Hugging the borders of over half a dozen countries, Hungary is known as "The Gateway to Europe." While it may be a little off-the-beaten path, traveling to Hungary for a degree is undoubtedly worth the trip! Sometimes taking a back seat to her glamourous European neighbors, modest Hungary places a great emphasis on education and welcomes thousands of foreign students each year. Ambitious (hungry?) students will have the advantage of taking courses in English at universities in Hungary alongside a meaty cultural experience. With an excellent exchange rate and a low cost of living, you’ll be able to explore this country to your heart’s content.
From its art nouveau architecture to its fairytale palaces, the stunning scenery will complement and inspire your studies throughout the country. Wherever you choose to attend Hungarian universities, you’ll no doubt be immersing yourself in the center of sophisticated cuisines and unique folk traditions.
Budapest. Whether you’re looking for a big city, a small town, or ancient educational history, Hungary serves up hot dishes to all of its students. Budapest, beautifully divided by the Danube River, is made up of the hilly district, “Buda,” and the flat district, “Pest.” Universities in Budapest are peppered with architectural beauties that have survived centuries of development, and the surrounding city is flush with plush green hills, natural hot springs, flea markets, and romantic cafes. Budapest is home to more than 30 higher education institutions, all of which draw foreign students from around the world.
Pecs. If you’re looking for something on a smaller scale, look towards the south of Budapest in a town called Pecs. At a fraction of the size of Budapest, Pecs offers both the frills of a larger city and the charms of a small town. You won’t be starved for adventure when you’re surrounded by wineries, forests, and spa villages. The city has recently refreshed its amenities by adding new cultural centers, a concert hall, a new library, and a “cultural quarter.” The local university also got a makeover when its three smaller colleges merged into one to teach a broad range of subjects to a large student population of over 30,000.
Debrecen. Last but not least, if you’re looking for the most historically prestigious education that Hungary has to offer, head to Debrecen. Debrecen University is the oldest and most revered in Hungary and hosts over 4,000 foreign students to boot. For those not quite fluent in Hungarian yet, Debrecen University not only holds courses in English, but also sponsors English lectures, films, comedy nights, game days, sports teams, and events. Discover the street festivals that fill the pedestrian core with visitors and old-town bars and nightclubs for a lively student scene after nightfall. Take a break from class and relax in a Hungarian bath house or water park.
Degree Programs in Hungary
Whatever your subject interests may be, you can go after anything ranging from dentistry to art to find your calling in this central nation. For those who are ravenous to learn a subject in depth, some schools even hold specialities. In Budapest, for example, you can find the widest variety of subjects available, the most popular falling in the arenas of art, international relations, history, business, and economics.
Popular universities in Hungary for international students include University of Pecs and Debrecen University also hold broad course catalogs. You can earn a bachelors, masters, or PhD degree while you study in Hungary. Hungary’s low cost of living doesn’t sacrifice quality of education, making it an attractive (and value-driven) option for masters degrees in Europe. You can earn your undergraduate degree in the standard three to four years and your graduate degree in two to three years.
If you don’t speak Hungarian fluently, don’t worry. Most larger institutions provide courses in English and provide Hungarian language classes to help immerse yourself in the culture. All courses are traditionally split up into semesters with exam periods following each one. Of course, there are holiday breaks, and by European expectations, they work hard (but not too hard!). You can certainly expect a young, friendly, vibrant student life surrounding any university.
Costs & Affordability
Not only is Hungary a student-filled and rejuvenating place, it is an excellent place to study because it is oh-so-easy on your budget. Hungary has a pretty reasonable cost of living when it comes to just about everything, and the exchange rate from Hungarian forints is even sweeter. A semester student public transport pass costs 16,200 HUF (about $50). A hearty lunch costs about 1,000 - 1,500 forints (about $3-$5), and a cheap beer costs about 300 forints (less than $1). By living a reasonable student lifestyle, you can get by with about $625 a month, rent included. Students who attend universities in Budapest should be prepared to pay a little more than your counterparts in more far-flung cities.
If you need a little help funding your education, simply look to the list of scholarships and grants offered to foreign students and visit GoAbroad’s Scholarship Directory.
Accommodation & Visas
Now that you know how much to save up before you study in Hungary, you’ll need a place to live! Depending on the school or program you choose, you’ll either be provided with a dormitory, apartment, a homestay, or you’ll need to find a place of your own. Dormitories are located on or next to campus, and most of them have quite the set-up. Debrecen, for example, has full amenities, such as refrigerators, kitchens, laundry rooms, a gym with adjacent sports fields, a pond for fishing, an ice skating rink, and even a zoo (Yes, seriously!).
Homestays provide a link with a native host family, lots of cultural immersion, lodging, and even daily meals. Keep in mind you will be staying in someone’s home, so you may have to follow their house rules. If you’re on your own to find a place, don’t panic. There are tons of students living in and around these universities that are looking for lodging together. Use social media or university discussion boards get in touch with other students.
Luckily, the visa process for Hungary is relatively straightforward. Programs may provide assistance with this, but often obtaining a visa will be your responsibility. Apply for your visa at your nearest Hungarian consulate at least a few months before you plan to leave; you’ll need proof of acceptance to a school, proof of tuition payment, and a passport. You’ll have to apply for a residency permit once you arrive, too. Consulates tend to be very strict and may refuse to submit your application if you’re missing something. Visit GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory for more information.
Benefits & Challenges
Since Hungarian universities are so central to the rest of Europe, it is a convenient place for people from surrounding countries to gather, which means there are students from all corners of the world that make Hungarian universities very diverse and lively! You’ll meet people from all around the world and bond over experiencing a new culture. You won’t have any trouble making friends, especially at universities in Hungary with their well-known student life. During the day, you can find students filling libraries, cafes, parks, and restaurants while at night, you can find a huge selection of clubs and live-music venues spark with life. It’s nearly impossible to feel lonely in Hungary!
Learning Hungarian can be challenging. Hungarian has many linguistic differences for English speakers, including difficult vowels and varying grammar practices. Practically all schools provide language courses for foreign students, so you’ll be chatting with the locals in no time! Another challenge could be having too much fun (if that’s possible). If you’re a serious academic student, it may be easy to get distracted by the nightly student atmosphere and get carried away with blowing through your budget. Just practice balancing work and fun!
Go for the road less traveled in Hungary — you won’t regret it! Grab your spoon, dig into a bowl of goulash, and bring your appetite for your adventure of earning a degree abroad in Hungary!