FAQS for NSS (PhD)

  • National Science Scholarship (PhD)


1. I would like to apply for the NSS (PhD) Scholarship, should I have secured a place in an overseas graduate school?
NSS (PhD) applicants should have secured a place in an overseas university, or be in the process of applying to one or more overseas universities. 

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. What is the application and interview process like?
Please submit an online application at https://sms-applicant-app.a-star.edu.sg/ with all supporting documents (e.g. academic credentials) and a description of the proposed research area, by the stipulated deadlines stated on our website. 

Do note that 2 academic referee reports are required, and to be submitted within 7 working days of submission of the online application. Referees will receive an auto-generated email with a link to complete an online referee report. You may wish to give them a heads-up before you apply so that they can submit in time. Referees can be academic referees from universities or supervisors/PIs whom you have worked with.

For shortlisted candidates, there will be 2 rounds of interviews to assess their suitability for the scholarship. First round of interview will be with a panel of A*STAR scientists, while the final round of interview will be with the senior management of A*STAR.

5. 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. 

6. I do not have any prior experience in research, is there any training provided before I embark on my PhD studies?
Awardees of the NSS (PhD) scholarships are required to complete a compulsory 1-year research attachment at one of our A*STAR Research Institutes (RIs) before embarking on PhD studies.

7. Can the research attachment requirement be waived?
Those with prior research experience at A*STAR (outside of their undergraduate Final  Year Project) can request and may be considered for a waiver of the compulsory research attachment year. However, we strongly encourage all scholars to complete the research attachment as it will expose you to actual laboratory work in the A*STAR RIs and provide opportunities for you to build closer ties with researchers in the RIs, and understand the research direction of A*STAR.

8. What is the academic requirement for applying to an A*STAR scholarship?
A*STAR will make a holistic assessment of each application along with a good class of honours degree, and take into consideration other factors such as research experience and achievements.

9. Will a few years of Research Officer experience in an A*STAR RI be considered favourably in my scholarship application compared to an application from a fresh graduate?
As these are national scholarships, all applications will be treated equitably and reviewed holistically such as on academic track record, publications and research exposure/experience. Your experience as a Research Officer will be beneficial as part of your overall portfolio for the scholarship application.


1. Can a non-Singaporean apply for the A*STAR PhD scholarships?
Yes. Permanent residents and non-Singaporeans who are awarded the NSS (PhD) will be required to take up Singapore citizenship no later than the third year of your PhD studies. For non-Singaporeans, you are to minimally obtain your Singapore Permanent Residence before the commencement of your studies. If you are holding both Singapore citizenship and foreign citizenship/PR, you are required to take such steps as are necessary to divest your foreign citizenship or permanent residency status as soon as possible.

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?
Upon completion of their PhD studies, scholars will serve at one of A*STAR’s research institutions for three years.

NSS (PhD) scholars will serve at one of A*STAR’s research institutions for four years.

2. I am currently holding a scholarship for my undergraduate studies from another government ministry/ agency. Can I still apply for the 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 in 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.

NSS  (PhD) scholars are expected to serve their bond in  one of A*STAR’s Research Institutes after their bond There are  opportunities for selected PhD scholars to be deployed after their first  two years at A*STAR to industry, corporate R&D labs, public  administration, technology enterprises, spin-off companies, and  academia.

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 NSS (PhD) 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.Once I have selected the host university abroad, will I be able to visit the university to meet up with potential supervisors and assess the research lab facilities?
NSS (PhD) awardees will be provided with some level of funding to visit the overseas universities that they intend to enrol in, prior to their PhD studies, subject to the applicable policy.

5. 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.

6. What happens if I take more time to complete my PhD beyond the funding period under the NSS (PhD) 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?
NSS (PhD) scholars who complete their PhDs in less than 5 years may consider using  their remaining funding for post-doctoral training. Scholars will need to seek A*STARs written approval for the use of their remaining funds  for post-doc training.

8. Is it possible to finish a PhD in 2.5 to 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.

9. 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.

10. What are some of the non-traditional (non-UK/US) countries A*STAR scholarship holders have gone to and which universities do they attend?
A*STAR scholarships holders have attended universities for their undergraduate/postgraduate studies/post-doctoral in countries such as:  
Australia Australian National University
Canada University of British Columbia (Toronto)
France Necker Institute
Germany Heidelberg University
Spain Spanish National Centre for Cardiovascular Research
Sweden Karolinska Institute
Switzerland ETH Zurich


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.