While Saudi Arabia is not a top destination amongst many international students, it has proven its weight in gold – literally. As one of the richest countries in the world, it can subsidize many of its universities – thus allowing enrollees to study for free. The country’s heavy investments have also helped uplift the status of its schools – with 5 of them now being heralded as some of the world’s best.
If you’re looking to study for free in some of Saudi’s most prestigious universities, then make sure to apply at any of these free universities in Saudi Arabia.
Free Universities in Saudi Arabia
1. King Abdulaziz University
The King Abdulaziz University or KAU is based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Opened in 1947 as a private university, it was eventually converted into a state university in 1974 under the orders of King Faisal. King Abdulaziz University is one of the free universities in Saudi Arabia for international students.
Named the best university in the country, KAU is also ranked as the 25th best young institution in the world. This reputation has gained the university many applicants, with the school currently housing 31,000+ students – 22% of which come from outside Saudi Arabia.
These learners are enrolled in KAU’s many faculties, including that of Engineering, Economics & Administration, Law, Applied Medical Science, Medicine, Arts & Humanities, Communication & Media, Nursing, Information Technology, Meteorology, Science, Pharmacy, Dentistry, Earth Science, Environmental Design, Tourism, Marine Science, Maritime Studies, and Home Economics.
KAU is free of charge for students who wish to take a full-time bachelor’s degree, a foundation year regular program, an educational diploma, or any other program from the Jeddah Community College.
The university, however, levies tuition for those who wish to take a provisional foundation year course, an orientation foundation year course, an external learning program, a distance learning program, parallel education, or a community service occupational program.
2. King Saud University
King Saud University or KSU is a free state university located in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It was established in 1957 as Riyadh University, thus making it the first higher education institution in the country. This free university in Saudi Arabia was eventually named after its founder, King Saud Abdulaziz, in the year 1982.
KSU’s colleges are organized according to their various specialties. The Science Colleges include that of Architecture, Business, Engineering, Science, Food & Agriculture, and Computer/Information Science. The Health Colleges, on the other hand, oversee the programs of Nursing, Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Emergency Medical Service, and Applied Medical Science.
The Humanities College is organized according to the Schools of the Arts, Education, Law & Political Science, Language, Tourism, Teaching, Physical Education, and Arabic Language.
KSU, which is ranked the third-best university in the country, continues to attract students from all over the globe. In fact, 10% of its 38,000+ students hail from outside the Kingdom.
This high enrollment rate is attributed to many things, one of which is KSU being tuition-free. At the same time, it also provides monthly stipends to local students and foreigners on scholarships. The amount depends on the degree – SAR 850 ($226) for Social Studies and Humanities majors, SAR 900 ($240) for graduate students, and SAR 1,000 ($266) for those specializing in scientific studies.
3. King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals
The King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) is named as the fourth-best university in Saudi Arabia and the top 102 in all of Asia. It’s also ranked 90th in the Young University listing, and is currently fourth (out of 100 universities) in terms of the most number of US utility patents.
Founded in 1963 as the College of Petroleum and Minerals, it is well known for its engineering programs (Aerospace, Chemical, Civil, Electrical, Mechanical, Systems, and Computer). Apart from these courses, KFUPM also offers degrees in the fields of Geoscience, Information Science, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics, Business, Architecture, and Planning.
Eligible MS and Ph.D. candidates out of the school’s almost 7,000 students may study at KFUPM for free. This offer also includes a monthly stipend, textbooks, subsidized meals, prepaid airline tickets, air-conditioned housing, medical insurance, and university-funded projects.
4. Umm Al-Qura University
Umm Al-Qura University or UQU is listed as the tenth-best university in all of Saudi Arabia. Based in Mecca, it started as the College of Sharia in the year 1949 and was transformed into UQU in the year 1981.
While it’s known to offer courses in Islamic Law and Fundamentals of Religion, this free university in Saudi Arabia also offers degrees in the fields of Arabic Language, Business, Education, Applied Science, Social Science, Engineering, Islamic Architecture, Dentistry, Medicine, Computer & Information Science, Pharmacy, and Applied Medical Science.
Most of UQU’s programs are taught in English, as it offers student exchange courses with Purdue and Tufts in the US and King’s College in London.
Sharia, Arabic Languages, Islamic Economics, and Islamic Studies, on the other hand, are taught in the native language.
UQU, which has 30,000+ students – 3,000+ of which are foreigners – is known to offer free education to Muslim students from all around the world. This scholarship also provides housing (for singles), a monthly stipend of SAR 850 ($226), a round-trip ticket, textbooks, medical services, and subsidized meals.
5. King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), a free tuition university in Saudi Arabia, is a private university founded in the year 2009. Located in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia, it is known for using English in its graduate-level programs and as such requires proof of proficiency for applicants.
KAUST, with its 940 graduate students, is also the first-ever mixed-gender university in the country. It admits applicants based on merit, so no GPA is required upon entry (though the average for successful entrants is 3.7 out of 4.0).
KAUST specializes in Engineering programs, particularly in the Electrical, Computer, Chemical, Biological, Petroleum, Material, and Mechanical fields. It also offers programs in Bioscience, Environmental Science, Marine Science, Plant Science, Computer Science, Applied Mathematics, Statistics, Chemical Science, and Earth Science.
KAUST offers tuition-free graduate education through its postgraduate fellowship program. Eligible applicants are entitled to free tuition, as well as an annual stipend ($20,000 to $30,000), on-campus housing, medical/dental insurance, and relocation financial support.
I hope that this article on free tuition universities in Saudi Arabia was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Asia Scholarships Page!