7 Cheapest Universities in the Philippines for International Students

The Philippines is a nation that went from being colonized and invaded by three different countries to become one of the most promising countries in Southeast Asia. After they obtained their independence in 1946, the country slowly moved from an agriculture-based economy to one based on manufacturing and services.

Actually, the country is now classified as a “newly industrialized country”, placing it above other developing countries.

This, along with its mix of cultures and a recently renewed education system, make the Philippines a perfect destination for international students!

In this article, we will be looking at the cheap universities in the Philippines for international students.

How do I Study in the Philippines as an International Student?

There are multiple things that you need to do to study in the Philippines as an international student. This can be complicated, so we’ve prepared a guide on How to Study in the Philippines for International Students, so check it out if you are interested.


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5 quick facts about the higher education system in the Philippines

1. There are hundreds of higher education institutions!

There are more than 2,000 higher education institutions in the Philippines. 656 of them are public and the rest are private.

These institutions are divided into state universities and colleges (regulated and funded by the government and the Congress) and local universities and colleges (regulated by local government units).

There are also special higher institutions, which are related to public services such as the national police, and government schools, which are mainly vocational institutes.

2. The language of instruction won’t be a problem.

Since the Philippines were under the control of the U.S. after it was ceded by Spain, English is currently their official language. Thus, programs at universities are fully taught in this language.

However, once in the Philippines you’ll notice that the influence of Spain and other cultures is still alive. Filipinos use many words in Spanish when talking and the names of many places like universities are also in Spanish. In fact, Spanish and Arabic are recognized as auxiliary languages and there are 19 regional languages.

3. Catholic universities are common.

When the Spanish arrived in the Philippines, they brought their religion with them. Catholicism continues to be the dominant religion among Filipinos. This is why Catholic universities have become so popular. There are over 160 of them and some are ranked among the best universities in the world.

4. Tuition fees are affordable.

In 2017, the government of the Philippines passed a law that made higher education completely free for Filipino citizens at public universities. Those studying at private universities would receive financial aid through subsidies.

Although the tuition-free regulation does not apply to international students, universities here are still very affordable. Prices go from USD 1,000 to USD 7,000 per academic year in both private and public universities. Still, the tuition at these universities in the Philippines is very affordable.

5. You’ll be warmly welcomed by Filipinos!

As we already said, the Philippines’ society is made up of a mixture of cultures and different backgrounds. That’s why Filipinos will be happy to learn about your country of origin and will be ready to teach you everything about theirs!

Universities are used to receiving international students, so they’ve designed programs that are specially made for them. Every year, they receive over 50,000 international students, and around 20,000 of them are enrolled at universities or colleges.

Cheap Universities in the Philippines

1. University of the Philippines (UP)

  • Tuition Fee: Between USD 1,000 and USD 2,000 Per Year

Established over 100 years ago, in 1908, the University of the Philippines (UP) is the biggest and best-ranked university in the country, with 356th place in the QS World University Ranking.

It is a state university system, which means that there are different constituent universities and institutions that belong to UP. Actually, there are eight constituent universities with campuses throughout the country along with research units, laboratories, teaching hospitals, and centers for excellence and development.

With 246 undergraduate and 362 graduate degree programs, you’ll surely find the major you’d like to pursue here. Many schools are affiliated with universities around the world, and the university as a whole is part of the ASEAN University Network.

Admissions are based on an entrance exam and your high school GPA. Regarding tuition fees, you should budget between USD 1,000 and USD 2,000 per academic year at this cheap university in the Philippines. The exact amount will depend on the major and the campus you choose. Check the website of each constituent university to learn more!

2. Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU)

  • Tuition Fee: From USD 2,100 to USD 2,500 Per Semester

Next on our list of cheapest universities in the Philippines is adMU. Founded in 1859, Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU) is one of the oldest higher education institutions in the Philippines. It is ranked between the 601 and 650th best universities worldwide according to the QS World University Ranking.

This is a private catholic university located in Metropolitan Manila. Its campus is located in Loyola Heights and its four schools are known as Loyola Schools. These schools are of humanities, social sciences, management, and science and engineering. They offer 48 undergraduate degree programs and more than 50 graduate degree programs.

AdMU also has four professional schools of law, medicine and public health, government, and business.

Tuition fees here are charged per semester. You’ll have to pay around PhP 100,000 (Philippine pesos) each semester, which is around USD 2,000. International students are charged an additional fee that goes from USD 100 to USD 500 per semester depending on the school and the level of studies.

3. Mapúa University (MU)

Established almost a century ago, Mapúa University (MU) is located in Manila, with two campuses in the city. MU used to be an Institute of Technology, which is why most of its programs are in this field, and its most renowned degrees are the engineering ones.

MU has nine schools that offer degree programs in the areas of engineering, architecture, media studies, social sciences, education, industrial design, built environment, and information technology.

The academic year at this affordable university in the Philippines is divided into four quarters and so are payments. Tuition fees go from PHP 140,000 to PHP 195,000 per academic year. These amounts are paid in four installments at the beginning of each quarter.

4. De La Salle University (DLSU)

De La Salle University (DLSU) is another catholic private university founded in 1911 and is one of the cheapest universities in the Philippines. It is a renowned constituent university that ranks among the top 1000 universities worldwide according to the QS World University Ranking.

DLSU has campuses in five different cities and is divided into seven colleges of science, law, education, liberal arts, computer studies, business, and engineering. It also has a school of economics and different affiliated higher education institutions, like De La Salle Medical and Health Sciences Institute.

Tuition fees at DLSU are paid per trimester and each academic year is divided into three trimesters. Depending on the college and the major, tuition fees per trimester go from PhP 72,000 (USD 1,400) to PhP 108,000 (USD 2,100). This means you’ll pay between USD 4,200 and USD 6,300 per academic year. International students must pay an additional fee of PHP 5,000 (USD 100).

5. University of San Carlos (USC)

  • Estimated Tuition Fee: USD 2,500 Per Year

Located in the city of Cebu, the University of San Carlos (USC) is the oldest in the country since it was originally established in 1595 as a college.

This cheap university in the Philippines currently has five campuses that include five student residences.

With over 22,000 students, USC is divided into seven schools of education, arts and sciences, health care, law and governance, engineering, business and economics, and architecture, fine arts, and design.

6. University of Santo Tomas (UST)

  • Tuition Fee: From USD 1,000 to USD 1,200 Per Semester

The University of Santo Tomas (UST) was one of the first higher education institutions in the Philippines as it was established in 1611. It is the university with the largest number of accredited programs in the Philippines and has ranked among the top 1000 universities worldwide in the QS World University Ranking.

UST, an affordable university in the Philippines, is divided into five faculties of engineering, pharmacy, civil law, medicine and surgery, and arts and letters. It also has nine colleges of education, accountancy, nursing, science, rehabilitation sciences, tourism and management, and commerce and business administration.

UST also has a conservatory of music that offers different bachelor degrees, two institutes of higher education, and two graduate schools.

Tuition fees go from PHP 50,000 to PHP 60,000 per semester. To get more information about tuition fees and other expenses for each undergraduate and graduate degree program, click here.

7. Universidad de Zamboanga (UZ)

  • Tuition Fee: Between USD 2,000 and USD 2,200 Per Semester

We end our list of cheapest universities in the Philippines with Universidad de Zamboanga (UZ), which started as a college in 1948 and was granted university status in 2005. It is the main higher education institution in the Zamboanga Peninsula, where it has eight campuses.

The university is divided into five schools of business and management, education, arts and sciences, criminal justice, allied medicine, and engineering, information and communication technology. It also has an Institute of Technical Education, a school of dentistry, and a graduate school.

The estimated tuition fees range from PhP 50,000 (USD 970 approx.) to PhP 60,000 (USD 1,170 approx.) per semester. International students have to pay an additional enrollment fee of USD 1,000 each semester.


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