USM Profile

Background of Institution

Established as the second university in the country in 1969, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) was first known as Universiti Pulau Pinang. In 1971, USM moved from its temporary premises at the Malayan Teachers’ Training College, Bukit Gelugor to the present 416.6 hectare site at Minden, approximately 9.7 km from Georgetown.

USM offers courses ranging from Natural Sciences, Applied Sciences, Medical and Health Sciences, Pharmaceutical Sciences to Building Science and Technology, Social Sciences, Humanities, and Education. These are available at undergraduate and postgraduate levels to approximately 30,000 students at its 17 Academic Schools on the main campus in the island of Penang; 6 Schools at the Engineering Campus in Nibong Tebal (approximately 50km from the main campus); and 3 at the Health Campus in Kubang Kerian, Kelantan (approximately 300km from the main campus).

USM also has 17 dedicated research centres for a wide range of specialisations which include archaeology, medicine and dentistry, molecular medicine, science and technology, Islamic development and management studies, and policy research and international studies. It also provides consultancy, testing, and advisory services to the industry under the ambit of USAINS Holdings Sdn Bhd, the University’s commercial arm.

Since the beginning, USM has adopted the School system rather than the traditional Faculty system to ensure that its students are multi-disciplined from their exposure to other areas of study by other Schools. It also encourages students to be active in extra-curricular activities given the myriad of clubs and societies available.

As a Research Intensive University recognised by the Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia (MOHE) in 2007, USM offers educational and research opportunities to students and staff. In 2008, USM also became the first university in the country to be selected by the Malaysian government to participate in the Accelerated Programme for Excellence (APEX), a fast-track programme that helps tertiary institutions achieve world-class status.

Program Outline

USM offers undergraduate and postgraduate programmes that are conducted by the following Schools:

Main Campus

  1. School of the Arts
  2. School of Biological Sciences
  3. School of Communication
  4. School of Chemical Sciences
  5. School of Computer Sciences
  6. School of Distance Education
  7. School of Educational Studies
  8. School of Housing, Building and Planning
  9. School of Humanities
  10. School of Industrial Technology
  11. School of Management
  12. School of Mathematical Sciences
  13. School of Pharmaceutical Sciences
  14. School of Physics
  15. School of Social Sciences
  16. School of Language, Literacies and Translation
  17. Institute of Postgraduates Studies
  18. Graduate School of Business (GSB)

Engineering Campus

  1. School of Civil Engineering
  2. School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering
  3. School of Aerospace Engineering
  4. School of Chemical Engineering
  5. School of Mechanical Engineering
  6. School of Materials & Mineral Resources Engineering

Health Campus

  1. School of Dental Sciences
  2. School of Health Sciences
  3. School of Medical Sciences

The list of Research Centres, Services Centres and Units at USM are listed as follows:

Research Centres

  1. Advanced Management Centre
  2. Advanced Medical and Dental Institute
  3. Biomedical and Health Sciences Research Platform
  4. Centre for Archaeological Research Malaysia
  5. Centre for Drug Research
  6. Centre for Education, Training and Research in Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency
  7. Centre for International Studies
  8. Centre for Islamic Development Management Studies
  9. Centre for Marine and Coastal Studies
  10. Centre for Policy Research & International Studies
  11. Collaborative Microelectronic Design Excellence Centre
  12. Doping Control Centre
  13. Engineering and Technology Research Platform
  14. Fundamental Sciences Platform
  15. Human Genome Centre
  16. Institute for Research in Molecular Medicine
  17. Malaysia Institute of Pharmaceuticals and Nutraceuticals
  18. National Advances IPv6 Centre
  19. National Higher Education Research Institute
  20. National Poison Centre
  21. Platform for Clinical Sciences Research
  22. Platform for Information and Communication Technology Research
  23. Platform for Life Sciences Research
  24. Platform for Social Transformation Drainage Research Centre
  25. River Engineering and Urban Drainage Research Centre
  26. Women’s Development Research Centre

Service Centres

  1. Centre for Instructional Technology and Multimedia
  2. Centre for Knowledge, Communication & Technology
  3. Cultural Centre
  4. Hamdan Tahir Library
  5. Hamzah Sendut Library
  6. Islamic Centre
  7. Museum & Gallery Tuanku Fauziah
  8. USM Press
  9. Technical Facilities Centre
  10. Centre for Language and Translation


  1. Astronomy and Atmospheric Science Research Unit
  2. Basic Education Research Unit
  3. Computer-Aided Translation Unit
  4. Engineering Innovation and Technology Development Unit
  5. Laboratory Animal Research Unit
  6. Research and Education for Peace Unit
  7. Student Development and Advisory Unit
  8. Vector Control Research Unit

Academic Facilities & Resources

The facilities that USM provides for its students are delineated below:

  • An impressive Museum filled with world-class displays & a state-of-the-art
  • Art Gallery with fine art pieces.
  • Lecture theatre and halls to facilitate classroom learning and teaching.
  • Banks, bookshop, pharmacy, a post office and retail outlet to cater to the needs of students
  • Anoutstanding research library of over one million items and an extensive network of electronic databases and internet access.
  • Students’ residences that accommodate their stay on campus.
  • Sport Centre that is equipped with indoor and outdoor facilities that caters to students’ sporting events and games.
  • Warm and cozy cafeterias, as well as well-designed pavilions

Students Support Services & Students Development Activities

USM provides various services for its students such as hostel accommodation, counseling/motivational guidance, sport and recreational amenities like soccer fields, 8-lane synthetic running track, an Astroturf hockey stadium and an Olympic-sized swimming pool. Cultural events/activities are organised at the Cultural Hall to foster closer ties among students. There are also various clubs and societies that cater to a wide array of interests. These include the Political Science Society, Computer Science Club, Indian Cultural Club, Navigator Society, Astronomy Club, Debating & Public Speaking Club, and Mass Communication Club to name a few.The Counseling Unit at USM offers support services to help develop students’ potential and capabilities.

Besides contributing to the national research effort and advancement of knowledge in general, the University has also taken steps to identify and periodically assess areas of research which are deserving of special support in order to compete more effectively for external funds. In USM’s bid to provide better incentives for the development of new products and processes by its staff, it has recently drawn up specific rules governing the patenting and commercialization of research results.