Top 10 Universities in the Philippines

Choosing which school you’ll study for a degree can be as crucial as deciding which course to take.

While there’s plenty of good colleges out there, it would serve you well to pick one that not only is known for having an excellent (insert your preferred course here) program but one that also resonates with your own personal preferences (and fits your parent’s budget—of course!). 

For a lot of teens out there, college is a big step. It’s where you’ll learn and hone your knowledge and skills that will set you up towards your chosen career path.

So it’s important to choose a university that will help you develop your potential to the fullest in your chosen field. 

To help you (and parents out there) keep abreast of the country’s current best and most popular choices, we’ve compiled a shortlist of the top colleges and universities in the Philippines.

We’ve included a couple of useful and important details (tuition fee range, best programs, exam requirements, and dates, etc.,) for quick reference to help you in your research.

Notes:

  • This list was mainly based on schools that are recognized by CHED to have Center of Excellence and Center of Development departments that demonstrate “excellent performance in the areas of instruction, research and publication, extension and linkages and institutional qualifications”.
  • Each university’s popularity was also taken into consideration. We used data from QS World University Rankings and UniRank, a leading international higher education directory that features reviews and rankings of over 13,600 officially recognized colleges and universities in 200 countries.

Related:

10 Best Universities in the Philippines

1. University of the Philippines Diliman

Established as the flagship campus and largest constituent of the University of the Philippines School System in 1949, U.P Diliman is currently ranked within the top 500 of the 2020 World University Rankings.

Also notable is its consistent ranking in government-backed polls as one of the most significant higher education institutions in the Philippines. In Asia, it’s been ranked between the 60-75 bracket in the Best Universities list.

It also features the most number of Center of Excellence departments in the country, proof of its wide range of high-caliber courses and programs. The school employs more than 1,500 faculty and enrolls almost 24,000 students.

Top Courses/Programs UP Diliman is known For (based on CHED’s Center of Excellence)

  • Journalism
  • Broadcasting
  • Anthropology
  • Biology
  • Cell & Molecular Biology
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Chemistry
  • Communication
  • Physics
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Social Work
  • Mathematics
  • Metallurgical Engineering
  • Literature
  • Marine Science
  • Library & Information Science
  • History
  • Geology
  • Geodetic Engineering
  • Foreign Language
  • English
  • Environmental Science
  • Electrical Engineering 

Tuition fee: 

  • Php40,000 – Php50,000

Requirements for Admission (Freshmen):

U.P Diliman Entrance Exam

  • UP College Admissions Test (UPCAT) start of application happens in July and ends in August. The exam itself is held in October (per the 2019 UPCAT schedule
  • Steps:
  1. Complete application Form 1 (UPCAT Application for Freshman Admission) online. Manual applications will only be available in selected regional areas.
  2. Have your high school principal or school head complete the UPCAT Form 2 (Secondary School Record) 
  3. For Non-Filipino applications: Pay the UPCAT Application fee. No application fee required for local residents.
  4. Submit both the completed UPCAT Forms 1 and 2 and all other required documents
  5. Get your Test Permit. An email will be sent to you advising if it’s available. Note that availability may take 2 weeks upon UP’s receipt of your application forms. 
  6. On the day of the exam, bring your test permit, 2 pencils, sharpener and eraser, and some snacks.
  7. UPCAT results are released in April (per the latest schedule) and can be accessed via UP Diliman’s official website.

U.P Entrance Exam/Admission Fees

  • Filipino applicants are required to pay a non-refundable application fee of Php450
  • US$50 for Non-resident foreign applicants

2. Ateneo de Manila University

Located in Katipunan, QC, Ateneo offers elementary, junior and senior high school and college education. It was founded in 1859 by Jesuits and is the third oldest university in the Philippines.

It’s recognized as one of the top schools for its undergraduate and graduate programs in arts, sciences, education, management, law, and government.

Top Courses/Programs Known For (based on CHED’s Center of Excellence)

  • Business Administration
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Literature (English)
  • Philosophy
  • Information Technology
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Psychology
  • Sociology

Tuition Fee: 

  • Php160,000 – Php180,000

Requirements for Admission (Freshmen):

Ateneo Entrance Exam

  • The Ateneo College Entrance Exam Test (ACET) accepts applications from Nov to January. The application is done online via https://acet.ateneo.edu/APPLY/. Make sure to click on your preferred testing site as instructions/steps may vary. 
  • Steps:
  1. Download and complete application Form 1. 
  2. Have two of your teachers complete the Teacher’s Recommendation forms. 
  3. Pay the application fee.
  4. An exam permit will be generated and provided to you. You should complete and submit it within the designated dates.
  5. A validated exam permit will then be issued once your application is approved. Bring this on examination day.
  6. On the day of the exam, bring your test permit, two number 2 pencils, sharpeners and erasers, ballpen, and some snacks.
  7. ACET results are released in February (per the latest schedule) and can be accessed via Ateneo de Manila’s official website.

Entrance Exam/Admission Fees

  • Filipino applicants are required to pay the application fee of Php600
  • US$50 or Php2500 for applicants currently studying abroad

3. De La Salle University

This private, Catholic research university was founded by De La Salle Brothers in 1911 and was originally located in Paco, Manila.

It is the first of only two institutions awarded with a Level IV accreditation by the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges, & Universities (PAASCU). It ranked 155th place at the 2019 Quacquarelli Symonds Asian University Rankings.

De La Salle University Tuition fee:

  • Php200,00-Php225,000

Requirements for Admission (Freshmen):

Dela Salle University Entrance Exam

  • De la Salle College Application Test (DCAT) start of application begins in July and ends in September. The exam itself is held in October (for their Manila campus and November for their Laguna campus—per their latest schedule)
  • Steps:
  1. Begin your application by visiting DLSU’s Online Admission Facility (see link above)
  2. Provide all the required details: Personal information, Contact details, Parent/Guardian information 
  3. Upload all required documents (NSO/PSA Birth certificate and Grade 11 Report Card/Transcript of Records). For non-Filipino residents, a copy of their latest passport is also required. 
  4. Pay the fees.
  5. An email will be sent to you advising if your test permit is available. Availability may take 7 working days upon receipt of your application forms. 
  6. On the day of the exam, bring your test permit, 2 pencils, sharpener and eraser, and some snacks.
  7. Exam results are released in January (per the latest schedule) and can be accessed via DLSU’s official website.

DLSU Entrance Exam/Admission Fees

  • Filipino applicants are required to pay a non-refundable application fee of Php600
  • Php2,500 for Non-resident foreign applicants

4. University of Santo Tomas

UST holds the recognition of being the oldest existing university in Asia. It’s also the largest Catholic university in the world in terms of student population in one campus.

It was founded in 1611 by Miguel de Benavides (Archbishop of Manila).

Aside from having several Center of Excellence and Center of Development accreditations, it has also been awarded with CHED’s Institutional Accreditation through the Federation of Accrediting Agencies in the Philippines.

In 2013, it was recognized by PACUCOA for having the highest number of accredited programs in the country. 

UST Tuition fee

  • Php100,000-Php120,000

UST Requirements for Admission

  • Official transcript of academic record
  • Must pass the UST Entrance Test (USTET)
  • Fully-accomplished recommendation forms from school last attended
  • UST’s Online Application allows applicants to complete application forms, submit requirements, and secure the test permit. 
  • Local admission guidelines (undergraduates): https://ofad.ust.edu.ph/admissions/#undergraduate

UST Entrance Exam

  • Per UST’s website, there are three scheduled dates for the USTET. One in Sept, Oct, and Dec (per their 2019 sched). Each one has its own deadline for submission of requirements and payments so make sure to refer to their website for details.
  • Steps:
  1. Visit https://ustet.ust.edu.ph/ to register and apply for the USTET.
  2. Click “Register” and select the application for College
  3. Complete the pre-registration form to obtain your reference number
  4. Log-in using your reference number to complete the rest of the registration process
  5. Print both the College Application form and Application Payslip
  6. Encode your grades online to complete the online application
  7. Go to any Metrobank or BPI branch to pay the application fee (make sure to write your USTET reference number on your bank payslip)
  8. Submit the following documents via any LBC Express branch: Accomplished and signed application form, a clear photocopy of PSA Birth Certificate or passport, and a photocopy of the bank payment slip
  9. Log in to view the status after 7-10 days of receipt of your documents
  10. Once available, download and print your test permit. 

UST Entrance Exam/Admission Fees

  • Filipino applicants are required to pay a non-refundable application fee of Php600. Php1000 for Filipinos studying abroad and foreigners studying in the Philippines
  • Php1,650 for Non-resident foreign applicants

5. University of San Carlos

The pride of Cebu, the University of San Carlos is a private Catholic research university that was founded by Jesuit missionaries in 1935. It’s one of the largest universities in Cebu City covering a total land area of 90 hectares combined from its 5 campuses. 

It consistently ranks among the top schools in the country and in Asia and recognized by CHED for having the most number of Center of Excellence and Center of Development in the Vis-Min area.

Tuition fee

  • Php60,000-Php90,000

Top Courses/Programs Known For (based on CHED’s Center of Excellence)

  • Anthropology
  • Business Administration
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Office Administration
  • Physics
  • Teacher Education

University of San Carlos Admission Requirements

  • Original report card (Form 138) from Senior High School
  • Original birth certificate from the National Statistics Office (NSO)/Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA)
  • Three (3) copies of 2 × 2 ID photographs (colored with white background)

Steps for Enrollment:

  1. Fill out the Personal Data Form online at ismis.usc.edu.ph/apply
  2. Proceed to the admissions office and submit all required documents.
  3. Complete the Student’s Personal Data form then secure your Student ID number.
  4. You will be given your Admissions Examination Referral slip
  5. Pay the testing fee and get the receipt.
  6. Present Admission Examination Referral Slip, receipt of the Testing Fee, and Student’s Personal Data Form (with Student ID Number) to the Testing staff
  7. Secure Admission Examination Permit
  8. Take the USC College Admission Exam. You will be provided with details on how to view the results after. You will need to present the receipt of your testing fee to view the exam results.
  9. Proceed to the Department offering the chosen program and present CAE results to the Department Chair

University of San Carlos Entrance Exam/Admission Fees

  • Filipino applicants are required to pay a non-refundable application fee of Php500

6. Mapua University

Formerly known as Mapua Institute of Technology, this non-sectarian, research school has campuses in both Manila and Makati. It was founded in 1925 and named after its founder, Tomas Mapua (the country’s first registered Filipino architect). 

This university is known for its Engineering programs, with currently 7 Engineering courses and I.T recognized by CHED as Centers of Excellence. It’s also the first Philippine and Southeast Asian educational institution to have ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology Inc.) certification. 

Top Courses/Programs Known For (based on CHED’s Center of Excellence)

  • Mechanical Engineering (ME)
  • Computer Engineering (CpE)
  • Civil Engineering (CE)
  • Environmental and Sanitary Engineering (EnSE)
  • Chemical Engineering (CHE)
  • Electrical Engineering (EE)
  • Information Technology (IT)
  • Electronics Engineering (ECE)

Tuition Fee:

  • Php130,000-Php195,000

Mapua University Admission Requirements

  • Original and photocopy of Grade 12 Report Card
  • Certification from the high school principal regarding the student’s F137-A
  • Birth certificate printed on National Statistics Office (NSO) / Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) paper
  • Original and photocopy of Filipino passport
  • Completely filled-out application form

Steps for Enrollment:

  1. Fill out the Application form online at https://www.mapua.edu.ph/Admissions/applicant/undergrad_admission.aspx
  2. Pay the Mapua Scholastic Aptitude Exam fee. Choose a schedule for your exam.
  3. Take the MSA Exam. Results are immediately available right after.
  4. Pay for the reservation of slot for enrollment. Choose your preferred course and pay the non-refundable & non-transferable reservation fee of 5,000 PHP.
  5. Prepare the enrollment requirements and visit the school at your selected enrollment date to complete the process. 

7. Silliman University

Established in 1901 as Silliman Institute, this private research university located in Dumaguete was founded by the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions and named it after the school’s first donor, an American by the name of Dr. Horace Brinsmade Silliman.

It is recognized as the first American school in the Philippines and the entire Asian continent.

It’s one of only five universities in the Philippines with “Institutional Accreditation” by the Federation of Accrediting Agencies of the Philippines (FAAP) and has the highest number of accredited programs in the country, 20 of which have level IV status.

Top Courses/Programs Known For (based on CHED’s Center of Excellence)

  • Information & Technology
  • Nursing Education
  • Biology
  • Marine Science
  • Medical Technology

Tuition Fee:

  • Php60,000-Php80,000

Silliman University Admission Requirements

  • Form 138 (Senior High School report card) indicating a general average of at least 80%. Applicants to the Nursing and Physical Therapy Programs are required a general average of at least 85%.
  • (For applicants to the Nursing, Medical Technology, and Physical Therapy Programs) Results of the Qualifying Exams
  • Two statements of good moral character:  (a) one from the previous school attended, and (b) one from a prominent member of the community
  • One passport size or 2″ x 2″ copy of the latest picture
  • Official copy of birth certificate issued by the National Statistics Office (NSO)/Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA)
  • Physical examination

Steps for Enrollment:

  1. Fill out the Application form online at http://my.su.edu.ph/mysilliman/public/admission.php
  2. Upload all the required documents on the same site in PDF format.
  3. Nursing, Medical Technology, and Physical Therapy program applicants are required to take a qualifying exam
  4. Your application will be assessed by the Office of the Registrar and Admissions. 
  5. Once approved, pay the downpayment of Php6,500 at any of SU’s partner banks.
  6. Once payment has been confirmed, the office of the registrar and admissions will prepare the class schedule.
  7. The last step is to submit a physical copy of the documents uploaded on the site to the Office of the Registrar and Admissions. All successful applicants will receive access to the Student Online Services portal.

8. Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology

This public, non-sectarian, coeducational institution of higher education and research is located in Iligan City.

MSU-IIT was chartered in 1968 and integrated as the first autonomous unit of the MSU System.

It is also recognized as the flagship and largest campus of all Mindanao State University campuses.

It has multiple Center of Excellence recognitions from CHED and has several programs that received Accredited-Status from the Accrediting Agency of Chartered Colleges & Universities of the Philippines (AACCUP).

Top Courses/Programs Known For (based on CHED’s Center of Excellence)

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Electronics Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Teacher Education

Tuition fee:

  • Php7,000 – Php18,000

Admission Requirements in the Undergraduate Freshmen

  • Original and one (1) photocopy of Form 138 (High School Card);
  • Original and one (1) photocopy of MSU-SASE Report of Rating
  • Original and one (1) photocopy of Certificate of Good Moral Character issued by an official of the school previously attended;
  • Authenticated Copy of Birth Certificate from NSO (to be returned), and 1 photocopy of it;
  • Six (6) copies of ID pictures 1”x1” and one (1) 2”x2” size bust picture (recent and unretouched);
  • Latest income tax return of the parents with one (1) photocopy of it (optional);
  • Certification from the principal if graduated as valedictorian or salutatorian in a school with at least sixty (60) graduates;
  • One (1) piece long brown envelope;
  • One (1) piece long white folder;

Steps for Enrollment:

  • Online application for entrance exam: https://sase.msu.edu.ph/
  • Successful applicants may proceed to the office of their respective Level Adviser of your chosen course/program/department
  • Proceed to the Controller/Assessor of your department to receive your PRF and encode your courses and other important info
  • Proceed to the cashier’s office to pay the enrollment fee.
  • Go to the KASAMA office to pay the insurance and medical assistance fee.
  • Proceed to the Executive Council’s office to pay the assessment fee.
  • ID validation is the next step, go to the Computer Center for this 
  • Proceed to the library to obtain your library card

9. Xavier University – Cagayan De Oro

Named in honor of the Jesuit missionary St. Francis Xavier, it is a private, Catholic university run by the Society of Jesus in CDO, Northern Mindanao, Philippines.

It was established in 1933 as Ateneo de Cagayan and became the first institution in Mindanao to be granted university status in 1958.

Top Courses/Programs Known For (based on CHED’s Center of Excellence)

  • Teacher Education
  • Agriculture

Tuition fee:

  • Php50,000-Php60,000

Admission Requirements in the Undergraduate Freshmen (for Non-Xavier High School graduates)

  • Must pass the XU Higher Ed Entrance Exam
  • An applicant applying for a non-board program should score at least 35th percentile rank in the exam.
  • Here’s the full list of required grades/scores for enrolling in specific courses/programs 
  • Original Grade 12 Report Card 2nd Semester with remarks eligible for transfer
  • Clear Photocopy of NSO/PSA Birth Certificate
  • Clear Photocopy NSO/PSA issued Marriage Contract (for female married student)
  • Clearance Slip from XU Clinic

Xavier University application process:


10. Saint Louis University, Baguio City

Originally named St. Louis School, it was founded by Rev. Fr. Seraphin Devesse in 1911 to provide education for 10 local boys.

In 1963, it was granted university status under Diosdado Macapagal’s government, becoming the first university north of Manila. St. Louis University is made up of 4 campuses that cover a total land area of 24 hectares, housing more than 40,000 students. It received several Centers of Excellence ratings from CHED and accreditation from PAASCU.

Top Courses/Programs Known For (based on CHED’s Center of Excellence)

  • Teacher Education
  • Nursing
  • Information Technology

Tuition fee:

  • Php40,000-Php60,000

Admission Requirements in the Undergraduate Freshmen

  • Applicants must complete the SLU-CEE Application Form via the SLU Website: www.slu.edu.ph; Alternately, walk-in/group filing applicants who cannot apply online may proceed to the SLU University Registrar’s Office, Admissions Section.
  • Complete and submit a physical copy of the Principal’s Recommendation Form
  • Accomplish in hard copy the SLU Data Privacy Policy Form
  • Pay the non-refundable SLU-CEE Fee (Bank Deposit to the SLU Account or Personal Payment to the SLU Finance Office): Five Hundred Fifty Pesos (P550.00) for Baguio testing or Seven Hundred Fifty Pesos (P750.00) for satellite testing. 
  • The SLU-CEE Test Permit is valid until August 2020 only.

SLU Application Process:

  • Create an SLU Admission Online Account via the SLU Website
  • Complete the online SLU-CEE Application form
  • Upon completion, print and fill out the Principal’s Recommendation Form and SLU Data Privacy Form. These documents should be placed inside a white long business envelope addressed to the Academic School Dean of the program the applicant is applying for and will be submitted to the University Registrar’s Office during the scheduled exam date.
  • Pay the NON-REFUNDABLE application and testing fee of P550.00 for applicants who will take the SLU-CEE at the SLU Main campus and P750.00 for those who will be taking the exam at a Satellite Testing Center
  • On the day of the exam, bring all required docs along with your school ID
  • The SLU-CEE Result will be released via the SLU Admission Online Account.  Results will also be posted at the University Registrar’s Office’s Bulletin Board at the Diego Silang Lobby.

About Amiel Pineda

Amiel Pineda is the Head of Content at Grit PH. Prior to freelancing full-time, he worked in the financial services industry for nearly a decade. He also writes on his personal blog, Homebased Pinoy, where he shares tips and guides as a work-from-home freelancer.

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