Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Recognizing Excellence

Did I ever tell you guys that I came here on a Scholarship? I think I did. In line with Singapore's tradition as a talent attraction hub, the Universities here make available an abundant array of scholarships, fellowships, tutorships and other forms of financial assistance to students.

I came here as a Masters by research student under GST (Graduate Student Tutor) scheme. But later looking at the prospects for PhD and scholarships, I converted to PhD under the NUS research scholarship. Actually these were the simple scholarship or financial assistance schemes which almost all students admitted at NUS will receive.

Singapore is a place that recognizes excellence. If you have talent, you will be rewarded for sure. So with hopes I also tried for other prestigious scholarships like the SMF (Singapore Millennium Foundation) scholarship and the PGF (President Graduate Fellowship). I'm not sure if it was because I'm smart or I was lucky but it so happened that I was awarded the prestigious SMF scholarship which is given to two or three PhD students every year.

There are also various other types of financial assistance schemes offered to international students. I don’t have much information about what and how they are awarded in other faculties and schools but as far as the Faculty of Engineering is concerned, there is a wide range to choose from. Generally, these scholarships vary in the stipend amount, incentives and the name and fame. Though some of them are especially for Singaporean Nationals, international students also have a fair chance if there aren't enough deserving applicants. So it’s always advisable to write to the respective funding agency for clarifications. Let me talk about a few of the most common ones and some of the special ones which I am aware of.

NUS Research Scholarship: This is the most common scholarship for PhD students. The scholarship amount is S$2000+500 per month, where the additional S$500 per month will be given on successful completion of his/her PhD qualifiers. There is also a tuition fee waiver associated with this. And most of the PhD students who get admission will be awarded with this scholarship.

MOE Research Fellowship: The amount remains the same as that of NUS-RS but the funding agency differs. This is from the Ministry of Education.

Singapore International Graduate Award (SINGA): (https://www.singa.a-star.edu.sg/whysingapore.php) Earlier ASTAR (Agency for Science, Technology and Research) used to have a PhD scheme in their research labs. But these days they partner with the existing universities in Singapore. The amount remains the same but you get to work in one of the ASTAR institutes.

Graduate Student Tutor (GST): This is majorly awarded to Master students by research. The amount ranges from S$1400 to 1500. But one has to pay his/her tuition fee. So effectively it will be S$800-900 only.

Graduate Student Loan Scheme: For Master students by course work, there are no scholarship or fellowship schemes as such. But there are various banks in Singapore which give u an interest free loan for tuition fee which is also easy to repay once you secure a job.

Some of the other special fellowships which are relatively competitive to secure are….

President Graduate Fellowship (PGF): Awarded only to top 1% students in each faculty of NUS. It includes S$3000 monthly stipend and tuition fees waiver. A one-off air travel allowance for 1 one-way ticket of up to S$750 (only for overseas students); and a one-off settling allowance of S$1,000 (only for overseas students) are also given.

Singapore Millennium Foundation (SMF) Scholarship: (http://www.smf-scholar.org/) This is one among the most prestigious scholarship one looks for. It has been awarded by Singapore Millennium Foundation (A Temasek Group based non-profitable organization) to majorly number of post-docs and very less PhD students. Every year approximately two to three PhD students in Singapore will be awarded. Major focus of this award is on subject areas such as life sciences, materials research and advanced computation. Though the process is lengthy and the competition is tough but it’s worth a try.

Other few fellowships include Lee Kong Chian Graduate Scholarships, Graduate Fellowship for ASEAN Nationals, AUN/SEED-Net Scholarship, NRF (Clean Energy) Scholarship by EDB (Economic Development Board), NUS-DSO PGF Scheme, etc…

NOTE: All these scholarships are awarded on a renewal basis. Generally the term ranges from six months to one year (As is the case everywhere, there are no free lunches in Singapore). And mostly the bare minimum scholarship amount you need to live a decent bachelor life is around S$1000 (if you're lavish). So with any of the above mentioned schemes you can be self sufficient.

Links of Interest:


  1. Hi, um, I am Kavya K.R from India, Chennai... I have completed Engineering(B-Tech,IT) on May 2008. Will you help me out? I wanted to know if there is a degree course for Web Design. I am new here. So I'd be very happy if you helped me out. By the way, your blog on Singapore and the education, fun and food etc. is very nice. Do keep posting more of it!

  2. Dear Kavya,
    Good to hear about your interest in studying in Singapore. Singapore has a wide variety of institutes that offer a broad range of programmes. There are more than 300 private commercial, IT, fine arts and language schools in Singapore. There are various institutes that offer programmes in web designing, it may out be a separate degree in most cases but as a part of the course structure.

    For details regarding the institutions offering the course log on to www.singaporeedu.gov.sg.