If you want to get your master’s degree, but are worried about the cost, consider going to graduate school abroad. You can get a top-notch degree for a fraction of what it would cost in the United States — plus, you could get to live in a new country and work on your foreign language skills.
However, researching study abroad graduate programs takes a little more work than choosing a school in the United States, since university requirements and costs can vary by country.
Note: All prices listed in this report were accurate as of May 27, 2020. Check the sources listed for current pricing.
According to the Urban Institute, the average full-time master’s student in the United States pays $15,600 per year in tuition and fees, and has a student budget of $32,550 to cover the total cost of attendance (the Urban Institute defines a student budget as consisting of “the amount allocated for tuition, fees, books and living expenses”). For a two-year program, a master’s degree would cost about $65,000, on average.
By contrast, attending graduate school in another country could be much cheaper. For example, the annual tuition for most programs at the University of St. Andrew’s in Scotland is £9,450, or $11,519.98 USD, for the 2020-21 academic year, while at Japan’s University of Tokyo, annual tuition for a masters degree is listed at ¥535,800, or $5,004.37 USD. A degree earned from either of these two schools would cost significantly less than a master’s obtained in the United States.
In some countries, you could go to school for a greatly reduced cost — and in some cases, your education could be nearly free:
- Austria: Students from countries outside of the European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) can attend and pay €726.72 ($784.50 USD) per semester.
- Czech Republic: Higher education in the Czech Republic is free of charge for programs taught in the Czech language. If you’d like to study in another language, such as English, you’ll have to pay additional fees.
- Germany: Most programs at German public universities are tuition-free, even for international students. Some schools and regions do charge non-EU citizens small fees for their education, but they’re a fraction of what you’d pay for tuition in the U.S.
- Norway: The majority of Norweigian universities are publicly funded and do not charge tuition fees, even for international students.
When thinking about where to go to school, make sure you consider each country’s cost of living. While the country may offer free or discounted tuition, it may be an expensive place to live, off-setting your savings. For example, relocation assistance provider InterNations reported that Norway is an extremely expensive place to live — you can expect to spend between $2,176 and $4,352 USD per month to live in the country.
If your selected university does have a tuition fee, make sure you’re familiar with the school and country’s payment requirements and practices. For instance, in China, universities typically suggest that students pay the tuition in person when they register at the school, and many universities there only accept cash payments in renminbi, the official currency of China.
How long does grad school take? In the United States, most master’s programs take two years to complete. But in other countries, you may be able to complete your master’s degree in as little as one year: For example, students at the University of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates can complete their master’s of business administration (MBA) in just 12 months.
With less time to earn your degree, you could save money on living costs, and start working and earning a salary sooner.
When deciding on the best grad schools for you, pay attention to your language preferences. If you are only comfortable speaking in English, you’ll want to make sure you choose a university — and a country — where the majority of the population is fluent in English. Such countries include Australia, Barbados, Canada, Belize, Ireland, New Zealand and of course the United Kingdom, where English originated.
If you’re bilingual, you may want to select a school with a focus on that language to build your fluency. However, you also want to make sure that you’re fully comfortable speaking and working in that language, as the coursework can be intensive. If you’re less-than-proficient in the country’s language, you may struggle to keep up.
Depending on where you intend to go to school, there may be tests you need to pass before you can be accepted into a graduate program. Some countries will require you to pass language tests to prove you can understand and converse in their language. For example:
- Czech Republic: Foreign students need to pass the Czech Language Certificate Exam.
- Germany: Foreign students must pass the TESTDaf or DSH exams.
- Norway: Students must prove proficiency in Norwegian by passing a level three examination at a Norwegian university, pass a examination from a one-year course in language and culture for foreign students or pass the Bergenstesten, an advanced level language exam.
Some schools and countries have general entrance exams; you’ll have to pass that test to get into grad school. According to the Graduate Management Admissions Council, universities and organizations in 110 countries use the GMAT exam as part of their selection process to assess candidates for MBA programs. The LSAT is used as part of law school admissions, most commonly in the United States and Canada but also for some Australian institutions.
In many countries, you will need a visa if you’re going to study abroad for a semester, year or longer. To find out your selected country’s specific requirements, visit the embassy or consulate website.
Each country will have its own visa requirements. However, you’ll generally need to have the following:
- Recent photo
- Proof of funds to support yourself while abroad
- Proof of enrollment
- Proof of housing in selected country
- Fingerprints or other biometric
- Background check
When you do apply, the visa application process can take a few days to a few months, depending on the country, so it’s a good idea to apply well in advance.
While many degrees, such as master’s of arts or MBA degrees, will transfer over and maintain their credibility, some degrees may not transfer over. Highly regulated degrees, such as those in the medical or legal fields, will likely not be recognized in the United States.
There are organizations that provide original credential evaluation reports that show the U.S. equivalents for academic credentials that you earn in foreign countries. The U.S. Department of State website recommends two national associations, the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES) and the Association of International Credentials Evaluators (AICE).
If your program or credits do not transfer, you will have to undergo additional education and testing before you can begin working in the United States.
If you’re looking for additional information, check out these resources for study abroad graduate programs.
- Federal financial aid: If you’re getting your degree outside of the United States, you may still qualify for federal financial aid. Visit the Office of Federal Student Aid website to find a list of international schools that participate in the federal student loan program.
- Country-specific resources: Several countries offer guides, run by their embassies, specifically for international students. The sites have information on tuitions and fees, the country’s language and culture and the university application processes.
Can I apply for financial aid to get a graduate degree abroad?
Yes, you may be eligible for financial aid even if you go to graduate school abroad. Some international universities participate in the U.S. federal student loan program, and some schools have their own scholarships and grants for foreign students.
Can graduate programs abroad limit the number of international students?
Some countries, such as Singapore, do have limits on how many foreign students can enroll. If you’re interested in going to school in a country with a cap on international students, apply as early as possible to increase your chances of being accepted.
What are the other graduate degree costs to consider?
Beyond the cost of tuition and room and board, you should also take into account other expenses like airfare and getting a passport. To get your student visa, you may also have to pay hundreds of dollars in fees.
You may also have to enroll in a health insurance plan. While you may qualify for low-cost public health insurance through the university, you may have to purchase a private plan, depending on where you go to school.
What are typical housing options when getting a graduate degree abroad?
When studying abroad, some schools will offer dorms. But some will offer home stays, where you can stay with a host family in the country, or you can live in an off-campus apartment.
Are there grants for American students studying abroad?
Grants for American students studying abroad tend to be limited at the graduate level, but may be available depending on what country you plan to study in. Check with your selected country and university to see if any grants are available to foreign students.
Are there scholarships for American students studying abroad?
You should also check with your selected country and university, as they may have special scholarships for foreign students. For example, Japan has multiple scholarships for international students, and you can apply through the country’s embassy or consulate.
What are the best grad schools abroad?
When deciding which grad school is best for you, consider the country’s language requirements, the school’s focus and the school’s cost.
According to U.S. News & World Report, here are the top 5 schools in various regions:
- University of Cape Town
- University of Witwatersrand
- Stellenbosch University
- University of KwaZulu Natal
- University of Johannesburg
- National University of Singapore
- Tsinghua University
- Nanyang Technological University
- King Abdulaziz University
- Peking University
- University of Oxford
- University of Cambridge
- Imperial College London
- University College London
- Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich
- Universidade de São Paulo
- Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
- State University of Campinas
- Federal University of Rio de Janeiro
- University of Buenos Aires
How long does grad school take?
How many years is grad school? It depends on where you go to school, your selected program and how many credits you take per semester. You should expect to spend between one and three years in graduate school.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 9 lenders of 2021!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
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1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.
Splash Financial Disclosures
Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount
The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.
To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.
Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of May 1, 2021.
2 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 2.98% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.49% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.34% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of October 26, 2020, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 10/26/2020. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
© 2020 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.15% effective Jan 1, 2021 and may increase after consummation.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of 5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.
As of 02/17/2021 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.91% APR – 5.25% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.95% APR – 7.63% Fixed APR with AutoPay.
5 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
6 Important Disclosures for PenFed.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Fixed Rates range from 2.89%-4.78% APR and Variable Rates range from 2.15%-4.42% APR. Both Fixed and Variable Rates will vary based on application terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. For Variable Rate student loans, the rate will never exceed 9.00% for 5 year and 8 year loans and 10.00% for 12 and 15 years loans (the maximum allowable for this loan). Minimum variable rate will be 2.00%. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
7 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.
Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.
Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.
Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.
Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.
KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
This information is current as of April 29, 2021. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
8 Important Disclosures for Nelnet.
Checking your rate results in a soft credit pull, which will not affect your credit score. If you continue with your application, Nelnet Bank will request your permission to obtain your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies. This is a hard credit pull and may affect your credit score.
Interest rate reduction of .25% for automatically withdrawn payments from any designated bank account (“auto debit discount”). Auto debit discount applies when full payments (including both principal and interest) are automatically drafted from a bank account. The auto debit discount will continue to apply during periods of approved forbearance or deferment if the auto debit discount was in effect at the time of receiving the forbearance or deferment. Auto debit discount will remain on the account unless (1) the automatic deduction of payments is canceled or (2) there are three consecutive automatic deductions returned for insufficient funds at any time during the term of the loan.
Request for the cosigner to be released can be made by the borrower after 24 consecutive, on-time payments (not later than 15 days after the due date) of principal and interest have been made. Borrowers in deferment or forbearance must make 24 consecutive, on-time payments after re-entering repayment to qualify for the release. The borrower must be current on their payments at the time of the cosigner release request and show the ability to assume full responsibility of the loan(s) by meeting certain credit criteria on their own at the time of the request, including, but not limited to, being a U.S. citizen or having permanent residency in the United States, being the age of majority in their permanent state of residency, providing sufficient proof of income, and having no student loans in default.
Hardship forbearance allows you to temporarily suspend payments on your loan(s) while you are experiencing financial hardship. It is offered in increments of two or three months, with a maximum of 12 months available, in aggregate, over the life of the loan. If your loan(s) are in good standing at the time of your request, you will be eligible for forbearance in increments of two monthly payments. If, at the time of your initial request, your loan(s) are considered past-due, you will be eligible for forbearance in increments of three monthly payments. Future increments of forbearance, up to a life-time maximum of 12 months, may be requested upon the completion of making a certain number of principal and interest payments. During the two- or three-month forbearance period, you will not be required to make payments; however, any unpaid interest will continue to accrue and will be capitalized (added) onto your principal balance at the end of the forbearance period. You may continue making payments in any amount without penalty during the forbearance period. Your loan repayment term will be extended by the number of months in the forbearance period.
Refinance Loan Eligibility: You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security number, and be the legal age to enter into binding contracts in your permanent state/territory of residency, or be at least 17 years of age and apply with a cosigner who is at least the age of majority in their state/territory. Non-residents can apply with an eligible cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security number. The student loans you refinance must be in their grace or repayment period, and you can no longer be enrolled in school on a half-time or more basis. You must have at least $5,000 in student loans to refinance. You, or your eligible cosigner, must have an annual income of at least $36,000. Approval subject to credit review. Other credit criteria may apply.
Refinance Loan Limits:
Loan Refinancing Risks: Federal student loans include benefits that may not be offered with private student loans. Carefully review any potential benefits that may be lost by refinancing federal and private education loans, such as the loss of any remaining grace periods. To learn more about what to take into consideration when refinancing federal student loans with private education loans, click here
Selecting ‘Get Started’ results in a soft credit pull, which will not affect your credit score. If you continue with your application, Nelnet Bank will request your permission to obtain your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies. This is a hard credit pull and may affect your credit score.
Fixed interest rates range from 2.99% APR (with auto debit discount) to 6.25% APR (without auto debit discount). Your interest rate will depend on your (and if applicable, your cosigner’s) credit qualifications. The fixed interest rate will remain the same for the life of the loan.
Variable interest rates range from 2.00% APR (with auto debit discount) to 5.63% APR (without auto debit discount). Your interest rate will depend on your (and if applicable, your cosigner’s) credit qualifications. Variable rates may increase after consummation. The variable interest rate is equal to the One-Month London Interbank Offered Rate (“One-Month LIBOR”) plus a margin. The One-Month LIBOR in effect for each monthly period (from the first day of the month through and including the last day of the same month) will be the highest One-Month LIBOR published in The Wall Street Journal “Money Rates” table on the twenty-fifth (25th) day (or if such day is not a business day, the next business day thereafter) of the month immediately preceding such calendar month. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for a variable interest rate loan will change monthly on the first day of each month if the One-Month LIBOR index changes. This may result in higher monthly payments. The current One-Month LIBOR index is 0.15% as of 5/4/2021.
The lowest interest rate for each loan type requires automatically withdrawn (“auto debit”) payments, a five-year repayment term, and the borrower making immediate principal and interest payments. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rate. The interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) may be higher depending upon (1) the credit history of the borrower and, if applicable, the cosigner, (2) the repayment option and loan term selected, (3) the loan type selected, and (4) the highest level of education attained. If approved, applicants will be notified of the rate qualified for within the stated range.
*Checking your rate results in a soft credit pull, which will not affect your credit score. If you continue with your application, Nelnet Bank will request your permission to obtain your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies. This is a hard credit pull and may affect your credit score. **Your actual savings may vary based on interest rates, outstanding balances, remaining repayment terms, and other factors.