Getting a Degree Abroad | The First Steps

23 November 2015

You may have seen slightly less of me these last few weeks. I always find this time of year extremely hard. There is so much to do for the holidays that I barely have any time for myself. The bright side? I am very excited to share with y'all a new series: Getting a Degree Abroad!

Over the last couple of years I have received numerous emails from readers with questions about studying and living abroad. Getting my Masters degree abroad was one of the best decisions I ever made, and I want to share with you a little insight on how I went about the entire process.

A little background on me: I studied abroad at Kingston University in London for a summer during my undergraduate degree. Knowing I wanted to go back, I made the decision to get my masters in England, verses getting my masters at home. I received my Masters of Arts Degree in History at the University of Bristol in early 2015. 

I do want to point out these posts will be geared towards people who want to spend a significant time abroad. While I highly suggest studying abroad for a semester, the advice given here is more for people looking to obtain a degree (rather than taking a course or two) from a university abroad. So let's get right to it, shall we?


Studying abroad is something I strongly believe everyone should do while in college. There is so much to explore outside of your home country, and the best way to open that door is by diving head first into a study abroad program. However, getting a degree abroad is something else entirely. If you are independent, love immersing yourself in other cultures, and don't mind giving up your favorite home foods, you might want to look into getting your degree abroad. Here is a quick list to help you determine if you should study abroad or get a degree abroad:

You are looking to party = Study Abroad
You are willing to dedicate the majority of your time studying = Degree Abroad
You only want to live in a foreign country for 1 month to 6 months = Study Abroad
You are looking to move to a country for more than a year = Degree Abroad
"I have to actually take classes?" = Study Abroad
"I can't go out tonight, I to read 8 articles before tomorrow"  = Degree Abroad
You want to experience life abroad with your friends = Study Abroad
You are VERY independent = Degree Abroad
You want to see all the sights = Study Abroad and Degree Abroad
You want to learn more about the world = Study Abroad and Degree Abroad
You are eager to learn a new style of teaching = Study Abroad and Degree Abroad
You love to travel = Study Abroad and Degree Abroad

If you are iterated in studying abroad, visit the international affairs office at your home university. They have the information for numerous programs you can apply to and will provide the best advice in the whole process.

Getting a degree abroad means you will be applying directly through that particular university. The next step? Figuring out where you actually want to study!

Picking a country can be either the easiest or hardest part, depending on what type of person you are. For me, I always knew I wanted to study in the UK. The universities are world ranked, the culture is amazing, and it is a country where I didn't have to learn a foreign language. It was easy as pie. For others, there are so many options it's hard to make up your mind! When picking a country, whether you have your mind made up or not, here are some things to consider: visa restrictions, cost, time, and language. 

Visa Restrictions | Every country has their own rules and requirements upon entering. For example, as an American citizen I was required to apply and pay for a visa if I was going study in the UK. This visa allowed me to live in the UK during my study time, but restricted me from working more than 20 hours a week. Research every countries visa restrictions. You may save yourself time and money by doing so.

Cost | Lets face it, cost is going to be a major factor in picking a country. Some countries may be expensive, some slightly less. Decide on how much money you are will to spend of cost of living, as well as how you will continue to pay for that lifestyle during your course (remember, most student visas WILL restrict how much you can work, so you may have to think of other means as well).

Time | University course are different in every country. Your home country may require you to take a year of basics before you can even begin your degree classes, while some countries offer shorter degree programs. Think about the time you are willing to spend on getting your degree, and remember! Time = Money.

Language | If you are willing to learn a foreign language, great! If you already know one, super! But not everyone will know how to speak fluently in their new country. That's okay. A lot of countries will allow you to get by with English (I assume if you are reading this you know English pretty well). However, some countries that may be a massive barrier. Expat bloggers are a great resource for finding out how well you should know a language before packing up and moving there.


Picking what kind of degree you want is a hard process to begin with, however once your degree has been chosen you want to make sure you are choosing a quality department. University departments range in quality, and it can be extremely difficult to figure out whether you are going to have the help you need or be left to fend for yourself. The easiest way to figure this out is by contacting current or former students through blogs, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Nowadays, it's pretty easy to locate a group of people through the internet, and most people will be willing to provide you with feedback from their experiences.

There are only so many resources out there to help you determine whether the school you are researching is actually worth it. Reach out to bloggers! To this day I continue to receive emails with questions about my time at the University of Bristol. It's how I actually met one of my very best friends!

Not only do you want to know if this school is worth it, reputation will help you determine how you can "sell" that university to employers back home. Many people in your home country may not know your foreign university's name, however, with one quick Google search they can access the best (and worst) parts of the foreign school you have decided to attend.

So you've already picked a country to study in. That's awesome! Now it's time to actually pick where in that country you want to live. While you may have your mind set on a particular university, I highly suggest researching the city it is located in as well. Your location will make or break you life abroad. Not only will you be paying rent in this place, you will have to figure out transportation, pay for groceries, and determine the type of social life you can afford/have access to.

Studying Abroad vs. Grad School Abroad, What the Elle
The Pros and Cons of Earning a Graduate Degree Abroad
Student Visas (UK only)
Student Visa Process Step by Step

If you have any questions about the first steps of getting a degree abroad, please feel free to leave a comment below. This series will cover lots of things including how to get visas, what to pack, and so much more! If you want me to address any particular questions in future posts, please let me know!


1 comment:

  1. It's a lot of hard work but it's so worth it! Xx


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