Our undergraduate rankings for universities in Europe list may feel a bit scandalous or novel, given it hasn’t been influenced by external factors like sponsors and other rankings, nor is it based on disingenuous factors like research.
These rankings for European universities have been designed to make your college search easier, but they only serve as a supplement your search for specific program. When you apply to colleges in Europe, you are applying to programs, not the school. That's why we created a database of all the English-taught programs, so interested Americans can compare programs based on their academics. Use these rankings as starting point for your search. When you're ready to explore English-taught programs, buy a membership to access the database. You'll get instant access to 11,200 programs at the best colleges in Europe, plus access to a powerful community of other parents and students headed that way.
Why Study Abroad in European Countries
Studying abroad has its own set of commonly mentioned roadblocks, like knowing the official language of the country. But there's good news: there are thousands of bachelors and master's degree options in Europe without foreign language requirements, meaning these are all taught 100% in English. You can find all the programs from the top colleges them listed in our database.
Explore Wider Cultures
This isn't to say that you won't step out of your comfort zone when ordering a beer at the pub, but this should be seen as a one of the main benefits of studying abroad. If you don’t speak the local language (yet), you will quickly learn to read body language while avoiding jargon or slang that isn’t useful. Also, your direct communication will improve because you will learn to choose your words carefully and with maximum impact.
Enjoy Lower Tuition Fees
When picking english taught bachelor's degrees in Europe, it's important to note tuition fees. Thankfully, the best universities in Europe for international students ranking reflects the very best study abroad experiences for your wallet as well. Tuition fees at the top universities lower, and some even have financial aid options, increasing your chances of studying abroad in the college of your choice. You'll no longer have to settle for public universities in the US or colleges in other countries, which sometimes have hidden tuition fees that aren't disclosed.
The Problem With Other Ranking Systems
While there are many rankings of international universities, college rankings usually refer to those that are most influential like US News, Times Higher Education, QS World University Rankings, and the ShanghaiRanking (ARWU). We spend a good amount of time cautioning against using this factor as a major criterion. All ranking systems have different strengths, weaknesses, and biases. A school that is on one list may not appear at all on another. Further, not all schools are eligible for the rankings which rely on research and Ph.D. programs heavily. If we ever reference this factor in our materials it’s because we realize it’s such a major part of the American mindset.
While the domestic US News rankings have their issues, their Global Rankings are truly flawed. The most important limitation to note is that, while there are a number of quality indicators US News uses in ranking US schools, their international rankings look exclusively at factors around research (such as global research reputation, number of publications, number of books published, number of citations, percentage of total publications that are among the 10 percent most cited, etc.).
An Irrelevant High Standard
So what does that really tell you about your educational experience? Nothing. Further, since the rankings are based solely on research related factors, small schools, specialized schools, and schools with an emphasis on applied and practical knowledge will not even be eligible for these rankings, though many of these schools are excellent with very reputable programs.
The New Way to Rank Schools
We are sometimes asked if college in Europe is as “good” as in the US. People assume a high degree of educational quality in the states simply because of the standard ratings, which are more-or-less unrelated to the educational experience or outcomes of the students. Honestly, the fact that our college graduates test only as high school grads from the Netherlands and Finland is quite telling…
The Beyond the States Ranking System
This is why we’ve created a new kind of Ranking system, authored exclusively by Beyond the States, focusing primarily on school/program factors that really matter to US students choosing a degree in Europe:
- Accessibility and availability of English-taught degrees
- Affordability for international students
- Notable employability record and economic mobility
- Quality of international student life on campus/in the city
- Ample international student supports in place
- Availability of study abroad and internship opportunities
- Strong student reviews
- International exposure
Best Universities in Europe
To shape a top 10 list of anything is risky and difficult, especially when there are, in our case, oh so many good options for European universities. For instance, we set aside schools this time in countries like Norway, Sweden, Germany, Italy, and Ireland. Not that there aren’t a slew of prestigious and internationally recognized schools in these locations, but because they each have their own set of admissions obstacles, or in the case of Ireland, their programs tend to comparatively have higher price tags. Of course, these hurdles are certainly achievable, and we know many students who have successfully attended programs in these countries. But our rankings criteria, in this case, demand that a school is largely accessible and affordable for US students. Keep in mind that we do not rank UK universities because they don't offer affordable programs with transparent admissions.
Notable Mentions for Best Colleges in Europe
I can’t walk away without recognizing a few schools in these countries that may be worth going the extra mile to attend, like The University of Oslo in Norway, or Lund University or Uppsala University in Sweden, or University of Freiberg and Technical University of Munich in Germany, or Bocconi University in Italy, and many in Ireland like University of College Cork and Trinity College Dublin. I mean…I could go on.
You may have noticed that this Ranked list is heavy on Dutch schools, and this is because the Netherlands has more English-taught degrees for international students than any other country in our database, and many of the schools here are internationally-recognized. With this representation in mind, our list takes into account otherwise variety among types of universities and locations.
All in all, the best universities on our ranked list made it there because they seem to come up again and again for us, either when we’re creating Best Fit Lists or as features for our Programs of the Month, or they generally appeal to a large number of our members and international students. And there's a reason for this - they uniquely, consistently meet the criteria above we’ve carefully devised after years of experience in the field of English-taught degrees in Europe.
Bear in mind, we exclude study abroad programs and colleges from the United Kingdom because they don't reflect the values of affordability and transparent admissions. Tuition fees are too high, and admissions at universities in the United Kingdom are too strict. Despite the benefit of having English as the official language, we believe the don't follow our motto: higher education is a right, not a privilege.
Why You Should Consider Studying in Europe
Studying in the US can be a great experience, but it's not the only option out there. If you're looking for something different than what American colleges can offer, studying in Europe might be the perfect choice. Beyond the States offers students a unique opportunity to get a degree from a top-ranking European university while still being able to study in English. We'll match you with your best fit college and ideal degree and help you with the application process for your dream world university, all without the need to learn a new language. You'll also get to talk to other parents and students from the community.
To see the top Master's degrees at universities in Europe, visit our rankings page.
If packing up your whole life and moving sounds more exciting than terrifying, then you'll love what colleges in Europe have to offer you. These are 5 reasons why going to college in Europe will be the best decision you'll ever make:
1. Tuition is much more affordable than the US.
In continental Europe, the average cost of all the English-taught bachelor’s programs is just $7,390 per year. Since 1985, US college costs have surged by about 1000 percent, and tuition and fees continue to rise. Even when you factor in the cost of travel, going to college in Europe if often cheaper than one year of tuition at a state college in the US.
2. There are thousands of English-taught degrees.
Choice is another key issue. When cost is a chief consideration, you may be limited to only in-state schools, where tuition is lower. What if your in-state schools aren’t a good option for your chosen field of study? In Europe there are thousands of programs to choose from across 212 areas of study, and they are all taught 100% in English, so there's no need to worry about learning a new language.
3. International exposure is essential and highly valued.
Students who studied abroad stand out from the crowd when seeking jobs after college. The very act of leaving their comfort zone to make a fresh start in a new place builds skills and confidence that will be carried throughout a student’s life. Silicon Valley billionaire investor, Chris Sacca, describes international study experience as a critical differentiating characteristic among candidates. According to former General Electric CEO Jack Welch, “The Jack Welch of the future cannot be like me. I spent my entire career in the United States. The next head of [General Electric] will be somebody who spent time in Bombay, in Hong Kong, in Buenos Aires.”
4. You'll avoid the US admissions rat race.
The college admissions process in the US has become a race to the bottom as students compete with their peers for a single spot in a liberal arts college, convinced by parents and guidance counselors that their survival rests on playing a musical instrument or varsity sport.Many smart kids don’t do well on standardized tests. This doesn’t limit them as much when looking outside of the US, as many colleges in Europe do not require standardized tests. Many countries see entry into universities as a right, rather than a privilege, so admission standards are not as stringent.
5. Spend your weekends & breaks exploring the world.
Travel opportunities abound when attending college in Europe. For example, Lille, a city in northern France with multiple universities, is close to major cities such as Brussels, London, and Paris via high-speed rail. Air travel, especially with the rise of affordable airlines like Ryanair, EasyJet, and Transavia, can be comparable in price to rail travel, so many more destinations open up for short-term travel.
How to Get Into the World's Top Universities
When you also factor in the many problems with US higher education, it is imprudent not to consider other possibilities. It is true there are many excellent schools in the United States—I don’t think anyone would argue that. There are some that have managed to look at applicants as people, and not just a checklist of achievements. Some even have reasonable tuition rates, and/or professors that actively teach and have highly engaged students. Despite this, I have yet to find a school in the United States that addresses all of these issues: allows students to opt out of the rat race the admissions process has become, have reasonable tuition, AND have positive results around the educational experience and post-graduation outcomes. Not every school in Europe provides all this either, but the schools listed in our database do.
How to Find Degrees in Europe That Are Taught in English
Finding these 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 scoured the continent for vetted programs and made them available to thousands of families looking to leave the US and find a better life in Europe. We 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 about studying in Europe – from the different types of schools available to how to get housing 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 programs and courses that suit your interests and needs, taught in English by experienced professors in state-of-the-art facilities. Get access to our database and search English-taught European bachelor's and master's programs to get started on your journey to Europe today.