Malaysian professionals in the most lucrative fields and positions require a quality education to enjoy success. Essentially, pre-university in Malaysia is the point where many such professionals begin their journey toward a good higher education. To avoid wasting years and tuition fees in a degree program that doesn’t match your career needs, it’s important that you carefully choose your foundation course before enrolling into university.

Thankfully, this guide provides insights to help you select the right pre-university programme in Malaysia:


If you’ve identified a degree course you’d like to study at a specific university, you can prepare for it by taking up a foundation course at the same institution of higher learning. Alternatively, the university or college may have partner institutions that you may join for the same foundation course. You can take up the pathway to university program fresh from your SPM, IGCSE, or O levels.

A foundation course is suitable if it’s designed to help build your score toward qualifying for your preferred degree programme. Choose a program that’s meant to foster your understanding of subjects critical to your target university degree. Typically, such a course provides a much-needed head start toward your degree program, and it can take from 12 to 18 months.


If a fully exam-oriented system is what you prefer, pick the A-level pre-university option. This programme is for those who studied in Malaysia but would like to pursue a degree course in the UK or at top American universities. By the end of the pre-university course, you should have an in-depth understanding of specific relevant subjects.

Likewise, A-levels focus a lot on analysis and application of skill and knowledge. You’ll need to combine up to 4 subjects in this course that takes 15 to 18 months. Three subjects may suffice, depending on the requirements of your target degree course.


Matriculation is a preparatory programme that Malaysian students may take up and later qualify for university education abroad in countries like Australia, UK, and New Zealand. This is a course that can fit your needs depending on your SPM scores. Malaysian matriculation may take one year (PST) or two years (PDT).

Armed with your SPM/STPM qualifications, you may join JPA and MARA law study sponsorships at selected universities overseas. The only requirement is that you possess a minimum of three honours in Maths, History, English, as well as Science and technical units.


A diploma is a form of higher education that can lead to employment qualifications within two to three years, besides forming a strong foundation for a relevant degree program. Although the program is on a higher level than other pre-university bridging options, it’s still below an undergraduate degree course. The units you’ll study in your diploma course are more refined and fine-tuned compared to what’s offered at SPM/STPM as well as the usual pre-university education alternatives.

Choose your diploma course carefully because it’s directly related to the degree program you can later choose for your university. Most importantly, this is your option if you’ve already figured out what exactly you want to study and later practice in your professional life.


There are different programmes which transfer Malaysian students directly to university. For example, the America Degree Programme (ADP) facilitates direct entry into university. Under such a program, you may study for one to three years at a Malaysian university, and then switch to a partner U.S. university to complete your further studies.

Avoid the one-size-fits-all approach when selecting your pre-university course in Malaysia. Understanding what each pre-university program offers will help select a course suited to your career goals.