The National Defence University of Malaysia takes in two categories of students namely Officer Cadets and Civilian Students. The Officer Cadets are sponsored by the Armed Forces with allowance and other assistance such as clothing, food and accommodation provided. The Officer Cadets are subject to the Armed Forces Act 1972 and have a undergo military training during the duration of their course at UPNM.
The Civilian students will be sponsored by the PTPTN loan (subject to application by the student) or by other financial sponsors such as MARA, JPA, the State Government and other subject to the conditions set by the respective financial body. Civilian students have to join the Reserve Officers Training Unit (ROTU) and must comply with the disciplined life while in UPNM.