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The Saudi Arabia Higher Education System

The Ministry of Higher Education is responsible for higher education in Saudi Arabia. The Ministry manages, regulates and supervises the universities and colleges in Saudi Arabia. 

In Saudi Arabia, there are 5 major universities:
  • King Saud University
  • Umm Al-Qura University
  • King Faisal University
  • Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Islamic University
  • King Abdulaziz University

Higher Education Statistics 

  • Government Universities: 25
  • Private Universities: 9
  • Private Colleges: 36
  • Primary Teacher's Colleges for men: 18
  • Primary Teacher's Colleges for women: 80
  • Colleges and Institutes for health: 37
  • Technical Colleges: 12
Source: Ministry of Education-Higher Education

University Higher Education

Higher Education Institutions: Snapshot


Universities: In Saudi Arabia, there are both public and private universities. Universities offer bachelor, master and doctorate degree programmes. Some of the universities are co-educational; some are only for women, and some only for men. 

Junior or Community Colleges: This type of higher education institution provides 2 to 3 years degree programmes in several fields.

Girls’ Colleges: These colleges generally provide specialization in education, though other fields of study are also available. The girl’s colleges in Saudi Arabia provide associate and bachelor degree courses of study.

Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC): Comprises Industrial and Vocational Institutes, Colleges of Technology, and Higher Technical Institutes for Girls.

Private colleges: Most of the vocational and technical institutions in Saudi Arabia are private. 

Degree Structure

Following degrees are awarded by the universities in Saudi Arabia:
  • Bachelor's degrees: Generally lasts for 4 years; though courses in agriculture, veterinary, architecture, dentistry, pharmacy, law, and medicine lasts for 5 to 6 years.
  • Master’s degree: lasts for 2 years
  • Doctorate/PhD: lasts for 3 years and requires a completion of a dissertation based on an independent research, 
  • Technical colleges offer 2-year associate degree, and 3-years bachelor degree programmes.

Non-University Higher Education

Higher vocational and technical education in Saudi Arabia is offered by the technical colleges, higher institutions for financial and commercial sciences, and higher technical institutes. 

Admission requirement: In order to gain admittance into these institutions, students must hold a general secondary education certificate in sciences stream, or the secondary vocation school diploma or secondary commercial school diploma.

Structure of Non-University Higher Education

Technical Colleges

  • Duration: 3 years
  • Curriculum: Production engineering, automatic control, electrical installations, auto electrical systems, industrial electronics, auto mechanics, industrial chemistry, and electrical equipment. 
  • Certificate awarded: Technical college certificate (Al Shahadah Al Jami’iyyiah Al Mutawassit)

Higher Technical Institutes

  • Duration: 1 year
  • Certificate awarded:  Higher technical institute diploma (Shahadat Al Ma’had Al Fanni Al ‘Aali )

Higher Technical Institutes for Financial and Commercial Sciences

  • Duration: 2 years
  • Curriculum: Public relations, Islamic culture, accounting, marketing and advertising, insurance, commercial correspondence, office machines, secretarial skills, English, and purchases and stores.
  • Certificate awarded:  Diploma of the higher institute for financial and commercial sciences (Diplom Al Ma’had Al ‘Aali fil-Uloom Al Maliyyah )

Institute of Public Administration

This institute is a semi-autonomous government institution that conducts the training of civil servants.
  • Duration: 2 to 3 years 
  • Study programmes: 
    • Electronic data processing: 2 years plus 1 summer semester
    • Banking studies: 2 years
    • Library science: 3 years
    • Secretarial studies: 2 years
    • Hospital administration: 2 years
    • Store studies: 2 years
    • Personnel studies: 2 years
  • Certificate awarded: Certificate of completion of the Institute of Public Administration (Shahadat Itmaam Dawrat Ma’had Al Idaarah Al ‘Aammah)
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