Am I eligible for SEP? What are the minimum criteria for SEP eligibility?
For NUS undergraduate students, the minimum criteria to be eligible for the NUS Student Exchange Programme (SEP) application are:
- be enrolled at the National University of Singapore (NUS) as a full-time student;
- have completed at least two semesters of study before embarking on the exchange programme;
- have a minimum GPA of 3.0, and should not have any grade below grade ‘C’ in any course;
- have sufficient financial means to cover the necessary expenses for the duration of the SEP;
- obtain your faculty’s approval for the SEP;
- satisfy partner institution and host country entry requirements;
- ensure that there are no restrictions involving overseas study if you are holding a scholarship; and
- have a clean disciplinary record and be a strong ambassador for NUS and Singapore.
These are the minimum requirements and as each faculty does its own selection for SEP, there may be additional requirements. Please check with your home faculty for full SEP eligibility requirements.
Students who are in their final semester of their degree, scheduled for final year projects, internships, or industrial attachments, or are studying post-graduate degrees at NUS are not eligible for the undergraduate student exchange programme at NUS.
When can I apply for SEP?
You can apply for SEP in Year 1 Sem 2, up to Year 3 Sem 1. Students typically apply at least 1 year or 1.5 years before their actual SEP period.
The SEP application periods for the different faculties can be found here
, under "Before Exchange > Step 6: SEP Application". Alternatively, you can refer to your faculty’s website, or keep a lookout for emails from your faculty regarding the SEP application window. This is subject to change every semester.
Which websites can I refer to when applying for SEP?
The following SEP webpages may be helpful when applying for SEP:
How is the application process like? Are there interviews?
There is an internal application process where NUS places students at SEP partner universities. After which, you will have to complete an application at the partner university, before you will receive a formal acceptance by the partner university.
This is the process of applying for an SEP:
- Do basic research
- Ensure that you are eligible for SEP
- Shortlist 5 suitable universities for application
- Make sure that you have sufficient funding sources
- Apply via EduRec when your faculty’s application window is open
- Attend interviews if requested - not all faculties conduct interviews
- If successful, your faculty will make you an internal offer for the partner university.
- Accepted the internal offer
- Apply on the partner university’s website for admission
- Receive the partner university’s offer for exchange
How important is GPA in being placed for SEP?
GPA is important; most faculties use that as an indication that you will be able to survive, if not thrive, in an overseas academic environment.
How do I improve my chances of being placed for SEP?
Some universities typically have more applicants than others, such as those which are more popular or highly ranked. The chances of getting an SEP spot at these popular partner universities will be relatively low if one only meets the minimum eligibility criteria at these universities.
You can consider diversifying to increase your chances; look at the list of partner universities thoroughly to identify universities which you can thrive in, including less popular universities that you are open to. Some faculties allow students to rank their SEP choices, while others do not. If ranking is allowed, please rank your top choices first.
What is the difference between a faculty-level, department-level, and university-level exchange?
Very simply, these terms explain the level of partnership the partner university has with NUS.
For the purpose of selecting an exchange university, you should only pick from universities that you have access to. E.g. a Geography major will be able to select either a university-level, FASS-level, or Geography department-level partner university. He/she would not be able to select a Business-level exchange partner university.
Can I apply for a university which isn’t on the list of partner universities?
In short, no. However, if you strongly wish to go for an exchange at a non-partner university, we recommend that you speak with your faculty/department coordinator for advice.
When do I apply for SEP at the partner university?
You should apply for SEP at the partner university only after NUS has allocated you to that partner university, and after your faculty has informed you to proceed with the partner university’s application.
We advise students not to move ahead of time, as this can cause confusion for all parties involved. Nonetheless, do keep an eye on the broad timeframe of the application to the partner university. Typically, this is completed a few months prior to the start of the exchange semester. If you have not heard anything from the partner university two months before the start of the partner university's semester date, please contact your faculty SEP coordinator or NUS Global.
Official transcripts are normally required as part of the application and your have to acquire your transcript for application to the partner university, unless informed otherwise.
What are some common financial aids students can apply for?
NUS has various financial aids to assist eligible students fund their approved overseas educational programmes. Listed below are financial aids available:
How do I apply for the NUS Awards for Student Abroad (NASA) Exchange Bursary for SEP?
The NASA Exchange Bursaries are available on a needs basis to undergraduate students who are going overseas to participate in the Student Exchange Programme (SEP).
Please note the application window for the NASA Exchange Bursaries:
- 1 April to 30 June for Semester 1 and Full Year SEP
- 1 October to 30 November for Semester 2 SEP
Further details can be found here
How do I apply for the Overseas Student Programme (OSP) Loan?
The Overseas Student Programme (OSP) loan is offered to all eligible NUS undergraduate students who are successful applicants of NUS approved overseas programmes. This loan is to help students cover all/partial expenses incurred during the course of their overseas stint.
Please apply at least two months prior to departing for the Overseas Student Programme. Further details can be found here
How do I apply for the Overseas Student Exchange Programme (SEP) Loan?
The Overseas Student Exchange Programme (SEP) Loan is available to outgoing NUS Exchange Students. This loan is administered by the Office of Admissions (OAM). Please visit OAM’s website
for more details.
Should I get my visa or secure my flight first?
We generally don’t encourage you to secure your flight before you receive your visa. Instead, here are some tips you can consider:
- Start by researching whether you need a visa for your exchange
- Find out and start the visa application process for your host country as early as you can
- Understand and factor in the expected timeline for getting a visa
- Begin tracking flight prices once you have been allocated a partner university
- Consider purchasing refundable flight tickets in the event of any exigencies
Should I carry cash while I am overseas for the whole of my semester?
This depends on the country that you are going to and the modes of payment commonly used in your host country. In some countries, digital payment is widely and transactions can be done through digital platforms or apps, which can be linked to Singapore credit cards. Alternatively, you might use credit cards linked to multi-currency accounts. Finally, you might also look into opening a bank account in your host country to avoid foreign currency conversion costs per transaction.
How do I find housing?
The host university will usually let you know of the accommodation options available at your destination once your application has been accepted. In general, you can secure housing by:
- Applying for on-campus accommodation provided by the partner university
- Finding NUS seniors who are ending their SEPs who might be able to transfer their leases to you
- Using private companies’ platforms like Airbnb to find short-term rentals
- Using school-based Facebook groups, or other platforms, that advertise housing rentals
- Sourcing for private student dormitories
Is it better to stay in an on-campus accommodation or find off-campus accommodation?
It depends on what you would like out of your overseas experience.
- Closer to classes
- Application more straight forward
- Hassle-free taking over and handing back process
- Do not have to worry about furnishing room
- Might be easier to make friends going to same school
- Tends to be closer to the city centre
- A wider range of options available
- Away from school environment
- Could be cheaper
- Tends to be further from the city centre
- Could be expensive
- Might have a mandatory meal plan
- Have to exercise more care when renting property
- Might not come fully furnished
Is there a difference between mapping courses and unit transfers?
Yes, mapping courses and doing unit transfers are two separate processes. Mapping courses involves your home faculty or specific department agreeing to the possibility of transferring the units of a course back to NUS. While unit transfer is the act of transferring the course units back to NUS, provided that you have passed the course and completed your exchange. Note that course mapping does not equate to course units transfer, nor does it automatically lead to units transfer.
How do I map courses back to NUS?
You may start mapping your courses after being accepted by the partner university, even before your exchange semester begins.
- Shortlist 5-8 courses that you would like to read at the partner university.
- Ensure that these courses are offered the semester that you are on exchange, and you meet the prerequisites to enroll in them.
- Map these courses in Edurec (Navigate to Edurec > Academics > Global Education > Submit Course mapping section)
You may map more than 5 courses as a back-up, but do not map more than 8 courses. Having 8 courses successfully mapped offers the security that you will be able to eventually transfer units back as long as you enroll in a few (usually 4 or 5) of these 8 mapped courses.
Broadly, you should ensure that the SEP will fit into your study plan and your desired graduation semester. This usually means planning and setting aside some unrestricted courses, or major courses that you might like to take overseas. Unrestricted electives tend to give more flexibility in terms of selecting modules overseas, but it is entirely possible to only map major courses during SEP, if the host university provides ample courses of that major.
Other useful links:
- Students may wish to refer to the Preliminary Study Plan, to better prepare for course mapping (Navigate to Outgoing Exchangers > Before Exchange > Step 3: Preliminary Study Plan)
- Students may also wish to refer to SEP reports shared by NUS Global. This includes courses seniors have mapped during their SEP.
- For some faculties and majors, EduRec also provides a list of previously approved courses. (Navigate to EduRec > Academics > Global Education > Search Course Mapping)
Can I map courses mid-way through my SEP?
It is possible to map courses throughout the SEP. However due to the time difference, it might be stressful to get a response especially if you are pressed for time. If possible, do reach out to the faculty or department on the intended switch and changes to the mapping before making the revision as some departments might not allow retrospective mapping of courses.
How do I transfer units?
After completing your exchange, documents like your transcript have to be sent to your faculty’s exchange office. Course units transfer usually starts after your transcript has been received and usually takes at least a month before approval.
Must I transfer course units for all the courses that I mapped?
No, it is not necessary to transfer units for all the courses that you have mapped.
Is there a limit to the number of courses I can take at the partner university?
You can take as many or as few courses as you want, subject to the partner university’s minimum/maximum course requirements.
Is there a maximum or minimum amount of course units I must transfer back to NUS?
Please speak to your department or faculty for advice on units transfer.
What are some other things I should take note of upon return?
Nearing the end of your semester and upon return, remember to:
- Register your courses on ModRec@EduRec for the semester you return to NUS
- Apply for NUS on-campus housing, if applicable
- Ensure that your faculty has received your transcript
- Initiate unit transfer
- Provide feedback using the SEP Evaluation for Returning Students
- Share your experience, useful tips, and photographs with future participants by submitting an SEP Report. With your permission, we may feature your photographs in our promotional materials and website
- Join the Peer Advising Programme to connect with the exchange community at NUS - email firstname.lastname@example.org to indicate your interest
- Stay in touch with the friends you made while on SEP!