Studying in Saudi Arabia

Studying in Saudi Arabia

The higher education system in Saudi Arabia is controlled by the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE). It's responsible for establishing, administering and supervising universities and colleges.

A variety of institutions are available including:

  • 21 government universities
  • 24 private universities and colleges
  • 37 colleges and institutions for health
  • 18 primary teacher colleges for men
  • 80 primary teacher colleges for women
  • 12 technical colleges.

The top universities in Saudi Arabia, according to the QS University Rankings: Arab Region, are:

  • King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) 
  • King Saud University (KSU) 
  • King Abdulaziz University (KAU) 
  • Umm Al-qura University (UQU) 
  • King Khalid University 
  • King Faisal University  

A full list of the universities in Saudi Arabia can be found at the Ministry of Education Saudi Arabia.

What courses can you study?

As in the UK, a range of masters degrees and doctorate programmes are offered in a variety of disciplines, including engineering, humanities, medicine, languages and agriculture. The courses take approximately the same time to complete as those studied in the UK, with a masters lasting two years and a doctorate three to four years.

There are a large number of courses taught in English but this does vary across institutions, so check with each one to find out what's available.

How do you apply for postgraduate study?

Applications for postgraduate study are made directly to individual universities and can usually be done online. The requirements for each institution, as well as application closing dates, can vary so you should contact the universities you're interested in to find out more.

A good first degree is typically needed and universities also usually ask for references or letters of recommendation.

Fees and scholarships

The fee levels for postgraduate courses are set by individual universities and you should contact them directly for up-to-date information.

Saudi government funded scholarships are available for non-Saudis who have the relevant residency permits. There are three different types available which offer different levels of support. See the Ministry of Education Saudi Arabia for more information.

Individual institutions may also offer their own scholarships so you should contact them directly to find out if you may be eligible for any.

Are there any exchange programmes?

Saudi students are encouraged to study overseas and programmes exist to help fund their studies abroad. However, there are no known exchange programmes for UK students to study in Saudi Arabia.

Will your qualifications be recognised in the UK?

Check with the university or higher education institution where you are hoping to study to see if their qualification is recognised or has an equivalent in the UK.

Do you need a visa to study in Saudi Arabia?

UK citizens need to have the correct visa to be able to study in Saudi Arabia. This needs to be obtained before you travel to the country. Usually once you have applied for and been accepted onto a course in Saudi Arabia, you will be issued with an admissions letter. The university will then contact the relevant departments to apply for a visa on your behalf. The process for this may vary between institutions and you should contact them directly to find out how to get the relevant visa.

Any student travelling to Saudi Arabia should be aware that all universities in Saudi Arabia uphold Islamic laws and beliefs as enforced by the government.

Written by AGCAS editors, September 2016