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How to Do a Masters Degree Abroad

This article is for people interested in doing a master’s degree abroad and looking for inspiration regarding where to study abroad, how the application process works, and what the university visa requirements are like. 

My Master’s Degree Abroad Experience

In 2014, I was accepted into SOAS’s (University of London) MSc program that focused on development studies in underdeveloped nations.

I wanted to be an emergency aid worker in the world’s most vulnerable places and this was the best school in the United Kingdom to do just that. 

Although I didn’t end up pursuing a career in aid work after I graduated in 2016, my UK Master’s opened doors for me beyond what I could have expected. My program directly gave me access to:

  • An incredible network both in the UK and abroad!
  • A work/study visa for 2.5 years
  • Clout that I was serious about living abroad
  • An opportunity to figure out what I wanted for myself

This was a massive turning point for me. I understood exactly what it took to make it abroad, I leaned on my network to discover opportunities and fulfilled my lifelong dream of living abroad for more than just a summer or semester.  

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Getting a Master’s Degree Abroad Overview

Step 1  – Ignore Any Self-doubt

In 2014, I applied to multiple universities in the United Kingdom in hopes of doing a Master’s abroad.

I wanted to stay with my then-boyfriend (now husband) in London, but I had too little work experience to secure a coveted work visa sponsorship. 

I had so many anxieties and fears.

  • What if my undergraduate grades weren’t good enough?
  • I didn’t take any graduate tests (MCAT, LSAT, etc.), would that be okay??
  • How would I pay for this program?
  • Could I really get back into studying after being out of school for so long?

Doing a master’s degree abroad (or any other degree abroad) is scary because it just seems too foreign to us initially.

But after graduating with honors from my University in London, I can honestly say it was the best academic experience of my LIFE!

Step 2 – Choose Where to Study

The hardest part of planning your application to master’s degrees abroad is simply figuring out WHERE to apply. There’s so much to consider, like:

  • What country do I want to live in and do I want to stay there after graduation?
  • Is there a language requirement to study in this program?
  • Can I afford this program?
  • Is it a reputable institution that will put me in a better position for jobs?

You need to have an answer for each of these questions before starting your research to ensure that your applications are targeted and meaningful.

Applications are not always free so I would limit yourself to no more than eight applications, or I would recommend a budget of no more than $1000 USD.

Move Abroad Master Class

Step 3 – The Application Process

The application process for your master’s degree abroad is actually quite similar to the process in your home country.

You just need a few additional documents to prove your financial circumstances and language qualifications. In your application, you should be prepared to submit:

  • 2-3 Written Essays
  • Your undergraduate transcript 
  • 1-2 teacher or professional recommendations 
  • Language credentials (if the program is not in your native language)
  • An application fee 
  • Potentially: a background check

As most universities typically have similar writing prompts, it would be in your best interest to write 2-3 templates for general topics like:

  • Why this university?
  • What do you want to do in 5 years with this specialized master’s degree?
  • What makes you special?

The application process is really a formality and your grades or experience will speak for itself.

If you don’t have great grades (I had a 3.2 meh), then try to focus on why your experience in the real world sets you apart from other candidates. 

Step 4 – End-to-end Overview

Every country has its own unique process for master’s degrees, but they all tend to have roughly the same requirements for international students. 

Here’s an overview of the end-to-end process for most master’s degrees abroad:

  1. Applications open as early as 8 months before your program begins.
  2. You should get your acceptance on a rolling basis (i.e. 4-8 weeks after your application)
  3. You can apply for a visa 3 months before you start your course.
  4. If there’s a language requirement, you’ll need to submit proof of knowledge with your master’s degree application or with your visa application.
  5. You will likely pay a healthcare surcharge
  6. For your visa application, you’ll need to include:
    • an unconditional offer from a university that has a license to sponsor a student visa (not every school does)
    • records that prove you have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course (the amount will vary depending on your program and the local cost of living).

It seems a lot more daunting than it actually is! Think of it like a checklist and focus on completing one task after another. Soon you’ll be done and on a plane to your new home country!

A Master’s Degree Abroad Opens Doors!

Not only are you going to be more competitive for jobs in an entirely new country, but you’re also going to have an upper hand once you return to your home country due to all your new language and professional skills. You owe it to yourself to discover MORE about the world around you – and yourself. 

Still seems terrifying? 

Join my Master’s Degree Abroad Workshop! I’ll be hosting a LIVE Q&A and talking all about what I wrote about in my applications, what it was like to study in the UK, and how I paid for my program. 

Watch the Replay Here!

Read More About Life Abroad

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Tuesday 9th of August 2022

How to do a Masters Degree Abroad Hi there! My name is Sophia Wyatt and I am a rising sophomore in the United States. My goal for after high school is to move to Europe for school and work. I was wondering if you knew anything about not only Masters Programs in Europe but also bachelor’s?

Thank you for your time Sophia Wyatt