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honours degree


In Singapore, an undergraduate normally completes a three-year bachelor’s degree in university. However, subject to approval by the school, they may choose to continue their studies for a fourth year. Upon graduation, the student will be awarded with an honours degree.


  • The honours degree originated from degree systems used in the United States, and other European countries.

  • Bachelor’s degree courses in Singapore are typically three years long, culminating in a bachelor’s degree. Students may choose to continue studying honours degree courses for another year, for which they are usually required to submit a thesis.

  • Records show that as early as 1965, Singapore's Nanyang University (currently the Nanyang Technological University) proposed the adoption of the United Kingdom’s honours degree system, offering ordinary and honours degrees. Honours degrees are classified based on a student’s results, as follows:

  1. First Class Honours,
  2. Second Class (Upper) Honours,
  3. Second Class (Lower) Honours,
  4. Third Class Honours.
  • In 2014, the National University of Singapore (NUS) announced that they would change the nomenclature of its degree classification. In 2017, Nanyang Technological University also adopted a new nomenclature for its degree classification and dropped the term “Third-Class Honours”. The new nomenclature adopted is as follows:
    1. Honours (Highest Distinction)
    2. Honours (Distinction)
    3. Honours (Merit)
    4. Honours


An estimated 10% to 15% more students at the National University of Singapore will now have the opportunity to pursue an honours degree. Starting from the new academic year this August, the university will change its degree requirements to give more students in the faculties of arts and social sciences, business and science a shot at entering the honours year. (Lianhe Zaobao, 24/07/2014)