Or maybe you took time to travel one summer or participated in a volunteer trip overseas? Perhaps you have just always been interested in living and/or working internationally? If you answered yes to any of these questions or are thinking about applying to Masters or Doctoral programs and want to attend a top academic program in your field, you may want to consider graduate programs abroad.
Historically, crossing the pond for graduate study was not commonplace; however, graduate programs outside of the U.S. are gaining popularity and respect worldwide.
According to the Institute for International Education’s (IIE) 2012 report, “U.S. Students in Overseas Degree Programs: Key Destinations and Fields of Study”, of the more than 43,000 US students who pursue degrees abroad, most are enrolled in master’s degree programs (44%), followed by students in undergraduate degree programs (39%), and students in doctoral degree programs (17%). The top areas of study for US students pursuing degrees abroad are humanities, social sciences, and business and management.
The increased pursuit and focus on graduate programs abroad has stemmed from, but is not limited to, their academic rigor, affordability, and pipeline into the international job market. In many cases, a streamlined application process, condensed time frame, and more relaxed culture and atmosphere are also benefits. Additionally, many programs abroad are English-based (meaning English is the language of instruction) and foreign language proficiency is not required. Though immersion in a foreign language can be a great benefit to pursuing graduate degree overseas and is very helpful in the global marketplace, it is a misconception of many programs that it is a requirement.
If you think you may be interested in pursuing a masters or doctoral program abroad, you should start by asking yourself a few questions that will help outline your academic and professional goals, as well as help you gauge the applicability and appropriateness of pursuing your graduate study overseas. You can begin this phase of the pre-application process by answering the following questions:
- What are your academic goals?
- What type of classroom experience and teaching style work for you?
- Is English language instruction available?
- Is foreign language proficiency a requirement?
- What do you hope to accomplish during graduate school?
- How important is “globalizing” your academic and professional experiences and as a result,
- Do you plan on pursuing employment in the US or abroad after graduate school?
- How important are career service and placement opportunities to you (abroad and within the US)?
- Will your degree carry the same weight worldwide – or will it be less recognized in the US or overseas?
If after answering these questions graduate study abroad seems like a proper fit, then begin the next phase of the pre-application process by doing your research. Take time to think about what characteristics in a school are of greatest importance to you (climate, location, environment, degrees offered, career services/placement, size, location, etc.). Begin researching colleges and universities online based on the criteria you have determined to be most important. And, as visits may be less feasible, connect with schools of interest directly and with alumni, if possible. Making these connections, albeit online, is actually extremely important. Connecting with admissions officers or faculty and alumni will not only provide a source of information, but also demonstrate your keen interest in a particular school – and come time for your application being read, it could mean the difference between an acceptance and a denial.
I’m Interested in Graduate Schools Abroad – How Do I Learn More?
Students interested in learning more about the world’s top universities should review the QS World University Rankings. There are many published rankings out there, but the Top Universities QS ranking is known to be the most widely read of its kind. According to the Top Universities website, as well as exploring the world’s top 700 universities overall, you can also use the rankings to find the best universities in a specific region, subject area, or factors such as reputation or research citations. In 2009, QS launched the QS Asian University Rankings to rank the top 200 universities in Asia independently. The QS Latin American University Rankings were launched in 2011. Students with specific location preferences in Asia or Latin America may also wish to utilize these resources.
In addition to the World University Rankings, there are also Subject rankings, which are extremely helpful to review in addition to the overall QS World University rank data. This rank is a comprehensive reference for comparing institutions abroad by narrowed subject disciplines. Additionally, those interested in learning more about top graduate schools abroad should look into attending the QS World Grad School Tour, which visits approximately 47 cities in 31 countries and brings information regarding postgraduate programs to over 40,000 interested masters and PhD students. The tour provides an excellent forum for gathering information and resources for students interested in learning more about graduate programs worldwide.
About the author
Dr. Maschal is the founder of B. Maschal Educational Consulting, an admissions consulting firm that provides individual postsecondary planning services at the undergraduate and graduate level. Additional services include guidance and support to students and their families regarding transfer admission, pre-college and college internship opportunities, as well as summer, bridge and gap year programs.