What To Study After SPM: Explore Your Options

So you've just finished the most important test of your high school life and are looking for an appropriate pre-university programme to help you earn a degree as soon as feasible. But, with so many alternatives available, choosing the most suitable pathway after SPM might be hard.

In this article, we will give you a comprehensive guide on all the choices available to you after SPM. Read on to find out which programme is best for you.


What are your options?

Upon completion of secondary school, students in Malaysia have the option of enrolling in a variety of educational institutions, from foundation programmes to studying abroad. We made a list of all those possible options for you here:

Public Education

If you’re looking for an option that doesn’t break the bank, public education is the best option for you. Although public colleges have lower tuition rates than private institutions, admittance through the Unit Pengambilan Universiti (UPU) is extremely difficult. Nevertheless, these are the programmes you can opt for if you choose this route:


Malaysian Matriculation

The Malaysian Matriculation Programme is a two to four semester pre-university programme that leads to a degree if completed successfully. 

This programme is one of Malaysia's most popular pre-university programmes since it is a very cost-effective way to get into tertiary education. Students just have to pay a modest registration fee, as the Malaysian government covers the majority of the expenses.

Typically, students who choose Matriculation will continue their education at a local public university. Nonetheless, some international colleges, including those in Australia, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand, recognise Malaysian Matriculation.



In 1969, the World Bank funded and collaborated with the Colombo Plan to provide polytechnic education in Malaysia. 

The Ministry of Higher Education is continuously updating the country's polytechnic system and has plans to reform polytechnic education to make it more appealing to students. This was done to satisfy the rising need for qualified human capital today.

There are currently 33 polytechnics nationwide. To satisfy the demand of the public and private sectors, these polytechnics produce competent semi-professionals in the disciplines of engineering, business, and hospitality at the diploma and advanced diploma levels.


Sijil Tinggi Pelajaran Malaysia

The Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) is a Malaysian pre-university programme. This course is one of several choices available to you after finishing SPM and before enrolling in a university degree programme.

STPM has always been a viable alternative for students who wish to pursue competitive degrees in public institutions at a low cost (the full course costs less than RM 1,000), as well as those who want to leave their choices open as STPM is generally widely recognised. 

Do note that STPM is an exam-based program that can be quite challenging if you are not academically inclined. 


Private Education

If you haven't been able to achieve what you want through UPU, you may want to try the private alternative. While they are more expensive than public universities in terms of tuition costs, they include international institutions with campuses in Malaysia.



Foundation after SPM is often a route taken by students who have already decided on their desired professional path. This makes the course intrinsically particular and customised to match the students' future degree curriculums, effectively laying the groundwork for their degree. 

People tend to have misconceptions about foundation courses, but it is also the most efficient way to get into a university as it's only a 1-year programme.



A-Levels is a pre-university option in Malaysia in which the curriculum is modelled after the UK education system. It's similar to the STPM in Malaysia. It is also known as GCE Advanced Level, and it prepares you for a university degree by allowing you to study your chosen subjects in depth.

The Advanced Subsidiary (AS) Level and the A2 Level are two sections of the A-Level, which are given at colleges under either the Cambridge International Examinations board or the Edexcel board.


International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP)

This Pre-U programme is a Geneva, Switzerland-based Pre-University programme. It prepares SPM or O-Level graduates for university admission. The programme lasts around 24 months and is recognised for being an intellectually difficult and hard programme that requires you to study a wide range of topics from many fields.

Students must also complete courses and exams in two subjects: Creative, Action and Service Activities (CAS) and Theory of Knowledge. This is a unique component of the IBDP programme.



A diploma course is a step below an undergraduate degree and is roughly comparable to a first-year university degree. It prepares you for the working world by emphasising practical and industry-specific skills and knowledge. 

Courses in specialised disciplines, such as Culinary Arts, Computer Science, and Aircraft Maintenance, are frequently available.


Australian Matriculation/South Australian Matriculation (AUSMAT/SACEi)

This programme is a pre-university programme based on the Australian education system. You can start this programme directly after SPM. 

While this programme is highly recommended for students who want to complete their degrees in Australia, it is also recognised in a number of other countries. 

The course is offered by two organisations: the AUSMAT, which is managed by the Western Australian government, and SACE International, which is administered by the South Australian government.


Canadian Pre-University

The Canadian Pre-University (CPU) programme, also known as the Ontario Secondary School Diploma, permits students to pursue their degrees not just in Canada but in nations all over the world. CPU students are required to do a certain number of hours of community service in addition to their academics.


American Degree Programme (ADP/ADTP)

After SPM or O-Level, the American Degree Program allows you to directly enter university. In contrast to other Pre-University programmes such as A-Level, SAM, or STPM, enrolling in ADP indicates that you are already working towards your degree.

ADP programmes in Malaysia normally include a credit-transfer option, which implies that after studying in Malaysia for 1–2 years, you may transfer to a university overseas (commonly in the United States or Canada) to finish your degree. The majority of pupils will continue their education in colleges in the United States.


Studying abroad 

Another option available for students after SPM is to study abroad. Studying abroad is becoming increasingly attractive for a variety of reasons. 

The draw for most foreign students is likely to be a combination of receiving a high-quality education, immersion in a new culture (and, in many cases, a second language), developing a global mentality, and extending future career opportunities.

You can look into how and where you can study abroad from local educational institutions to get more information on this pathway. Certain universities such as UOW Malaysia KDU offers students a chance to transfer credits through their Diploma Articulation Programme.

Under this programme, you can complete your 2-year diploma at UOW Malaysia KDU and get UOW Australia credit toward your bachelor's degree, where you will complete the next 2 years in. 

To be eligible for this pathway, you will have to complete 2 years of diploma studies in UOW Malaysia KDU and maintain a minimum 2.00 CGPA.


Which programme is the right one for me?

There are no right or wrong answers here; whatever path you take should be suitable for you. Choosing a course may be a difficult task so talk to your parents, older siblings, relatives, and friends about it. If you want more advice, you may also contact university counsellors. 

Nevertheless, here are some questions that might help you limit down your alternatives in general:


  • What are your interests and passions?
  • What do you excel at?
  • What is your financial plan?


Factors to consider when choosing a programme

There are four key considerations when picking a good degree following your SPM, whether you are from the arts or science stream. These are:

  • the educational level you wish to pursue
  • the institution of choice
  • your subject of study and credentials
  • whether you want to immediately enter the employment market


Courses at UOW Malaysia KDU

Here at UOW Malaysia KDU, we have many courses available for you after SPM.





Scholarships and financial aid for SPM leavers 

Here are some scholarships and financial aid available for SPM leavers in Malaysia:


We at UOW Malaysia KDU also provide scholarships for SPM graduates. Among them are: 

  • UOW Malaysia KDU Excellence Award Scholarship
  • High Achievers Scholarship
  • Driving Dreams Scholarship
  • Professional Accountancy Scholarship



There are a plethora of choices for you to take after SPM. Take your time to go through the list of options and choose one that suits you the best! If you’re interested in any pre-university programmes in our campus, feel free to drop your enquiry here!

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