An Overview: Polytechnics in Singapore

For many students, taking the first step into a new educational institution is almost always a daunting experience. This is especially true if the environment of said institution is seemingly completely unfamiliar and new! 

It would appear that as we get older and continue to progress through our education journey, the more we are left to our own devices and have to navigate our way.

Students in Singapore planning to enter the Junior Colleges (JCs) might have a significantly easier time navigating their way through school given the similarities it has to secondary schools. However, the same might not be applicable to students wishing to enter the Polytechnics.

Polytechnics offer a rich new experience for students, but it’s curriculum and way of life differs rather drastically. Thus, many might find the transition from their 10 years in primary and secondary school to Polytechnic to be a confusing one.

Thus, this article aims to give the readers a concise overview of what to expect in a Polytechnic!

The different Polytechnics in Singapore

There are 5 Polytechnics in Singapore for students to consider entering …

Singapore Polytechnic

Singapore Polytechnic is the first and oldest Polytechnic to be established in Singapore. It is located in Dover, and has 11 academic schools, such as SP Business School (SB) and the School of Chemical and Life Sciences (CLS).

The school is also well known for its Engineering courses, being the first pre-secondary school to offer Engineering as a course for students!

Ngee Ann Polytechnic 

Ngee Ann Polytechnic, established in 1963, is the second Polytechnic built in Singapore and located in Clementi and has 9 academic schools with 39 full time courses! It was awarded the Singapore Quality Class Star Award for demonstrating business excellence, so students who are keen on pursuing business studies might see Ngee Ann Polytechnic as a good option!

Students interested in working in the film or media industry in the future might be keen to join, as the Ngee Ann Polytechnic is one of the only schools in Singapore that offers courses relating to film and media.

Nanyang Polytechnic

Established in 1992, Nanyang Polytechnic offers more than 35 full time courses, as well as 80 CCAs and is located in Ang Mo Kio. It also had 6 academic schools, such as the School of Information Technology, School of Design & Media as well as the School of Health & Social Sciences.

Those with vested interest in the Health Sciences should look more into Nanyang Polytechnic as a potential school!

Temasek Polytechnic 

Temasek Polytechnic is Singapore’s first design focused polytechnic, established in 1986 and is located in Tampines. It has 7 academic schools, including the School of Applied Science, School of Business as well as the Temasek Tourism Academy!

Students who have a keen eye for design might find Temasek Polytechnic the perfect option for them.

Republic Polytechnic

Founded in 2002, Republic Polytechnic is the youngest Polytechnic in Singapore, and is the first institution to use the problem based learning method! It is located in Woodlands and has 7 academic schools and 1 academic centre that offer 37 full time courses.

Fun fact- Republic Polytechnic is also fully air-conditioned! This makes finding comfortable and conducive study or group work spaces that much easier.

The Curriculum

Polytechnic education focuses primarily more on applied skills as well as project based learning. This is in stark contrast to what we are familiar with in secondary school as well as the JC curriculum that focuses more on theoretical knowledge and independent study.

This can be extremely beneficial for students who already have a clear idea of what careers they wish to pursue in the future. In Polytechnics, they are able to learn the necessary skills required in their desired job scopes, preparing them well to enter the workforce.

Some popular courses that many students opt to take are Biomedical Science, Business Management and Accounting, to name a few.

Also, as previously established, Polytechnics require students to work well together as they can be expected to engage in plenty of project work. This can be rather crucial in fostering important skills such as teamwork and effective communication that would play an essential role in their future working lives.

Students in Polytechnics also generally learn through lectures and tutorials, which deviates rather significantly from the classroom setting that secondary schools use.

Compared to their JC peers, Polytechnic students also spend more time schooling before graduation- 3 years compared to the 2 in JC. However, overall time spent having lessons amounts to about 20 hours per week (depending on the course). This leaves Polytechnic students with plenty of time for leisure and opportunities to pursue other interests!

On the note of having more time outside lessons, students are highly encouraged to take up CCAs as part of their holistic development. A major benefit of Polytechnics is that they often have many CCAs for students to choose from, so it would be much easier for students to find one that resonates well with their interests.

School fees and other financial matters

Generally speaking, Polytechnic education is more expensive compared to that of JC and students can expect to be paying roughly $3000 a year. Of course, this is subjective to the different courses that students can take up, so it would be crucial to check beforehand.

Students also have to pay the adult fare for public transportation but can opt to apply for concession for buses and trains!

Of course, the Polytechnics also offer Financial Assistance to students who require it.


Students will no longer be as closely micromanaged by their teachers like they were in primary or secondary school. This means that Polytechnic students will have the opportunity to really take their education into their own hands and experience some independence!

Things like navigating through courses and campuses will largely be the responsibility of the student. This also helps to prepare students for university life, should they wish to pursue higher education.

With this being said, it is important that students learn how to be more organised and plan out their schedules (more or less) on their own. Thus, this trains students to always be on the ball.

And of course, arguably the most appealing thing about Polytechnics- no more uniforms! Students will be able to better express themselves through their outfits. However, that is also no to say that Polytechnics have no dress code, because they do!

Not to worry, as the dress codes are reasonable, such as no revealing or crude clothing with graphic images or messages.

Post Polytechnic Prospects

As you know, students will graduate from Polytechnics with a Diploma that allows them to enter the workforce in various specific industries. So, those who wish to work straight away are well prepared to do so.

Not to mention, employers are more likely to hire employees with a Diploma than an ‘A’ Level certificate, given the applicable skills that Polytechnic students have.

However, local universities do tend to prioritise taking in JC students over Polytechnic students, but many Polytechnic students still make it! In 2019, 30% of Polytechnic students made it into our local autonomous universities.