Top Universities in Singapore: NUS vs NTU

Top Universities in Singapore: NUS vs NTU

Sabrina Collier

Updated November 27, 2023 Updated November 27

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, the 2018 ranking sees NTU overtake NUS for the first time as the highest ranked Singaporean university, but it’s worth digging a little deeper when looking to compare these two universities.


National University of Singapore (NUS)

Nanyang Technological University (NTU)

QS World University Rankings® 2018

Ranked 15th in the world overall in 2018

Ranked 11th in the world by academics and 11th by employers

Ranked 11th in the world

Ranked 50th in the world by academics and 38th by employers

Stronger than NUS for research impact (citations per faculty member)


Subject strengths*

Ranked 21st in the world for arts & humanities

7th for engineering & technology

20th for life sciences & medicine

12th for natural sciences

8th for social sciences & management

Ranked joint 51st in the world for arts & humanities

4th for engineering & technology

Joint 123rd for life sciences & medicine

17th for natural sciences

Joint 22nd for social sciences & management



Located in south-west Singapore, adjacent 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 38,596 students, of which 9,966 are postgraduates

Around 32,403 students, of which 8,091 are postgraduates


International tuition fees & financial aid

Undergraduate students not in receipt of the MOE Tuition Grant will pay between S$29,650

 - 38,850 (~US$21,500 – 28,130) per year for most courses.

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 S$31,780 - $36,650 (~US$23,000 – 26,500) per year for most courses.

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

 *Based on the broad subject areas of the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017.


Nanyang Technological University (NTU)

QS World University Rankings® 2018

After a few years of being ranked just one place behind NUS, NTU has surpassed their rival university for the first time in the 2018 QS World University Rankings®.

Taking a closer look, both universities perform very well in the indicators used to compile the rankings, with each ranked within the global top 150 for each indicator. NUS beats NTU for its reputations among academics and employers, earning 11th place for both, while NTU is ranked 50th and 38th in the world respectively.

However, NTU is stronger than NUS for all the remaining indicators. For research impact (citations per faculty member) NTU is the clear leader, ranked 57th in the world whereas NUS is 128th. NTU is also ahead in its ratio of academic staff members to students, with a rank of 60th compared to NUS which is 81st.

Finally, when assessing the levels of international diversity on campus, NTU achieves 19th place for its high number of international faculty members, while NUS is 27th – still a highly respectable score. Looking at the number of international students at each university, NTU is again the leader at 108th, with NUS ranked 121st for this indicator. So, while both of these 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. In the 2017 edition, NUS is ahead of NTU for four out of the five broad subject areas covered. Interestingly, both universities share strengths in natural sciences, social sciences & management and engineering & technology, although NTU beats NUS in the area of engineering and technology, for which it’s ranked fourth in the world.

National University of Singapore (NUS) is ranked among the world’s best for a total of 36 out of a possible 46 subjects, while Nanyang Technological University (NTU) is ranked for 31 subjects.

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 2017




Accounting & finance



Anatomy & physiology









Art & design



Biological sciences



Business & management






Communication & media studies



Computer science & information systems



Earth & marine sciences






Education & training



Engineering (chemical)



Engineering (civil)



Engineering (electrical)



Engineering (mechanical)



English language & literature



Environmental sciences















Materials science









Modern languages






Performing arts









Physics & astronomy









Social policy & administration









See the full QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017





Ranked 14th in the latest QS Best Student Cities ranking, Singapore has unfortunately also been ranked as the most expensive city to live in by the The Economist's Worldwide Cost of Living Survey 2017. 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 also 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 located in the south-west of the city on a 150 hectare campus adjacent to Kent Ridge, while NTU’s main campus, adjacent to the town of Jurong West in Singapore’s West Region, covers 200 hectares (490 acres) of land, making it the largest university campus in the city. 

Student community

Both of these two top universities in Singapore are large universities, with around 38,596 students enrolled at NUS, of which 9,966 are postgraduates, while NTU has 32,403 students, of which 8,091 are postgraduates. There is 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 not in receipt of an MOE Grant, international undergraduate students at NUS can expect to pay between S$29,650-38,850 (~US$21,500–28,130) per year for most courses with the exception of medicine, music and dentistry, with a medical degree costing S$146,750 (~US$106,360) per year. Students who are in receipt of the MOE Grant can pay as little as S$17,450 (~US$12,650) per year for some subjects.

At graduate level, non-subsidized annual tuition fees at NUS start at S$32,900 (~US$23,800) for arts and social sciences subjects. The government-subsidized annual cost would be US$18,200 (~US$13,200).

At NTU, international undergraduate students who aren’t subsidized by the MOE Tuition Grant will pay S$31,780-36,650 (~US$23,000–26,500) per year for most courses. If you have the Tuition Grant, you’ll pay S$17,450-20,000 (~US$12,650–14,500) per year for most subjects. Again, medicine is the most expensive degree option, costing S$72,100 (~US$52,250) per year (subsidized – the non-subsidized amount is not applicable). At graduate level at NTU, students with the Tuition Grant can pay as little as S$7,050 (~US$5,100) 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 all 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.

Who gets your vote in the battle of NUS vs NTU? Let us know in the comments below!

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This article was originally published in June 2017 . It was last updated in November 2023

Written by

The former Assistant Editor of, 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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