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PhD in Malaysia: What You Should Know Before Applying

Tue, 02 April, 2024

Essential aspects of pursuing a PhD in Malaysia, from universities to funding options.

Malaysia is a Southeast Asian country with a rapidly growing economy. Over the past few decades, the country has undergone significant economic transformation, transitioning from an agricultural-based economy to a more diversified one that includes manufacturing and services sectors.

This beautiful country has also made strides in the development of its infrastructure, including transportation and communication networks, which have helped to attract foreign investment and spur economic growth. Additionally, the government has implemented policies aimed at promoting entrepreneurship and innovation, which have further contributed to the country's economic growth. As a result of these efforts, Malaysia has emerged as one of the most dynamic economies in the region, with a bright future ahead.

Malaysia is a great destination for higher education, with several renowned universities offering PhD programs in various fields.

If you are considering pursuing a PhD in Malaysia, there are several things you should know before applying:

Choosing the Right University

Malaysia has several universities that offer PhD programmes in various fields. It is crucial to research and choose the right university that aligns with your research interests. Some of the top universities in Malaysia for PhD studies are Universiti Malaya, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Universiti Sains Malaysia and Monash University Malaysia.

When choosing a university, you should consider factors such as the faculty, research facilities, and ranking. You should also look for universities that have a good track record of producing successful PhD graduates in your field of study.

Admission Requirements

Each university has its own admission requirements. However, most universities require a Master’s degree, a good academic record, and research proposal. Some universities also require specific language proficiency scores for non-native English speakers.

To increase your chances of being accepted into a PhD program, you should ensure that your academic records and research proposal are strong. You should also prepare well for any language proficiency tests that are required.

Attractive Funding Options

PhD studies can be expensive, and finding funding options can be challenging. However, several universities offer scholarships and research studentships to PhD students. Additionally, there are several external funding options such as the Malaysia International Scholarship and the MyBrainSc scholarship.

It is important to research and apply for funding options early, as many scholarships have specific deadlines and requirements. You should also consider other sources of funding such as grants and loans.

Cost of Living in Malaysia 

For students the cost of living is relatively low compared to other countries, making it an attractive destination for international students. However, the cost of living varies depending on the city and lifestyle. Kuala Lumpur is generally more expensive than other cities in Malaysia.

To manage your expenses, you should research the cost of living in the city where you will be studying and plan your budget accordingly. You should also look for affordable accommodation options such as shared apartments or university housing.

Wonderful Culture and Diversity

Malaysia is a culturally diverse country with a mix of Malay, Chinese, and Indian cultures. International students will have the opportunity to experience this diversity and engage in various activities. It is essential to learn about the local culture and customs to avoid any misunderstandings.

You should take the time to learn about the local culture and customs, as it will help you integrate and make friends more easily. You should also be respectful of the local customs and traditions, and be open to learning about new cultures.

Lots of Work Opportunities

International students are allowed to work part-time while pursuing their studies in Malaysia. However, it is important to check the terms and conditions of your student visa. Additionally, PhD students can also work as research assistants or teaching assistants in their respective universities.

Working part-time can help you earn some extra income and gain valuable work experience. However, you should ensure that your work does not interfere with your studies, as your academic progress should be your top priority.

High Demand for Research

Malaysia’s research culture is rapidly growing, with several universities and research institutions focused on producing high-quality research. As a PhD student, you will be immersed in this research culture and have access to state-of-the-art research facilities.

To succeed in your PhD program, you should take advantage of the research opportunities available to you. You should also network with other researchers and attend conferences and seminars to stay up-to-date on the latest research in your field.


Pursuing a PhD in Malaysia can be a rewarding experience, making it crucial to research and prepare adequately before applying.

By acting on the headings mentioned in this guide, you can have a successful PhD journey in Malaysia.

Photo: Unsplash / Elliot Andrews
Photo: Unsplash / Elliot Andrews