How to Study in the Philippines for International Students (4 Steps)

If you’re looking for a university outside your country that provides quality education and a cultural experience at an affordable price, then the Philippines should be on your list. In this article, we will be going over how international students can study in the Philippines.

One of the many great things about studying in the Philippines is the warmth and hospitality that Filipinos have. First, it’s not difficult to befriend them because they are naturally fun and friendly. It’s not also difficult to adapt to the Filipino culture because of the Spanish, American, Malay, and Islamic influences in their lifestyle.

Moreover, the Philippines is an emerging tourist destination in the world that offers fascinating beaches and other places under its tropical climate – indeed, a perfect getaway after school sounds rewarding. No wonder, a lot of students from different parts of the world opt to study in the Philippines.

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Ways that International Students Can Study in the Philippines

  • You need to be able to finance your education in the Philippines. Without this crucial step, you can’t study in the Philippines. To do that, there are multiple ways, which include studying in affordable universities, working while studying, and paying with your own money.
  • Next, you will need to prepare your application materials. In this article, we will cover what requirements that you need to meet.
  • Then, you need to apply and get accepted.
  • After that, you need to apply for a student visa.

We will go over these steps of studying in the Philippines for international students later in this article.


1. Financing Your Education

There is a lot of state and private universities that accept international students around the Philippines, and tuition cost varies from university to university. However, tuition costs in the Philippines are more affordable and much cheaper compared to other countries.

Despite the cheaper price, Philippine universities offer quality education. In fact, the University of the Philippines, the country’s top and premium university, ranked 65th among top universities in Asia.

Tuition fees in most universities in the Philippines range from $700 to $1600 per semester. This includes the miscellaneous, library, International Student Fee, and others. The cost of living is also much affordable because the expenses in the country may range from $350 up to $715 monthly, depending on the type of accommodation and lifestyle.

According to the University of the Philippines, the average budget of a student is from $150 to $200 per month. Generally, a non-Filipino student should prepare around $100 to $2500 per semester if he/she wants to study in the Philippines. To further help the international students, some universities also offer housing accommodation.

2. Meeting the Application Requirements

Most universities in the Philippines require their local applicants to take an admission exam and this is also applicable to international applicants.

For undergraduate programs, international applicants will be evaluated according to their performance on the College Admission Test and their weighted average of final grades obtained in secondary school.

For the graduate programs, you need to have a bachelor’s degree from a documented institution of higher learning, a General Weighted Average which is not lower than 3.00, an intellectual capacity and aptitude for advanced studies and research, language proficiency, and health clearance from the graduate programs office.

Some universities may also require an admission exam for the undergraduate programs, but some universities accept the result of their Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) in lieu of the admission exam. An international applicant must have taken his/her SAT within the last two years prior to application.

Language Requirements for Undergraduate Programs

Most universities use English as their primary language of instruction. With that, international applicants are expected to be able to communicate in the same language to be able to study in the Philippines.

According to the University of the Philippines, if an applicant’s medium of instruction in their previous school is not English, he/she should take and pass TOEFL and get a score of 500 if paper-based, 173 if computer-based or 61 if internet-based tests. The applicant can also take IELTS with a minimum score of 5.5. Some universities don’t require a certificate of English language proficiency but this is also subject to the evaluation of their certified secondary scholastic records.

Some universities, like Ateneo De Manila University, also require their students to take three (3) courses under their Filipino for non-Filipino Speakers or (FNFS) programs. This is for them to acquire basic communication skills in Filipino as a second language. However, you only have to take this course once you get accepted into their university.

Language Requirements for Graduate Programs

For graduate programs, most universities require proof of English proficiency upon filling out the application. At Ateneo De Manila University, they require a minimum of 80 (Internet-based test) and 550 (Paper-based test) test scores for TOEFL. IELTS score should have a minimum total score of 6.5, while if you take the Cambridge Assessment English, you should have a minimum total score of 176.

Please note that the minimum requirements for English proficiency may vary and depends on the university you are applying to. You may have to check the websites of each university.

Application Requirements for Undergraduate Programs

To be able to study in the Philippines, you must first submit your application requirements. For the undergraduate program, most universities in the Philippines need the following documents:

  • Certified Correct Secondary Scholastic records (Report Card and Transcript of Records)
  • Duly-accomplished application form (downloadable from the university’s website)
  • Recommendation forms from High School Subject Teacher, Class Adviser or Guidance Counselor
  • Four (4) 2×2 or passport size ID pictures
  • Photocopy of Birth Certificate, ACR/IR, or passport
  • Certification of English language proficiency or TOEFL/IELTS results (if needed)
  • SAT official test results (in lieu of College Entrance Test)
  • Medical Health Certificate from the Bureau of Quarantine

Application Requirements for Graduate Programs

For the graduate programs, the same documents are also required but there are additional requirements such as the following:

  • Certificate of Eligibility to Pursue Graduate Studies (if your Certificate of Graduation does not clearly indicate that they are university/college degree holder)
  • Two (2) copies of Personal Essay
  • Certificate of Marriage (photocopy for the female married applicant only)
  • Notarized affidavit of support including bank statements, a notarized notice of grant for institutional scholars to cover expenses for the student’s accommodation and subsistence, school dues, and other incidental expenses
  • Duly authenticated police clearance/certificate of non-criminality/NBI clearance

3. Applying to Universities in the Philippines

The application process for each university may vary, so if you are interested in a particular university, you may have to visit their website. Moreover, the dates of application and submission of requirements are dependent on the academic calendar of each university. In the Philippines, the academic calendar varies from university to university, but mostly, the first term of the school year starts in August.

You will need to definitely apply in order to study in the Philippines as an international student. The application procedure varies, so you need to check the university website that you are interested in.

For undergraduate programs, here are the procedures in processing your application as stated on the website of De La Salle University:

  • Accomplish the application form which can be accessed online through their website. If you will take the Admission test, you have to print your application form.
  • Prepare all the requirements needed and submit them to the Enrollment Services Hub (ESH).
  • Pay the processing of your application ($25 to $50). Please note that the application fee is non-refundable.
  • Upon presenting the official receipt to ESH, you will be given a test permit where they will see their exam schedule and the place of examination. All applicants need to present this test permit on the date of examination.
  • The Office of Admissions and Scholarships will provide a status letter to the applicants whether they pass or fail the application.

If you are interested to pursue graduate studies, these are the procedures of your application according to De La Salle University:

  • Complete all the required documents. Submit it in a long brown envelope labeled with your complete name. The format is like this: SURNAME, FIRST NAME, MIDDLE INITIAL. If an applicant fails to complete the requirements, he/she will not be endorsed to the evaluating committee.
  • Proceed to the ESH and pay the non-refundable application fee ($50). You should present the official receipt to the ESH to receive your test permit. This test permit will also be presented on the date of examination.
  • Once your application has been processed, you have to take the Graduate Admission Test on the date provided in your test permit. Dates and schedules of examinations vary from university to university and depend on the start of a term.
  • Some applicants may be asked for an interview by the Academic Department for further evaluation.
  • You will be notified of your admission status so you have to monitor it via email.

4. Applying for a Student Visa

If an applicant is accepted, he/she should proceed to the International Center Coordinator to submit his/her student visa as well as the authenticated Transcript of Records by the Philippine Embassy from the country of origin, and secure a Certificate of Eligibility.

This final step is the easiest step for international students wishing to study in the Philippines because most of the hard requirements are already taken care of (i.e. letter of admissions).

Most universities in the Philippines help in processing the student visa through their Office of Student Activities. Take note that only universities that are accredited by the Bureau of Immigration can accept and enroll international students.

Below are the procedures in applying for a student visa according to the Bureau of Immigration:

  1. You have to download and accomplish the Consolidated General Application Form (CGAF) from the website of the Bureau of Immigration.
  2. Once all the documents needed are complete, submit them to the Central Receiving Unit for pre-screening.
  3. Prepare your payment for the processing fees (estimated at $250) and secure a copy of official receipts. These receipts will also be submitted.
  4. Afterward, you will be taken a photo and other identification processes in the Image and Fingerprint Capturing Counter of the Alien Registration Division (ARD) for the processing of your ACR I-Card.
  5. You can view the status of your visa application on their website. Once your application is approved, you need to submit your passport to get your visa.
  6. Afterward, you have to claim your ACR I-Card once the department releases it.

The processing time of a student visa usually takes two (2) days to a few weeks or months, depending on the nationality. If you are planning to study in the Philippines, you may have to process your admission at least six (6) months before the registration period of the term you are applying for.

International students who fail to process their student visa during the term enrolled will be mandated for a penalty of $400. You may also visit the Philippine Embassy website available in your country for more details.


Studying in a different country may require a lot of preparation, like buying airplane tickets, looking for better accommodation and other things. However, your hard work in the process will surely pay off. Remember, learning not only takes place inside the school. You also learn from the country you choose to study in and certainly, you will learn a lot from the Philippines.

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