What to Study After SPM

after SPM

Congratulations on completing your SPM and waving goodbye to your incredible secondary school journey! 

But, what’s next?

There are a wide range of pre-university programmes available to cater to the different needs of students before their desired degree course. 

However, choosing the right programme to pursue is crucial and can be confusing and difficult for many without proper guidance. 

Uni Enrol has compiled a comprehensive guide to help you understand what your study and finance options are after SPM, and how to make decisions about your tertiary education.




What Are Your Choices After SPM



A foundation programme is a programme designed to equip students with basic skills and knowledge needed before a bachelor’s degree programme. 

Popular programmes for foundation after SPM that are offered in Malaysia are Foundation in Science and Foundation in Arts. 

Typically taking one year, foundation programmes consist of core and elective subjects and are assessed through quizzes, assignments and final examinations.

Foundation programmes can cost you between RM10,000 and RM26,000

However, do keep in mind that local foundation programmes are designed for students who have already decided on their intended career path as the subjects are specific and tailored to fit students’ future degree curriculum. 




International Pre-University

If you’re looking to keep your options open upon graduation to study locally or abroad, here are 3 popular pre-university programmes available for your consideration: 



A-Level otherwise known as Advanced Level Qualifications is a UK-based programme known to be one of the most challenging qualifications that is globally recognised. 

A-Level is a 100% exam-based programme where students study three to four subjects of their choice based on their preferred choice for degree. 

A-Level after SPM generally takes 1.5 to 2 years to complete and costs between RM16,000 and RM35,000

Upon completion of A-Level in local institutions, students may apply for their degree of choice in a wide range of universities worldwide. 

Further reading:

What You Should Know Before Taking A-Level

This is How You Pick Your A-Level Subjects




One of the most popular study choices for students in Malaysia are Australian-based programmes such as Australian Matriculation (AUSMAT) and South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE). 

Students are required to take 5 preferred subjects that will be graded by 50% coursework and 50% examination. 

Then, students are awarded an ATAR rank which will be used as an entry requirement for universities in Australia and around the world. 

These programmes generally take 1 year to complete and cost between RM35,000 and RM40,000

Further reading:

Your One-Stop Guide to AUSMAT and SACE International



American Degree Transfer Programme

There are 2 types of American programmes: American Degree Programme (ADP) and American Degree Transfer programme (ADTP). 

Both programmes allow students to directly start their degree in Malaysia and continue their last two years in the US. 

Some ADP also give students the chance to complete the entire programme locally while still receiving the academic experience and degree certificate of an American university. 

The total duration of this programme is 4 years and would cost approximately RM60,000 for the first 2 years spent locally. 

This holistic educational approach is 70% coursework and 30% final examination.

It gives students the flexibility to take general subjects such as English, History and Psychology before specialising in a specific field of study. 

Further reading:

What You Should Know Before Taking American Degree Programme (ADP) in Malaysia




A diploma programme is equivalent to the first year of a degree. 

A diploma comprises a combination of coursework, final examination and final year internship. 

This programme is catered to those looking for a more hands-on learning experience as there is a high emphasis on industry specific skills. 

These courses are generally 2 to 2.5 years long and cost between RM20,000 and RM60,000 depending on the university and/or course of choice. 

Upon completion of a diploma, students have the flexibility to enter the workforce or gain direct entry into the second year of a related degree programme. 

Further reading:

Top Diploma Courses to Study in Malaysia



Malaysian Matriculation 

One of the most cost-efficient pathways after SPM is through the Malaysian Matriculation – perfect for entry into local universities. 

This course will take students 1 to 2 years and is subsidised by the government where you would only need to pay less than RM550 for registration. 

In this programme, you are required to pick among 4 general streams: Science, Accounting, Professional Accounting and Engineering. 

In each stream, you will study a wide variety of subjects and will be graded based on 10%-20% classroom assignments, 10% mid-semester exams and 70%-80% final examinations. 

Further reading:

Things You Should Know About the Malaysian Matriculation Programme 2022




If you’re looking for a competitive programme without sacrificing cost-efficiency, STPM might just be what you’re looking for. 

Equivalent to GCE A-Levels, STPM stands for Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) and it offers students a holistic approach to learning with an emphasis on soft skills. 

Widely accepted by most reputable universities in the world, STPM is offered in selected local secondary schools where students are requested to choose from 23 subjects with a number of compulsory subjects. 

This programme can be completed in 2 years and is free for students to pursue right after SPM. 

You will be graded by 2 types of assessment: 20%-40% school based assessment and 60%-80% final examination. 

Upon completion of this programme, you can use your STPM results to apply for a degree programme in universities locally or abroad. 




Looking for the fastest pathway to jump into the workforce? 

Like a diploma programme, the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) is a programme designed to equip students with technical skills needed to become functional workers in a skilled trade. 

With a variety of courses to choose from, a TVET college can prepare students for industries such as auto body repair, fashion, automotive or culinary arts. 

These programmes are generally half to 2 years long and are subsidised by the government. 



How to Fund Your Studies After SPM

Pursuing tertiary education is deemed a necessity in securing a job. 

However, this can be financially draining for many so it’s important to plan ahead and consider the options available to help finance your education. 

Be sure to identify an option that matches your financial capabilities and university of choice to avoid complications. 

Common financial aids available to students in Malaysia are PTPTN loan, scholarships and student loans. 

Further reading:

University Fees in Malaysia: What is the Estimated Cost?

What’s the Price of Education?

How to Effectively Fund Your Higher Education




PTPTN stands for Perbadanan Tabung Pendidikan Tinggi Nasional and is a government institution that offers study loans specifically for tertiary education. 

One of the most common choices among Malaysian students after SPM, PTPTN has a relatively low interest rate compared with others and can be converted to a scholarship if students achieve first-class honours upon graduation. 

PTPTN loan applications have certain requirements such as minimum qualification, household income and type of institution. 

Upon graduation, you will have 12 months to secure a job before repayment commences.

Further reading:

Your Easy Guide to Applying for a PTPTN Loan

How to Make PTPTN Loan Work for You

7 Things to Know About Repaying Your PTPTN Loan




Another way to fund your course after SPM is through scholarships – a form of financial aid to support students’ education, awarded on the basis of academic or other achievements where students do not have to make repayment. 

Common types of scholarships:

Government scholarships: competitive, full or partial available but requires you to work for the government for a number of years upon graduation.

Institution scholarships: merit-based, specifically for students enrolled into the institution, required to maintain good academic results.

Corporate scholarships: aimed to groom future employees of the corporations, students are expected to study a course related to the corporation and are bonded to the corporation upon graduation. Examples of corporate scholarships include Petronas Scholarships, CIMB Scholarships and Bank Negara Scholarship.

Further reading:

4 Tips to Get a Scholarship in Malaysia – 2022 Updated




If you do not qualify for PTPTN loan or scholarships, don’t fret. 

There are other full or partial loans for you to consider including the Maybank Education Loan Malaysia, AFFIN Bank Education Financing-i and KOJADI Loan Scheme. 

Although these loans are designed to provide financial assistance to qualified students, there are still an extensive amount of requirements needed to fulfil in order to be a successful applicant. 

These loans generally have a higher interest rate, from 3.6% to 7%.



Top Choices of SPM 2021 Students

Curious about the continuously changing trend in courses and majors selected by SPM students, we conducted a research and here’s what we found:

Out of 31,000 students, 3,910 chose Medicine and Allied Health Sciences making it the most popular field of study among SPM 2021 students. 

Common majors under this FOS are Medicine, Pharmacy and Nursing. 

Business, Accounting and Finance, and Computing and IT are equally popular as each have about 2,000 students opting for them.

However, Medicine still remains the most popular major of choice. 

Interestingly, new data shows that more students prefer Nursing over Professional Accounting. 

Business and Management, Business Administration and International Business are also top major choices for students when studying Business. 



List of Top Private Universities in Malaysia

Here are the top private universities in Malaysia for you to consider when selecting your desired pathway: 


Taylor’s University 

Taylor’s is a pioneer private higher education institution located in Subang Jaya, Selangor. 

Known for their beautiful lakeside campus, Taylor’s has also achieved Tier-5 in SETARA Ranking and 284th position in the QS World University Ranking (2023). 

Taylor’s is known to value education excellence with its diverse study options, industry-leading staffs and well-equipped facilities to aid in learning. 

Below is a list of pre-u and diploma programmes offered at Taylor’s: 





SACE International 






American Degree Transfer Programme






Asia Pacific University of Technology and Innovation (APU)

Located in Bukit Jalil, APU is a private university widely recognised as a tech and innovation hub for students. 

APU has received 5 Stars by QS for Teaching, Employability, Facilities and Inclusiveness while holding the award for Premier Digital Tech University status by MDEC. 

APU also has a strong partnership with De Montfort University, UK opening opportunities for students to earn a Dual Degree Award. 

Below is a list of pre-u and diploma programmes offered at APU: 








Multimedia University (MMU) 

MMU is the oldest and first ever full-fledged private research university in Malaysia and a government-linked university as it is owned by Telekom Malaysia. 

With 2 campuses in Cyberjaya, Kuala Lumpur and Ayer Keroh, Melaka, MMU is a popular choice among students due to its diverse study options and cheaper tuition fees. 

Their latest outstanding student accomplishment was the Bronze medal at SIRIM Invention, Innovation and Technology Expo (SI2TE) 2017.

Below is a list of pre-u and diploma programmes offered at MMU: 






International Medical University (IMU) 

IMU is Malaysia’s first established private medical and health sciences university in Malaysia and worldwide. 

With a 100% focus on medicine, health sciences and complementary medicine programmes, IMU strongly enforces an outcome-based curriculum for all of its students. 

With its main campus located in Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur, IMU is the first and only private Malaysian medical university to receive a self-accreditation status from the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA). 

Below is a list of pre-u and diploma programmes offered at IMU: 








HELP University 

Founded in 1986, HELP is one of Malaysia’s leading institutions for tertiary education with its strong reputation of incubating outstanding graduates in both local and international establishments. 

Most recognised for its postgraduate Psychology and Business programme, HELP is also a gateway to many international universities where students can transfer credits to top universities in Australia and UK. 

HELP has 2 campuses – HELP Subang 2 and HELP Damansara Heights where both campuses accommodate different study options. 

Below is a list of pre-u and diploma programmes offered at HELP: 











How to Choose A Programme to Pursue After SPM 

Now that you know what your options are after SPM, it’s time to make your decision.

It is normal to struggle to make a choice between pursuing your interest or what will be beneficial for your future. 

But, lucky for you, the Japanese have figured out a concept known as IKIGAI

IKIGAI roughly translates to “reason for being” in achieving happiness and purpose. 

ikigai how to choose a course after spm

The concept of IKIGAI proposes that the most fulfilling career is when “What You Love to Do” is also “What You Are Good At” and this intersects with something “The World Needs” and which “People Will Pay You For” the product or service that you provide. 

This practical concept infers that your passion and your strengths can be associated with careers that bring value to others.

Don’t worry if you still haven’t figured it out at this point. 

You can contact us at Uni Enrol for advice to help you make a choice that will balance between your interest and future needs.

Additional reading:

Must Knows Before Choosing a Pre-U, Diploma or Degree

6 Things to Know Before Deciding on Your University Course

How to Choose a Course When I Don’t Know What I’m Interested In?

Should You Attend a University in Your Hometown, or Move to Another State?

Should You Choose Your Course Based on Interest or Future Demand