If you decide to earn your graduate school degree abroad, you have the enviable opportunity of gaining international experience while furthering your education. But you’ll have to do some homework first.
You need to assess which country and which international graduate school is best for you, while also taking the time to evaluate other important factors, including costs and visa requirements.
Choose Where To Study
There are high-quality international graduate schools located across the globe, and the process of choosing one can be overwhelming. Begin your search by listing the five countries that most interest you.
Next, consider the practical issues. Think about whether there will be a language barrier, or if political or economic instability might place you in jeopardy. Watch the news to keep abreast of world events that may impact your prospective destination.
Friends and colleagues who have studied abroad are also a logical resource when researching graduate schools abroad. Ask around and see if you can get some insight from their experiences.
Make a Short List of Schools
Once you narrow down your potential destination, you need to select some graduate schools to apply to. Consult a list of the international graduate schools available to US students who wish to study abroad.
Then look for the schools that feature graduate programs in your field of study. List the benefits of each school, and from that list, choose the top schools that most align with your needs.
If feasible, try to visit the graduate schools on your shortlist. If you cannot afford to travel to several international schools, you should at least visit the school at the top of your list. If this remains impractical, you can still learn a significant amount from a virtual tour of the college and from speaking with the admissions office.
Now that you know which international graduate school(s) you plan to apply to, you need to be sure it will be financially feasible for you to attend. Find out the cost of tuition, and then consider the sources of funding available to you.
Your first step should be to contact the financial aid office of the graduate school you’re considering. You should find out what aid packages include, and get an idea of how much you can receive for tuition. Try to get as many grants as possible since, unlike loans, you do not have to pay these back.
You can also apply for scholarships and grants through private companies. Make sure you understand all of the available college financial aid opportunities. You can research scholarships created expressly for students who seek to travel internationally for graduate school.
When contacting the school of your choice, ask about fellowships and research assistantships. Both of these positions can waive some or all of your tuition, and may even include a stipend for living expenses.
You will be expected to provide research, teach or meet other requirements if you want the money, but this way you can pay for graduate school without getting a full time job or taking out loans. Plus, this sort of experience will likely prove valuable in your future endeavors.
Prepare to Travel
When calculating your costs, include plane tickets and lodging. Also, research the healthcare system of your destination country, and the cost of insurance. Be aware of currency exchange rates (and fees). You need to realistically assess how the cost of living in your destination differs from the cost of living in the US.
If you think you will need a job while studying, find out what documents are required, such as a work visa. Study visas will often place strict limitations on employment.
Thoroughly research these issues when you’re considering options for your studies overseas. Studying at an international graduate school can be immensely rewarding – and it can open up considerable opportunities for career advancement.