How expats can study Engineering in KSA

Foreign students in Engineering Colleges in KSA

For quite a number of years a handful of reputed Saudi Universities such as KFUPM, Dahran, King Abdul Aziz University, Jeddah and King Saud University, Riyadh, among the best Arab universities, have been accepting foreign students in their post-graduate Engineering programs. While having the prestigious ABET Accreditation would have made them much sought after, unfortunately admission to their undergraduate programs is restricted. Most public universities which take in undergraduate Engineering students do so if the student secures a government funded scholarship or is nominated by a friendly country to study in a Saudi University. Moreover there are further restrictions for females when it comes to choosing a major in the engineering field, some universities not accepting female applicants at all.

Saudi Universities offering admission to expats in B.Tech Degrees


The long awaited need for undergraduate degree opportunities in Engineering for expats in KSA is being fulfilled to some extent by private institutions of higher learning. Although the choice of streams is not as diverse as public universities, expats wishing to study majors like Computer Engineering and Architecture will find plenty of options.
Prince Sultan University, Riyadh, earlier established as a college which started functioning as a university in 2003, offers undergraduate Engineering degrees through the departments of Architecture and Interior Design and Computer Sciences and Information Systems. The official website describes the university as the:

“first private, non-profit institution dedicated to life-long learning opportunities for both men and women in Saudi Arabia”

Another University in Riyadh Al Yamamah University also offers similar courses while Al Faisal University, Riyadh which focuses on multi disciplinary curriculum and problem solving oriented studies offers undergraduate degrees in Architectural, Electric, Industrial, Mechanical and Software Engineering. Worthy to mention that its software engineering deptt.  boasts of a patented award winning project at Massachussets Institute of Technology (MIT).IMG-20160301-WA0005

Fortunately, several female-only universities have begun offering admission to females in Engineering streams that were otherwise male-only areas of study in major Saudi Universities. Take for instance Effat University which offers undergraduate Degrees in Electrical & Computer Engineering apart from Information Systems and Computer Science as well as degrees in Architecture and Design.
Furthermore, Hekma School of Design and Architecture of Dar Al Hekma University (DAH), Jeddah, is another such ray of hope for young women and boasts of

“one of the most comprehensive career counselling programs available to young women in Saudi Arabia”.

It comprises of four departments: Architecture, interior Design, Fashion Design and Visual Communication.
Alternatively, some universities offer BSc degrees in related disciplines such as Marefa College of Applied Sciences, Riyadh, which offers a BSc in Computer Sciences and another BSc in Information Systems.

Admission Requirements
While the exact guidelines for admission and the link to online registration can be found on the official university websites, we are detailing some of the requirements specified by two universities in KSA:

  • Effat University Admission Requirements
  • o A copy of the Iqama
    o Signed Photocopy of Guardian’s Passport
    o Recognized Secondary School Certificate or its equivalent. (not older than five years)
    o Original High School Certificate
    o Pass interview
    o Saudi Assessment Test (SAT) by Qiyas or equivalent.
    o Standardized English test scores.
    o Four recent passport size photographs (wearing the veil).
    o A non-refundable application fee of SAR 400
    o She must declare her employment status
    o She must obtain approval from her employer if she is working in the public or private sector.
    o Medical Examination Report from hospital.
    o Notarized emergency contact form.
  • Prince Sultan University Requirements 
    o High school certificate or an equivalent certificate from inside or outside Saudi Arabia.
    o Obtained the secondary school certificate, or its equivalent, in a period of less than five years prior to his/her application. However the University may waive this condition if the applicant has a persuasive explanation.
    o The applicant should successfully pass any examinations or interviews deemed necessary by the University Council.
    o The applicant must be medically fit.
    o Written approval of his/her employer, if employed in any government or private institution.

Additionally a number of Universities like PSU require the applicant to sit for an exam that places them at their respective level in a Preparatory year program or University Preparatory Program (UPP) based on the results of the examination. However a student maybe partly or fully exempted from it based on their excellent high school grades or by passing a promotional examination after enrolling for the preparatory program.

Fee structure
The sky rocketing tuition fees of these colleges leaves much to be desired. Effat University offers undergraduate degrees for SAR 2580 per credit hour which means that the 160 credit hour long Electrical & Computer Engineering costs around 40,000 SAR per sem, amounting to four hundred thousand riyals over a 5 year period while the degree in Information Systems and Computer Science (130 credit hours) costs a little more than three hundred thousand riyals over a four year period. Al Maarefa charges 50,000 SAR per annum for Bsc in Computer Sciences/ Information Systems. Similarly annual tuition fee at DAH is 40,000 SAR, considerably less than Al Yamamah University’s annual fee of 65,000, while Al Faisal University charges a whooping 47,000 SAR per semester for undergraduate degrees.

Scholarships and Discounts
Despite the exuberant fees mentioned above, expats need not be dissuaded from seeking admission to these universities. There are scores of scholarship opportunities waiting for meritorious and hard working students.
Most scholarships focus on students’ excellent performance during their initial semesters in the university. Al Faisal University, Riyadh offers both merit and need based scholarships, 15% sibling discounts, staff discounts as well as academic excellence scholarships to students with outstanding school grades.
Dar Al Hekma Undergraduate Scholarship covers the entire tuition fee for the University Preparatory Programme as well as the five years of undergraduate study while DAH Sports scholarship covers the partial tuition fee.
Several scholarships focus on meritorious high school pass outs like Dar Al Hekma Merit Award which covers full undergraduate tuition fees as well as associated expenditures, and is offered to only one deserving student every year. To be considered for it:

  • a. An applicant must have a high school score equivalent to 100% for all nationalities irrespective of financial need.
    b. AlQiyas Tests (Qudurat and Tahsili) score should not be less than 80%.
    c. Applicants must fulfill the required scores for the Admission tests and scholarship interviews.