FAQS for Singapore International Graduate Award (SINGA)

AGA FAQ

General

1. What is SINGA?
SINGA is a collaboration between the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), the National University of Singapore (NUS), Singapore Management University (SMU) and the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD). It is an award offered to international students with excellent academic undergraduate and/or master's results, and strong interest in doing research leading to a doctorate (PhD) in Science and Engineering at a Singapore University. The students can choose to do their research work mainly at A*STAR, NTU, NUS, SMU or SUTD. The PhD degree will be conferred by either NTU, NUS, SMU or SUTD and there is no bond.

2. Am I required to take up citizenship and/or work in Singapore after graduation?
You are neither required to take up citizenship nor required to work in Singapore after graduation. However if you are keen to work in Singapore, there are career opportunities for international PhD graduates to explore after your studies.

3. Why does the SINGA office offer scholarships for a direct PhD programme instead of the normal Masters programme followed by doctoral studies?
Singapore Institutions have adopted the international norm of admitting, for graduate work leading to a PhD, students with a Bachelor's degree. The students are expected to start with both coursework and research and work on a research thesis after passing a Qualifying exam. SINGA awardees will normally complete their PhD studies in 4 years.

4. Will graduate students be more competitive than undergraduates?
Graduate students would be assessed more closely on their research experience compared to an undergraduate. The success of the candidate for SINGA will depend on the project submission and interview process.

5. Will my university admission application be separately considered if I am not awarded SINGA?
For SINGA, you will be contacted for university admission if you are successful and are not required to submit a separate application for university admission. Should you wish to be considered separately for university admission, you would need to apply to both SINGA and the university concurrently.     

6. How many awards will be offered each year?
SINGA awards are offered twice -- for August and January intakes -- during the academic year. It is a merit-based scholarship where all outstanding candidates will be considered for award.

7. Is your interview a face-to-face interview or skype interview?
SINGA interviews are typically conducted virtually, either through Skype or Zoom.

8. Am I allowed to take up part-time jobs in Singapore during my PhD studies?
SINGA is a full-time research scholarship and you are not allowed to take up part-time jobs during your studies in Singapore.

9. Is it possible for my spouse to come and stay with me in Singapore during my PhD study? Will my spouse be provided with any stipend?
Accompanying spouses can apply for a social visit pass to stay in Singapore. Please see the links below for more information:

NTU - www.ntu.edu.sg/SAO/studentsupport/Immigration/Pages/SocialVisitPass.aspx
NUS - www.nus.edu.sg/ngs/social_visit_pass.html
SMU - At SMU, we can provide a sponsorship letter for PhD students to apply for a Long Term Visit Pass (LTVP) for their dependents (spouse and child who is unmarried and below the age of 17) with the Singapore Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA). However, the approval of the LTVP for the dependent is solely subjected to the approval of ICA. The PhD student will be responsible for the living expenses for the dependent. In addition, we would encourage the student to purchase a hospitalisation and personal accident insurance policy for the dependent(s) because these expenses are generally very high for foreigners in Singapore.
SUTD - Please email Office of Graduate Studies at phd@sutd.edu.sg for more information

SINGA awardees who are accompanied by their spouse will not be provided with additional stipend.

ELIGIBILITY

1. Who can apply for SINGA and what are the selection criteria?
International students with a passion for Science and Engineering research, excellent academic qualifications, good reports from academic referees, and fluency in English are encouraged to apply for this award. "International students" refer to students who are not citizens or permanent residents of Singapore, and who have not previously studied in Singapore.

2. Are international graduate students who had completed their Bachelors in Singapore and/or currently pursuing their PhD degrees in NTU, NUS, SMU and SUTD eligible for the award? Are Singaporeans and permanent residents eligible for the award?
SINGA is intended primarily for international students studying for the first time in Singapore. International students already in our Universities, Singaporeans and permanent residents may consider applying for the following scholarships:

A*STAR Graduate Scholarship (AGS)
National Science Scholarship NSS (PhD)
NTU Graduate Scholarships
NUS Graduate School Scholarships
SMU Graduate Scholarships
SUTD Graduate Scholarships

3. Can current students already enrolled in PhD programmes apply for SINGA?
Yes, you may like to provide justifications as to why you are applying to another PhD programme in your SINGA application.

4. If I have recently attained Singapore citizenship, am I still eligible for SINGA?
Eligible Singapore citizens are welcome to apply to the A*STAR Graduate Scholarship (AGS).

5. If I have already been accepted into and will be commencing my PhD programme in a Singapore university, can I proceed to apply for SINGA to support my PhD studies? 
Yes. If you are an international student who has yet to commence your PhD at NTU, NUS or SUTD, you may proceed to apply for SINGA to support your PhD studies.

6. Am I eligible to apply to SINGA if I am currently in Singapore on Dependant’s Pass and had worked in Singapore as a Research Attachment Student before?
Yes, you are eligible to apply to SINGA if you had previously worked/are currently working in Singapore.

7. What are the selection criteria for SINGA?
The selection criteria for SINGA include the applicant's academic record, publications, recommendations from academic referees, personal achievements, passion and ability to excel in research, and an interview if short-listed.

8. Is there an age limit for SINGA applicants?
There is no age limit for SINGA applicants. While SINGA is targeted at younger applicants, mature applicants with relevant research experience will be considered.

9. Can I apply if I do not have a passport?
Only a valid passport is accepted for the application. You are required to provide your passport details and upload a copy of your passport as part of the application.

10. Does SINGA support PhD studies in humanities and/or business management?
SINGA only supports PhD studies in the field of science and engineering. SINGA does not support MBAs or PhD in humanities, finance, business management or architecture.

11. If I have not completed my Bachelor/Masters studies, can I provide my provisional degree certificate and transcript?
You may still apply for SINGA. However, please upload your Bachelor/Masters' provisional degree certificate and transcripts (up till your latest semester), and a letter of certification from your university, indicating that you are currently still studying, and the expected date of completion in the online application portal. To provide the final documents when required.

12. Can I apply if I do not have GRE / IELTS / TOEFL / SAT I & II / GATE scores? Can I submit old GRE / IELTS / TOEFL / SAT I & II / GATE scores?
Yes, you can apply for SINGA if you do not have GRE / IELTS / TOEFL / SAT I & II / GATE scores. If you are invited for an interview, the selection panel will assess your command of spoken and written English during the interview. The selection process for the SINGA award will not be biased against candidates without GRE / IELTS / TOEFL / SAT I & II / GATE scores. However, do note that you may be requested by the university to submit satisfactory scores as part of the university admission requirement and will further advise on the need to provide the scores and whether a recent score should be provided.

13. What are the English requirements to apply for SINGA? Specifically, is GRE required?
GRE / IELTS / TOEFL / SAT I & II / GATE results are not mandatory for SINGA application. However, do note that you may be requested by the university to submit satisfactory scores as part of the university admission requirement.


Application Process

1. How can I apply for SINGA?
You will need to complete and submit an online application form by clicking on the following link:https://sms-applicant-app.a-star.edu.sg/LoginPage.aspx Softcopies of the following supporting documents must be uploaded during your online application:

Compulsory:
Passport
A recent passport-sized photo in JPEG/PNG format
Bachelor's Academic Transcripts (in English translation)
Bachelor's Degree Certificate / Scroll (in English translation) or a letter of certification from the university on your candidature if your degree certificate / scroll has not yet been conferred
Master's Academic Transcripts, if any (in English translation)
Master's Degree Certificate / Scroll, if any (in English translation) or a letter of certification from the university on your candidature if your degree certificate / scroll has not yet been conferred
2 recommendation reports (to be completed and submitted online by the referees)

Not compulsory but good to include (if available):
GRE / IELTS / TOEFL / SAT I & II / GATE results
Hardcopies of the above-mentioned supporting documents sent to the SINGA Office will not be processed.

2. When does the SINGA application open and what is the deadline for applications?
There are 2 intakes for SINGA per academic year – January and August. For the January intake, application is open from 2 December to 1 June. For the August intake, application is open from 2 June to 1 December.

3. Can I apply for other scholarships in addition to SINGA?
You can only apply to one A*STAR scholarship program at one time. However, you may apply to other scholarships offered by other organizations at the same time but you can only hold one award.

4. Is there any application fee for SINGA?
There is no application fee for SINGA. 

5. What is the information that I would need to provide if I would like to apply for SINGA before completion of my studies?
In your online application form, please upload your transcripts (up till your latest semester), and a letter of certification from your university, indicating that you are currently still studying, and expected date of completion.

6. What should I do if I cannot login to the online application portal?
Please click “Did you forget your password? Recover it here” to reset password and re-access account.

7. When will I be informed on whether I have been short-listed?
Shortlisting results will be released about 12 weeks (at the earliest) after the application closing date. Please take note that only shortlisted applicants will be notified via email.

8. Do I need to apply for admission to the A*STAR research institute separately from SINGA application?
No, you do not have to apply separately to the A*STAR research institute. You should indicate the A*STAR research institutes and supervisors you are interested to work with in your SINGA application.

9. Do I need to apply on the university application portal, in addition to applying on the SINGA application portal?
Applicants applying for SINGA through the SINGA application portal are not required to apply on the university application portal, unless contacted by the university to do otherwise. At later stages of your SINGA application, the university may contact certain selected candidates to apply on its application portal to obtain further details.

10. Does being awarded SINGA mean direct admission approval to the proposed university?
Being awarded SINGA does not mean a direct admission approval from the university. The university will be in touch with A*STAR and the awardee on the admission outcome. 

11. How do I apply for the student pass that is required for me to study in Singapore if I'm awarded SINGA?
Once you have acknowledged acceptance of the SINGA award, the university (either NTU, NUS, SMU or SUTD) at which you will be enrolled in will send you its admission package which includes the offer of admission. You should send back a signed copy of the admission letter to the university to confirm that you accept its admission offer.

The university will apply for the student pass on your behalf through the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) web-based Student's Pass Online Application and Registration (SOLAR) system. The SOLAR application number and other details that you need to log into the SOLAR system will be sent to you in your admissions package. You must follow the instructions to complete the application process prior to your departure for Singapore. Please note that it takes the ICA 2 - 4 weeks to process your application.

Detailed information on student pass application could be found at
For NTU candidates , click here
For NUS candidates. click here
For SMU candidates, please reach out to the respective Programme Administrators: 
https://graduatestudies.smu.edu.sg/phd/contact-us#research
For SUTD candidates, please email Office of Graduate Studies at phd@sutd.edu.sg.

12. If we are unsuccessful for SINGA one year, can we apply again the next year?
Yes, you are welcome to re-apply.



Award Terms

1. What are the benefits of the award and do I need to sign the Service Obligation agreement?
The award provides financial support for up to 4 years of PhD studies. It includes:
• Full support of tuition fees
• Stipends - S$2,200 per month (S$26,400 per annum), to be increased to S$2,700 per month (S$32,400 per annum) after passing Qualifying Examinations
• One-time S$1,000 settling-in allowance
• One-time airfare grant of S$1,500

No, it is not a requirement for SINGA awardees to sign the Service Obligation agreement. However, should international students choose to opt for the Service Obligation scheme, they can enjoy subsidized tuition fees. More information on the Service Obligation agreement can be found at here

For international students who are eligible for subsidized tuition fees without the need to opt for the service obligation, they are still required to fulfil the requirements of the Graduate Assistantship Programme (GAP) by performing teaching/laboratory supervision duties during their studies.

2. If successfully awarded SINGA, do I need to sign the Service Obligation agreement?
No, it is not a requirement for SINGA awardees to sign the Service Obligation agreement. However, should international students choose to opt for the Service Obligation scheme, they can enjoy subsidized tuition fees. More information on the Service Obligation agreement can be found at here 

For international students who are eligible for subsidized tuition fees without the need to opt for the service obligation, they are still required to fulfil the requirements of the Graduate Assistantship Programme (GAP) by performing teaching/laboratory supervision duties during their studies.

Referees Recommendation Letter

1.Is it necessary to have referees' recommendations for my application?
Yes, recommendation letters from at least 2 academic referees are required.

2. Where can my academic referees send their recommendation letters to and will referees send their recommendation letters through email attachments or hardcopies directly to the SINGA office be accepted?
Upon submission of your online application, an email will be sent to your academic referees prompting them to complete an online recommendation form within 7 days of your application submission date. Please note that all recommendation letters should be submitted through the online portal. No, all recommendation letters should be submitted through the online portal. Email attachments or hardcopies sent directly to the SINGA office will not be processed.

3. What should I do if my academic referees did not receive the email prompting them to complete the online recommendation form?
Please advise your academic referees to check his/her junk inbox in case the email has been accidentally re-directed there. Applicants could also log in to the online application portal, click on "Referee info" under the tab "My Applications" and send email reminders to request for referee recommendations.

Coursework and Research Projects

1. How often is the project list updated?
The A*STAR project list is updated twice a year, normally in April and September.

2. Will I be exempted from courses that I have taken during my Masters?
You may be granted some exemptions on a case-by-case basis, subject to the approval of the school or department. 

3. I am unsure where to look for suitable projects and supervisors?
You may search for suitable projects and supervisors at the “Research Areas” tab at the SINGA website. If you are unable to find a suitable one, you may find out more about the research capabilities at A*STAR and/or research at the different university Faculties in the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), National University Singapore (NUS), Singapore Management University (SMU) and Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD).

4. Can I propose my own research project?
You are most welcome to email the supervisors in your area of interest and discuss with them about proposing your own research project. Please note that your preferred supervisors or projects may not always be available.

5. How can I find out more information on the research projects listed on the website?
You are most welcome to email any of the SINGA supervisors listed for more information about the research projects. Please note that your preferred supervisors or projects may not always be available. 

6. Are the biomedical projects under SINGA research or clinical-based?
The PhD projects under SINGA are research-based, not clinical-based.

7. Do I need to submit a research proposal for SINGA application?
Yes, you will need to write your research proposal and elaborate on the selected research topic in your application form.

8. Can I submit different research proposals for all 3 research projects?
Yes, if all 3 research projects are different, you may submit 3 different proposals.

9. Can I apply for two or three research projects at the same time?
In the online application form, you are strongly encouraged to specify your top 3 project choices and the institutes where the supervisors are based. 

10. Do I have to source for my own research supervisor in advance to apply for SINGA?
You are strongly encouraged to browse the list of available projects and supervisors on the SINGA website, and select projects according to your research interests, passion, and academic background. You may indicate up to 3 supervisors and project choices in the online application form.

11. Is there limit for supervisors on the number of SINGA students that they can take?
The number of SINGA students a supervisor could take will be moderated to ensure adequate levels of supervision for each student.

12. Can we have two supervisors in different fields and/or from different institutions?
Applicants may select up to 3 different SINGA projects/supervisors, and they could be from different fields and institutions.

13. Can the supervisor from university and the one from ASTAR be the same one or do I need to have one university and one A*STAR supervisor?
If the selected A*STAR supervisor has an affiliation with the university, he/she may be your only supervisor.
For A*STAR PhD projects, a university supervisor is required only when the A*STAR supervisor does not have a university affiliation. In your application, you would need to indicate only one main supervisor for each project.

14. Do I need to contact the supervisors before the submission of my application?
It is not necessary but you are most welcome to email any of the SINGA supervisors listed for more information about the research projects. You may also email the supervisors in your area of interest and discuss with them about proposing your own research project. Please note that your preferred supervisors or projects may not always be available.

15. Can my research proposal change after working on my SINGA PhD?
Awardees are to discuss with their supervisors on any deviation from the initial research proposal.

16. Can I pursue a PhD degree in a field of study different from my bachelor major?
You may pursue a PhD degree in any field of study for which you can demonstrate interest and capability. The scholarship award committee will assess your suitability for the chosen field, in discussion with the supervisors and yourself, based on academic record and testimonials.

17. What should I do if the research projects does not align with my interest?
Applicants are encouraged to select PhD topics that are relevant to their education background. Applicants are also welcome to select projects not listed on our website and encouraged to contact the supervisors for more details.

18. Are there any coursework requirements to be fulfilled for SINGA? If yes, what are the modules I have to take?
In addition to a research thesis, there will usually  be coursework requirements to be fulfilled. These coursework requirements are determined by the university (NTU, NUS or SUTD) at which you are enrolled for your PhD degree. Please note that there may be additional requirements depending on the schools or departments at which you are enrolled in.
You may visit the following websites for more information:

NTU - here
NUS - here
SMU - here
SUTD - here

19. Is the Qualifying Examination (QE) something that we do in the first month when we arrive to Singapore?
No, the QE is usually taken in the second year of the PhD studies.