Internationalization: Who Benefits?

One of the ongoing tasks at Beyond the States is responding to comments on our various social channels and ads. It’s always interesting to interact with people who have been moved enough by our messages to share a comment. We received this message on an ad that shows a map of Europe the other day: “Yeah, funded by European taxpayers…” This comment represents a misconception that I’d like to explore. Are international students somehow taking advantage of European taxpayers by going to college in Europe?

Here are three primary reasons that international students are good for Europe and not taking advantage of the system:

1) International students pay a premium tuition compared to EU students in the same schools and classes, so the schools like them. For example, a non-EU student in the chemistry program at University of Groningen in the Netherlands pays 14,000 euros, while an EU student pays just 2,143 . EU students pay no tuition to attend Copenhagen Business School in Denmark, while a non-EU master’s degree student would pay 15,200 euros per year. I would say, rather than being subsidized by European taxpayers, international students are paying their fair share.

2) Unemployment is really low in parts of Europe, so the EU government wants more labor. As workers, we think that low unemployment is always a good thing, but from a macro economic perspective, which is how the leaders look at things, it’s only good to a point. In the Czech Republic, Germany, and Denmark,  unemployment is really low. This means there are too few workers chasing the open chasing jobs, which will drive up wages. When wages go up, a nation’s goods become more expensive to buy and fewer goods are sold, which is bad for the economy.  The European government expects that some of the international students who study in Europe will stay there post graduation to join the European labor pool. This is a win-win for the student and the economy.

3) International students also contribute to local economies when they purchase goods like groceries, housing, entertainment, books, and other things. In fact, the European Commission has made attracting international students an ongoing, key priority. They see that bringing students from outside Europe not only benefits the economy in the host country, but also contributes to the growth and competitiveness of the EU economy as a whole.

In the end, it’s about priorities. The EU sees internationalization as aligned with their long term policy agendas for growth, jobs, equality,  and social inclusion. I have to say, we do too!


Architecture Masters: What Are the Options in Europe?

I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts today, 99% Invisible, and when I realized we’ve never Architecture Mastersreally focused on one of my favorite subjects, architecture. If you’re interested in learning about the options for architecture masters in Europe you’re in the right place.

The podcast episode talked about kidney shaped swimming pools, the birth of skateboarding, and concluded with an interesting connection with education in Europe that I won’t spoil.

Architecture MastersI’ll also plug another favorite episode from  99% Invisible on La Sagrada Família in Barcelona.  The story of this building combines intrigue, adventure, the Spanish Civil War, and design ingenuity into a story that’s ongoing because the project to build Spain’s great cathedral is ongoing. Visiting this building was unlike any other experience I’ve had, because unlike every other building I’d been in, Gaudi’s cathedral actually mixed architectural styles and incorporated organic elements.

What is Architecture?

Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Architecture are closely connected to other disciplines like Arts and Design. Architecture is very important in human history and anthropology, considering we each inhabit the big structures built by our ancestors. Architecture degrees share ties to academic subjects like Construction Engineering, Graphic Design, User Experience Design, and Arts.

Architects need to have an eye for beauty, utility, and durability. During architecture school, you will learn about architectural styles, the science of designing, design structures, landscape architecture and 3D designs. You will also discover computer software such as Computer-Aided Design (CAD), which helps you to plan, analyse and optimize design work.

Your degree in Architecture will teach you all about design rules, where you should follow them, and where you’ll have some room for exploration and creativity. Knowing how to work with texture, color, contrast, lighting and many other aspects will allow you to become an expert in designing buildings. Of course, you will also have to make sure your vision can also be built according to safety standards and available resources.

Some of the courses Architecture students will gain access to include: Analysis of Contemporary Architecture, City Design and Development, Urban Design Policy, Residential Design, and Green Construction.

After graduating with a degree in Architecture, you will have the opportunity to work as a: licensed architect, CAD technician, interior and spatial designer, and urban designer. Other jobs you can find are: building surveyor, construction manager, landscape architect, or structural engineer.

Are There Many Architecture Masters Programs in Europe?

In Europe, there are 71 English taught, Architecture Masters degree programs with an average tuition of 7,865 Euros per year (how much in $?). Seven programs offer free tuition for international students and a total of 32 offer tuition of less than 5,000 EUR. Of the 71 programs, only 4 are 1 year in duration and 5 are 1.5 years long, all the rest are two years in duration.

What About Entrance Requirements?

One program requires post college work experience, several require a minimum GPA in undergrad and a few more require an entrance exam.

Program Example

Masters in Architecturearchitecture masters

Duration: 2 years

Annual Cost: 15,000 EUR

Aalto University, Finland

Architecture is a field of technology and of art. Architecture teaching combines knowledge-based professional material and artistic understanding and expression skills. An architect must be able to see problems from many different directions, which is the reason for the broad-based nature of the degree in architecture. The current nature of the education develops the student’s scientific and artistic thinking relating to the construction of a socially responsible and sustainable future.The key content in master’s program education is to develop and deepen the skills obtained during the bachelor’s phase. The topics include the history and theory of architecture, building design and Finnish building art as well as urban planning and design. Course and design studio teaching is enhanced by means of multidisciplinary collaboration and new teaching methods. Learning by doing, the simulation of so-called ‘real’ design assignments is still an important part of the education of an architect.

Aalto University is a newly organized university named after the great Finnish architect, Alvar Aalto. Aalto University was born in 2010 as a result of the merger of Helsinki University of Technology, Helsinki School of Economics and the University of Art and Design Helsinki. Campus is located in the heart of Otaniemi, built in the 1950s, featuring an urban plan designed by Alvar Aalto and individual buildings designed by him and other well-known Finnish architects, such as Reima and Raili Pietilä and Heikki and Kaija Sirén.

Want to Learn More About Getting An Architecture Masters in Europe?

Click here to receive a free guide about ten great graduate school options in Europe.


Pre Master Overview

We often hear from students who earned their bachelor’s in one area of study but are now interested in a master’s degree in a different field. We also hear from people who are interested in changing careers. Another group we hear from want to pursue a master’s degree in Europe but don’t meet all the requirements of the program. Is it a lost cause for these groups of students? No, it’s not. There are options, such as a Pre Master, which is a series of courses designed to fill in the missing pieces on the transcript.

It’s impossible to generalize admissions options across the thousands of programs and all of Europe, so let’s narrow the discussion to admissions in the Netherlands. The Netherlands is a popular option because they have the most English-taught master’s programs in continental Europe (1,148 of the 6,200). 9 of the 13 research universities are globally ranked in the top 200 and English proficiency is the highest in Europe, which makes it an easy choice.

The higher education system in the Netherlands is quite different than the US. There are research universities, like Leiden University or Delft University of Technology, and there are also Universities of Applied Science like NHL Stenden that focus more on preparing students for professional work over research. Both provide full bachelor’s degree programs, but the universities of applied sciences don’t require the research focused classes.

When evaluating your academic background for a master’s program at a research university, your bachelor’s degree will first be assessed by the admissions department to determine whether it is equivalent to the Dutch research-oriented bachelor’s (WO) or professionally-oriented bachelor’s (HBO).

Let’s look at an example: We have a student with a BA degree in Speech Communications from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has would like to pursue a Master’s in Management or an MBA at Erasmus University Rotterdam or potentially at University of Twente.

In order to qualify for the master’s programs at Rotterdam, he would need the following:

  • A bachelor’s degree in a related major. While his degree from Illinois may meet the requirement as a WO degree under Nuffic, the BA in Speech Communications, which is in the faculty of liberal arts at Illinois, wouldn’t meet the requirement for entry into the program, since it’s not a business degree. To understand the equivalent Dutch level of your diploma, you can check the list of common diplomas from your country on the Nuffic website. Nuffic is the central Dutch organization for the evaluation of foreign diplomas awarded in higher education.
  • The “related major” aspect can sometimes be very broad. Some schools are good about listing them out in the admissions requirements.
  • Relevant Course Work: According to EUR’s website, the student must have 60 EC (equivalent to one year of US college credits) of relevant course work in business, which he doesn’t fully meet.
  • English Proficiency: Native speaker satisfies this requirement

For students with an international diploma, EUR recommends the student apply for entry, so the admissions team can evaluate the student’s qualifications.

One option they may come back with is a one year Pre Master course to gain the necessary courses, but even so, with little or no business administration in his bachelor degree, he may only have access to the following MSc program: Master in Management, which is aimed at non-business bachelor degree holders to acquire knowledge and skills in business management. Since this was already on the list for the student, this may be a good option.

Let’s look at another example: the MBA program at University of Twente in Enschede, which is in the eastern part of the Netherlands. Again, the student meets some of the requirements, but will be light on business courses.

At the University of Twente, you don’t apply for a pre-master directly. Rather, you apply to the master’s program directly. The Admission Office will then evaluate whether you are eligible for the master’s program, or if you still need to enroll in a pre-master program. The Admission Office would then create a customized, pre-master program for the student. In this case, since our example student is a native English speaker, there would be no need to take classes in English, but he would need missing courses in business administration.

What Courses Are in a Pre Master?

There isn’t a set standard of courses for the Pre Master across the Netherlands. It varies. At Groningen University, the business pre master follows a set series of courses.  At Twente, a Pre Master isn’t a set program with the same courses. International students are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. At Utrecht University, the pre master is not available to international students who haven’t been in the Dutch educational system previously at all. For students entering a master’s program with a bachelor’s degree from a Dutch university of applied science, there may be a set program, since this case is uniform and known. For an international student, it will depend on what classes are missing and what has been taken.

What Does a Pre Master Cost?

Each university sets its own Pre Master tuition. From a budgeting standpoint, a reasonable person could expect to pay equivalent tuition to the associated master’s program as an international student. Depending on the program, an international student will be between 12,000 to 16,000 EUR for a Pre Master program at Twente. The previous link has data on a number of different Pre Master tuitions.

Here’s Are Some Tips

  • Make Sure You Can Opt Out of English

One area of Pre Masters courses that likely won’t apply to you are the language requirements. In order to be admitted to an English-taught program, international students must prove English proficiency at a certain level. Since you are most likely a native English speaker, you should be sure you can opt out of any English language requirements, so you aren’t stuck in English proficiency classes. Ideally, the program has a track for students who are already proficient in English.

  • Find out the details

If you’re looking at a private foundation year program, confirm their placement agreements with universities. Some of these organizations guarantee placement for grad school. Be sure to get written communication as to which schools you’d be guaranteed to be accepted at, then look at the schools to be sure they’d be a good fit for you.

Final Analysis

It’s important to note that many Pre Master programs focus on providing students with only the research related classes that they didn’t have to take as an undergrad, and the master’s program will still require a major in a related area of study. While pursuing a Pre Master won’t open the door for every program, it does create a path to many more good options for students seeking to change the direction of their studies or career.


Choices in Sustainability, Water, and Climate Change

Recently, disturbing images have been seared into the collective consciousness from the wildfires raging across the western United States. At the same time, there are wildfires burning in the Brazil, too. In January 2020, wildfires devastated large parts of the Australian countryside.

In the United States, there is some debate over issues of climate change and sustainability that I won’t go into here. These topics are viewed differently in many parts of continental Europe. They’re seen as opportunities for growth and learning. This goes beyond learning for the sake of learning, though, and is about affecting change at scale.

In continental Europe, there are quite few programs dedicated to sustainability. Using our Area of Study system, there are 17 English-taught, master’s degree programs in the specific area of study of climate studies. This are 37 programs with a sustainability bent, ranging from zero tuition to over 20,000 EUR. A search found 586 programs with the word, “sustainable” in the description that include sustainability as a topic in their curriculum. You will find this in areas like business, design, agriculture, and other examples. What follows are a few examples of interesting options in this area. If you find this interesting and want to dig deeper, please join our community and see for yourself whether getting a master’s degree in Europe is the right choice for you.

Climate Studies

University of Hamburg has Integrated Climate System Sciences master’s program which is focused on the scientific aspects of climate issues. The program has an internationally unique focus on physics and modelling and offers three areas of specialization. The program is 2 years in duration and the tuition is 0€. The same school has an international business program with a sustainability focus.

Stockholm University has an interesting master’s program entitled, The Polar Landscape and Quaternary Climate, which essentially covers climate over the last million years. It is also a 2 year program and the tuition is € 13,165 per year.

What About Water?

Quick question: which nation leads all others when it comes to dealing with rising tides? The answer is the Netherlands.  While there are a number of water-focused programs in the Netherlands and throughout Europe, UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education in Delft is strictly focused on master’s and Ph D. education in the area of water. They also partner with a number of schools throughout Europe.

Water and Coastal Management Is a joint program between University of Groningen and University of Oldenburg. The double degree Master program merges the strongest expertise of the two universities. Because of the connection to Germany’s University of Oldenburg, you’ll save big on tuition at just 818 EUR per year, however, you’ll still have to pay Groningen’s 15000 EUR tuition.

Sustainability & Environment

Green Economy and Sustainability is a program at University of Ferrara in Italy that’s worth looking at. At just 1440 EUR per year, it’s a quite reasonable 2 year program. This master’s is focused on turning out consultants and managers who can work in the green economy.

Aalto University in Finland has a program that combines business, design, and sustainability. Quoting from the school’s description: “The Creative Sustainability programme (CS) provides a multidisciplinary learning platform in the fields of business, architecture, built environment and design. It allows students to study and develop solutions to global sustainability concerns such as climate change, resource scarcity, global poverty as well as social and economic inequality.” The program is 2 years in duration and 15,000 EUR per year.

This post does not even scratch the surface of the more than 6,200 English-taught, master’s programs in continental Europe.  Whether your passion is around the environment or something completely different, you may wonder what the educational possibilities are for you. We’d love for you to join our community and meet people like you who are already taking advantage of this opportunity. Click here to learn more.



Podcast: What’s My Major?

college in europeShow Notes

Title: The What’s My Major List


One difference between college in the US and Europe is that in Europe incoming students must apply to a specific program, so they must know what they want to study. For students who don’t know what they want to study, this aspect can lead to worry. In this podcast, Jenn announces the availability of our “What’s My Major?” offering that helps students determine their field of study.


Recommended Podcast: The Europeans

Best Fit List Offering

Database Tour Webinar


Podcast: Why Not to Go to College in Europe

Beyond the States Podcast Show Notes

college in europe


Why Not to Go to College in Europe

Episode Summary

After reading a blog post from a college counselor that declared that the US post secondary education system was globally superior, Jenn felt compelled to respond. Here are her answers to the naysayers.


Beyond the States Blog Link

What’s Your Threshold blog

Malcolm Gladwell Podcast

Employers Hire Interns

Harvard Business Review Study

Employability Blog

Best Fit List


Podcast: Study Abroad and Erasmus

Beyond the States Podcast Show Notes

college in europe

Title Study Abroad & Erasmus Student Network 

Episode Summary

In this episode, Jenn talks about the prospect of studying abroad when you’re already an international student. She interviews João Pinto from the Erasmus Student Network. Interesting fact: students who study abroad are three times more likely to vote when they return home.


João Pinto, President of the International Board of Erasmus Student Network



Study Abroad blogs from Beyond the States

Erasmus Student Network

Erasmus Impact Study

Fun Quiz: What is Your Perfect Erasmus Destination?


Podcast: Fostering Student Independence

college in europe


Title Fostering Student Independence


Episode Summary

Parents are often concerned that students will struggle when faced with the new environment of college. In this episode, Jenn focuses on the importance of building independence in your student. She also talks about how she’s building these skills in her own children.


Admissions podcast

Atlantic Article: Let Your Kids Ride Public Transportation Alone

Rotary Youth Exchange

NSLI Languages Programs

Projects Abroad

CIEE Study Abroad Programs

Where There Be Dragons


Podcast: Parent’s Guide to College in Europe

college in europeTitle

Parent’s Guide to College in Europe

Episode Summary

In this episode, Jenn talks about threshold model of collective behavior first introduced to us in Malcolm Gladwell’s amazing podcast, Revisionist History. This theory describes how some people within a group are more comfortable than others when acting against group norms. If you’re at all interested in college in Europe, I encourage you to listen to Gladwell’s podcast episode, The Big Man Can’t Shoot, which explains an academic concept using an accessible sports motif.

Jenn’s guest for this episode is one of our members, Laura, whose daughter, Liza, is attending Anglo American University in Prague, Czech Republic.


Laura, Liza’s mother & Beyond the States member


Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast: Revisionist History

BTS Blog: What’s Your Threshold?

Sociologist Mark Granovetter’s 1978 paper on threshold model of collective behavior

Anglo American University

BTS Blog on Prague

Colleges that Change Lives

BTS Blog: Do You Have What It Takes?

Full Episodes of House Hunters International




Applied Learning and Fun in The Hague

college in europeShow Notes

Title: Student Social Scene and Universities of Applied Sciences


In this episode, Jenn looks are two questions: What is the social life like for international students? And what is a University of Applied Sciences? Universities of Applied Sciences focus on getting students ready to enter the workforce as opposed to the purely theoretical approach one would find at a research university. In some countries, UASs are viewed as inferior, while in the Netherlands, they’re viewed as simply different. In this episode, Jenn interviews Hannah Remo. Originally from a small town in New Jersey, Hannah is currently studying European Studies at The Hague University of Applied Sciences and will graduate with zero student debt. It is less expensive for Hannah to attend college in the Netherlands than it would have been to study in-state!

Guest: Hannah Remo


CNN Money article featuring Hannah

Projects Abroad

Universities of Applied Sciences on Study in Holland site

The Hague University of Applied Sciences

Ten Fun Things to Do in The Hague

Six Ways the Dutch are Nailing Student Life

Duo Student Housing Organization