Malaysia Study Abroad Country Profile

Malaysia Overview

Malaysia study abroad programs will provide students with a fascinating introduction to Southeast Asia. Malaysia is moving confidently into the future, centered around its capital, the bustling city of Kuala Lumpur. This city of 1.5 million people is an exciting blend of past, present and future. The city boasts an international culinary scene, hip nightlife, and serves as a meeting place for students from around the world. But Malaysia is more than Kuala Lumpur. There is so much to do in Malaysia, it would be hard to fit it all into one trip. From the exotic beaches of the islands to the multitude of water and outdoor based activities, Malaysia is a great choice for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Cultural Highlights

There are some fairly significant cultural differences between Malaysia and a Western country like the United States. Many Malaysian cultural norms are based in Muslim traditions – this influence will play out most obviously in interactions between men and women. Islamic traditions are not the only influence on the Malaysian culture – Chinese, Indian, and various indigenous groups have played a role in shaping Malaysia today. These include indigenous religious traditions, traditions of the Sikhs and Hindus, and secular traditions. For instance, Malaysian marriage ceremonies draw on the Hindu traditions of southern India.

The language spoken in Malaysia is Malay. There are marked similarities between Malay and Indonesian, so Malay has a pretty large usage range across several countries in Southeast Asia, including the Philippines, Thailand, and Singapore. Malay is also the official language of nearby Brunei.

Popular Fields of Study

Malaysia is a good choice for immersion in the Malay language – for students with an interest in Southeast Asia, this is a valuable language to have at least a working knowledge of. For those less inclined toward learning Malay, there are many English-language classes in a wide variety of subjects. There are courses in international business and economics. Malaysia study abroad cultural programs are available alone or as part of a larger area studies or Southeast Asian studies program. Programs with a focus on computer science, information technology, multimedia studies, and engineering are also offered in Malaysia.

Why Study Abroad in Malaysia?

Malaysia has many unique advantages as a study abroad destination. Here are ten reasons why you should consider studying abroad in Malaysia.

1. Malay

A language with many applications for students interested in future travel, studies, or careers in Southeast Asia.

2. Beaches

Southeast Asia is one of the best locations on earth for fantastic beaches, and Malaysia is no exception. White sand, turquoise water, and blue skies.

3. Kuala Lumpur

This cosmopolitan capital city is a forward thinking, hip meeting place for students from all over the world.

4. Multicultural

Malaysia’s multicultural atmosphere isn’t limited to Kuala Lumpur. Evidence of how various religious and secular traditions have shaped Malaysian life is apparent all around the country.

5. Bako National Park

This coastal national park provides unrestricted access to the beautiful landscapes that typify Malaysia. The park is also home to 275 rare proboscis monkeys.


Southeast Asia isn’t just great for beaches – Malaysia is a great place to satisfy your dive cravings or to get certified as a diver for the very first time.

7. Unique Wildlife Encounters

There are opportunities all over Malaysia to get up close and personal with a variety of different creatures. Elephants roam free, unbounded by fences, and travelers can see the rare and often comical orangutan at the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary.

8. Forest Canopy Walks

Taman Nagara is the first and oldest protected natural area in Malaysia, and today it is home to a 400 meter forest canopy walk, where guests move around the trees 25 meters off the ground.

9. See Southeast Asia

Take advantage of your plane ticket and make the most of your time in Southeast Asia; after your studies in Malaysia study abroad experience, travel to nearby Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, and more.

10. Malacca

Malaysia’s oldest city, this port city has significant Portuguese and Dutch influences.

Malaysia Study Abroad Statistics

Malaysia Country Ranking: 30+

(based on estimated total outbound U.S. students)
  • % of U.S. students: less than 1.0%
  • Total US Students 2006/07: less than 1,000
  • Total US Students 2007/08: less than 1,000
  • Yearly 2007/08 Trend: NA
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