How to Study in Malaysia for International Students (4 Steps)

Nestled in Southeast Asia, Malaysia is a country known for its national parks, luscious rainforests, and beautiful beaches. While it is primarily known as a tourist destination, it has become one of the educational hotspots in the continent – even the globe.

For one, Malaysia is home to 13 of the world’s best universities. It also has 10 foreign university branches, with its hosts coming from Australia, the UK, Ireland, and China.

To date, almost 100,000 students – coming from over 100 countries – have made Malaysia their second home. If you want to be one of these happy foreign learners, then you should follow these tips on how to study in Malaysia as an international student:

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Steps on Studying in Malaysia for International Students

To study in Malaysia as an international student, you should do the following:

  • Know how to finance your education in Malaysia. You need to be aware of the cost of studying abroad and plan on financing your education. This can involve a variety of ways including getting scholarships, attending affordable universities, working, and paying out of your own savings.
  • Once you have planned your finances, you need to meet the application requirements of studying in Malaysia.
  • After that, you will need to apply.
  • Once you get accepted, you will need to apply for a student visa.


1. Financing Your Studying in Malaysia

Studying in Malaysia is relatively cheap. A bachelor’s degree will cost you a minimum of $1,630 (MYR 7,000) to about $7,686 (MYR 33,000). Post-graduate studies, on the other hand, only cost about $2,562 (MYR 11,000) annually.

As for the cost of living, a university student only needs to spend about $296 a month (MYR 1,268) to live comfortably in Malaysia.

2. Meet the General Application Requirements of Malaysian Universities

To study in Malaysia as an international student, here are the language and application requirements that you need to apply for a university in Malaysia:

General English Requirements (Undergraduate)

As a melting pot of cultures, Malaysia has English as one of its official languages. While the Malay language is also used for teaching, most of the curriculums are taught in English, making it a favorable destination for international applicants.

In line with this, foreign students are required to take the following exams – and obtain the following scores:

  • IELTS = band 6
  • TOEFL PBT = 550
  • Pearson Test of English = 51 to 58

At Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, the required scores are lower compared to the norm. They are 5.5 for the IELTS, 46 for the TOEFL iBT, and 51 for the PTE.

Some universities, especially foreign branches, require higher grades. Such is the case at the Monash University Malaysia, where undergraduate applicants need to have an IELTS band of 6.5, a TOEFL PBT of 550, a TOEFL iBT of 79, or a PTE academic grade of 78. The requirements are even higher for those who wish to study Medicine or Pharmacy (IELTS of 7, TOEFL PBT of 587, TOEFL iBT of 94, or a PTE Academic score of 65).

As the required scores vary greatly, make sure to consult with your university regarding its English requirements.

General English Requirements (Graduate)

Apart from the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE, post-graduate students may also take other tests of English proficiency. These include the Cambridge Advanced English Test and the Malaysian University English Test band 3.

Generally speaking, the above-mentioned scores also apply to graduate students. That is the case with Monash University Malaysia, where the minimum scores are 6.5 for the IELTS, 550 for the TOEFL PBT, 79 for the TOEFL iBT, and 78 for the PTE.

At some schools such as the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, the requirement scores are a little lower. You may be admitted with a band 6 for the IELTS or a 60 for the TOEFL iBT. However, it may require a higher bracket for applicants who wish to specialize in teaching English as a secondary language.

Although the trends vary, it is recommended that graduate applicants meet higher English proficiency scores. With that being said, better check with your university regarding its language requirements.

Application Requirements (Undergraduate)

Malaysian universities typically require a foreign applicant to submit a high school certificate, a transcript of records, and a valid passport. Age requirements also apply.

At Monash University Malaysia, applicants need to be at least 16 years of age. Grades are an important part of the screening process, as a student should have at least a grade of 60% to be considered. Depending on your diploma, you may need to have a score of 80% to be admitted.

At the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, applicants who wish to pursue Architecture or Industrial Design are subjected to an interview as part of the screening process. Students are required to undergo a health exam as well.

As requirements vary widely per university, make sure to visit your school’s admission page for the complete details. Meeting these requirements that are specific to the university is critical in increasing your chance of studying in Malaysia.

Application Requirements (Graduate)

The requirements for Master’s students are more intensive. They include:

  • High school certificate and transcript of records
  • Bachelor’s diploma with the transcript of records
  • Valid passport
  • Passport-sized photographs
  • Motivational letter

In some universities, there are some other requirements such as a resume and recommendation letters. At the University of Nottingham Malaysia, an academic reference is also needed.

As mentioned, Malaysian universities consider grades as part of the admission process. At the University of Malaya, you need to have a GPA of at least 3.0 to apply for a master’s degree. A GPA of 3.7 will allow you to apply for a Ph.D. program directly.

As expected, for doctorate students, more documents are required. They include a copy of a Master’s diploma, transcript of records, and a thesis proposal.

Given the many documents required for graduate students, always check with your admissions officer regarding the complete list of requirements.

3. Apply

The next step of studying in Malaysia as an international student is applying to universities in Malaysia once you have prepared your application documents.

Schooling in Malayasia usually starts in September. To ensure a smooth application process, international applicants are advised to send their requirements 3 to 6 months before the start of the term.


At the University of Malaya, undergraduate admissions run from late February to early April. All requirements should be sent in by June if you want to get started during the first semester (September). Should you wish to enroll during the second semester (February start), you could apply until mid-November.

At the University of Nottingham Malaysia, international students need to submit their documents by early July.

While schools usually have June to July deadlines, you should check your university regarding its respective application cycle.

Application fees cost about $23 (MYR 100) to $50.


Graduate applications have a laxer application schedule compared to undergraduate studies. Although this is the case, you should check with your university regarding its deadlines.

At the University of Malaya, applications are accepted throughout the year, except in programs that require pre-requisite courses.

Meanwhile, at the University of Nottingham Malaysia, deadlines depend on the start of classes. For the June intake, requirements should be sent in by early April. The deadline for the September term is early July, while you need to submit your papers by mid-September to get started in November.

Graduate application fees cost about $23 (MYR 100) to $70 (MYR 300).

Student Visa

A Malaysian student visa is valid throughout your entire study in the country. You need to be 18 to 35 years of age to apply. This can be done online by uploading the following requirements:

  • Valid passport
  • Passport size photograph
  • Institution offer letter
  • Academic certificates and transcripts
  • English proficiency test
  • Health declaration form/Compulsory medical screening
  • Personal bond
  • Special clearance (No-Objection Certificate for Sudanese students or a Letter of Eligibility for Iranian applicants)

A student visa will cost you a minimum of $499 (MYR 2,139).

This is the final step for international students wishing to study in Malaysia and is often the easiest one. If you run into trouble, you can simply ask for help from the school that you were accepted to, and they will definitely help you.

Note: You should be able to travel to Malaysia, register at your university, and get a student pass within 1 month of visa issuance.


Malaysia has everything you could ever ask for in a country – affordable yet quality education and a reasonable cost of living. With these attractive factors, there is no reason why you shouldn’t consider Malaysia as your next academic destination.


I hope that this article was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Scholarships Page.