We’ll take a deep dive into one of the most rewarding and respected jobs out there, and cover all bases when it comes to choosing English-taught Nursing study abroad programs in Europe for American students.
Calling All Future Nurses!
Why Study Nursing Abroad?
- You’ll always be able to find a job. There has been an ongoing nursing shortage for decades. It is expected to worsen, due to the increasing incidence of chronic diseases, aging of the “baby boomer” generation and the constrained output of nursing schools. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 1,052,000 additional nurses are needed now to meet the demand in various health care systems.
- Nursing is a high paying field. Nurses in the US have a relatively high median income at $82,750 (2022).
- Excellent long-term prospects: The current nursing workforce is nearing retirement age. As older nurses retire over the next 1-2 decades, opportunities for advancement will continue to open up. Wages will remain high, since the demand will exceed the supply.
- Additionally, nurses will find opportunities in other areas of the hospital like IT and management, as well as with vendors.
Can You Study Abroad as a Nursing Student?
Absolutely, you can study nursing abroad! There are 33 accredited, English-taught General Nursing bachelor’s programs in our database alone, and 16 master’s programs, for international students in Europe that range across many European countries. These are easy nursing programs to get into.
And even more study abroad programs for nursing students in adjacent fields of study, such as Diabetes (Nursing), Intellectual Disability Nursing, and Midwifery, for instance.
As an international student, you can get an accredited degree in Nursing at a top-ranked European university with no foreign language skills needed. That’s right, it’s taught entirely in English, allowing nursing students like you to get their entire degree in Europe costs less than 1 year of tuition at a US college.
Why Should Nursing Students Study Abroad?
There are many pluses to studying abroad and pursuing your Nursing degree in Europe, but the primary answer to this is the cost benefit.
The total tuition costs for a bachelor’s degree program in Europe (that is 3-4 years duration, depending) range from $10,800 to $43,632 for schools in Europe that are represented in our database. Assuming cost-of-living is comparable (but it is often a lot lower) and a $2,000 annual travel budget, studying abroad for your nursing degree in Europe can be 1/3 to 1/2 the cost of getting a BSN in the US.
As many as a third of nurses have planned to leave their jobs or the whole profession in 2022. Excessive stress and poor working conditions are often cited as the reason, especially post-coronavirus. This alone speaks to the high demand and industry needs for those in the profession to answer the health care challenges.
With that, it should be noted that employees in European, not-for-profit hospitals are significantly happier with their jobs. Salaries are lower but comparable there, a surprisingly extra incentive to consider a nursing program outside the United States. Because of comparably robust career support offered at European schools, many international students who choose to gain their degree in Europe go on to stay in the EU to live and work.
You’ll get a high-valued degree in Europe. Students who study nursing abroad stand out from the crowd when seeking jobs at any healthcare facility after college. The very act of leaving their comfort zone to make a fresh start in a new place, alongside an international nursing experience, builds skills and confidence that will be carried throughout a student’s life.
You Can Still Be Eligible for Financial Aid
American students may be able to receive US federal loans to study at an international college. The Department of Education has a list of international schools participating in its student loan program. Some European universities also provide grants and/or scholarships for foreign students studying abroad.
We show this in our database by listing the FAFSA number, which is a number that will be written on the US financial aid application. The nursing study abroad programs listed in our database will have a FAFSA number attached if they accept US loans.
Which Country is Cheapest For Nursing?
There are a few countries to study nursing abroad, like Hungary, Poland, Lithuania, even Italy, with low-cost nursing programs, ranging from 2024 – 6000 euros tuition (for 3-4 year programs). Also, it’s important to note that some of the schools associated with these programs are highly ranked internationally . (Scroll down to read more about cost-comparisons for nursing degrees in the US vs accredited, English-taught programs in Europe).
SPECIAL NOTE ABOUT FINLAND: Many of these English-taught nursing programs happen to be in Finland. In 2016, the Finns began phasing in tuition fees to international students for the first time. As part of the transition, schools are mandated to offer extremely generous financial benefits, even for international students; this can mean up to 50% – 100% financial coverage.
Other countries in Europe that offer English-taught study abroad programs for nursing students are Ireland, Cyprus, and Czech Republic, with slightly higher price tags, but still affordable when compared to nursing programs in the states.
What Nursing Degrees are Available in Europe?
Recall, there are 33 accredited, English-taught bachelor’s + 16 master’s study abroad programs in General Nursing represented in our database alone. But there are many nursing majors in more specific areas of study such as: Children’s and Integrated Nursing, Mental Health Nursing, and Emergency and Critical Care Nursing, and on.
Keep in mind, all nurses aren’t necessarily created equal. It’s important to plan your career path in advance. For instance, training to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) can take as little as a year.
But registered nurses, who can provide more than basic care, require at least an associate’s degree (though a bachelor’s is preferred). They also have to pass the fairly painless NCLEX-RN exam. Specialist roles, like nurse anesthetist and certified nurse-midwife, require postgraduate study.
Fortunately, several European universities recognized by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) offer bachelor’s degrees in English and other languages. These nursing majors typically take three years to complete as opposed to four in the United States, while tuition at some institutions comes to under €4,000 per year. Most states’ licensing boards accept these qualifications without issue.
What do the Nursing Programs in Europe Look Like?
Over the course of your 3-4 year bachelor’s program or 1-2 year master’s program there will be a balance of academic and practical learning, which is to be expected. You’ll have the opportunity to study nursing and work in multi-disciplinary, cross-occupational, national and even international environments.
Prior to your clinical practices you’ll often be taking classes in specially equipped labs where students practice nursing procedures in simulated conditions with diverse methods and modern equipment. From there, your skills are then transferred to real-life situations during work placements in various healthcare institutions.
How Does One Become a Registered Nurse (RN)?
Registered nurses, the level most people in the profession aspire to, make an average of $77,500 per year. Many work in hospitals, clinics, and hospices. However, it’s also possible to find a job in mental health facilities, public health and education organizations, nursing homes, schools, and in at-home care situations.
- Education: obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (BSN) Note: While you can become a registered nurse with an Associate’s degree, a BSN is the preferred credential. It will improve earning power over your career. Most bachelor’s study abroad nursing programs in Europe are 3-4 years in duration.
- Exam: Pass the standardized test for nursing, the NCLEX-RN exam
- License: As we mentioned above, if you choose to return to the states with your degree, you’ll need to complete the licensing requirements for your state. Each state (and DC) has a state board of nursing, and you should expect license requirements to vary.
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How Much Does Nursing school Cost in the US?
No surprise here, but the answer will sting – it’s A LOT. Nursing is one of the higher price-tag degrees in the US.
There are a number of options for nursing school in the US depending on your goals and current education level. As an example, let’s look at BSN programs in Pennsylvania. University of Pennsylvania is one of the top nursing schools in the country, and other nursing schools in the area are University of Pittsburgh and Temple University, which we’ll compare below.
Tuition at University of Pittsburgh: $24,878-$45,758 (in-state/out of state)
Tuition at Temple University: $20,976-$36,384 (in-state/out of state)
Consider that each program above is 4 years in duration, and keep in mind that many nursing programs in Europe are only 3 years in duration, furthering your savings and getting you into practice sooner.
Eye-Opening Cost Comparison – Nursing School in Europe
Some really good news here! You don’t have to fork over $90,000-$200,000 in tuition over 4 years to get a high-quality BSN degree. In Europe, most BSN study abroad programs range in cost from just $2,500 per year to $12,000 per year. Yes, indeed – compare these European tuition rates to the ones above for programs in the US. Astonishing!
Are These Non-US Degrees Readily Accepted?
Will My Degree Be Recognized in the US?
Yes! There is article after article on the need to meet the demand of the US nursing shortage, and much of this literature points to hiring those with foreign degrees. Current estimates show that around 5.6 to 16 percent—or 168,000 to 480,000—of the country’s more than 3 million nurses were educated in another country.
Due to the ongoing nursing shortage, nurses have been hired from outside the US for years, so non-US degrees are a lot more common in nursing than in other fields. The three major qualifications employers use to screen candidates with international degrees are:
- Accreditation – does the BSN come from an accredited institution? Beyond the States only lists schools that are accredited.
- English proficiency – thankfully, this is a non-issue for US citizens with foreign degrees.
- Ability to get a work visa – yet another non-issue for US citizens
Okay, Let’s Discuss Accreditation
It’s important to know that at Beyond the States we only include schools in our database and materials that are accredited. For those looking at study abroad programs for nursing, this is critical to understand.
An accreditation is the stamp of approval by an accrediting agency that deems that an university system has met certain standards set out by whoever the accreditor is. The most important thing is to make sure that the accrediting body is recognized by the country of the higher education institution.
In most countries, other than the US, this is granted by a governmental body which is usually the Ministry of Education. Since public universities in Europe are heavily funded by taxes, the process is quite thorough. Since there is only one accrediting agency per country, the criteria used is consistent.
Just like in every country, there are schools in Europe that don’t have the accreditation necessary to be fully recognized in their country. We sometimes get emails with a link to a university website asking why we don’t have it listed in our database. Here’s our reply:
In order to be listed in our database Beyond the States requires the full accreditation within the country’s education system, even for private universities (except for Greece due to a law they have around private universities), for inclusion in our database. This is just one thing that sets us apart from the other portals you will find online.
What About Licensure in the US?
If you choose to return to the US to practice, then you’ll need to be licensed and authorized to practice by a board of nursing. And these requirements vary by state.
For more information on US licensure for international educated nurses, head to the NCSBN site where you’ll get clarity on the requirements state-by-state, and much more.
Recognition of the diploma is a different concept. The term can mean a few different things and can be used to mean an informal recognition or an official/formal process. If you are returning to the US after graduating, you will need your diploma recognized (either formally or informally) as valid by either an employer, graduate school, or a state licensure board. Let’s walk through how having a foreign degree may affect each of these:
Graduate School in the US with a Foreign Degree
If you return to the US for graduate school, you won’t be an international student but you will be applying with a foreign degree. There were more than 1 million international students studying at universities in the US during the 2019-20 school year.
This indicates that admissions departments are very familiar with assessing foreign degrees. Most use a credentialing agency to assess the degrees and ensure that they are valid, which is part of the admissions process. To note, you will still need to meet any prerequisites the university has.
Getting Into Medical School in the US
You may choose to apply to medical school after obtaining your degree in Europe. The exception to the ease in which you can apply to graduate school in the US is medical school, where the decision to study outside of the country should be carefully evaluated.
Many US medical schools require a degree from the US and those that don’t do require at least one year of coursework from an American or Canadian university (usually science classes).
It’s not an insurmountable problem, as some of the credits could be gained in the US or Canada during a semester abroad and potentially even summer classes. The specific requirements around the US programs you are interested in should be explored in depth before deciding to study outside of the US.
Does University Popularity Matter?
There is strong evidence that the name of the university matters very little in the hiring process, and this becomes even more true when there is relevant experience (including internships) on the applicant’s resume. Certainly the soft skills gained by studying outside of your home country is something that employers are looking for, and your studying nursing abroad could be highlighted in a cover letter.
With these study abroad programs, you’ll have a leg up on soft skills, a most critical skill-set for a nurse to have. Few other lines of work allow you to help people so directly just when they need it most. Good nurses combine a strong sense of empathy with emotional resilience and stamina, have excellent communication skills, and pay close attention to apparently minor details.
Soft skills are personal attributes, as opposed to job-specific skills and knowledge. Students who study abroad in Europe have studied outside of their home country and are immersed in different cultures. They are able to cultivate their awareness and appreciation for cultural differences. The emphasis on group work in European schools gives students the opportunity to work with people with a variety of backgrounds and perspectives.
These graduates are often flexible, adaptable, and experienced in navigating unfamiliar circumstances, all of which lead to success in the workplace. In fact, a recent study by the Institute of International Education found that studying abroad for longer periods of time has a high impact on job offers, as well as job advancement.
Get Help Navigating Foreign Degrees
At Beyond the States, we’ve helped thousands of students find a powerful bachelor’s degree and master’s degree abroad, guiding them through all the foreign qualifications from the best higher education institutions in Europe. Most European universities offer English-taught programs, but few Americans know they they can easily get in. Europe offers some of the easiest nursing schools to get into, offering international nursing degrees for American students of all types.
That’s why we offer a database that lists bachelor’s degrees and master’s degree programs from accredited universities open to foreign students. Making the decision to study abroad is the smartest career-oriented decision you can make, and we’re here to help guide you through the process of finding your best-fit study abroad program in the European Higher Education Area.
How to Find Study Abroad Nursing Programs
Without a guide, finding these study abroad programs is burdensome, difficult, and confusing, especially with institutional websites in foreign languages. We know that making the decision to study abroad can be difficult, so we want to make it easy for you.
We’ve scoured the continent for vetted study abroad programs and made them available to thousands of families looking to leave the US and find a better life in Europe. We’ve found over 11,200 degrees, 870 universities, 550 cities, and 32 European countries to choose from. Europe offers an impressive range of educational opportunities!
We have gathered all of the information you need to know to study abroad in Europe – from the different types of schools available to understanding the admissions process to the various options for student housing to applying and getting accepted, and everything in between. Our database helps you find these programs quickly and easily, helping you contextualize the many benefits and options around higher education in Europe.
You will be able to find a study abroad program and courses that suit your interests and needs, taught in English by experienced professors in state-of-the-art facilities. Search our database of English-taught European bachelor’s and master’s programs and get started on your journey to Europe today.