Admission Requirements for Doctorate PhD Courses in Malaysia

PhD courses in Malaysia last for a maximum of 5 years and are mostly English medium. A doctorate in Malaysia is either academic or professional in nature and most countries refer to class of degrees which enable the holder to impart education in a specific field. Doctorate programmes in Malaysia last for a minimum of 3 years.  The students pursuing doctoral studies in Malaysia have to perform focused and detailed research in a particular field of study and prepare a thesis publishable in the academic journal. 

Entry/Test Requirements and Application Process for PhD Programmes in Malaysia

Age Requirements: PhD courses can only be pursued only if students possess a master’s degree of a minimum of 2 years. Students aged 18 and above are eligible to apply for the PhD programme which typically lasts for 3 to 5 years. Currently, no centralised postgraduate application agency exists in Malaysia. Applications can be made directly to individual universities or graduate schools through application form or website. 

Differential Requirements: Requirements differ from one institution to another. More than one university can be applied to but this should be ensured in applications as this too varies from one educational institution to another. Some universities require letters and statement of purpose/personal statements while others need detailed academic history and research plan. Research proposal is required as an admission requirement in most cases while applying for a doctoral programme.

Some universities do not require submission of a research proposal or identification of prospective supervisors when the application is made. Supervisors can be assigned by the institution itself as well. Thesis proposals can also be developed while at the university.  Certificate and diploma verification and endorsement are required for admission purposes, based on whether it is a public or private institution.   

Duration of Doctoral Courses and Application: PhDs in Malaysia require around 3 to 4 years with a minimum of 4 to 6 semesters. A PhD thesis cannot be completed in less than 3 years. Part time PhDs are not available in Malaysia. PhD courses commence throughout the year yet certain universities have two intakes per year, one in July and the other in February. Depending upon the course chosen, students should complete the application accordingly.

Degree Requirements: Admission into a doctoral programme generally needs a good Master’s degree in the concerned discipline and a cumulative Grade Point Average of 3.00 or more or Master’s degree and relevant research experience. Fast track route to PhD is available for applicants with first class Honours degree or equivalent in the concerned discipline. Disciplines such as management or business may require applicants to demonstrate capabilities for graduate study through specific exams such as GRE and GMAT.

Language Requirements: Global students from countries where English is not a medium of instruction are required to provide proof of English proficiency. This can either be through a minimum score of 550 for TOEFL or minimum Band 6 of the IELTS. Conditional offers can also be made to applicants with less than required scores. However, those given conditional admission must pass the university English test before complete admission is given. In public universities, international students must obtain a pass grade in Malay to be eligible to graduate Students from Brunei and Indonesia are exempted from this requirement.

Health Requirements and Medical Screening: Health requirements are also needed for the admission process and stricter university norms are prevalent in Malaysia. Medical screening before admission is compulsory here. Students with communicable diseases will be deferred entry till treatment is completed in the home country. Other conditions may not prevent the students from registering yet students have to show their condition will not affect their study.    

PhD Courses in Malaysia

Doctoral courses are offered in numerous subjects such as biotechnology, pure sciences, applied sciences and information technology. Students have a health of options to choose from. The doctoral courses in Malaysia primarily comprise academic research. Students will be trained in research methods as part of course requirement. PhD students also have to make presentations at seminars and provide progress reports prior to the defence of the thesis. Appropriate number of credits in research methodology courses and seminar presentations via the PhD, submission of thesis, publications in peer reviewed journals as well as viva voice are requirements for the award of the PhD. 

International Students for Doctoral Courses in Malaysia

Accessing Quality Education: Doctoral courses are the top choice for those who want to access quality, low cost higher educational qualifications. Many doctoral students prefer the research intensive public universities. Private universities here also have an impressive range of disciplines and considerable scientific and technological advancement. With around 30 years of experience in the field of international education, the Malaysian universities offer international qualifications such as doctorates at extremely competitive rates. 

International Qualifications: Students from more than 100 countries studying in Malaysia are pursuing a broad spectrum of courses and degrees including doctorates form universities as well as branch campuses. Malaysia is known as an educational hub which is globally acknowledged as a leader in this field. For the previous three decades, Malaysia has collaborated with well known universities from the UK, the US, Australia, New Zealand and Canada for development of globally recognised education programmes.Malaysia is also known as a hub for world class foreign universities which have set up branch campuses here. 

Malaysian Universities Offering Doctoral Courses

UM-Universiti Malaya: This is one of the oldest universities in Malaysia. It conducts research in 12 faculties covering numerous subjects such as Islamic studies and education. It is home to the Asia Europe Institute as well. 
UKM - Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia: This is known for its research in faculties and associated research institutes.
Universiti Sains Malaya: This institution offers doctorates in sciences, engineering, social sciences and management.
Universiti Putra Malaysia: This university was started n 1971 and it has two campuses. Many financial scholarship programmes are offered in connection with this university for doctoral and post doctoral studied.
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia: Specialisation in pure sciences and engineering as well as technology are available at this university.

Private institutions: These are located across the country and they welcome large batch of international students, have bilateral agreements with foreign universities and give students chance to access particular specialisations. These universities include  Universiti Multimedia,Universiti Kuala Lumpur,Universiti Pengurusan dan Keusahawanan and more.  

Foreign institutions: Students can also opt for branch campuses and twinning programmes with foreign universities such as Monash University, Swinburne University and Nottingham University. 


Universities, both public and private across Malaysia offer a host of doctoral programmes. Students can choose from a variety of courses available at reasonable prices. Students can choose from public, private as well as foreign universities. 
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