After living in Wales for a year while attending graduate school (at Cardiff University), I can attest to the fact that earning my Master’s degree abroad was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Many students think that going to graduate school abroad isn’t feasible, but that simply isn’t true! Here are 5 good reasons why graduate school abroad is a fantastic idea:
1. Traveling is expensive, but so is graduate school. If you’re already planning on going to grad school, why not combine costs and do both at the same time? The only additional cost you’re likely to incur is the flight there, but you may very well save that in your tuition costs. Many European countries (including the United Kingdom, classes in English anyone?) have very low tuition fees, even for international students. Your cost as an international student will be much higher than the fee for home students, but it will probably still be less than you’d be paying for most schools in the US. Additionally, you’re likely to encounter postgraduate programs abroad that are only one year in duration, meaning you’ll only have to pay one more year of living expenses as a student.
2. Freedom from (most) Judgment. When else will you be able to live abroad because you want to? If you choose to attend graduate school abroad, you’re likely to run into naysayers within your friend and family groups, but that will probably pale in comparison to the heat you’ll get for moving abroad when you’re no longer a student. Graduate school gives you both a great opportunity and great excuse to move abroad for a seemingly good reason, and the advantages gained will be hard to argue with.
3. Extracurricular Enrichment. That’s just a fancy way of saying that you’ll get more out of your time abroad than just a Master’s degree. If you studied abroad during your undergraduate career, you probably already understand the ways that studying abroad can change you personally and professionally. Living abroad for an entire year (or two) will give you a great understanding of the world, and how you fit into it. You’ll learn about yourself as you live in a brand-new environment, and so you’ll probably learn and recognize things you might not ever have noticed if you studied only in the States.
4. Academic Diversity. How often will you have the opportunity to sit in a classroom with students and lecturers from around the world and exchange ideas in an open forum? Earning a Master’s degree abroad will more than likely give you that opportunity, especially if you choose a university that is known for its internationalization. Earning a Master’s degree in a different country than you earned your Bachelor’s degree will give you a unique opportunity to approach your chosen topic or field from a much different perspective.
5. Employability, the Holy Grail of the 20-something. As we all know, student life is great, but it’s expected that we eventually make something productive from those pieces of paper that are handed to us while we’re wearing ridiculous-looking gowns and hats. Earning a degree abroad tells employers that you’re probably much more well-rounded than the average candidate, that you’re willing to take risks, and that you’re adaptable to new and potentially uncomfortable situations. Your time abroad will also give you excellent things to talk about in interviews and to put on your resume, and it will almost certainly set you apart from the other candidates!
Going to graduate school abroad is obviously not the “easy” choice, but it has the potential to be an extremely rewarding one. At the very least, it is worth adding foreign schools to your wish list of grad schools to see what opportunities might be available to you. A good place to start is by searching schools in places you might want to live (www.internationalgraduate.net is a good search engine to use). Always be sure that the universities you apply to abroad are internationally accredited so that employers in the US will recognize your degree. And most importantly, ENJOY your experience abroad, it may be one of the only opportunities you’ll have to live abroad, and it’s super important to take full advantage of every opportunity afforded to you while you’re there.