Can You Study Abroad in Grad School?

by Published

Maybe you did a semester abroad in your undergraduate degree and it changed your whole perspective. Maybe you were too busy working or finishing up a double major to study abroad, but you wish you had the chance. Maybe study abroad simply wasn’t on your radar. Whatever the reason, now you’re thinking of grad school and you’re wondering, “can you study abroad in grad school?”

Yes. Yes, you can.

Can you study abroad in grad school?

But, there is more than one way of going about it! Sure, many graduate programs do encompass a semester (or two!) abroad. They aren’t too different from undergrad programs, except that, ya know, it’s grad school and way harder because you just leveled up, lads and lasses. There are some programs, especially ones like international business or international development that actually require a semester abroad to graduate. (Way more fun than that one undergrad requirement you hated….) Or, you could also just go all out and get your entire degree abroad!

(Full disclosure— I did my graduate degree abroad in London, so I’m biased. That pub food and those museums!) 

Get Your Entire Graduate Degree Abroad Instead!

As of 2016, around 45,000 American students were getting a degree abroad and far more international students were getting a degree in the US – both graduate or undergraduate – so no matter where you are coming from or going to, you will be in good company. Thousands of students do it every year and make it through intact! In fact, I would say they make it through better than that; since study abroad experience can make us more empathetic, well-rounded people.

There are a lot of myths about graduate school abroad— that it’s more expensive, you need to know a foreign language, etc, but many of these myths are about as real as dragons (sadly). Getting a graduate degree abroad can be more affordable and accessible than you think! Many universities in Europe are actually less expensive than in the United States, and some of their graduate degrees take less time. And, there are schools in non-English speaking countries with courses in English (though learning a foreign language is never a bad idea…).

Getting a graduate degree abroad can signal to the job market that you are not only a well-educated smarty pants, but also a cross-culturally skilled, brave and adventurous, international smarty pants! Maybe don’t write that on your resume, but don’t worry – the degree will speak for itself. 

man and woman in graduation robes smiling and hugging
Now that you’re done with undergrad – whether you studied abroad or not – you’re eager to get back in the classroom… just not necessarily the SAME classroom.

Find the Right Graduate Programs Abroad for You

How do you know if graduate school abroad is right for you? Easy! Read reviews and start by comparing your top program picks side by side. You’ll also want to reach out to alumni of different programs and ask them all of your burning questions! They’ll be happy to help because they were once in the same boat you were— unsure and curious. Don’t get bogged down in some myths your cousin’s friend’s brother-in-law heard once about international graduate degrees and find out the facts for yourself.

Here’s a fact for you: you can get your masters in psychology in Maynooth, Ireland which is just a really fun place name to say. OR, you can get a masters in business at Peking University in Beijing and when you’re not doing homework you can spend your time eating some of the best food of your life. That doesn’t sound like a bad deal to me! 

Graduate Programs Abroad to Check Out

If psychology and business aren’t really your thing, these master’s programs across the globe might be right up your alley.

Browse ALL graduate programs abroad

Laptop computer open and piece of paper on a desk
Why search for just a summer or semester abroad in graduate school… when you can take your whole degree abroad?

Still Weighing All Your Options?

If you can’t afford to fly off and tour graduate schools abroad (I mean, who can? I couldn’t!) call them up instead. Buy an international calling card and give their admissions offices a call. Ask to be put in touch with a current student if possible. Remember that academic cultures vary strongly. In the U.S. it’s normal for schools to feel their role is to serve students. In other countries students are much more on their own. Not because the schools don’t care, but because they expect you to steer your own life and make your own choices. That can feel like a shock though if you’re coming from an American university system!

[Compare your fave graduate programs abroad with MyGoAbroad]

While doing your research, keep your goals in mind. Why are you getting this graduate degree anyway? For your dream job? For your own enlightenment? To make that kid who made fun of you in 3rd grade feel bad? (Maybe not the best motivation….).

book-lined walls and full bookshelves with staircase and skylights
Hit the books and start doing your research to find the best graduate programs abroad.

If it’s for a job, do specific research into what they expect from entry level candidates, and what degrees they are used to seeing. While cross-cultural experience can benefit you in so many ways in your career, not every employer is used to seeing a foreign university on a resume. In a day and age when they might be receiving hundreds of resumes at a time, you don’t want anything to throw them off!

Know what you are getting into with a graduate degree abroad, and what it could mean for your field of choice. You’ll also want to consider what it could mean financially. While degrees abroad can be equal to or even cheaper than degrees in your home country, you still might need to take out loans or really go hard at those scholarship applications.

[5 Things Nobody Tells You About Getting a Degree Abroad]

What if a Full Graduate Program Abroad Just Isn’t for Me?

If you go on on this fact finding expedition and you feel like graduate programs abroad aren’t right for you, not to worry. There is still the option of a semester abroad! Find a program where students are encouraged to study abroad and where faculty can demonstrate how it fits into the overall goals of the program.

close up of hand taking notes in notebook with pen
Pop quiz: can you study abroad in grad school? (Hint: Yes.) 

If you really want to study abroad in graduate school, it’s best not to go to a university where they only begrudgingly let you abroad for a semester. Go somewhere where studying abroad is part of the DNA of the place, where the value of international experience is held in high esteem! Most internationally focused graduate degrees will push students to study abroad for a semester or a summer, or alternatively to intern abroad.

So, can you study abroad in grad school? Yes, you definitely can, and in more ways than one!

Find the right graduate program abroad with expert advice from an online advisor today!

Topic:  Before You Go