Update: To ensure that our list of best majors in Singapore is always updated, we have a poll below to reflect the updated views of readers. Do vote and check out the latest results!
Why is there a need to consider the Best Majors in Singapore?
There is an old Chinese proverb, saying that “The greatest fear of a man is to choose the wrong occupation.”. (男怕入错行，女怕嫁错郎.) Despite being thousands of years old, this proverb still holds true in the 21st century, even in advanced regions like the USA, Europe, and Singapore.
Basically, the choice of major directly or indirectly determines the future occupation or career path of a student.
Ancient Chinese Proverb:
“The greatest fear of man is getting into the wrong occupation. The greatest fear of woman is marrying the wrong man.”
(The first part still holds true, the second part may be outdated?)
Best Majors in Singapore
There are many sources on the best majors in university or college, but focused on other countries such as the USA. Do take a look to see the general trend, but there are several majors that are “uniquely” good or bad in Singapore.
Best Majors in Singapore (Tier List)
Firstly, the best major in a sense is based on one’s interest and passion. For example, if one has totally zero interest in being a medical doctor or healing patients, it does not make sense going into the Medicine major in university. One may even burn out while attempting to do so.
That being said, if you have passion for multiple subjects, but have problem narrowing it down to a single major, it may be good to look at which one has the best prospects.
S Tier Majors in Singapore
Based on the ageless theory of demand and supply, medicine and dentistry are bound to be the best for years to come. Demand-wise, humans are bound to get sick, and even more so with an aging population in Singapore. Supply-wise, the supply of doctors and dentists are strictly controlled by limiting the yearly cohort of medical students. In general, there will always be a shortage (or just enough), and never a surplus of doctors/dentists in Singapore.
The Singapore Medical Council (SMC) is a powerful organization, with the power to advice the Ministry of Health to cut overseas medical schools approved for practice in Singapore, for example. This helps to control the supply of doctors in Singapore.
Dentistry, though not as prestigious as medicine, actually have good earning potential as most visits to dentists are surgeries which cost more. From an official Youth.SG government website, the salary range is $5,000 to $7,000 per month for fresh dentistry graduates.
In general, both medicine and dentistry are always among the highest paying degrees in Singapore. According to anecdotes online, there are people who are even willing to sell their house in order to send their child to medical school overseas (e.g. Australia); such is the attractiveness of the Medicine major in Singapore.
A Tier Majors in Singapore
- Computer Science (or other computer related majors)
Law is one of the highest paying degrees in Singapore, in fact potentially even more so than medicine. However, it is also known that being a lawyer is an extremely high stress occupation, and there is a high attrition rate because of that. In Singapore, 3 out of 4 (75%) local lawyers will leave practice within 10 years of commencing, according to the Law Society. That is why it is only placed at ‘A’ tier instead of ‘S’ tier.
For Computer Science, there is no need to explain, it is needed in all companies nowadays in the shift to high tech. Big data, data science, machine learning, is the hottest thing now. The only reason why computing science is only ‘A’ tier instead of ‘S’ tier is because there is no control on the supply of computer engineers/scientists in Singapore. Theoretically, it could happen that there can be more and more computer engineers/ data scientists trained (including from overseas) until the entire field is over-saturated. Also, from history, the technological sector tend to experience things like “AI winter” or “Dot-com bubble”.
Computer Science (and data science) is also recently one of the highest paying degrees in Singapore, with good job prospects. It is also quite compatible with the current “work from home” climate across the globe, it is unlikely to be disrupted by disease epidemics such as COVID-19 or future viruses.
For architecture, the pay is good and attracts top students. And also, even though Singapore is a small country with limited land, there always seems to be construction projects going on here and there all the time. For pharmacy, due to the laws, there is a constant demand for pharmacists required to dispense medication (for example every Guardian/Watson pharmacy needs one) and other duties. Hence, unless the laws regarding medicine change, there is always a constant demand for pharmacists.
B Tier Majors in Singapore
Note that “B Tier” still means good, while “A Tier” means very good!
- Engineering (except computing)
- Science (Physical science or hard science majors such as: Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry.)
- Many others … (Vote in the poll!)
For engineering, this may be a surprise to foreign readers because in the USA, engineers are paid very well. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) engineers in America have a median annual wage of USD $91,010, which is around SDG $122k.
In Singapore, engineering majors are “B” tier since they are still good in the sense that you could still most likely find a job related to what you study. Why they are not “A” tier is again due to the theory of demand and supply. The demand is not as high as say Computer Science, since Singapore is already slowly transitioning out of the manufacturing industry (e.g. do you see any big factories in Singapore?) For supply, again the number of engineers are not controlled, when there is a huge number of engineers (either trained or imported), wages will get suppressed.
For Science degrees (especially physical sciences like Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics), it is a solid “B” tier because the student actually learns useful and real quantitative skills that can be transferred to other domains. For example, it is very possible for physics or mathematics majors to transition to the finance industry after they graduate. Also, teaching in schools (public or private) is a valid option for Science majors.
Useless Degrees in Singapore
There is actually no such thing as a “useless degree”, since every degree from a recognized institution in Singapore does impart knowledge to the student. In the worst case scenario, they are still regarded as a general degree which will be recognized in the civil service or most major companies.
There is a notable mention to “Life Science” (Biology) degrees in Singapore though. Basically, the “Life Science” undergraduate degree in Singapore is widely regarded as not sufficient in itself to get a Life Science related job in Singapore, further degrees such as masters or PhD may most likely be required.
seriously it (Life Science Prospects in Singapore) is not good.
my batch people who went into life sciences are not doing well.
most have changed industries.
jobs are still few and not well paying.
i receive quite a lot of resumes from them, trying to do a mid career switch to engineering.
I was a life science grad specializing in biomed. Graduated in 2015
I would say out of my circle of friends, only one person went on to do research for a year for his masters. Everyone else went to do other things that were not life science related.
hi!! to be vv honest, life sci is q a bad place to be in rn (unless u are intending to do the duke-nus grad med track; which again, entry is vv competitive). i have friends who’re in life sci and they’re all desperate for phd bc degree really means nothing; they constantly joke about degree-holders being test-tube washers lmao. in nus faculty of sci, the dean’s list is often filled w ppl from life sci whose CAP are v high. that’s bc life sci mods are generally easier than other sci courses, and the cohort is bigger (so more bellcurve tankers). and when a degree is relatively easy, u can imagine it’s prospects
An excellent world-class post on why the Life Science / biology hype died down worldwide, not just in Singapore:
It died down worldwide imo. There was a lot of hype about genetics and biotech in the 90’s, but after the Human Genome Project was completed in the early 00’s everyone realised that there are several more levels between genes and phenotype, e.g. epigenetics, mRNA regulation, proteomics, nutrition, lifestyle choices, pathogens, behaviour… And we can’t even be certain that there aren’t more levels which we are currently unable to perceive.
Despite the predictions of futurists in the 90’s, we still can’t fully explain the pathways that lead to cancer or Alzheimer’s or heart disease, let alone fully formulate rational treatments for them. And forget about designing artificial life from scratch.
There was a mountain that science hoped El Dorado lay hidden behind, but after climbing it science found only a bit of gold, and 5 higher mountains in front. It’s just the way the universe is really; nobody could have known that the 5 mountains existed before climbing the first.