For a large part of the 20th century, Eastern European countries were largely secluded from the West, embracing their own cultures and beliefs while within the sphere of Soviet influence. Since the downfall of the Soviet Union, however, things have begun to change as more and more countries in the region embrace globalization and invite international students to come help facilitate this integration. Earning your degree abroad in Eastern Europe is a chance to join the movement, while experiencing life in one of the world’s most important emerging regions.
While there are no official boundaries which demarcate Eastern Europe from the West, the most common framework used is generally the group of countries which belong to the former soviet bloc east of Germany and including Russia. Many of these countries also share in common a history of Byzantine, Orthodox, and Islamic influences which are unique to the eastern part of the continent.
Being the largest country on earth and spanning all the way across Asia, Russia is one of the most popular and prosperous destinations where you can earn a degree abroad in Eastern Europe. Russia is as culturally and ethnically diverse as it is large, but cities such as St. Petersburg and Moscow, which also boast some of the best universities on either continent, are typically considered to fall within the region of Eastern Europe.
Other countries where you might look to earn your degree abroad in Eastern Europe include Poland, Hungary, and Bulgaria. Having been economically and academically stagnant for much of the 20th century due to war and communist policies, these countries are now starting to experience some tremendous growth in both areas, and can be very exciting places where to study abroad.
Academics & Degrees
As it rapidly continues to build up some of the most respected universities on the continent, Eastern Europe has become a magnet destination for international students of all different academic inclinations. While you will typically have the opportunity to pursue any degree abroad in Eastern Europe which is offered in the school’s course catalogue, some of the most popular areas of study among international students tend to be history, political science, business, economics and European studies.
Within most countries of Eastern Europe, you will be expected to be proficient in the local language in order to be considered for enrollment (language entry exams are not uncommon). If you are new to the language, some universities alternatively include an intensive foreign language program at the outset of your degree track in Eastern Europe, which can be a great way to catch-up fast for Anglophiles who are interested in the region.
Undergraduate degrees abroad in Eastern Europe generally require three to four years of study, while a Master’s or PhD will require up to several years of additional enrollment on top of this. Semesters or quarters will also be structured differently depending on where you study abroad in Eastern Europe, so be sure to consider factors such as this as you research the logistics of education in different countries.
Scholarships & Costs
Because the region is still catching up economically since the fall of the iron curtain, Eastern Europe remains for the most part less expensive than Western Europe. Many countries in the region are now part of the European Union, and so use the euro as a shared currency.
While basic living costs will thus prove reasonable throughout Eastern Europe, tuition can still be a considerable expense for international students, who may be required to pay a greater amount than local students. If this expense is a concern, then be sure to check out our Scholarship Directory to learn about all the financial aid opportunities within Eastern European countries.
Accommodation & Visas
Dormitories, off-campus apartments, and homestays are all popular options for international students earning their degree abroad in Eastern Europe. There are pros and cons to each style of housing, so consider your options carefully; for example dormitories are great for immersion into local student life, homestays are great for immersion into local family life, and apartments are great for a more autonomous lifestyle. Differing cultural norms and rent prices throughout Eastern Europe are other factors to take into consideration in your research.
While most Eastern European countries accept international students with open arms to study at local universities, their visa policies can vary significantly depending on your home country, the length of your intended stay, and whether they are a member of the European Union. For more detailed information on the visa policy of your host country, check out our Embassy Directory.
Benefits & Challenges
Region Rising. Though decades have passed since the Soviet downfall, Eastern European countries are still fairly untapped territory when it comes to earning a degree abroad. This is an opportunity to blaze the trail and lay solid groundwork in an emerging region!
Cultural History. Western Europe remains the standard for earning a degree abroad on the continent, so by going east you will be breaking into an entirely new demographic with a distinct cultural history of its own. Why not stray from the familiar?
Adaptation. As an international student anywhere in the world, it can be a difficult process at first adjusting to your new home away from home. As you make an effort to integrate and learn as much as possible, however, you will find yourself growing more than you ever thought possible!
Earning your degree abroad in Eastern Europe is undeniably an intimidating prospect; you will often be travelling to an unfamiliar part of the world, learning a new language, and fully immersing yourself in a new way of life. Think you’re up to the challenge?