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Most Popular Courses Searched by Students in 2020

Published by Afterschool.my on May 19, 2021, 06:11 pm

With the COVID-19 pandemic in the way and changing the entire education system to be moving in a different direction, there are certain courses that may seem irrelevant and insignificant to students. While many are giving up on education in these trying times, the majority who still want to pursue their higher education are wondering what are the best degrees for the future?

Every graduate wants to be instantly employed upon graduation. That’s the whole point of getting a degree, isn’t it?

Hence, we have compiled a list of the most popular courses searched by students in 2020. These courses are also found to be highly in demand and will remain to be sought after by employers decades from now.  

1. Psychology

It is no surprise that psychology has been one of the most in-demand courses for a long time now. In the recent National Health and Morbidity Survey, it was found that every 3 in 10 adults aged 16 years and above in Malaysia struggle with some type of mental health issues. In the past, job expectations were lower and things were moving at a slower pace. Today, people are expected to meet high expectations, do tasks a lot faster and efficiently, causing mental health issues to be on the spike. The employment of psychologists is projected to grow faster than average. You may kickstart your search on psychology courses at these institutions: APU, OUM, Raffles, TAR UC, UKM and MSU.

2. Accounting

You may notice that accounting courses are offered in most universities in Malaysia, be it private or government universities. However, according to the Malaysian Institute of Accountants, there are only 37,493 registered members as of 2021. Malaysia need 60,000 accountants at the least since there is a high demand for this profession. Accountants are needed in every business and they play a major role in ensuring business growth. This profession is growing steadily even through this pandemic. There are many institutions offering accounting courses. Check out Limkokwing, APU, OUM, Raffles, INTEC, TAR UC, UCTS, Imperium, IUKL and UKM.

3. A-Levels

A-level is the most popular and most searched pre-university programme among SPM leavers. It is a qualification that is globally recognized and accepted by most of the top universities all around the world. With an A-Level, you can pursue your studies not just in Malaysia, but also in the US, UK, Canada, and many other countries. Unlike the Foundation programme, A-Level allows you to keep your options open. You will be getting an extra 2 years to make the right decision and choose your career path. So, if you are planning to continue your A-Levels in Malaysia, you can look into INTEC and KYUEM.

4. Computer Science

If you are a programmer or a software developer, you will see an increasing demand for your skill. The Future of Job Reports 2020 and TalentCorp Critical Occupations List 2019/2020 has stated that more jobs will be created by the government for ICT graduates in order to adapt to the digital adoption and transformation across Malaysia. With a degree in computer science, you can also venture into cybersecurity which is the most in-demand job in the last decade and it will continue to be in demand for the next decade considering that cyberattacks are common and organisations are in dire need of cybersecurity experts. To discover more about computer science course, you can check out these institutions: Limkokwing, APU, TAR UC, UCTS, Imperium, IUKL and UKM.

5. Business Studies

Business-related courses remain to be most popular among the Millennial and Gen Z. In the past, people used to have the idea that business studies were meant for people who came from wealthy families where they get to inherit big companies, but it is not true. Business studies are for those who are truly passionate in learning the market trends and products, managing finance, building networks, etc. It can be lucrative considering that Malaysia's economy is the sixth-largest in Southeast Asia according to International Monetary Fund 2020. You may kickstart your search on business related courses at these institutions: Limkokwing, APU, OUM, RafflesINTEC, TAR UC, UCTS, Imperium, IUKL and UTP.

6. Medicine

From the time you research about medical field and the pathway to becoming a doctor in Malaysia, you will find numerous reports indicating that there is an oversupply of doctors. Before you start believing that there is going to be high competition and pursuing a career in this field might be a mistake especially when you are trying to secure a job after completion of studies, it is important for you to note that there is a shortage of medical specialists. The National Heart Institute confirms that there are less than 500 heart specialists for a population of 32 million people. So, think wisely before you waive this highly respected profession. If you want to pursue a career in medicine, check out MEDIC Ed, UKM and MSU.

7. Pilot

With an above average income and an office above the clouds, we often hear about how well pilots do with their lives. They are paid by flight hours and they do not earn a flat and a fixed annual salary like most other jobs. However, with the current pandemic, it has been some time since the aviation industry operated. For now, it may be one of the most undesirable jobs, especially when most pilots were retrenched and lost their source of income. Despite that, local reports shows that the government has got their plans to help the aviation industry recover to the way it was before the pandemic. Piloting will always remain to be a job with high demand. Want to get yourself enrolled in a piloting course? Check out ADMAL and MSU


There is always a demand for English teachers in Malaysia. English being the second or even third language for most people here has become the reason why it is such a struggle for many to fully grasp this language. Considering that English is a universal language and it is essential to learn, it has been made a compulsory subject for the longest time. This is the reason why TESL graduates often get employed instantly by educational institutions including schools and universities. Although schools and universities have been closed down several times due to the pandemic, the job of an educator will never cease as they are continuously striving to ensure that students get access to the education they deserve. If you have your heart set on studying TESL, browse through these universities for course details: OUM, TAR UC, IUKL, UKM and MSU.

9. Biomedical Science

If you have ever watched any crime investigation movie and are fascinated by how forensic experts analyse blood, saliva, hair and so on, you should consider pursuing this course. Not only is it an exciting career, this job will never vanish regardless of how the economy fares in the future. Especially with the pandemic, courses related to medicine and healthcare are highly in demand. Biomedical Science graduates earn pretty well too! If you are looking to further your studies in the biomedical science field, check out two of these universities offering biomedical course: UKM and MSU

10. Chemical Engineering

In Malaysia, it is compulsory for engineers to register with the Board of Engineer (BEM) upon graduation. This is to be recognised as a competent and professional engineer. But the report shows that less than 4% of engineers are registered and even then, those registered are from civil and mechanical engineering. Demand for chemical engineers is expected to remain buoyant considering the current situation. For more information on institutions offering chemical engineering course in Malaysia, check out these universities: IUKL, UTP and UKM

11. Aircraft Engineering

With the current pandemic, the aviation industry is at its knees. However, Malaysia aims to support the recovery of the aviation industry post-COVID. Global air passenger traffic is expected to increase after the pandemic and there will be a high demand for aircraft engineers who are responsible for maintaining and repairing aircraft. To find out more details on aircraft engineering or aircraft maintenance course, check out these universities: ADMAL, MEDIC Ed, and MSU

12. Nursing

Nurses in Malaysia were already in demand even before the COVID-19 outbreak. In light of the current situation, there is a surging demand for registered nurses. Their roles are crucial in combating this virus. Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba states that 4,472 nurses were hired as of April 2021 considering how vital their roles are in healthcare. The number of registered nurses in Malaysia has shown an upward trend since 2016. For nursing courses in Malaysia, here are several institutions offering them: OUM, Ramsay, UKM, and MSU

13. Civil Engineering

From roads to bridges, building and tunnels, civil engineers play a major role in building important assets for the country's development. According to the Critical Occupation List 2019/2020, Malaysia requires a high number of civil engineers to ensure that it can gain the status of a developed nation. In 2020, almost 50 billion Malaysian ringgit were allocated for civil engineering work. Want to be a civil engineer? Look into these institutions for more details: Limkokwing, UCTS, IUKL, UTP and UKM.

14. Pharmacy

A career in pharmacy might be a wise option but there are reports indicating that there might be an oversupply of pharmacists. However, research conducted by Malaysian Pharmacist Society states that there is a lack of pharmacists in Malaysia and the figures are inaccurate due to human error. Having said that, it is also confirmed that there is an uneven distribution of pharmacists in Malaysia, most of which are based in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur. With great knowledge and mastery of medications and drugs, getting a job will not be hard as many suburbs and rural areas are in need of pharmacists. You may kickstart your search on pharmacy courses at these institutions: MEDIC Ed, UKM and MSU.

 15. ACCA

Ever heard of ACCA? Yes, it is similar to accounting except that ACCA trains individuals to be professional accountants and it is a globally recognised qualification. With an ACCA qualification, you will be accepted to work in 181 countries. This shows how ACCA qualified individuals are needed in organisations to provide detailed financial information for vital decision-making processes. To apply for ACCA course in Malaysia, you may check out INTEC

Even though these courses may lead you to a job that will survive the pandemic, keep in mind that the economy is volatile. When nothing is certain post-pandemic, it is a smart move to be able to view things from a different perspective before you make an important life choice.

You can also schedule a personalized 20 minutes FREE counselling with our Afterschool expert counsellors. Our counsellors will help you make the right choice according to your financial ability, interests and job prospects. Finally, we hope that this article will to some extent help you in making the right decision for your future. Whatever your decision is, do your best and we wish you good luck!

There are plenty of scholarships available for application. Browse through our list of latest scholarships for more details on study level, scholarship amount, scholarship deadline, and other information. 

Afterschool.my is Malaysia’s no 1 higher education website that provides helpful information on courses, institutions and scholarships for students transitioning from secondary school to university level.

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