submitted
8. Completed Medical Report
Before coming to Malaysia, you need to apply for a student pass. The Malaysian higher education institution can apply for the student pass on your behalf, prior to your arrival.
Documents required for applying for a student pass:
- An offer letter or letter of acceptance from the educational institution to the student
- Student pass application form in duplicate
- Two photocopies of the student’s passport / travel document (with a validity period of at least 12 months)
- Three passport-sized photographs of the student
- One photocopy of the student’s medical health examination report
- Evidence of student’s ability to finance their education cost in Malaysia
With over 100 higher educational institutions, the study options in Malaysia are diverse and you can specialise in almost any field you can imagine.
You can select from arts and design to computing and IT, medicine, law, engineering, languages, economics, environmental studies, business, technology and more.
Joint degree qualifications and dual-award degree certifications are offered by universities that collaborate with partner foreign universities (students graduate with two degrees, one from each university).
Language of instruction
English is the main language of instruction at most private higher educational institutions. However, most Bachelor degree courses offered at public universities are taught in the national language, Bahasa Malaysia, while postgraduate studies are usually conducted in English.
You can demonstrate your English language proficiency through one of the following:
- studying English at Year 12 or equivalent
- studying at an institution where English is the language of instruction
- English Proficiency Tests (IELTS or TOEFL) or test of written English
International applicants who own the Malay language proficiency certification test for non-Malaysians (also known as Peperiksaan Sijil Kecekapan Bahasa Melayu Bagi Warganegara Asing (SKBMW)) can apply for a programme taught in Bahasa Malaysia.
Preparation courses in Malaysia
Some international students may not be able to attend a degree in Malaysia because their previous studies do not match the academic system of the country. To be allowed to take an undergraduate or graduate degree in Malaysia, they will need to enrol in a one-year pre-Bachelor or pre-Master offered by a local university.
Popular foundation degree studies in Malaysia include pre-law degrees, pre-MBA courses, pre-medicine, pre-nursing studies, or other types of international foundation programmes in engineering, economics, finance, social science, science and other types of university pathway programmes. Preparation courses in Malaysia include academic English language training to help international students meet university language requirements for future undergraduate or graduate studies.
Foundation degrees in early years in Malaysia are perfect for increasing your chances of getting accepted to a Malaysian university. Pre-university business schools, law schools or med schools make sure international students develop the skills they need to succeed in the Malaysian academic system. Pre-university education also includes cultural integration classes that help students feel more at home. Some pre-university programmes guarantee enrolment to the institution if students complete the preparation with high grades.
Where can I study a foundation course in Malaysia?
The top Malaysian cities where students can take a foundation year programme include: Kuala Lumpur,Johor Bahru, and more.
Read more about the enrollment requirements for international students.
The following documents are required for student visa application:
- The International Student Pre-Arrival Application Fee
- 4 Passport-sized photographs with blue background (3.5cm x 5cm)
- Copies of ALL pages (including blank pages) of your passport, including the photo page. The passport must be valid for at least 12 months from your expected date of entry into Malaysia.
- Academic and other certificates certified as a true copy by the institution issuing the document or a by a Commissioner of Oaths, Notary Public or lawyer (translated in English, if applicable).
- Pre-Arrival Medical Screening – Completed Health Examination Report
- No Objection Certificate (NOC) (Only applicable to students from Sub-Sahara Africa)
- Any other requirements/documents as required by your chosen university in support of your visa application.
English language preparation for studying in Malaysia
Develop your academic English language skills in order to meet the English language requirements at Malaysian universities offering degree studies for international students. Choose an English language school anywhere in the world and pick your preferred English exam preparation course from diverse language course options.