Q & A

You probably have a few questions about how earning your master’s degree overseas works. Here are answers to the most common questions.

I’m not fluent or proficient in any other language. Can I still get my master’s degree in Europe?
Yes! We have information on over 6,000 masters degree programs at more than 750 schools in non-anglophone European countries (excluding the UK and Ireland). These programs are conducted entirely in English. No foreign language is needed for admission and all of the classes and classwork will be in English. That said, you will be living in a country that isn’t English-speaking, so you will want to gain some familiarity with the local language. Many of the universities offer language programs for their international students. Further, some countries have higher levels of English proficiency than others. We have also noted this country by country in our database. Continental Europe has a surprisingly high level of English as a second language. More information about that is here.

Isn’t it expensive?
No, not at all. It is much more affordable than you probably think! The average tuition for international students is right around $9,000 per year. There are 2,660 options under $5,000 per year and 747 that are tuition free-even for international students! That’s a lot more affordable than the US, plus the cost of living is the same or less than the US.

Interestingly, most programs we have listed are under $10,000 per year but the average is pulled up by the American schools and programs at schools in Switzerland. Yes, there is the additional cost of airfare and most students we spoke with go home twice per year. Without using miles or shopping aggressively for discounts, you can get a round trip ticket from most places in the US to most cities in Europe for under $1,000. Even with the additional $2,000 per year in airfare, you are paying less than you would for a four-year, in-state degree.

What about the drinking culture in Europe?
The drinking age in Europe is 18 and yes, certain drugs are legal in some countries. Despite that, all of the students I spoke with reported a more mature relationship with alcohol than their friends attending school in the US. All of the students admitted that there are certainly times that they end up drinking more than they should have. The difference is that they aren’t going out with the main intention of getting drunk. Drinking takes place having meals, going dancing, watching games at the pub and is not necessarily an activity in and of itself.

I have a learning disability. Can I get extra time on tests at universities overseas?
Yes. Bigger universities have entire offices that help with this and smaller universities have someone in student services who can help as well. Most countries have student unions which often have a designated person to help advocate for students when needed.

Will my degree be recognized by schools and employers in the US?
Yes, it will! All of the schools we have listed are accredited and internationally recognized. In 1999, the Bologna declaration was signed by Education Ministers from 29 European countries. The purpose of the declaration was to create a European Higher Education Area with comparable and understandable degrees and credits across its member states. This enabled greater mobility for students in the E.U. Degrees across the participating countries coordinated the duration and structure of degrees which makes learning outcomes consistent and helps with quality control. There are now 47 participating countries. Their qualifications and education are much more understandable to the admissions officers in the US than in the past.

Is it safe?
Yes. The abundance of violent crimes in our own cities and schools may lead some to generalize that cities and universities in less familiar countries are just as bad, if not worse. In fact, the US murder rate is higher than the rate of all the countries we have listed in Europe except for Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania (from United National Office on Drugs and Crime). Further, the rate of gun deaths is dramatically higher in the US than in European countries*.
The Economist has an annual Safe Cities Index in which 50 major worldwide cities are compared across four categories. Stockholm (#4), Amsterdam (#9), Barcelona (#11), and Frankfurt (#16) all ranked higher in personal safety than the highest ranked US city in the study (D.C. #17). Istanbul (#18) is ranked better in personal safety than San Francisco (#21) and Paris (#24) is ranked better in personal safety than Chicago (#25) and New York (#28). The bottom line is that there is crime in cities worldwide. If you would be comfortable, purely from a safety perspective, going to New York University, the University of Chicago, or Georgetown, you should feel comfortable in most European cities.

*In a recent New York Times article, it was cited that the recent Paris attacks killed 130 people, which is nearly as many who die from gun homicides in all of France in a typical year. And that even if France had this kind of mass shooting on a monthly basis, its annual rate of gun homicide deaths would be lower than that in the US. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/05/upshot/in-other-countries-youre-as-likely-to-be-killed-by-a-falling-object-as-a-gun.html

What is the difference between Universities, University Colleges, and Universities of Applied Sciences?
In short, universities in Europe have an academic focus and are research based. Many students go straight from universities to masters program and some schools even have a direct admissions policy for their masters degree students.
Universities of Applied Sciences offer a practical, vocational education for a specific profession. There is more of an emphasis on learning through application than through research. Internships are generally required in these programs. The focus at the UAS schools is to provide students with the skills, knowledge, and competencies needed to get a job in the professional world over pure research. You are likely to see degrees in Business, Engineering, Nursing, Digital Arts, and Computer Science at Universities of Applied Sciences. Graduates of UAS programs often need to take additional courses in order to be accepted to masters degree programs at research universities. Universities of Applied Sciences have different names in different countries, but are all noted on our site.

Finally, there are University Colleges. In the Netherlands, the University Colleges offer an honors level liberal arts degree. They are part of a university, but classes, living, clubs and such are self-contained. There are additional admission requirements as well as requirements for living on campus (1-3 years depending on the school). Belgium also has University Colleges, but they are not liberal arts programs. In Belgium, the University College is affiliated with the university but not part of it and is similar to the University of Applied Sciences.

This can be confusing because we have nothing comparable in the US. For a more extensive explanation check our blog post “Terms“.