Education Pathways: What to Study After SPM?

Completing your SPM exam is just the start of an exciting new journey to pursuing further studies at a university higher education institution. But what should you enrol for, exactly?  


It depends on which level of academic study you’re interested in. From pre-university, undergraduate to postgraduate studies, read on to help you decide the most suitable university course for you and your future career!  




Planning to pursue a bachelor’s degree? You would first need a pre-university qualification like a foundation to enter university. Apart from Form Six, students can select from a wide range of pre-university programmes offered by public and private higher education institutions in Malaysia.


A foundation programme is usually a one-year university introductory programme designed to offer school leavers an education pathway after SPM and O-level exams to enrol for undergraduate studies later. Hence, these foundation programmes have subjects that are directly related to their bachelor’s degree counterparts. 



Didn’t do too well in your SPM? That’s okay! Certificate programmes enable students who only obtained 1 or 2 credits in SPM to progress into a diploma and later to a bachelor’s degree. The programme equips students with the fundamental knowledge and industry-based skills in fields such as introduction to marketing, business and information technology.  


This pre-university programme is one of the education pathways students can explore after SPM which usually takes 12-18 months to complete. Courseworks and final exams are typically given to assess throughout the programme.

After completing Pre-U:


Want to speed up your undergraduate study? Take a diploma course. It’s a level below an undergraduate degree and can be considered as a first-year degree at any university higher education institution. This means you can pursue a related bachelor’s degree beginning from the second year. 


The duration of the course is usually between 24 and 36 months which you can also apply for immediately after SPM. Most diploma programmes require only a minimum of 3 credits for SPM or equivalent, unlike other courses that require at least 5 credits for enrolment. Similar to other pre-university courses, you will undergo a combination of coursework and final examinations but with an additional semester of internship or practical training. 


Bachelor’s Degree

Universities offer different types of bachelor’s degrees depending on the major. The undergraduate degree includes elective courses to complement the major subjects. Normally, a bachelor’s degree programme takes around 3 or 4 years of study, with the exception of medical-related undergraduate degrees extending to 5 years or more. If you want an entry or mid-level job, getting a bachelor’s degree is your best bet as it’s the standard academic qualification to enter the corporate world. 


For working students: 

Master’s Degree 

If you want to further specialise in what you’ve studied for your bachelor’s degree, or improve your career prospects, consider pursuing a master’s degree. A master’s degree is a postgraduate academic qualification granted to students who have successfully undergone a study showcasing high expertise in a specific field of study or area of professional practice. 


Master’s degrees typically take one to three years to complete in full-time or part-time study.


PhD  (Doctorate)

Also known as the Doctor of Philosophy, a PhD degree is a research degree that is one of the most common types of doctoral degrees and is awarded to graduates across different fields. Keen on specialising further in business and management while advancing your professional goals? Check out UNITAR’s Doctor in Business Administration (DBA) – Online.


PhD programmes are intended for individuals who have either graduated from a master’s programme or enrolled via APEL and are interested in contributing new knowledge to their respective fields of expertise through scientific research and/or gaining teaching experience.  


Full-time PhDs usually take up to three or four years of study, while part-time PhDs can be as long as six or seven years. 

Interested to further your studies after SPM? Consider UNITAR, the first tertiary institution in Asia to be awarded a QS 5-Star Rating for online learning, as one of your shortlisted universities today

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