General Admissions

For admissions related questions please see Applying to KAUST or contact

There are three available entry points for all applicants: fall semester, spring semester, and summer session. (For more information, see Academic Semesters).

Students are strongly encouraged to apply early in the admission cycle to receive an earlier decision and have enough time for visa processing (international students).

For students requesting transfer credit to a KAUST degree program, please see policy on Transfer Credit.

Application Requirements

  1. English language proficiency. KAUST requires a minimum TOEFL score of 79 on the IBT (Internet Based Test) or 6.0 on the IELTS (International English Language Testing System). Only official TOEFL or IELTS scores will be accepted. A TOEFL or IELTS score is not required if the applicant received a degree from an accredited institution in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, or New Zealand.
  2. Official, complete university transcript/mark sheets/graduation certificate/academic record from every institution previously attended. A scan of the official transcript provided by the university in the native language must be uploaded into the online application along with the certified English translation. Transcripts must include the university grading scale for all documents submitted. If offered admission, an official final transcript must be sent to the Office of Admissions prior to arrival (during the onboarding process) in a sealed envelope.
  3. Three letters of recommendation submitted on your behalf. Recommendation letters should be submitted through the application directly from the recommender. Recommenders should provide details about how they know your work, as well as comparative statements (e.g., top 1% of class, best in past five years, etc.), and insight into research ability.
  4. Curriculum vitae (CV).

More information on application requirements and financial support is available here.

Admission to Master of Science

Admission to the Master of Science (M.Sc.) program requires the satisfactory completion of an undergraduate science degree in a relevant or related area, such as engineering, mathematics or the physical, chemical and biological sciences.

Admission to M.Sc./Ph.D. Program

The M.Sc./Ph.D. program is for students looking for fast entry into the world of research. Students can apply for the Ph.D. program after completing a bachelor’s degree and are engaged in research from the beginning of their program. The program typically takes four to five years to complete and students may complete a M.Sc. degree on the way to their Ph.D.

Admission to Doctor of Philosophy

Admission to the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program requires the satisfactory completion of an undergraduate or master’s degree in science in a relevant or related area, such as engineering, mathematics or the physical, chemical and biological sciences.

There are three phases and associated milestones for Ph.D. students:

  • Passing a qualifying exam (if applicable)
  • Passing an oral defense of the dissertation proposal
  • Dissertation phase with a final defense

Admission to Dual Degree (Cotutelle) Program

A dual degree (cotutelle) program is a partnership with another university under which students may, after meeting each university’s expectations, receive two diplomas, one from each institution. Dual degree programs share a common research program and often share coursework. Contracts are managed by the International Programs Office and are approved by program, division, and academic affairs.   

Students wishing to enter into a dual degree Ph.D. agreement should contact the International Programs Office at

Visiting Students

The Visiting Student Research Program (VSRP) is an opportunity for highly qualified students in their baccalaureate or post-baccalaureate studies to be engaged in research with faculty mentors in selected areas of research. The program typically lasts between three to six months, depending on the research project.

VSRP interns may participate in the program through one of the University’s three academic divisions: Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering; Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Science and Engineering; or Physical Science and Engineering.

Currently enrolled KAUST students, KAUST alumni and students currently in a Ph.D. program, or those who have earned a Ph.D. are not eligible to participate. VSRP students who become regular admitted KAUST students are not eligible for transfer credit.

For more information about VSRP, please see Visiting Student Policy or contact

Assessment Test

Admitted students may be required to take a written, degree-program specific assessment test when they arrive at KAUST at the discretion of the division. The purpose of the assessment is to determine whether students have mastered the prerequisites for undertaking graduate level courses taught in their chosen degree program. The academic advisor works with admitted students to develop a study plan if needed. Students are encouraged to prepare for the assessment by refreshing the general knowledge gained from their undergraduate education before arriving at KAUST. The study plan requirements must be satisfactorily completed, in addition to University degree requirements.