Top Universities in Singapore: NUS vs NTU | Top Universities

Top Universities in Singapore: NUS vs NTU

By Sabrina Collier

Updated July 23, 2021 Updated July 23, 2021

If you want to study in Singapore, two universities in particular are bound to be at the top of your list. National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) are both consistently ranked among the global top 15 in the QS World University Rankings®, and are typically extremely close together in the table. 

This year, NUS is the highest ranked Singaporean university, by one place. NUS ranks in 11th to NTU’s 12th.  With not too much difference between the two academically, it’s worth digging a little deeper when comparing these two universities. 

 
 

National University of Singapore (NUS) 

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) 

QS World University Rankings® 2022 

  • Ranked 11th in the world overall in 2022 

  • Ranked 12th in the world by academics and 26th by employers 

  • 99th for student/ faculty ratio 

  • 50th for citations per faculty  

  • 29th for international faculty ratio and 194th for international student ratio 

  • Ranked 12th in the world 

  • Rated 39th in the world by academics and 62nd by employers 

  • 91st for faculty/student ratio 

  • 37th for citations per faculty 

  • 27th for international faculty ratio and 198th for international student ratio 

 

 
 

Subject strengths* 

  • Ranked 15th in the world for arts & humanities 

  • Ninth for engineering & technology 

  • 27th for life sciences & medicine 

  • 12th for natural sciences 

  • Ninth for social sciences & management 

  • Ranked joint 41st in the world for arts & humanities 

  • Joint fourth for engineering & technology 

  • Joint 119th for life sciences & medicine 

  • 14th for natural sciences 

  • 17th for social sciences & management 

 
 

Location 

Located in south-west Singapore, next to Kent Ridge. 

Located in the western part of Singapore. It has the largest university campus in the city-state (200 hectares). 

 
 

Student community 

Around 43,885 students of which 31,760 are undergraduates and 12,125 are postgraduates 

Around 32,940 students, of which 24,580 are undergraduates and 8,360 are postgraduates 

 
 

International tuition fees & financial aid 

Undergraduate students who aren’t subsidized by the MOE Tuition Grant will pay between S$32,250 and S$39,050 (~£15,950 to £20,870) per year for most courses. 

 

At graduate level, non-subsidized annual tuition fees at NUS start at S$38,750 (~£20,710) for arts and social sciences subjects. The government-subsidized annual cost would be S$21,400 (~£11,440). 

 

Offers a range of financial aid options, such as the Rotary Student's Loan 

Undergraduate students who aren’t subsidized by the MOE Tuition Grant will pay A$31,970 - $36,830 (~£17,100 – £19,690) per year for most courses. 
 

At graduate level, NTU students with the Tuition Grant can pay as little as S$7,075 (~£3,780) a year for a master’s degree. 

 
Offers financial aid for international undergraduate students, including the NTU Study Loan. 

 *Based on the broad subject areas of the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021. 

QS World University Rankings® 2022 

This year, NUS narrowly beats NTU by one place, with NUS ranking 11th to NTU’s 12th. Taking a closer look, both universities perform very well in the indicators used to compile the rankings. Both schools place within the global 100 for every indicator but one. 

NUS beats NTU for its reputation among academics, ranking 12th to NTU’s 39th. NUS also comes out on top for employer reputation, ranking an impressive 36 places above NTU.  

However, NTU is stronger than NUS for all the remaining indicators. For research impact (citations per faculty member) NTU is the clear leader, ranked 37th in the world to NUS’s 50th. NTU is also ahead in its ratio of academic staff members to students, with a rank of 91st compared to NUS at 99th.  

Finally, when assessing the levels of international diversity on campus amongst its faculty, NTU achieves 27th place for its high number of international faculty members, while NUS ranks 29th. NUS narrowly wins on the number of international students, ranking just four places above NTU, at 184th. 

So, while both top universities in Singapore have some room for improvement, they are nonetheless highly international institutions. 

Subject strengths 

If you’re still unsure which one gets your vote in the NUS vs NTU debate, a look at the QS World University Rankings by Subject can help give a more detailed view.  

The table below lets you see how the two top universities in Singapore directly compare for each subject. 

NUS vs NTU in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021 

 
 

NUS 

NTU 

Accounting & finance 

13th 

25th 

Agriculture & Forestry 

-- 

65th 

Anatomy & physiology 

=21st 

-- 

Anthropology 

14th 

-- 

Architecture 

6th 

=46th 

Art & design 

28th 

43rd 

Biological sciences 

17th 

=33rd 

Business & management 

12th 

20th 

Chemistry 

7th 

8th 

Communication & media studies 

21st 

6th 

Computer science & information systems 

4th 

12th 

Earth & marine sciences 

 

51-100 

Economics 

17th 

=45th 

Education & training 

 

9th 

Engineering (chemical) 

3rd 

6th 

Engineering (civil) 

2nd 

=7th 

Engineering (electrical) 

5th 

4th 

Engineering (mechanical) 

9th 

5th 

Engineering (petroleum) 

1st 

-- 

English language & literature 

=29th 

69th 

Environmental sciences 

11th 

13th 

Geography 

5th 

-- 

Geology 

-- 

51-100 

Geophysics 

-- 

51-100 

History 

=15th 

51-100 

Hospitality 

-- 

=27th 

Law 

10th 

101-150 

Library & Information science 

-- 

18th 

Linguistics 

=17th 

=31 

Materials science 

=5th 

1st 

Mathematics 

9th 

31st 

Medicine 

24th 

=89th 

Modern languages 

16th 

=62nd 

Nursing 

23rd 

-- 

Performing arts 

40th 

-- 

Pharmacy 

12th 

-- 

Philosophy 

=46th 

101-150 

Physics & astronomy 

15th 

20th 

Politics 

=10th 

31st 

Psychology 

=16th 

27th 

Sports-related subjects 

=41st 

32nd 

Social policy & administration 

4th 

51-100 

Sociology 

6th 

61st 

Statistics 

8th 

41st 

See the full QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021 

Location 

Ranked 14th in the latest QS Best Student Cities ranking, Singapore has unfortunately also been ranked as the fourth most expensive city to live in by the The Economist's Worldwide Cost of Living Survey 2020. However, when taking tuition fees into account, Singapore is slightly more affordable for students, with tuition fees typically much lower than you’d find in study destinations such as the United States. 

Furthermore, many students will find Singapore’s high cost of living worth the money – the city is renowned for its prosperity and high quality of life, with low levels of crime and unemployment. It’s ideal for students who wish to immerse themselves in a very diverse study destination, with a fascinating blend of Eastern and Western cultures to explore. 

NUS is in the south-west of the city on a 150-hectare campus next to Kent Ridge. NTU’s main campus, next to the town of Jurong West in Singapore’s West Region, covers 200-hectares of land, making it the largest university campus in the city.  

Student community 

Both of these two top universities in Singapore have a large student population. There are around 43,885 students enrolled at NUS, of which 12,125 are postgraduates. NTU has approximately 32,940 students and around 8,360 of these are postgraduates.  

There’s currently no data for the number of international students at each university, but both achieve fairly high scores for this indicator in the QS World University Rankings®, as mentioned above. 

Tuition fees 

Tuition fees at NUS and NTU vary depending on your subject, which fee classification you fall under (as either a Singaporean citizen, permanent resident or international student) and whether you’re in receipt of an MOE Tuition Grant.  

Offered by the Singaporean Ministry of Education (MOE), these grants are available for both domestic and international students and can help cover much of the cost of your tuition fees (for a full-time diploma or undergraduate program). In return, international students must agree to work for a Singaporean company for at least three years after graduating (or, if you studied medicine or dentistry, five or six years). 

If you don’t have a MOE Grant, international undergraduate students can expect to pay between S$32,250 and S$39,050 (~£15,950 to £20,870) for most courses apart from medicine and dentistry which cost S$161,800 (~£110,300) per year. Students who are subsidised by the MOE Grant can pay as little as S$17,550 (~£9,380) per year for some subjects. 

At graduate level, non-subsidized annual tuition fees at NUS start at S$38,750 (~£20,710) for arts and social sciences subjects. The government-subsidized annual cost would be S$21,400 (~£11,440). 

At NTU, international undergraduate students who aren’t subsidized by the MOE Tuition Grant will pay S$31,970 - $36,830 (~US$17,100 – £19,690) per year for most courses. If you have the Tuition Grant, you’ll pay S$17,550 (~£9,380) per year for most subjects. Again, medicine is the most expensive degree option, costing S$74,900 (~£39,600) per year (subsidized – the non-subsidized amount is not applicable).  

At graduate level, NTU students with the Tuition Grant can pay as little as S$7,075 (~£3,780) a year for a master’s degree. 

Financial aid 

Both these top universities in Singapore offer a variety of funding opportunities to help make studying there more affordable, including grants, loans and scholarships.  

Looking firstly at NUS’ financial aid, the university offers two scholarships for international undergraduate students: the ASEAN Undergraduate Scholarship, which is aimed at incoming students from ASEAN member states (excluding Singapore). The applicable ASEAN member countries are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. This scholarship covers tuition fees and provides a grant for living costs. 

The other scholarship, the Science & Technology Undergraduate Scholarship, is for international students from any country in Asia, and again provides tuition fees and a living allowance. At graduate level, scholarships at NUS include the NUS Research Scholarship, which awards a monthly stipend and tuition fees for outstanding graduate students to conduct research leading to a higher degree at the university. 

National University of Singapore also offers loans and bursaries, with bursaries awarded based on the applicant’s assessed level of need. The university also runs a Work Study Assistance scheme which helps students to supplement their finances with part-time work. 

At Nanyang Technological University (NTU), funding opportunities include bursaries, the Tuition Fee Loan, available for all full-time undergraduates, and the Work Study Scheme which allows you to work part-time on campus to supplement your finances. 

The ASEAN Undergraduate Scholarship is also available at NTU, as well as the Nanyang Scholarship, awarded to outstanding new undergraduate students of any nationality. This scholarship will cover your tuition fees as well as providing an annual living allowance, travel grant, computer allowance and more.  

At graduate level, scholarship options open to international students at NTU include the Nanyang President's Graduate Scholarship, which aims to encourage outstanding students to study a PhD at the university and provides tuition fees, a monthly living allowance and more. The university also offers the NTU Research Scholarship for prospective PhD students. 

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A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that NTU was ranked higher than NUS for life sciences & medicine in the latest QS World University Rankings by Subject. We would like to clarify that NUS is ranked 27th in the world for life sciences & medicine, 92 places higher than NTU.

This article was originally published in June 2017 . It was last updated in July 2021

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Written by

The former Assistant Editor of TopUniversities.com, Sabrina wrote and edited articles to guide students from around the world on a wide range of topics. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University and grew up in Staffordshire, UK. 

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