For most degree seeking students, studying abroad is a brief stint bookended by long years of more traditional studies. However, some students are kicking it up a notch. Instead of limiting their education abroad to four weeks or a single semester, more and more students are enrolling in full degree programs at foreign universities. No matter if the inner depths of your degree-seeking-soul are determined to complete an undergraduate or graduate program abroad or if you have never even considered the idea, you are in luck, because there is a degree program abroad to suit any student’s desires.
Step 1: Begin The Search
It’s hard enough to pick a school in your own home country, let alone choosing a degree program among a few hundred other options! There are many factors to weigh as you hone in on your school of choice, but location and area of study should be at the forefront.
So you must decide, do you wish to identify your preferred major or academic focus, and THEN choose a university that specializes in your area of study or do you wish to identify a country that has long enchanted or inspired you, and THEN choose a program offered at a university in that wonderland?
Both are appropriate and justifiable approaches to choosing your international degree program. Other deciding factors may include cost, ease of visa logistics, cost of living in-country, and opportunities for work or internships (you won’t be in class all the time, afterall!). Make a list of all of your non-negotiables and work backwards from there.
Step 2: Choose a Degree Level
Gaining the competitive edge in the job market, functioning in a multicultural environment, and experiencing a new adventure, these goals unite degree-seekers across the board in their quest to earn a full degree abroad. Regardless, different motivators exist among students, depending on the type of degree they hope to complete, whether undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral.
Bachelors. If you think that college in your home country is just one giant excuse to continue high school, then we may be able to remedy your predicament. Instead of registering at the same school as your best mate, consider alternatives that will truly stretch your comfort zone, like undergraduate degree programs abroad. If you don’t speak a foreign language, you aren’t necessarily limited to finding bachelor's degree programs abroad in your native tongue. Many different universities around the world offer degree programs of all levels in multiple languages, most typically English and the local language.
Popular destinations to earn a bachelor’s degree abroad include:
Masters. Postgraduate students often cite the opportunity to study abroad in a destination inherently related to their industry as a major factor in deciding to take the leap to earn a degree abroad. Access to special collections, primary sites, or key source materials depends on your location, so be sure to choose wisely! In many disciplines, the most notable thinkers or leaders in the field are not located in your home country, as they tend to be international scholars themselves. Earning your master's degree abroad with give you the opportunity to work with renowned professors on specific projects, which is a highly attractive aspect for most international students.
Another important factor is the increased hireability that often comes with earning a postgraduate degree abroad. For students open to working overseas, building off of an international network and diverse student body can only lead to more international job opportunities! Earning your degree in a location that you could see yourself living and working in in the future will provide you with numerous benefits; for example, it will increase your ability to find work and visa opportunities post-graduation.
Popular destinations to earn a master’s degree abroad include:
Doctorate. Advanced degree students of often aim to specialize in a particular niche which is highly linked to the local environment. History buffs go to the source of modern man and marine conservationists head to the islands that are filled with biodiversity. Scholars who choose to complete a doctorate degree abroad recognize the educational potential from working alongside foreign intellectuals, which ultimately yields a more comprehensive knowledge of their field of interest. Similar to Masters students, PhD aspirants often go to great lengths to follow their scholastic desires, all the way to primary source documents that exist outside of their home country. Afterall, it is difficult to call yourself an expert in an area of study if you haven’t completed research on the topic, let alone seen it for yourself!
Popular destinations to earn a doctorate degree abroad include:
Step 3: Consider Costs & Affordability
Depending on your home country, earning a degree abroad can potentially cost you less than you would normally fork out earning a degree at home. While the cost of your degree program abroad may end up costing you less, sometimes the cost of living can be more expensive in your host country than your home country. As you mentally budget the cost of earning your degree abroad, be sure to consider the financial implications of the entire package, not just the cost of tuition.
Before you make a decision, be sure to check out all the scholarship opportunities available for students who decide to earn a degree abroad too.
Step 4: Apply And Prepare
Applying to earn a degree abroad will take a few more steps than your run-of-the-mill application to a local university. The most important step for prospective students is to express their interest in the program and touch base with an advisor early on.
Keep conscious of application deadlines and requirements, as degree programs abroad will vary in their prerequisites and demands. Some schools may require proof of English fluency (such as IELTS, TEOFL, or PTE Academic), and others may need proof of financial standing.
Don’t get bogged down in the paperwork, just chip away at it piece by piece!
Once you’ve been admitted to your dream school, get all of your ducks in a row back home to prepare for your international move. Sort out your bank account, apply for the proper visas, buy some good walking shoes, pig out on your favorite meals, et al. After classes begin, try hard to not be too distracted by the cultural sights and sounds surrounding you. You are there to study, afterall!
Bonus: The Benefits of Earning a Degree Abroad
From increasing your hireability and impressing employers to saving money on tuition, there are countless advantages to earning your degree abroad.
• Potential for shorter programs. Depending on your country of origin, other countries may offer the same degree in a shorter amount of time. Saving both time and money isn’t a bad gig!
• Free or low tuition. Many foreign universities have cheap or subsidized access to their degree programs, which can be a huge perk for students fearing towering debt.
• Free health care. No more avoiding the doctor’s office when you’re sick or feebly convincing yourself that that pain will go away “someday.” Some international universities offer free healthcare for admitted international students.
• Learn from international students. Having a diversified classroom adds value to your overall learning experience, as it often challenges your thought processes and conclusions. It doesn’t hurt to have a group of friends to visit around the planet either!
• Become proficient in a foreign language. For those students drawn to earn a degree abroad outside of any English-speaking country, take advantage of the opportunity to learn (REALLY learn, not just baño learn) a foreign language. This is a skill you can always carry with you, and it will open doors for new experiences and deeper understandings of your life abroad.
With an international degree in tow, there’s nothing you can’t do! Reap the rewards from earning a degree abroad in your career, your personal life, and your studies for years to come!