Natural science is kind of a big deal. Potable water? The shape of the universe? Sinkholes? Science. If you go googly-eyed when you think about the chemical, physical, environmental, and geological properties of the world around you, then getting natural science degrees abroad is *just* the thing for you. It will take you beyond bacteria and deep into the petri dishes of other cultures! As an added bonus, students discover dazzling new landscapes and ecosystems at every turn and gain fresh international perspectives on the world’s most pressing challenges. Tackle your awesome international natural sciences courses with gusto!
Why Earn a Natural Science Degree Abroad
Getting natural science degrees abroad is a great way to expand your horizons, challenge the boundaries of science, and put your scientific knowledge to the test in new environments. Great for the resume, wholesome fun for the adventurous budding scientist, and jam-packed with all 51 flavors of science, international natural science degrees are a crowd favorite.
Everything from biotechnology to solar power and environmental conservation is driven by scientific innovation, so a natural science degree might help you save the world someday! Going abroad will up the chances of this by introducing you to a global network of partners and highlighting global challenges that don’t get much attention back home.
Going abroad to study natural science is also likely to provide a more diverse and comprehensive introduction to the world’s greatest scientific thinkers (spoiler: they’re not all white, male, and American). Science gives the illusion of being all hard facts and computations, but every field of knowledge is impacted by hierarchies and limitations. Attending school internationally challenges students to expand the halls of knowledge production. Scientific genius isn’t born by thinking inside the box; it requires a willingness to get out there, take risks, and push boundaries!
As Bill Nye can confirm, science is everywhere. From the polar ice caps to desolate tropical beaches, there’s really no escaping gravity, evaporation, and the fundamental elements. This means there are plenty of excellent locations to observe apples falling from trees at 9.8 m/s2 while pursuing a natural sciences degree abroad.
Many major European universities, such as those in Dublin, London, Lille, Madrid, and Aarhus offer natural science programs in English. On these top-notch international campuses, you’ll find a diverse faculty and student body, quality labs, and an impressive menu of fieldwork opportunities. Fancy testing the waters of British bogs, cataloguing rare species in the rugged Austrian Alps, or measuring the impacts of pollution on urban Berlin? Europe is a tiny, power-packed continent of great locations to study natural science.
Just a bit further east, and still technically in the EU, Greece also boasts a number of great natural science programs. The Ancient Greeks are credited with developing the scientific method used in classrooms around the world today, so get back to where it all began. Brush shoulders with the ghosts of Aristotle and Plato, discover the foundation of much of modern scientific philosophy first-hand, and (arguably most importantly) eat the best cheese pies, tzatziki, and kalamata olives the world has to offer. Ask yourself: is it a coincidence that this food fed some of the most brilliant minds in history?
Exotic locations like Borneo, Thailand, and Argentina likewise promise unique and unforgettable experiences. Surrounded by lush jungles and glimmering H20, you’ll never want for rockstar field sites or after school activities in these settings. For extra credit, go scuba diving to explore coral reefs, visit the “Land of Fire” at the end of the earth, or go rock climbing on seaside cliffs; as a natural science major, this is practically studying.
Natural Science Degrees
Natural science degrees provide an introduction to an array of scientific approaches, giving students the tools they need to explore all the big and small miracles the natural world has to offer. Expect to cover everything from the widest reaches of the universe to the breakdown of miniscule molecules. Getting an international degree in natural science is no easy task, but students do have great options to choose from at every level of study.
Typical undergraduate programs include classes in cell biology, chemistry, computer science, earth sciences, evolution, behavior, material science, physics, organism physiology, mathematics, and mathematical biology. So if you’re looking for a light course load and easy A’s, this isn’t the major for you. But, after four years between the lab and library, a natural science degree will provide an eclectic foundation across all scientific disciplines and a forcible toolkit of scientific methods.
Graduate and doctoral programs are less common and more academically demanding, but they also generally include more hands-on work in the field or the lab and more face time with those professors you pined over as an undergrad.
You can study natural sciences at Cambridge, University of Oxford, ETH Zurich, National University of Singapore, and University of Tokyo top the rankings for national science degrees worldwide. Oxford and Cambridge are renowned for their high-quality graduate research opportunities, while the National University of Singapore caters toward undergraduates with extensive mentorship and special programs for young academics. If you’re gunning for a Nobel Peace Prize, ETH Zurich is the place to be, as the school boasts 10 Nobel-winning chemists among their alumni. It will take roughly four years to get through an undergraduate program at these universities, followed by an exhaustingly intensive fifth year to become a true Master of Science (certificate included, terms and conditions may apply).
Most undergraduate natural science degrees require students to have a solid basis in the sciences, backed up by a high school transcript filled with chemistry, biology, and physics classes. Some familiarity with algebra, calculus, and geometry will also be critical because university science courses often take for granted that students have previous experience with these. Graduate programs will look for a university course load reflecting a more focused scientific interest (such as quantum physics, biochemistry, or environmental science) as well as plenty of lab experience. Extra brownie points if you have participated in a field work project or otherwise put your scientific brilliance to use outside of the classroom.
Natural science encompasses a wide range of studies, including environmental science, chemistry, marine biology, applied sciences, geology, astronomy, sustainable development, and natural resource management. While natural science degrees are fairly common, most programs require further specialization over the course of the degree, especially at the masters and doctoral levels.
Benefits & Challenges
Getting a degree abroad in natural science opens new worlds and pushes students outside the sterile classroom bubble. New, breathtaking landscapes serve as a reminder of why you started studying science in the first place, and new approaches will challenge you to look at the same raw materials with fresh eyes.
The biggest challenge budding scientific explorers may face is that measurements and lab standards are not the same worldwide. If you’re deeply attached to inches and miles, rulers outside of the U.S. and U.K. will be a rude awakening. But don’t let this stop you from setting out- adapting to a new measurement system just means more opportunities to impress your colleagues with wicked fast conversion skills!
Another potential challenge (think: opportunity) is language. For students excited by science, but not by foreign languages, fieldwork and interaction with colleagues and local residents abroad may prove challenging. True, nature speaks a universal language, but the communities who live on your field site most likely do not, and these may be some of your most valuable research informants and supporters. When in doubt, the charades method will ensure you never go hungry, at least. But consider investing the time to learn the language -- it will pay off.
Bust out the passports and microscopes, and set out for foreign labs! Let your scientific curiosity carry you around the world to explore undiscovered ecosystems and new approaches to inquiry. Earn natural science degrees abroad!