University Admissions Vocabulary 101

By the SMU Social Media Team

So you’re thinking about studying at SMU. That’s great!

To help you along, we’ve created a handy explanation of the unfamiliar terms you’ll encounter in the university admissions process.


1. “Dean’s Office”

SMU has six different schools, and each school is headed by a dean. Think of the deans as the Heads of Houses at Hogwarts—just as Professor McGonagall runs Gryffindor House, each dean runs his or her school.



Unlike Hogwarts, you don’t need magical powers to apply. You do, however, need to fulfil some requirements… (see #3 ‘Admissions Requirements’ below)


2. “Indicative Grade Profiles”

With the exception of superstar students holding top A-Level results or diploma GPA (on top of a brilliant CCA record!), like most of us, you’ll probably be a little nervous about your chances of getting into your preferred degree programme.

We don’t have a crystal ball to predict each year’s competition for university placements. So, in place of that, we publish the 10th percentile and 90th percentile Indicative Grade Profiles from the previous year. This helps you get a broad idea of last year’s successful applicants and how they scored academically.

Visit our admissions website to view last year’s Indicative Grade Profiles, and see how you stack up against the previous year’s cohort.


3. “Admissions Requirements”

There are many possible roads that lead to SMU, and it depends very much on where you obtained your post-secondary education. In a nutshell, here are the types of academic qualifications that you need before you apply to SMU.

If your pre-university education was in Singapore, you need any of the following qualifications:

  • Singapore-Cambridge GCE A-Level
  • Polytechnic Diploma (with SAT required if you’re a law applicant)
  • International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma
  • NUS High School Diploma

If your pre-university education wasn’t in Singapore, you need all of the following qualifications:

  • SAT
  • At least 12 years of formal education, ending with a good international or national qualification
  • TOEFL or IELTS (strongly encouraged if your high school’s medium of instruction is not English)

For more information including detailed academic requirements, click here.


4. “Tuition Fees”

If you grew up in Singapore, you’d probably think of ‘tuition fees’ as what your parents would pay to the tutor who came to your home once a week and ensured that you didn’t fail your Maths exams. Now, ‘tuition’ refers simply to the money that you’ll pay the university in exchange for studying here.

SMU has a fixed fee model, which means that you pay the same amount every year for the normal four-year duration of your undergraduate course. The fee varies depending on whether you’re a Singapore citizen, permanent resident or an international student, and all students are eligible for fee subsidies offered by the Singapore government. As a reference, click here for more details of the annual tuition fees for the previous Academic Year.

And yes, a university education comes with a price tag. That’s where the next point comes in handy.


5. “Scholarships” vs “Financial Assistance”



SMU awards scholarships to our most outstanding students: those with outstanding academic grades, great leadership qualities, a passion for community service and CCAs. Our students can also apply for other scholarships offered by donor organisations and philanthropists. You can submit your scholarship application together with your application to the university, and once a year, we invite our current students to submit scholarship applications in an annual exercise.

We also have financial assistance schemes that help our students fund their undergraduate studies, in part or in full. These loans, grants and subsidies are open to all students who are paying subsidised fees. More details of our scholarships and financial assistance schemes can be found here.

Check out Part 2 of this post!


Undergraduate applications are open — visit to learn how you can Transform into a Different U.


One thought on “University Admissions Vocabulary 101

  1. Purna

    Very easy to understand n well delivered.
    Pls also do something similar for post-grad/PhD… I’d be truly grateful.

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