Graduate School Abroad: Consider These 6 Factors

 July 27, 2020
How Student Loan Hero Gets Paid

How Student Loan Hero Gets Paid

Student Loan Hero is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (such as the order). Student Loan Hero does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.

Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero is an advertising-supported comparison service. The site features products from our partners as well as institutions which are not advertising partners. While we make an effort to include the best deals available to the general public, we make no warranty that such information represents all available products.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

graduate school abroad

We’ve got your back! Student Loan Hero is a completely free website 100% focused on helping student loan borrowers get the answers they need. Read more

How do we make money? It’s actually pretty simple. If you choose to check out and become a customer of any of the loan providers featured on our site, we get compensated for sending you their way. This helps pay for our amazing staff of writers (many of which are paying back student loans of their own!).

Bottom line: We’re here for you. So please learn all you can, email us with any questions, and feel free to visit or not visit any of the loan providers on our site. Read less

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.

If you’re thinking of going to grad school abroad, here are some key factors to keep in mind, along with resources you can access and some frequently asked questions.

Consider these 6 factors for graduate school abroad

1. Cost
2. Length of program
3. Language
4. Testing
5. Visa requirements
6. Degree transferability

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.

Length of program

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.

Visa requirements

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
  • Fee
  • 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.

Degree transferability

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.

Resources when considering a graduate degree abroad

If you’re looking for additional information, check out these resources for study abroad graduate programs.

Graduate degree abroad: FAQ

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?

There are many scholarships for American students studying abroad. You can find scholarship opportunities on FastWeb and

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:


  1. University of Cape Town
  2. University of Witwatersrand
  3. Stellenbosch University
  4. University of KwaZulu Natal
  5. University of Johannesburg


  1. National University of Singapore
  2. Tsinghua University
  3. Nanyang Technological University
  4. King Abdulaziz University
  5. Peking University


  1. University of Oxford
  2. University of Cambridge
  3. Imperial College London
  4. University College London
  5. Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich

Latin America

  1. Universidade de São Paulo
  2. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
  3. State University of Campinas
  4. Federal University of Rio de Janeiro
  5. 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 2022!
LenderVariable APREligible Degrees 
2.49% – 11.72%1Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Splash

2.50% – 6.30%2Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Laurel Road

4.13% – 7.39%3Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Lendkey

2.49% – 7.99%4Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Earnest

2.49% – 7.99%5Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit NaviRefi

3.24% – 8.24%6Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit SoFi

2.48% – 7.98%Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Elfi

1.74% – 7.99%7Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Purefy

3.69% – 9.92%8Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Citizens

Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
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 September 6, 2022.

2 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 $9 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

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.

  1. Checking your rate with Laurel Road only requires a soft credit pull, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.
  2. Savings vary based on rate and term of your existing and refinanced loan(s). Refinancing to a longer term may lower your monthly payments, but may also increase the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Refinancing to a shorter term may increase your monthly payments, but may lower the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Review your loan documentation for total cost of your refinanced loan.
  3. After loan disbursement, if a borrower documents a qualifying economic hardship, we may agree in our discretion to allow for full or partial forbearance of payments for one or more 3-month time periods (not to exceed 12 months in the aggregate during the term of your loan), provided that we receive acceptable documentation (including updating documentation) of the nature and expected duration of the borrower’s economic hardship. During any period of forbearance interest will continue to accrue. At the end of the forbearance period, any unpaid accrued interest will be capitalized and be added to the remaining principle amount of the loan.
  4. Automatic Payment (“AutoPay”) Discount: if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically from a bank account, the interest rate will decrease by 0.25% and will increase back if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically from the borrower’s bank account. The 0.25% AutoPay discount will not reduce the monthly payment; instead, the discount is applied to the principal to help pay the loan down faster.

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%.


This information is current as of April 29, 2021. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.

3 Important Disclosures for LendKey.

LendKey Disclosures

Refinancing via 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 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 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 09/09/2022 student loan refinancing rates range from 4.13% APR – 7.39% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.99% APR – 9.93% Fixed APR with AutoPay.

4 Rate range above includes optional 0.25% Auto Pay discount. Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

You can choose between fixed and variable rates. Fixed interest rates are 3.99% – 8.74% APR (3.74% – 8.49% APR with Auto Pay discount). Starting variable interest rates are 2.74% APR to 8.24% APR (2.49% – 7.99% APR with Auto Pay discount). Variable rates are based on an index, the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) plus a margin. Variable rates are reset monthly based on the fluctuation of the index. We do not currently offer variable rate loans in AK, CO, CT, HI, IL, KY, MA, MN, MS, NH, OH, OK, SC, TN, TX, and VA.

5 Important Disclosures for Navient.

Navient Disclosures

You can choose between fixed and variable rates. Fixed interest rates are 3.99% – 8.74% APR (3.74% – 8.49% APR with Auto Pay discount). Starting variable interest rates are 2.74% APR to 8.24% APR (2.49% – 7.99% APR with Auto Pay discount). Variable rates are based on an index, the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) plus a margin. Variable rates are reset monthly based on the fluctuation of the index. We do not currently offer variable rate loans in AK, CO, CT, HI, IL, KY, MA, MN, MS, NH, OH, OK, SC, TN, TX, and VA.

6 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

Fixed rates range from 3.99% APR to 8.24% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Variable rates from 3.24% APR to 8.24% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law, Variable Interest rates on 5-, 7-, and 10-year terms are capped at 8.95% APR; 15- and 20-year terms are capped at 9.95% APR. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on the term you select, evaluation of your creditworthiness, income, presence of a co-signer and a variety of other factors. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. For the SoFi variable-rate product, the variable interest rate for a given month is derived by adding a margin to the 30-day average SOFR index, published two business days preceding such calendar month, rounded up to the nearest one hundredth of one percent (0.01% or 0.0001). APRs for variable-rate loans may increase after origination if the SOFR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. This benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit lowers your interest rate but does not change the amount of your monthly payment. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance. Autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi.

7 Important Disclosures for Purefy.

Purefy Disclosures

Purefy Student Loan Refinancing Rate and Terms Disclosure: Annual Percentage Rates (APR) ranges and examples are based on information provided to Purefy by lenders participating in Purefy’s rate comparison platform. For student loan refinancing, the participating lenders offer fixed rates ranging from 2.73% – 7.99% APR, and variable rates ranging from 1.74% – 7.99% APR. The maximum variable rate is 25.00%. Your interest rate will be based on the lender’s requirements. In most cases, lenders determine the interest rates based on your credit score, degree type and other credit and financial criteria. Only borrowers with excellent credit and meeting other lender criteria will qualify for the lowest rate available. Rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice. Terms and conditions apply.  

8 Important Disclosures for Citizens.

CitizensBank Disclosures

Education Refinance Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 3.69%-9.92% (3.69%-9.92% APR). Fixed interest rates range from  4.49%-10.11% (4.49%-10.11% APR). 

Undergraduate Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 6.39%- 9.60% (6.39% – 9.60% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 6.58% – 9.79% (6.58% – 9.79% APR).

Graduate Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 3.69% – 9.16% (3.69% – 9.16% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.49% – 9.35% (4.49% – 9.35% APR).

Education Refinance Loan for Parents Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 3.69%- 9.09% (3.69%- 9.09% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.49% – 9.28% (4.49% – 9.28% APR).

Medical Residency Refinance Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 3.69% – 9.16% (3.69% – 9.16% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.49% – 9.35% (4.49% – 9.35% APR).