National University of Singapore – Acceptance Rate, Ranking, Notable Alumni, and More

Founded in 1905, the National University of Singapore is the oldest higher education institution in Singapore. NUS is a national research university and offers a wide range of disciplines such as engineering, arts, social sciences, business, and medicine. 

The university’s programs, both undergraduate and postgraduate, constantly top global rankings. As one of the world’s top international universities, NUS collaborates with other prestigious universities, including Duke and Yale, for certain programs. 

Students at the National University of Singapore learn in state-of-the-art facilities, from laboratories to multimedia hubs. The school’s libraries are well-stocked with learning resources and facilities to promote learning. For example, ThinkLab is the IT department’s initiative that offers virtual desktops that use a fraction of the energy.

Each student residence at NUS is a melting pot of cultures where students can expand their social circles and meet people from different backgrounds. 

There are also various organizations and campus extracurriculars, including athletic teams, outdoor education, arts groups, and other societies. Through this diverse range of committees, NUS students can pursue their passions and meet friends.

The National University of Singapore currently houses dozens of research centers in many fields. Material science, aging, Asian studies, biomedical science, finance, and sustainability are some of the major research focuses on campus. In 2019, the university completed 1,200 projects, published 10,300 papers, and disclosed nearly 500 inventions.

National University of Singapore Acceptance Rate

National University of Singapore
Joshua Rommel Hayag Vargas, Faculty of Science, National University of Singapore, CC BY-SA 4.0

At NUS, students have a wide range of multi-disciplinary programs, including over 70 degree courses. These innovative programs use knowledge and research to improve lives in collaboration with the world’s leading universities. 

As a result of the highly prestigious education, thousands of students apply to the National University of Singapore each year. 

With a low acceptance rate, admittance to NUS is considered highly competitive. Many students apply to be a part of the university, especially from within Asia. 

Due to the limited number of seats available each year, the acceptance rate is estimated to be around 25%.

However, specific departments have more competitive admissions than others. 

The National University of Singapore Business School aims to train the next leaders of major companies worldwide. Professors come from prestigious universities such as Oxford, Harvard, and MIT. 

Along with experienced faculty, students at NUS have access to an expansive curriculum and exchange programs with top universities. This world-class education attracts many business students from around the world. With a class size of just over 100 students, the NUS Business School admits 7% of applicants each year.

National University of Singapore Ranking

The National University of Singapore is considered to be the best university in the Asia-Pacific region according to the QS rankings. 

Worldwide, the school consistently places in the top 20 universities. NUS has ranked #11 in the QS Global World Rankings from 2019 to 2022. Featuring 1,300 universities from around the world, this ranking system assesses each institution according to six key metrics. The National University of Singapore scores above 90 out of 100 for academics, employer reputation, research citations, and international faculty ratio.

Along with the university’s top rankings, the academic programs at NUS are among the top globally. 

The National University of Singapore is ranked top 10 globally in 16 of the school’s subjects. The programs in computer science, engineering, science, arts and social sciences, design and environment, and law all topped the QS World University Rankings by Subject in 2021. Petroleum, chemical, and civil engineering programs at NUS all ranked within the top 3 globally.

For the 2021 rankings, Times Higher Education places NUS as the #6 most international university worldwide. Diverse communities of students improve both the learning and teaching experience. Furthermore, there are plenty of opportunities for students to spend time abroad and learn how to become global citizens.

Notable Alumni

The National University of Singapore has produced many notable alumni including Singaporean and Malaysian nationals. 

Professor Tommy Koh, alumnus of NUS, is a successful lawyer and diplomat who has shaped Singapore’s foreign policy. He has served as Singapore’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations and has been the country’s Ambassador-at-Large since 1990. 

In 2015, he was recognized with the university’s Eminent Alumni Award for his contributions to NUS and society.

Another NUS faculty member and alumnus, Wang Gungwu, was also recognized with an Eminent Alumni Award for his local and international achievements. Professor Wang is a respected authority on Chinese history. His distinctive interpretation of Nanyang Chinese history, the Nanhai trade, and the Ming dynasty has earned him international renown. As Chairman of the School of Public Policy and East Asian Institute, he cites the importance of engaging with global forces to improve education for graduates. 

Another alum, Wong Meng Kong, is a chess player from Singapore that has found impressive success nationwide. He won the Singaporean Chess Championship in 1986, 1989, 1990, and 1991 and also represented his country at the Chess Olympiad eleven times. 

Along with being Singapore’s first Grandmaster, Wong Meng Kong graduated from the National University of Singapore in 1987.


Students at NUS pay different tuition fees depending on their country of residency, year of entry, and college. Singapore citizens pay the lowest tuition, followed by permanent residents and international students. 

On average, these groups pay $12,000, $17,000, and $26,000 respectively each academic year. These tuition amounts specified are for students who have received grants. 

Currently, undergraduate education at the National University of Singapore is subsidized by the government. The MOE Tuition Grant is offered to help students manage the costs of full-time education in the country. Singapore citizens receive the grant automatically when they begin full-time education. 

On the other hand, permanent residents and international students must apply to receive the grant. The amount varies by nationality, with citizens receiving the highest subsidized amount. Without the MOE Tuition Grant, tuition averages $60,000.

In addition to residency, different schools require varying tuition fees. Students in dentistry, medicine, and law will pay the highest tuition fees regardless of their origin. These programs require lab courses, facilities, and clinical rotations that other students do not. 

All students, whether full-time or part-time, are charged miscellaneous student fees on top of tuition. These help the university provide student services to the community that are not covered by tuition or government subsidy. Recreational programs, maintaining student transportation, IT offerings, and other campus-wide services fall under this fee.

National University of Singapore Acceptance Rate for International Students

National University of Singapore
Joshua Rommel Hayag Vargas, University Town, National University of Singapore, CC BY-SA 4.0

Approximately 17% of enrolled students at the National University of Singapore were international. 

With a total enrollment of nearly 40,000 students, this means that around 7,000 students come from outside of Singapore. 

However, the majority of international students are enrolled in graduate school or a PhD program. 

According to some online sources, approximately 5% of international undergraduates are accepted to NUS. 

The Singapore government does not set any minimum quota for international students, meaning that international undergraduates must meet the same requirements as citizens and permanent residents. 

With a typically low acceptance rate, NUS is a highly competitive institution. International students must meet specific standards on national exams to be considered for admission. 

After twelve years of general education, students can apply using their diplomas and other examinations. Students from the United States can submit their ACT, SAT, or Advanced Placement scores for consideration. 

Students applying to the National University of Singapore from the United States must score at least 24 out of 36 on the ACT. 

For the SAT, minimum acceptable test scores are 600 for evidence-based reading and writing and 650 for mathematics, with no combination from different sittings. 

Along with the general exam, students must submit three subject tests relevant to their desired major at NUS.

Is the National University of Singapore Right For You?

Bringing together a vital community of researchers, staff, students, and alumni, the National University of Singapore aims to create a better world. The school’s mission is to educate the next generation of influential professionals in service of their country, society, and world. 

Students who are passionate about using their talents to serve those around them will do well at NUS. The educational programs, organizations, and opportunities for learning outside the classroom support students and their futures.

The university’s commitment to community service is a tradition lasting over a century. Through student-driven activities, NUS community members give back to the less fortunate. 

In 2019, the annual NUS Day of Service attracted a record-breaking 2,400 staff, students, and alumni interested in participating in service activities. Those similarly dedicated to helping others will fit in well at the National University of Singapore.

In the classroom, the university utilizes unique strategies such as mini semesters and the Design-Your-Own-Module initiative. These ideas give students the freedom to direct their own education, whether they are interested in internships, exchange programs, or learning beyond their own disciplines. Students at NUS are driven and self-motivated to make the most out of their education.