If you’re from Singapore and thinking of applying for a private university, one of the options is University at Buffalo. Within the US, UB has a ranking of 33th out of the top 50 public universities, based on a survey of over 1900 public universities.
Moreover, UB is part of the renowned Association of American Universities(AAU) group, which includes Ivy League universities such as the University of California, Berkley as well as the University of Michigan.
UB provides an engaging and immersive experience, which will help you to foster creative thinking and hone your communication skills. In addition, lecturers from the main campus in the US often come to Singapore to teach. Hence, you don’t have to pay exorbitant fees for an overseas education.
I’ve had the opportunity to speak with a UB graduate, and here’s what you need to know:
What courses does the University at Buffalo offer?
The University at Buffalo offers a total of 28 full-time courses, comprising of a mixture of single degree courses, double major courses as well as double degree courses. This means that you will get to enjoy a lot of flexibility when choosing your major.
These are examples of some of the degree programmes offered(not exhaustive):
- Bachelor of Arts (International Trade and Sociology)
- Bachelor of Arts (Psychology and Sociology)
- Bachelor of Science (Business Administration and Geographic Information Science)
- Bachelor of Science (Business Administration) and Bachelor of Arts (Sociology)
- Bachelor of Science (Geographic Information Science) and Bachelor of Arts (Communication)
- Bachelor of Science (Geographic Information Science) and Bachelor of Arts (Sociology)
Is it hard to get into the University of Buffalo as a Singaporean?
As a Singaporean, getting into the University at Buffalo would be considered pretty straightforward. If you have a polytechnic diploma, a SIM diploma or an GCE A-Level certificate, you may enjoy credit exemptions.
So what exactly are credit exemptions?
For each module taken, the number of credits indicates the amount of classroom hours as well as the weightage of each module. The higher the number of credits, the higher the workload, usually ranging from 3-5 credits per module. If you have taken a particular module before, ie. Introduction to Nutrition, you may be eligible to be exempted from modules related to this topic, in the form of credit exemptions.
You will be subjected to the English language proficiency requirement if you did not attain a C6 or higher for your English language for O Levels.
Taken from SIM’s website:
If you went through the IB route, you should have at least “3 years of high school grade of ‘B’ equivalent to IB score 4.5.” In addition, IB Diploma holders “can expect up to 30 credit exemptions with a minimum of 30 total scores.”
These are the other recognised qualifications (taken directly from the website):
- SIM Management Foundation Studies (MFS) or its equivalent
- Qualifications equivalent to a U.S. high school diploma. Average grade of ‘B’ or better.
Are the fees charged more expensive compared to a public university?
The amount of fees charged would depend on the number of credit exemptions that you have. As a general rule of thumb, you will have to pay about S$588.50 per credit as a Singaporean student.
Personally, I paid about $42,372 for my degree programme. Here’s how it compares with other university courses in Singapore (according to Moneysmart):
|University||Est. course fee for 2021 intake|
|NUS||$24,600 to $28,800|
|NTU||$24,600 to $28,200|
|SUSS||$31,440 to $33,440 (4-year courses)|
|SIT||$22,500 to $43,080|
However, the cost of your degree may or may not be more expensive, as UB revamps the curriculum from time to time.
Here are the approximate costs that you may incur, depending on your educational background:,
(Minimum 120 credits)
(Minimum 120 credits)
(Minimum 150 credits
|Polytechnic Diploma holders |
with transfer credits
|60 – 110 credits(S$35,310-S$64,735)||102 – 137 credits|
|127 – 159 credits|
|SIM Diploma holders with transfer credits||76 – 100 credits|
|102 – 137 credits|
|127 – 159 credits|
|International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma holders||90 – 120 credits|
|102 – 137 credits|
|127 – 159 credits|
|A-Level students with advanced standing credits||80 – 110 credits|
|100 – 137 credits|
|130 – 159 credits|
|Students with no credit exemption||120 credits|
|120 – 137 credits|
|150 – 159 credits|
One academic year comprises of 3 semesters, you will take about 5 semesters to complete your course which has 60 credits.
If you have 90-150 credits, it may take you anywhere from 7/ 8 semesters to 12 semesters to graduate.
In addition, there is a one-off Student Development Fee at S$251.45, which aims to help students with their holistic development and improve their career prospects.
SIM also charges a non-refundable application fee of S$96.30 for all courses.
If you have outstanding academic results, you can try to apply for scholarships such as the SIMGE scholarship which recognises students with ”exemplary academic results or achievements in sports and arts” to reduce the financial burden.
For existing students with a GPA of 3.5 and above, who wish to study in the US campus for one semester, the UB scholarship comprises of:
- one semester’s tuition fee waiver in UB, Buffalo campus
- one semester’s housing on-campus and a round trip air ticket between Singapore and Buffalo (max S$7,500)
How are the classes structured?
Most lessons in UB comprise of a 1.5 hour lecture, as well as a 1.5 hour consultation for students to clarify their doubts after the lesson. While some classes may be conducted lecture-style, most classes are conducted in a dynamic format, which includes (not exhaustive):
- Classroom presentations
- Case studies
Class participation often accounts for 10% of your overall grade, and you are highly encouraged to speak up and ask questions. Another component is group work, which is an integral part of the UB Curriculum.
Moreover, you get to take a mix of free electives, general education modules as well as modules directly related to your major. This makes your educational experience more well-rounded.
As a communications major, I took some foundational modules such as interpersonal communication, organisational communication and mass communication theory.
Some general education modules that I went for include nutrition, computer science as well as a linguistics course.
In addition, I was required to take two modules on psychology: introduction to psychology and cognitive psychology (psychology elective).
To find out more about the modules in UB, you can click on this link which comprises module breakdowns by current and ex-students, including me. Alternatively, you can take a look at their module descriptions.
Is the University of Buffalo recognised in Singapore?
Generally, all private universities certified by the CPE(Committee for Private Education) have met the minimum criteria for quality and reliability. SIM has been awarded with the Edutrust certificate, with a valid CPE number. By default, UB is also considered as a reputable university since it falls under the SIM umbrella.
When it comes to employability, it depends on several factors, such as your ability to network with others, your past working experience(s) and your personality. Having a good portfolio will also go a long way in helping you secure a job.
If you wish to take on an internship during the school term to increase your employability, you may have to take a Leave-of-Absence(LOA) which may push back your graduation date.
Moreover, SIM does not do internship-matching unlike the local polytechnics, which means you will have to find one by yourself. On the other hand, SIM has a dedicated career development office that organises career fairs, workshops as well as providing career guidance.
If you are thinking of furthering your studies, as long as you have a high GPA, good testimonials and CCA records, you should have no problem.
There was a recent UB graduate who went on to work at SPH and eventually matriculated into Cambridge University’s prestigious law programme.
Furthermore, one of my batchmates managed to enter SMU to study a JD(Juris Doctor) in Law.
Is it worth it studying at the University of Buffalo from Singapore?
Many of my peers thoroughly enjoyed their time in UB, and they have forged strong bonds and friendships over the years.
As for me, I enjoyed taking courses related to communication theories and I believe it was a robust curriculum especially if you are planning to take a master’s degree or go into academia.
In addition, I find that some communication electives are really helpful, such as Communication and Marketing, Journalism, Principles and Techniques of Advertising. There is also a Public relations module which would provide you with an overview of the industry.
However, I definitely wished there were more modules related to photography and videography, as well as some other technical skills, as this course was more focused on the writing aspects.
If you have a Mass communication diploma, this degree would be useful in helping you consolidate your knowledge.
Choosing a private university can be a daunting and difficult process-but it doesn’t have to be. Ultimately, your altitude depends on your aptitude and your attitude.
If you want to experience what it is like studying in a US university without forking out hefty school fees, why not consider UB as your first choice?
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