Studying in Saudi Universities

Many people are well aware of Saudi universities that offer scholarships to Muslims from around the world to study. These universities have become well known over the last few decades, as they have graduated hundreds of thousands of students from almost every country in the world. The more renowned of these universities are the Islamic University of Madinah, Umm al-Qura University in Makkah and Imam Muhammad bin Saʿud Islamic University in Riyadh. However, what most people are unaware of is that there are a total of 25 high-capacity universities in Saudi Arabia, geographically distributed throughout the various regions of the country. Furthermore, in 2010 the Saudi Ministry of Higher Education passed a mandate that required every Saudi university to ensure that 5% of the accepted students per semester are non-Saudi scholarship students. This would serve as an opportunity for many who are keen on studying Islam and have high aspirations, and have applied for the more well-known universities, but were not accepted.

Over the last few years, many of these other universities have started implementing the government mandate requiring them to accept students from outside the country. However, only a handful of them have opened Arabic language institutes catered to teaching Arabic to non-native speakers preparing them to study at the various colleges of the respective universities. Thus, having a solid foundation in the Arabic language is a prerequisite to study at most of these universities.

Once an applicant is accepted to one of these universities, he generally has the option of choosing from any of the university’s colleges for his undergraduate studies (with exception to certain colleges, such as the college of medicine), meaning that he does not have to necessarily specialize in Islamic studies. As for those who wish to specialize in Islamic studies, their options are generally limited to one college: the college of tarbiyah (education), which has different specializations, among which is Islamic studies (which also has further specializations in areas of ʿAqidah, Tafsir, Hadith and Fiqh).

As for female students, all of these universities have branches of the same colleges for women. However, they do not cater for non-Arabic speaking students and do not have Arabic language institutes like they may have for male students. Hence, these universities do not accept non-Saudi female applicants from abroad unless they already know Arabic and can enter the college directly, and are already living in Saudi Arabia with their husbands.

Once accepted, a student receives the same benefits that non-Saudi scholarship students receive in other Saudi universities. That includes, but is not limited to:

  • A student visa and residence permit
  • A yearly round-trip plane ticket to the country the student came from
  • A monthly stipend of 850 SR (900 SR for post-graduates students)
  • Free accommodation (for single students only)
  • Free basic medical care
  • Discounted meals


Firstly, the requirements for admission to any Saudi university, as a non-Saudi living abroad, is the same across the board (maximum age of 25 years, high school graduate, etc.). These requirements have been put in place by the Saudi Ministry of Higher Education and must be followed by all universities.

Secondly, some of these universities have an online application process through their official websites. Others do not, thus making it difficult to apply to them. Nonetheless, interested applicants can send their documents to these universities by postal mail hoping that they will reach the right people.

The documents required are generally the same for all universities. They are as follows:

  • Cover letter, stating the applicant’s desire to study at the university, and written in either Arabic or English
  • Complete postal address of applicant, along with phone number and email address
  • At least two tazkiyahs (letters of recommendation) from known Islamic centers in applicant’s country
  • Copy of high school diploma
  • Copy of academic transcript
  • Copy of birth certificate
  • Copy of valid passport

Some of these universities have official deadlines for applying, while others do not. That information is available in the links I have provided below for each university.

Universities with Arabic Language Institutes:

  1. Qassim University
  2. King Saud University (Riyadh)
  3. King Abdul-Aziz University (Jeddah)

Universities without Arabic Language Institutes:

  1. Taif University
  2. University of Dammam
  3. University of Tabuk
  4. Prince Sattam bin Abdul-Aziz University (Kharj)
  5. King Khalid University (Abha)
  6. King Faisal University (Hufuf)
  7. University of Hail
  8. Jazan University
  9. Najran University
  10. Al-Baha University
  11. Majmaʿah University
  12. Shaqra University
  13. Al-Jouf University

Buraydah, Saudi Arabia
17th of Shaʿban 1437

About Kamil Ahmad

Graduated from Islamic University of Madinah (Bachelors in Shari'ah & post graduate diploma in Da'wah) | Pursuing Masters in Aqeedah from Qaseem University

37 comments on “Studying in Saudi Universities

  1. Jazak Allah Khair respected shaykh for this information.
    I kindly request you to provide us with more information.

    • I don’t have any more information about these other universities besides what I have mentioned. I can only comment on the university I study at: Qassim University.

  2. Just wondering , when are the start dates ..does the academic year classes after ramadan , september , january? When is the best time to apply?

  3. Shaykh , really jazakallah . May Allah reward you for this information . I will inshallah apply to all the universities that have Arabic learning centres . Just a few questions Shaykh.

    1. Is it necessary to translate all documents to the Arabic language ? Or does English suffice .
    If yes , do they have to be an official /stamped translation ?

    2. Is there a particular season that is more suitable to send in your application , I’m guessing Ramadan is a busy time in the kingdom , any suggestions ?

    Inshallah , that’s it for now.

    • 1. I think that depends from university to university. To be on the safe side, sending translated documents is a better option.

      2. The most ideal time to submit applications is from November to January.

  4. Assalamu’alaikum,

    This year, the Islamic university of Madinah has only accepted 9 students from the UK. Why is the number so small of students being taken from UK sheikh especially when there are many students here (like myself) who have the desire and eagerness to study)?
    They’ve said that they’ll be taking more but no new names have been released yet.

    Do you have information sheikh that you could help us with?

    بارك الله فيك

    • Why are you putting all your eggs in one basket.. you have a list of 6 universities in the kingdom that have Arabic program for non natives.. Ofcourse are #1 option is Madinah and then Mecca , but it would’nt hurt to try em all.

  5. Do the universies consider 12th standard grades?
    Can one combine medicine, or engineering and Islamic studies?

  6. Assalaamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuh

    Are any of the universities lenient at all with regards to age? Or is it possible to apply when one is under 25 and delay enrollment for 2 years? Or could I enroll in the Arabic language program and return to the UK and study Arabic here, and return after two years and do the exam and enter the college?

    In sha Allah I’ll graduate from uni in the UK two years from now when I’m 25, but it will be very difficult for me to leave until two years after due to certain circumstances. If absolutely necessary I can but I’m just trying to see if there is any way at all that I can pursue this route at 27.

    JazaakAllahu khairan

    • Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

      You should apply before 25. No university that I know of is lenient on the age rule.

  7. Assalamu alaikum wa rahamatullah

    I am from Bangladesh. I had sent application to Imam Muhammad ibn Saud islamic University in beginning of this year. But they had sent the application back to me. Probable reason not providing complete address. I had sent the application in this address –

    Imam Mohamed Bin Saud Islamic University (IMIU)
    P.O. Box 5701
    Riyaadh 11432
    Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

    Can you please help me by providing correct mailing address to sent application in the university. Jazakallahu khair.

    • Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

      I don’t have such information. Try searching for the address on the official university website.

  8. Salam alaikum shelkh is there faculty of geology and petroleum in qassim university? Am willing to apply for that jazakallah khair

    • Wa alaikum assalam,

      I don’t think so. You’re better off applying to King Fahd Petroleum University in Dammam/Khobar.

  9. 1. As-salam Alaykum yaa shiekh, is there amendment for the person that want to study in saudi universities and he has above the maximum age like 26 upward?

    2. is there a place their that i can translate my document to arabic or i should translate it in my country i before i come?

    3. Please is there any university that have open scholarship right now. ?

    • Wa alaikum assalam,

      1- The age rule of 25 is for all universities as they all come under the ministry of education, and that rule is set by the ministry, therefore none of the universities can go outside of that rule.

      2- You should translate your documents in your own country first.

      3- You have to check the links for the universities to see which ones are open for applying right now.

  10. Is there any way we can forward you our information and maybe you could put it in the right hands? Sorry but I have to try.

  11. Assalamu Alaikum Ya Sheikh can I be able to apply for Islamic University of Madina and apply for e-learning (distance learning) for same university at the same year. Jazakumullahu khairan. Bissalam.

  12. Assalamu Alaikum,1.When is the best time to apply for qassim university? passport remains 1 year to expire can I still apply?

  13. Assalamu Alaikum Ya Sheikh which university offered e-learning and how to apply. Jazakumullahu Khairan. Bissalam.

  14. Asalam Alaikum warahmatulah

    1. Which universities in Saudi allow female foreigners to apply for their scholarship.
    Can you please provide link to the universities insha Allah

    2. Does that mean only Imam bin saud, Ummu qura , IUM , king abdulaziz , king saud universities have only Arabic program for foreigner

    3. Did you know the application starting date of Ummu qura , imam bin saud and king saud

    Jazakum llahu khairan akhi kareem

    • Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

      1. Pretty much all Saudi universities have female campuses with the exception of Madeenah University. However, they will not accept a female unless her mahram is already studying at the university.

      2. Yes, only a handful of universities currently offer the pre-college Arabic program.

      3. I am not familiar with the application starting dates.

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