We’re gonna operate under the assumption that you found your way to this page because you’re ready for something more. You’re ready to stand out from the crowd, to improve your employability, to increase your expertise in a field you are passionate about. You’re ready to leave your home country in pursuit of a master’s degree abroad. Regardless of whether you’re currently an undergraduate or have already made headway as a professional, earning your master’s degree is an investment of time, energy, and money. Lucky for you, some master’s degree programs abroad actually take less of each of the latter investments; how’s that for savings?!
Step 1: Choose a Subject
All master’s degree programs and destinations are not created equal. You should seek out a location that complements your field of interest, or one that highly correlates to your end goals and objectives for earning a master’s degree abroad. Do you want to study under famous professors and researchers in your field? Do you want to start creating a network in a city you’d love to permanently live and work in someday? Do you want to have physical access to special historical collections, exceptional pieces of art, or endemic species?
No matter if you prefer the relics of ancient China or the Bull Sharks of Fiji, earning a master’s degree abroad will expand your general knowledge of the world on top of your specialty subject. By earning a master’s degree abroad you will heighten your education while simultaneously enhancing your understandings of it from entirely new lenses, perspectives, and approaches. Part of earning your master’s degree abroad is growing accustomed to unfamiliar ways of thinking, learning, and studying.
Step 2: Select a Program Structure
When entering the world of masters degrees abroad, one easy way to quickly eliminate unsuitable degree programs is to decide if you prefer a research oriented degree or a teaching, or “taught,” degree.
A research degree typically takes one to two years to complete and doubles as a first step toward earning a PhD (you ambitious student, you!). In order to enroll in a research master’s degree program abroad, students typically need to submit a research proposal that is linked to their strong academic background in a specific subject. If you’ve already done a bit of research as part of your undergraduate work, this may be the best fit for you.
On the flipside, a taught degree generally follows a course structure similar to most U.S. universities. While research is still an element of this type of master’s degree program, it is not as wholly emphasized. Instead, it is coupled with lectures and other classroom work, including exams and essays. These master’s degree programs tend to last 12 months, as they are more focused.
When choosing a master’s degree program abroad, do some research to ensure you know all of the types of master’s degree program option available to foreign students. Be smart (but open-minded) about the quality of your international master’s degree to ensure you’re selecting a program that will benefit your learning and your future.
Step 3: Pick a Location
While the location of your degree program is highly personal and usually attached to your area of study, here are a few popular locations to earn a master’s degree abroad.
England is an appealing destination for students of a wide variety of disciplines, due largely in part to its lack of language barriers and dozens of reputable universities. Some of the most popular master’s degree programs in England take place at the University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, the University of Oxford, Queen Mary University of London, University College London, and King’s College London. For many, the attraction of earning a master’s degree in England lies in its international esteem, which is upheld by thousands of potential employers worldwide.
Germany earned its way to the top four locations to earn a master’s degree abroad due to its impressive intellectual breadth, its forward thinking and innovative society, and it’s free education system. That’s right, any international student with the right credentials can earn a master’s degree in Germany for free! Popular universities for master’s degree programs in Germany include Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg, Technische Universität München, and Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich.
Australia boasts a wealth of sun, sand, and some seriously excellent universities. A quick cheat sheet of universities to jumpstart your research of Australian graduate degree programs includes Australian National University, the University of Sydney, the University of Melbourne, and the University of New South Wales. Unfortunately for students, Australia’s combination of comfortable climates and world class universities comes at a price. As one of the more expensive destinations on this list, Oz-bound degree-seeking students would be wise to do some serious financial planning.
Business savvy and entrepreneurial folk tend to have their sights set on China when looking to complete a master’s degree abroad. While you can find master’s degree programs in almost any discipline in China, money-minded students will be particularly satisfied with the cost of completing academic credits. Reputable Chinese universities include Tsinghua and Peking in Beijing and Jiaotong and Fudan in Shanghai. Brush up on your chopsticks skills (and your Mandarin) before joining the army of thousands of international students descending on the PRC annually.
Step 4: Consider the Costs
The cost and availability of your master’s degree program abroad will vary significantly based on the location, area of study, local cost of living, and the lifestyle you choose to live. In many cases, earning a master’s degree abroad can actually end up costing a fraction of the cost it would in your home country (if you spend your money wisely that is). On the other hand, the cost of living abroad can significantly rack up the cost of your courses too (aka renting a flat in London ain’t cheap!).
Many universities around the world offer a number of master’s degree programs for international students. Be sure to confirm that the full degree program is taught in English (unless you rock at speaking a foreign language). Don’t be too gunshy to consider countries where English is not the native language or a national language though, because master’s degree programs at universities in Italy, Spain, Japan, and Brazil are most definitely excellent options!
Step 6: Reap the Benefits!
Why can it be more wise to complete your entire master’s degree abroad rather than sticking to an international summer internship or a more short-term study abroad program? Earning a degree abroad will essentially count as a double major course in philosophy and life science. For those of us who appreciate astounding cultural perspectives in our field of study, actively seek to become a part of unfamiliar places, and enjoy immersing ourselves in new adventures, it makes sense to take our studies around the world versus around the corner.
From a hireability standpoint, employers are increasingly looking to recruit new hires that embody a number of skills that can be learned while living and earning a degree abroad. Initiative, willingness to take risks, ability to function in a multicultural environment, and independence are all highly sought after characteristics among many different types of hiring firms.
While the country you grew up in likely has esteemed intellectuals and academics, they may not be the best in the business. Follow your brain flutters to a country that puts you face-to-face with your area of study: a country chockful of experts, facilities, and resources unavailable otherwise.