Most people would probably agree that studying abroad is a good idea. But how do you decide which Master's degree to apply for? And which criteria should you base your decision on?
We tried to compile a list of things students sometimes overlook when searching for an international Master’s programme, so you can go as armed and as prepared as possible to the computer and produce the best list of universities that will suit your needs and personality.
1. Start with your interests
Ok, maybe not all points are things you may have overlooked. This factor seems redundant, but it still needs to be considered and can be one of the hardest to contemplate.
Depending on how well you resonate with the subject, you will be more motivated, get better grades, teachers will start recommending you, and so on.
However, it may be entirely possible that what you are studying, although interesting, will not contribute to securing a good job. Some disciplines are less profitable, and you need to be aware of this.
You can always see what are the most profitable disciplines currently in 2021, but, for an abridged version, you should take note of:
2. Meet the university admission requirements
If you graduate a Bachelor's degree at a university, it does not mean that you will be automatically accepted to their Master's programme.
Most institutions take into consideration the grade of your diploma, your soft and technical skills, the motivation behind choosing this Master, and so forth. Be sure to get enough information and that you understand what kind of candidate the university is searching for, because it would be senseless to fail due to a technicality.
It is also a good idea to ask other students who have already been accepted to share their experience with you.
3. Focus on your future career
If you already chose a career path, or even if you already have a job, your current or future bosses may require specific disciplines.
Your choice university will be the best place to learn in-depth notions, another language or advanced computer skills, so be sure to choose subjects new and useful to you, even if they will make you uncomfortable and they may seem hard, at first.
4. Consider the language you will study in
Some majors require a foreign language proficiency, especially if the courses are held in one. It is impossible or at least very hard to finish, for example, the English major with only a basic level exam.
You can avoid this difficulty by simply opting for a degree taught in English. There are a lot of countries that have special programmes, in English, for international students, and most degrees can be found mainly in Europe.
And don’t worry if you’re not an English wiz. There are plenty of English preparation courses that can help you get into your chosen university.
5. Make sure you can afford the study costs
I’m sorry to break this to you, but we’re living in a horrible economy, so finances, tuition fees and living costs are a big issue, that you should consider.
Check beforehand how much the accommodation will be, check the price of books, gasp, laugh, and buy second-hand ones, buy food in a can and so on.
Life won’t be this depressing, obviously, but you can try and manage your poor wallet by searching for scholarships all over the world and in all fields, by learning tricks from other students and by researching what universities are free of charge. You can also check out the Studyportals Scholarship to get some help on financing your studies abroad.
You can also check out these quick guides of:
- Tuitions and living costs in Poland
- Tuitions and living costs in Italy
- Tuitions and living costs in Austria
- Tuitions and living costs in the Netherlands
- Tuitions and living costs in Denmark
6. Research the university reputation and ranking
It’s obvious that choosing a prestigious university has its advantages. However, getting into one takes more effort, or it implies you fight to the death with other students.
Usually, what makes a school “good” is its teachers, student organisations and successful alumni. Information about these factors can be found on the homepage of the university, but you could also check out these ranked universities we kindly recommend:
- University of Oxford
- Columbia University
- Johns Hopkins University
- Peking University
- University of Leuven
Also, keep an eye out for the university’s resources: it might seem like nothing, but it can mean a world to a student to be able to print for free or to have the necessary materials provided by the institution. Gather information about the library the school has, the IT services and any other resources that you might need to conduct your studies successfully.
7. Find out if your previous qualifications are transferable
Ah! That is the question… This might be one of the most important problems you can raise in the current state of affairs. Many former students decide to study their degrees abroad, and, for this, they need to be sure that their diploma can be accepted all over the world. You should first check the accreditation of each institution, and then some, especially if you’re an EU student who wants to study in the U.S., for instance.
Also, you could follow some pre-Master’s courses.
8. Match your extracurricular experience with the degree requirements
If you decide to go to an international university, you must consider everything around you. Is the campus cool? Will there be festivals in the city? Are the other students cool and fun? Is the country safe? Am I, personally, safe? And so on…
You won’t be living in the university and your life will extend to more than your courses and seminars, so the possibility of going out and enjoying your time there should be a major pro or con bullet point on your “Why study at X University”.
9. Visit the university at educational fairs
The type of people sent to represent an institution says a great deal about the institution itself. Let’s put it like this: if the university specialised in Psychology and Psychiatry would send Dr. Lecter to tell you about it, you would run as fast as you could and hide at the Medical booth of Jack the Ripper.
10. Research the bonuses the university offers you
Yes, courses and seminars are a pretty sealed deal, but what about everything else they can offer you? Can you get an Erasmus scholarship? Does it have joint programmes, so that you can study in two countries for the same degree?
And what about internships, practices, securing a job after graduation: does this university collaborate with big names and can it offer me a shove in the direction I want to go.
There are so many other things and programmes, additional courses, day trips, clubs, and activities universities organise, that you should compare and think if they mould to your interest and energy.