Often, students think about postgraduate education at foreign universities. The first thing to decide is the country of study. This is important because education is structured very differently everywhere. And the main thing that a student who has so far only a vague desire to «study abroad» or just «get out» should know: education in London and Paris are completely different things. To catch this, you need to read a lot of material, but the reader will no longer have to do this because we did it for him.

The cost of a master's degree in Europe

SideStateMinMaxLanguageTOEFL ibtIELTSAdmission date
Great Britain-17 USD40 USDEnglish1007September — January
Germany518 USDUSD21 USDEnglish german966November — January/May/June
France518 USDUSD36 USDEnglish French796.5January-May
ItalyUSDUSD18 USDEnglish, Italian796.5Depending on the university
Norway50 USDUSDUSDEnglish, Norwegian795December 1
The Netherlands-USD37 USDEnglish, Dutch796.5depending on the university
Spain-USDUSDEnglish, Spanish796as they arrive
Finland93 USD10 USD17 USDEnglish, Finnish806.5depending on the university
Switzerland-USD15 USDEnglish, French, German7965-11 months before start

The difference between the European and the English system

You need to figure out why it is worth enrolling in Europe, and not in Australia, USA, Canada, Great Britain or New Zealand. All these countries have an English education system, which in many respects do not coincide with the European one.

The first and decisive condition for admission to a master's program in Europe is a bachelor's degree in the same specialty. Exceptions can only be made if the student studied a subject close to the newly chosen one (sometimes this does not apply to the MBA). That is if you have a diploma in public relations, but if you decide that your vocation is psychology, then there is a chance to enroll in a master's course in psychology and society. It will depend only on the disciplines passed in the previous course. Some universities indicate on their websites a list of subjects required for enrollment following the European classification. If, under the same conditions, your choice fell on design, then in Europe it may not work out, but in English-speaking countries – most likely. As already mentioned earlier, a European master should know his discipline very well, and not so much study as research. In this regard, the English system may seem more attractive.

But there is a downside – the price of education. In most European countries, education is state-funded, the student pays only a small amount, which includes taxes and fees, and in general, it is less than 1,037 USD per year. In countries with the English system, everything is completely different, the average price per semester is 10,368 USD, and scholarship holders of state programs and 2-3 people on the course who have received fee waivers (exemption from payments) are honored to receive education for free. This is achieved only thanks to brilliant academic results, social assistance is available only to citizens of the country and people from some regions of the Third World.

Most often, the view of applicants falls precisely on English-speaking countries due, in fact, to the language. Very few speak any language other than their native language and English (and often just barely). But now the opinion that you need to go to a place where everyone speaks English is no longer true. In every European country, there are programs in English. Let's consider them below.

Master in Europe in English

Very fortunately and for the benefit of science and the arts, education is increasingly globalized. Sometimes one gets the impression that European universities are waiting for foreigners even more than their students – on most sites, you can find a manifesto or even a section called "Diversity", which describes in detail and proudly how much foreign students are loved there and how good they are here. This is completely normal because in most cases cultural exchange brings mutual positive experience. The bottom line is that if there is such an emphasis on diversity, it would be foolish to expect every Korean student to learn Italian to get a master's degree in Italy (in addition to English, which is still indispensable in the academic world). Accordingly, for many programs, you need to know only English. The requirements are on average slightly lower than in the universities of the Anglo-Saxon countries – about 6.0 IELTS or 90 TOEFL.

However, this pleasant phenomenon also has a negative side. In about half of the cases, scholarships designed for students of postgraduate programs (by the way, in European universities in general, most scholarships are aimed at masters and doctors) have requirements for proficiency in the language of the country of study. It is possible to find a scholarship to study in English, but the choice of specialties will be significantly narrower, and again, the requirements for obtaining will be based not on the need for financial assistance, but on academic merit. That is, in this Europe partly follows the system of English-speaking countries.

But still, if we do not consider the issue statistically, in fact, everything depends on the country of study and the specific university. Therefore, since this text is not written for specialists in foreign education, but for applicants, we will analyze in more detail what and how the situation is with the master's degree in Europe by region.

Applying for a master's?

Master in Western Europe

Western Europe is not a very definite concept. We will take as a basis the classification according to the United Nations Statistics Division, in which Western Europe refers to the following countries: Germany, Switzerland, Austria, The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, and Liechtenstein.

Master in German

First, let's look at 5 countries where education is conducted in the same language – German, namely Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, and Liechtenstein. Officially, education in these countries is free, but getting a scholarship to study in English is not easy. A separate word about Switzerland. Applying to some universities without a bachelor's degree in the desired discipline is possible, but admission will be conditional until the applicant reaches the required level of knowledge. And something else is quite important. Since 2014, Switzerland has not been a member of the European ERASMUS program, that is, students of Swiss universities will not be able to go on an exchange semester except under direct agreements between universities.

For those who, speak German (usually the requirement is B2/2) and also do not want or cannot pay tuition, any of these countries may be suitable. Especially in this regard, it is worth paying attention to the well-known DAAD program – the German equivalent Chevening Scholarship, covering all expenses, from tuition to meals.

The cost of education depends on the program, and in some cases the language of instruction also affects – in Switzerland, getting an MBA in English will cost twice as much as in German and four times more expensive than a master's degree in economics. But the average cost per semester is between 200 and 500 euros.

Master in France

As for France, there are relatively few programs in English, and those that also offer a scholarship can be counted on the fingers. In addition, many people know the jealous attitude of the French toward their language: the French language is protected and actively distributed, and English, in turn, is studied only in case of emergency – it is more likely to meet a Frenchman who speaks Italian, Spanish or German, but not English. To survive outside of Paris, knowledge of French is essential. In addition, France has a rather complicated examination system, an expulsion rate of about 50%, and overcrowded hostels. If the difficulties do not frighten you, then studying in France (especially in some individual disciplines) will pay off in full. But you need to be prepared for the liberal arts system when the student is left to his conscience – in France, it is more relevant than anywhere else (maybe that's why there are so many expelled students).

Masters in the Netherlands

The Netherlands can be distinguished from all European countries due to the peculiarities of the education system. Firstly, the number of programs in English is not inferior to the number in Dutch. Secondly, the cost of most courses reaches the level of universities in the UK and the USA. Thirdly, the English proficiency requirements for admission are higher than the European average (7.0 vs. 6.0 on a scale IELTS). With all this, the requirements for previous qualifications do not contradict the European tradition – you can only enter the specialty that was studied at the bachelor's degree. Another very nice feature is a huge number of scholarships – under the Orange Tulip program, you can enter any major Dutch university with a good academic background and a good level of English.

The Netherlands, in particular Amsterdam, is called one of the most creative regions in Europe. And this is no coincidence – a huge number of architects, photographers, and designers prefer Amsterdam to Paris and Berlin, probably because the former is a kind of intermediary between Europe and the UK. Therefore, getting an MFA in Amsterdam is a very good idea for those whose ambitions are directed to the heights of contemporary art.

Master in Eastern Europe

Next, consider postgraduate education in some countries of Eastern Europe, namely Poland, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, and Romania. The first thing you should know about education in Europe: the more east, the more dear. Indeed, students of Polish universities can study by correspondence (that is, not part-time, where the study period is simply doubled, but on weekends), in Slovenia, the list of compulsory subjects is much wider than the European average, and in Slovakia, there are study programs in the Russian language. However, the prices for education here start at 1,037 USD and end at 4,147 USD per year. But usually the cost increases depending on the language of instruction. In addition, language and preparatory courses in these countries are relatively inexpensive, and the difference in tuition fees compensates for these costs.

Do not be deceived by the stereotype that, due to the specifics described above, diplomas from Eastern European universities are valued somewhat lower. It is in these countries that one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in Europe are located – Charles University in Prague, Jagiellonian University in Krakow, and University of Ljubljana in Ljubljana.

Master in Northern Europe

Again referring to the United Nations Statistics Division, we define Northern Europe as follows: Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Iceland (We will not write about the United Kingdom, since it is not part of the European education system). In fact, this list is a cocktail of countries that are completely different in mentality and education systems. Therefore, we will analyze them separately.

Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia

Of course, the former countries of the USSR cannot but stand out from the general list of European countries. In Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, life is quite similar to the life of a Muscovite or Petersburger, and people are similar. As for education, it is still more Europeanized – the Bologna process did not bypass anyone. In these three countries, you can even find a master's program in Russian, but again, if you are going to study for a master's degree, English is simply indispensable. Because all worthwhile scientific articles are published in English. And without reading them, it will hardly be possible to become a professional and navigate in your field.

The cost of education in the Baltics is relatively higher than the European average – from 1,244 USD per semester.

Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland

This part of Europe is one of the most mysterious in the eyes of Europeans. The British idealize Norway, Danish cinema drives Americans crazy, and Iceland is an island shrouded in mystery for all of Europe. The atmosphere of these states is conducive to the maximum order in everything and a friendly dinner with the boss's family on Thursdays. Simply put, this part of the world is relatively autonomous, unlike other European countries. Even in terms of education, the Nordic countries stand out – due to the climate and the small number of programs in English, very few European students seek to study in the North of the continent.

The tuition fee for foreign students is just under 1,037 USD (with the exception of Denmark – for citizens of countries outside the EU, the cost of a semester starts at 6,000 euros). Most of scholarships are provided by universities, government programs are mainly aimed at graduate and doctoral students. Most often, financial assistance operates according to the following scheme: if a student finds a job at the end of the program and remains in the country of study, then he is obliged to return some of the funds spent on him, but if he returns to his native country, he does not owe anything (this system is called "loan").

Applicants should also pay attention to the fact that the Scandinavian countries are among the most expensive to live in, so when calculating expenses, it is better to multiply your usual expenses by two.

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Master in Southern Europe

Let's finish our review with the remaining EU member states: Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Greece. Despite their general classification as the countries of Southern Europe, they differ in many ways. Let's start with Greece.

Firstly, in Greece, there are very few programs in English. Suppose knowledge of Greek is not yet necessary for admission to a bachelor's degree. In that case, future masters cannot do without it (with the exception of programs at the International Hellenic University). The cost of studying in Greece is about 726 USD, and universities provide financial assistance, but only on competitive terms. The second condition for admission to Greek universities is the recognition of a valid bachelor's degree. This part of the process can be the most difficult, as the recognition procedure can take anywhere from 9 months to two years.

As for Italy, Spain, and Portugal, the situation is different. Language proficiency requirements are much softer – even a certificate is not required to enter programs in the local language, and there are many programs in English. Financial aid is provided as needed, including for students of English-language programs (but again, their choice is much narrower).

In some cases, education in these countries can cost at the level of US universities – in some private business schools, getting an MBA can cost up to 41,473 USD in total. But if your claims are directed more at public universities (which, by the way, are often recognized higher than private ones), then everything is much simple here. Again, it is unlikely that you will be able to enroll in a master's course in another specialty – everything is clear with this. But if everything is decided with the previous specialty, then the financial costs will be quite small – about 622 USD per year, excluding living expenses.

FAQ: What do you need to know about Master's programs in Europe?

In case, due to the amount of information in your head, everything is mixed up, or there is simply no time to read the entire article, we will repeat a few key points.

How much does a master's degree in Europe cost?

Inexpensive. Definitely cheaper than in the USA or Great Britain. The price depends on the country of study and the chosen university. At public universities in Europe, the cost will be about 829 USD per year (living costs are not included).

What do you need to enroll in a European university for a master's program?

Only two things – language and diploma. In some neighboring countries (Estonia, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania) the language can be replaced by money.

As for the diploma – in 90% of cases you need a bachelor's degree in the specialty for which the application is being submitted. If you dream of a radical change of direction – better think about English-speaking countries.

Are there master's programs in Europe in English?

Of course. With rare exceptions, universities in every major city offer several programs in English. Just keep in mind that not all programs in English even offer a chance to receive a scholarship, and their cost is sometimes much higher.

Scholarships for masters – how to get them?

Most often, it is necessary to provide a certificate of financial solvency and at least show off a little academic past. Without these two conditions, the number of options is noticeably reduced. But if you know the language of the country you are going to, you may be able to get state scholarships (in this regard, you should pay attention to the Czech Republic, Italy, and France).

Is it easy to study in Europe?

It only depends on the desire. On the one hand, yes: you can choose the subjects you want, go to lectures or not, and lead interesting projects with classmates. But this is determined only by motivation. No one will force you to study, remind you of debts, or condescendingly put "passed". It's just not European. And remember, student dropout rates (especially in Germany, Italy, and France) are very high. Results are expected from the masters, and there is no need to sit idly by. Therefore, first of all, the question of whether it is easy, you need to ask yourself.

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