Higher Education System in Nepal

Studying in Nepal: University Landscape

It was not until 1959 that the state Tribhuvan University opened in Nepal, the first university accessible to broad sections of the population. It remained the only provider of higher education in the country until 1986. With the rapidly increasing demand for study places, the university landscape has changed drastically since then: The state now has more than 1,400 higher education institutions, and distance learning courses are also offered for remote regions. However, so far only about 15 percent of Nepalese go to university each year. See directoryaah for map of Nepal and Asia.

Types of universities in Nepal

The university landscape of Nepal consists of ten universities and four medical academies at university level, the so-called Deemed Universities. They are all public institutions. A special feature of the Nepalese higher education system, however, is that the universities are affiliated with around 1,400 campus locations and colleges spread across the country. These are closely linked to the higher-level universities in each case:

  • So-called constituent campuses / colleges are directly linked to a university, so they are entirely under its administration and are largely state-funded.
  • The affiliated campuses / colleges are supported and administered either privately or by local communities (community colleges) and are therefore more autonomous. Many of the private colleges are financed by high tuition fees, which is why they are often much better equipped and remain inaccessible to large parts of the population.

In any case, academic titles are only awarded by the higher-ranking universities. With around 79 percent of all enrolled students in the country and 83 percent of the associated university locations and colleges, Tribhuvan University is still by far the largest and most important university in Nepal.

The Nepalese universities are supervised by the University Grants Commission (UGC). To improve the quality standards at Nepalese universities, it set up a Quality Assurance and Accreditation Committee (QAAC) in 2007, which has so far remained largely insignificant.

So far, there are only a few branches of foreign universities and organizations in Nepal, for example in the field of social sciences and development aid.

Study system in Nepal

Most study programs in Nepal are divided into academic years, at the end of which there are final exams. However, some universities are currently converting their academic year to the semester system or have already done so. Just as there is no uniform academic calendar, there is also no nationwide uniform evaluation system. At some universities, students can earn transferable credit points. As is now the case in large parts of the world, university studies in Nepal are divided into undergraduate and postgraduate studies. However, not all university locations offer postgraduate degrees.


In the first phase of study, students can obtain a bachelor’s degree that qualifies them for a profession. Bachelor courses in economics, humanities and social sciences usually last three to four years, technical subjects such as natural sciences and engineering usually last four years. Some programs that are more directly preparatory to work, such as medicine or architecture, are designed for five to five and a half years.

Other undergraduate degrees widespread in Nepal are the one to three-year certificates and the three-year diplomas. They are awarded by technical colleges, polytechnical institutes and some universities. Some of them qualify for subsequent admission to a bachelor’s degree at a university.


In the subsequent section, Postgraduate Studies, students in Nepal can acquire a master’s degree in their field of study. Nepalese master’s programs usually last two years and are completed with a master’s thesis.

In application-related subjects in particular, there is also the option of adding a one-year postgraduate diploma to the Bachelor’s degree. Alternatively, students with bachelor’s degrees from different areas can also acquire a one-year “top-up” qualification as a teacher.

As an additional preparation for an academic career or a doctorate, the Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.) Is also offered in some departments in addition to the regular Master. This type of course lasts three semesters and ends with a thesis.

Doctorates in Nepal are designed for a period of three to five years and are completed with a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). As a rule, these are research programs that end with a dissertation. Admission requirements can be a Master’s degree or, in some cases, a Master of Philosophy from the same field of study.

Semester abroad and academic gap year

International applicants can spend a semester abroad or an academic gap year in Nepal. So far there are only very few partnerships between German and Nepalese universities, but there are some private organizations that offer fixed semester programs in Nepal. One such program is the semester program of the Norwegian organization Kulturstudier in Pokhara, which is offered in cooperation with the Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences and is suitable for both a semester abroad and an academic gap year.

Higher Education System in Nepal

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