The Singapore International Graduate Award: Your Pathway to Postgraduate Studies in Singapore

We will take a deep dive into the Singapore International Graduate Award (SINGA) and help you understand all you need to know to take advantage of this fantastic opportunity. The SINGA is a merit-based scholarship awarded by the National Research Foundation (NRF) of Singapore to outstanding international students who wish to pursue postgraduate studies at any of the autonomous universities or polytechnics in Singapore.

What is the Singapore International Graduate Award?

The Singapore International Graduate Award (SINGA) is a competitive scholarship awarded annually by NRF to attract exceptional international research and coursework postgraduate students to Singapore. The main objectives of the SINGA are to:

  • Promote Singapore as a global hub for education and talent development
  • Support Singapore’s ambition to advance skills, innovation, and enterprise
  • Contribute to the development of human capital and knowledge talents for Singapore and beyond
  • Foster global and regional linkages through the forging of partnerships between Singapore and other countries/regions

Through the SINGA, NRF aims to nurture a pool of well-trained global leaders and innovators who will advance knowledge and innovation. The scholarship attracts top students from around the world to undertake their postgraduate studies at any of the six autonomous universities or polytechnics in Singapore.

Benefits of the SINGA

The SINGA provides generous financial support to cover most of the costs associated with postgraduate studies in Singapore. Here are some of the main benefits awarded under the SINGA:

  • Tuition fees: Full tuition fees paid directly to the university for the approved duration of study.
  • Monthly allowance: Living allowance ranging from S$2,250 to S$4,500 per month, depending on the academic program.
  • Computer allowance: One-time payment of S$800 to purchase a notebook computer for study.
  • Conference support: Up to S$2,500 per year to cover expenses for participating in academic or research conferences.
  • Medical benefits: Coverage for outpatient and hospitalization medical expenses paid through the university’s student insurance.
  • Relocation allowance: A one-time relocation allowance of S$5,000 for international scholars.
  • Thesis support: Funding for thesis preparation and submission as part of the degree requirement.

As you can see, the SINGA essentially covers all substantial costs associated with living, studying, and doing research in Singapore. This makes it one of the most attractive postgraduate scholarships in the world for international students.

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for the SINGA, applicants must meet the following minimum criteria:

  • Hold a good first degree (with at least Second Class Upper or equivalent)
  • Be 35 years old or younger as of 31 December of the year of application
  • Not be a citizen or permanent resident of Singapore at the point of application
  • Have gained admission to a postgraduate programme (coursework or research) at any of the six autonomous universities or polytechnics in Singapore
  • Meet the English language requirement set by the universities/polytechnics

In addition, preference will be given to applicants who demonstrate the following qualities:

  • Outstanding academic excellence based on GPA, class of degree award, etc.
  • Strong track record of research outputs such as publications, conference presentations, etc. (if applying for a research master’s or PhD programme)
  • Exceptional non-academic achievements and soft skills through awards, leadership roles, etc.
  • Potential to develop into a global thought leader and make impactful contributions.
  • Good fit between the applicant’s interests and the proposed research area in Singapore.

The selection process is also very competitive, with acceptance rates of around 5-10% in recent years. Applicants must therefore aim to stand out from the crowd in all aspects when applying for the SINGA.

Application Process

Applying for the SINGA is a multi-step process that typically takes 6-8 months from the initial application to the final selection outcome. Here are the key stages:

  1. University application: Students must first gain admission to a postgraduate program at any of the six eligible autonomous universities in Singapore through the regular university admission process.
  2. SINGA application: Selected students then simultaneously submit a separate application for the SINGA scholarship to NRF through the SINGA online portal.
  3. Shortlisting: Shortlisted candidates will be required to submit additional documents such as statement of purpose, referee reports, CV, etc.
  4. Video interview: Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed via video conference by a panel comprising academics from Singapore.
  5. Selection: Final selection is based on a holistic evaluation of all application materials, academic excellence, leadership potential, and research interests.
  6. Outcome: Successful applicants are notified by NRF from March to July, while non-recipients are informed separately.
  7. Acceptance: Students must officially accept the award within the given deadline if they wish to take it up.

The application deadlines typically fall between September and November, preceding the desired intake. So, thorough planning is required to meet both university and scholarship timelines.

Research or Coursework?

The SINGA supports both research and coursework postgraduate programs at the master’s and Ph.D. levels. Here are some key differences to note when choosing between the two pathways:

Research programs

  • Includes Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.), Master of Science (M.Sc.) by research, and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees
  • Involves 2-3 years of independent research under a supervisor to contribute new knowledge
  • Leads to a thesis or dissertation to be examined through a vivas/oral defense
  • Good option for students looking for a career in academic research

Coursework programs

  • Covers Master of Science (M.Sc.) or other Masters by coursework that includes research projects
  • Combines taught modules, examinations, assessments and a smaller research component
  • Usually takes 1-2 years to complete depending on credit requirements
  • Suitable for working professionals seeking career advancement through higher qualifications

Both pathways are supported by SINGA based on the individual’s fit and goals. However competition is higher for research programs given the need to demonstrate clear research potential.

Common Universities

The six eligible autonomous universities that SINGA scholars can pursue postgraduate studies include:

  • National University of Singapore (NUS)
  • Nanyang Technological University (NTU)
  • Singapore Management University (SMU)
  • Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD)
  • Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT)
  • Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS)

NUS and NTU are Singapore’s largest public universities offering a very wide range of postgraduate programs across all subjects. SMU and SUTD focus more on business/management and engineering/design, respectively. SIT and SUSS represent the polytechnic pathway for applied degrees.

Some popular programs SINGA scholars pursue include computer science, biomedical sciences, mechanical engineering, public policy, accountancy, data science, education, healthcare, etc., across the six universities. The choice varies based on individual interests and matches with university strengths.

Preparing Your Application

Given the prestige and competitiveness of SINGA, applicants need to be fully prepared months in advance to stand out. Here are some tips to maximize your chances:

  • Attain the highest GPA/grades possible
  • Showcase research outputs through publications, projects, competitions, etc.
  • Demonstrate leadership and soft skills via roles held, achievements, awards
  • Tailor your goal statement specifically to the research area and Singapore
  • Ask recommenders who know you well both academically and otherwise
  • Practise video interviews to present articulate, convincing communication
  • Meet university/program-specific requirements early on
  • Explore research collaborations with Singapore prior connections

Completing applications for both university and SINGA simultaneously also helps synchronize the processes. Reach out proactively to potential advisors in desired universities before applying as well. With thorough preparation and passion, your application can impress the selection panel.

Continuing Your Award

Once awarded the SINGA, there are criteria recipients need to continue meeting each semester/year to retain the funding support. This includes:

  • Maintaining a minimum B+ GPA (or equivalent) in coursework for course-based masters
  • Making satisfactory progress in research as assessed by thesis supervisor for M.Phil/PhD
  • Submitting interim reports and thesis proposals/chapters on time
  • Passing annual progress reviews by the university committee

Scholars may also need to participate in networking events, training programs, leadership roles and conferences organized by NRF during the award tenure. Fellowship termination is possible if academic or personal conduct falls below the standard expected.

On successful completion, SINGA alumni are inducted into the Global Scientist and Technologists Network to foster ongoing engagement between Singapore and graduates. Many past SINGA recipients credit the scholarship for opening doors to exciting careers globally.

Life as a SINGA Scholar

Pursuing postgraduate studies in Singapore as a SINGA scholar comes with rich learning and cultural experiences. Here’s a glimpse into life on this prestigious scholarship:

Dynamic Learning Environment

SINGA scholars pursue their studies at top-ranked universities with state-of-the-art facilities. They learn from renowned faculty leading impactful research. Exposure to Singapore’s culture of innovation also shapes new ideas.

Diverse Peer Network

Coming from over 50 countries annually, SINGA attracts highly motivated students. Scholars collaborate globally on projects and establish connections with industry experts. This fosters an ecosystem for knowledge-sharing.

Exposure Beyond Academia

Scholars participate in networking events, leadership programs, and cultural activities organized by NRF and universities. Visits to R&D labs, startup incubators, and research institutes offer industry linkages and ideas for social impact.

Vibrant Living Experience

Located in urban Singapore, scholars experience South East Asian hospitality in a safe, multicultural environment. Affordable student housing, accessibility, and recreational amenities make settling in seamless. Singapore’s natural beauty and cuisine also bring enjoyment.

Global Career Catalyst

The scholarship brand and Singapore experience give scholars a competitive edge. Alumni credit SINGA for enabling impressive careers at international organizations, tech giants, or entrepreneurial ventures around the world.

Overall, the SINGA opens up a flourishing chapter personally and professionally for bright students. The scholarship nurtures well-rounded, globally connected innovators capable of making a difference.

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