FAQS for AGS and ACIS

AGA FAQ
  • A*STAR Graduate Scholarship (AGS)
  • A*STAR Computing and Information Science (ACIS) Scholarship

Application

1. I have applied for the NSS (PhD). Can I also be considered for the AGS scholarship?
Applicants can indicate in the NSS (PhD) application form, if they wish to be considered for the AGS in the event that they are found suitable.

2. I would like to apply for the AGS (S)/ACIS. May I have a list of the partner Universities?
The AGS(S) is tenable  at any one of the following partner universities: Nanyang  Technological University (NTU), National University of Singapore (NUS),  Singapore Management University(SMU), Singapore University of Technology  and Design (SUTD), Duke-NUS Medical School (Duke-NUS)for a period of up to four (4) years.

The ACIS is tenable at the following schools: NTU School of Computer Science and Engineering, NUS School of COmputing, SMU School of Information Systems and SUTD Information Systems Technology and Design Pillar.

3. I have already applied for the AGS/ACIS scholarship. Do I need to make a separate application to the partner universities?
Applicants need to apply separately to obtain admission to the intended partner university.  The AGS award is conditional upon awardees obtaining confirmation of placement at one of the partner universities.

4. Should I apply for a scholarship after I have gotten a place at NUS/NTU/SMU/SUTD/Duke-NUS?
AGS (S)/ ACIS applicants should apply for university admission  concurrently with your scholarship application.

5. I am interested to do my PhD studies locally, under the AGS, but my supervisor does not have an existing collaboration with A*STAR. Can I still apply for the AGS?
The nominated supervisor(s) has to be approved by  A*STAR . You may want to ask your  proposed supervisor to check with their respective universities or RI HR to enquire the process to be approved as an AGS Supervisor. In most  cases, the main and co-supervisors should hold at a minimum, the designation of Principal Investigator or Principal Scientist at an A*STAR RI.

6. Is it recommended to do a Masters before my PhD? If so, when do I do my Masters?
It is not necessary for you to have a Masters before you apply to A*STAR's PhD scholarships.

7. What is the application and interview process like?
Applicants have to submit at least 2 referee reports and a description of their proposed research area and all their academic credentials. There will be at least 2 rounds of interviews involving the top management of the Biomedical Research Council or Science & Engineering Research Council, and researchers from A*STAR’s Research Entities.  

8. When should I apply for the scholarship and how long will the application process take?
As it takes about 5 months to process the scholarship applications from the date that the full and complete application is submitted to A*GA to the date that applicant is informed of the outcome,  interested applicants are strongly recommended to plan ahead and apply for the scholarship in advance. 

9. Will I be eligible for an A*STAR Scholarship if I have a Second Class Lower degree?
While the criteria for applying for an A*STAR Scholarship is a Second Class Upper degree, A*STAR will make a holistic assessment of each application, and take into consideration other factors such as research experience and achievements.

10. Will a few years of Research Officer experience in an A*STAR RI be considered favorably in our scholarship application compared to an application from a fresh graduate?
Research Officers with A*STAR gain research experience under the mentorship of senior scientists, as well as knowledge of A*STAR, its mission, and its research directions. Such experience will be beneficial when you apply for an A*STAR scholarship.

Citizenship

1. Can a non-Singaporean apply for the A*STAR PhD scholarships?
Yes. International students who are awarded either the AGS or ACIS will be required to serve a 3-year service in Singapore-based companies without commitment to any specific organization. The area of work should preferably be in Biomedical Sciences, Physical Sciences, Engineering or Computing and Information Sciences

Service Commitment

1. Do I have to serve a bond at A*STAR after completing my PhD and/or Postgraduate studies?  How long is the service commitment period?
AGS and ACIS scholars who are Singapore Permanent Residents are not required to serve at A*STAR’s research institute. AGS (Singapore) and ACIS scholars who are non-Singaporeans and do not have Singapore Permanent Residency are required to serve in a Singapore based company for three years.

2. I am currently holding a scholarship for my undergraduate studies from another government ministry/ agency. Can I still apply for the AGS or NSS (PhD)?
Please clarify the policy and guidelines from your sponsoring organisation before applying to A*STAR.

3. Will I be over-qualified for the general job market as a PhD student and what are my career prospects after PhD studies?
Having a PhD is advantageous in careers related to Research and Development (R&D). R&D is a key strategy for Singapore's future, and PhD talent with strong scientific capabilities are needed to drive the development of Singapore's knowledge-based economy. Singapore's R&D ecosystem has developed significantly over the past decade, and today includes a growing number of public and private R&D players. An increasing number of large global corporations have also set up major research units in Singapore and they value Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) and PhD-qualified talent. 

Recognising the diversity of talent, strengths and interests amongst our  Singaporean PhD talent, A*STAR has created multiple pathways for  scholars to develop and chart their careers along differentiated paths. 

Non-Singaporean AGS and ACIS scholars may serve their bond at the A*STAR RIs or Singapore-based companies after completing their PhD  studies.  

Please refer to this link for more information on career paths. 

PhD studies

1. What are the allowances like for the A*STAR PhD scholarships?
During  the PhD studies, A*STAR scholars receive competitive monthly allowance  besides full sponsorship of the tuition fees.  Please refer to the coverage section of the scholarships AGS and ACIS for the detailed list of allowances provided under the scholarships.

2. In the event that I am awarded the scholarship from A*STAR, am I still subject to the requirements of the respective universities for the conferment of my PhD degree?
Scholars are required to satisfy the coursework requirements specified by the University conferring the PhD degree.  The graduation requirements shall be in accordance with the prevailing rules for the PhD degree applicable at the university.  Scholars are encouraged to discuss the requirements with supervisors.

3. Is it possible to change my course of study/research midway through my PhD programme?
All scholars need to seek A*STAR's written permission before changing their course of study/research project. Each case will be assessed on its own  merit. However, scholars are encouraged to consider their research area seriously before commencing their PhD studies as a mid-point change of their research focus may badly affect their PhD progress. 

4. Does the A*STAR PhD scholarship provide funding for consumables and research fees?
A*STAR does not pay for consumables or research fees. Fees involved in the lab  should be borne by the university. For AGS and ACIS, A*STAR and the partner universities have entered into agreement where both are fully aware of the financial responsibilities under the AGS Partnership Programme.

5. Are there overseas opportunities for scholars under the AGS and ACIS programme?
AGS and ACIS scholars may be funded to conduct research at an  overseas university/lab for a minimum period of 3 months, and up to one  year (max) midway through their PhD programme. Scholars must show evidence that their supervisors have existing collaborations at the overseas institutes and that the research done away from Singapore will  contribute to their overall PhD progress. Supervisors need to fully endorse this time abroad. Scholars' PhD  progress should not be impeded by the time spent overseas.  

In addition, AGS and ACIS scholars can apply for the A*STAR International Fellowship (AIF) which is an overseas post-doctoral attachment of up to 2 years after the completion of their  PhD studies. The AIF will be fully funded by A*STAR.

6. What happens if I take more time to complete my PhD beyond the funding period under the AGS or  ACIS scholarship?
If you need more time to complete your PhD, you will have to seek approval from A*STAR’s management for your PhD extension.

7. Will there be any post-doctoral training abroad after the conferment of my PhD?
AGS and ACIS scholars are eligible for the A*STAR International Fellowship (AIF). You can apply for the AIF within 4 years after the completion of your PhD studies. 

8. What are the advantages of pursuing a PhD in Singapore compared to overseas?
Pursuing a PhD in Singapore will provide you with good exposure to Singapore's R&D needs, and you will benefit from the excellent curriculum in the local universities and mentorship of top scientists and supervisors. You will also have opportunities to form networks with other researchers and various R&D organizations in Singapore which will both enhance collaboration as well as your future career development.

9. Is it possible to finish a PhD in 2.5 - 3 years?
A PhD typically spans over 4 to 5 years, but there have been cases where scholars were able to complete their PhD in 2.5 to 3.5 years.

11. Do PhD students have work life balance?
While the PhD course load will differ depending on the programme and the specialisation, time management is important in achieving work life balance.



Employment

1. Outside of academia, what types of jobs are there for PhD holders? (e.g. industry, policy, etc.)
A PhD education prepares you for a variety of careers. Besides research and academia, many PhD graduates have found careers in industry R&D, technology transfer, commercialization, intellectual property and also start-ups.