You may have your sights on one destination to settle into, dreaming about its world class museums, hoping to sample world-renowned cuisine. But the European Higher Education Area makes it accessible and affordable for all degree-seeking students, even international students, to study abroad in Europe, across many of the best European cities.
Time and again we meet students at a US university intent on doing a semester study abroad program, but were unable to due to high costs and/or logistical challenges.
Since the European Commission has goals around internationalization, there are a wide array of options and programs, such as Erasmus+, offered through the EU and the universities to make studying abroad more feasible and affordable for EU and non-EU students getting college degrees in Europe.
What are the Options?
So many, and across all European cities, and at some of Europe’s most prestigious universities.
There are study abroad programs within certain degree programs themselves, allowing students to move from one country to the next during the duration of their degree. The Erasmus programs for bachelor’s and master’s students in Europe is set up for most students across all European countries, and most universities, to study abroad during their degree.
Or how about becoming an exchange student? And the fact that internships are commonplace at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, many of which are in other countries, means there’s a sure chance that you’ll get your study abroad experience while gaining your degree in Europe.
Built-In Study Abroad Programs
Sometimes, a specific study program in Europe will be spread out among various countries during the course of your degree. Courses are held at different campuses, across different countries, with groups of students moving from one country to the next on a set schedule.
Here’s one such example from our database:
At ESCP Business School, the BSc in Management is a 3-year program spent in 3 different countries. This is a very unique program, allowing students to move each year to a different campus they have around Europe, in some of the best cities in the EU. The school itself was founded in Paris, France, and is one of the oldest business schools in Europe.
It’s well known for its masters programs, which are for the most part taught in English, and within the past few years has started gaining recognition for their English-taught bachelor’s program. ESCP also happens to be included in our in-house rankings for Top Business Schools in Europe 2023.
Here’s what one of our past student ambassadors, Anya, had to say about her student experience in this dynamic program:
I attended my first year on their London campus, which is in the quaint area of West Hampstead, about a 30 minute underground ride to London center. Though ESCP doesn’t provide housing, in each city there’s always student housing options and of course the option to share an apartment with other students or with locals. I chose to live in a student accommodation my first year, so I could meet other students and ease into living on my own. This was a popular choice by ESCP students, which I knew from the beginning, so that made my choice easier. I lived with 7 other people whom I shared the kitchen and living area with, and then I had my own small bedroom and bathroom. Beside the housing, I was able to get to know my fellow classmates through induction day, Whatsaapp groupchats, and student-proposed meet ups at the accommodation or within the city .
Erasmus Program in Europe – EU Study Abroad
The EU has a really impressive program called Erasmus+. This is an umbrella organization that encompasses many programs that encourage mobility among young people. The student mobility program is one that all degree students at participating European universities can participate in, even international students!
So, if you are a student at a European university that participates with Erasmus, (and most schools do) you have the opportunity to spend up to twelve months of your program on a European study abroad and sometimes outside of Europe as well). This can mean studying at another university or doing an internship in another country or a combination of the two. You can use the twelve months for each level of study (meaning you can participate during your bachelor’s degree program and then again during your master’s program).
For example, if you were a bachelor’s student at Erasmus University Rotterdam in the area of Social and Behavioral Sciences, you‘d have 71 different options to choose from ranging from James Cook University on the north coast of Australia to Western Washington University in Washington state in the US, to many options across Europe.
There are logistical benefits to the Erasmus program. For instance, you are assured that your credits will transfer, there are structures in place to assist with housing and student life, and all internships related have a written agreement that includes a clear focus and specific project that will offer the student exposure to an occupation, industry or field (no fetching coffee).
For a student who really wants to study in Spain, for example, but discovers a lack of English-conducted full degree programs in their area of interest, the Erasmus program may give them the opportunity to study abroad in Spain.
There are so many possibilities, and for many international students who want to study in countries like Germany or Sweden, for instance, that have unique barriers for admission that may make it challenging to pursue a full degree there, the Erasmus program gives students the chance to obtain their degree in an alternative country, but study abroad in countries they’re drawn to.
This All Sounds Expensive – Is it?
No, that’s the best part! In general, the student continues to pay tuition at their home school only and doesn’t pay additional tuition to the second school. Further, when participating in an Erasmus + program, there are opportunities, even for international students, to apply for stipends and grants.
Case in point: UC3M in Madrid, Spain:
Internationalization efforts are evident by the opportunities the university provides students to study abroad, not only to study in Spain. Of course, just about all universities in Europe allow students to study abroad for a semester. UC3M though has the unique offering of studying abroad for up to two years – and in two different places!
However, UC3M has in-depth bilateral agreements and worked together to identify the courses offered by each school that are comparable to those required by UC3M programs. So cool! The other advantage is around cost. Students continue to pay UC3M tuition for this time abroad.
While the annual tuition is pretty comparable to most other European universities, it leads to huge savings if students decide to come back to the US to study for a year. The majority of their partner universities in the US-schools like Boston College, Tulane University, Duke University, Vassar College, and Middlebury College-cost over $50,000 per year! Going to these universities as a UC3M students will cost under $8,000 for the year!
Erasmus Mundus Graduate Programs – Joint-Degree Programs
You don’t hear much in the US about study abroad opportunities in master’s degree programs.
In Europe, not only is the student mobility program open to master’s degree students in Europe (again, even international students) there is also the Erasmus Mundus program. The programs in this category are really dynamic and often integrated programs that are developed and implemented by a consortium of higher education institutions in at least two different countries.
Students study in at least two countries and receive a joint degree from the universities of the consortium. There are many of these programs that are conducted entirely in English, with typically standardized and affordable tuition.
There are options for just about every field of study that you can think of: Agriculture, Arts, Design, Humanities, Social Sciences, Health Sciences, Computer Science and Technology, Business, and more. These programs are relevant to today’s issues and often involve professionals from related companies which helps students understand how to apply the knowledge – not to mention network!
The Beyond the States database lists around 100 of these master’s joint-degree programs across a range of study-areas, featuring multiple campuses. To find these in our database, you can apply our filter for Erasmus Mundus.
An example of one of these programs is the Journalism, Media, and Globalization master’s program, where you have the opportunity to study in Denmark, the Netherlands, and/or Germany:
Here’s the program description:
This program provides a unique educational experience with students studying and living in at least two European countries. The first year of the degree is spent in Denmark with the entire cohort, and the second year sees students split into smaller groups and move universities to specialize in one of four distinct areas of journalism: War and Conflict, Business and Finance, Media and Politics, or Journalism and Media Across Cultures.Students learn to combine academic, theoretical knowledge with journalistic skills, and to analyze, interpret and generate knowledge about the global changes that increasingly challenge traditional boundaries.
Become an Exchange Student in Europe
Another approach for studying abroad is to become an exchange student. As an exchange student, you can study abroad for one semester (sometimes more) at one of your faculty’s partner universities. The first step is to check your faculty or International Office to see what opportunities are available.
The advantages of the exchange student route are that many practical matters have already been dealt with (e.g. exemption from local tuition fees, recognition of credits, and sometimes even accommodation). The disadvantage of an exchange is that your choices are limited to the current partner universities.
One thing that sets bachelor’s programs in Europe apart from those in the US is that most programs in Europe have at least one semester set aside for an internship. Often, internship semesters are required. Having a semester to do internships removes many of the obstacles that students in the US report.
With the dedicated semester, students don’t have to choose between a paying summer job or an internship, they don’t have to juggle internship duties and class work, they aren’t competing with all the summer internship applicants, and the internships can be completed in countries outside of the one they are studying in.
Internships are another great way to get international exposure, not to mention professional experience! Like studying abroad, these can often be done through your university or Erasmus +. Erasmus+ has a page of internships here. Additionally, universities often have partnerships with multinational companies, such as at Copenhagen Business School.
Internship placements are often handled by the student’s study department, but some schools have an office devoted to handling internships, like IESEG School of Management in France. The Business Administration program, as an example, has a really interesting internship. Each year of the 3-year program, the student has an internship focusing on a different level of management.
In this program, the first year includes a one-month labor internship. The second year has a three-month internship at an assistant level and the third year has a three-month management internship. This allows students to have firsthand knowledge of how each level of an organization is impacted by the other.
Don’t Limit Yourself
We often have students come to us and saying they must study in France, Italy, or even these days, Prague. The tremendous study abroad opportunities we mapped out above are one reason we encourage students not to have tunnel vision on one single European destination for their main program.
Students will have the opportunity to design their own plan to spend time in their dream destination, even if not for their full degree because of these extensive study abroad options.
Ready to Study Abroad in Europe?
Finding these programs in Europe can be burdensome, difficult, and confusing, especially with institutional websites in foreign languages. We know that making the decision to study abroad can be difficult, and so we make it easy for you. We have 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’ve found over 11,200 degrees and 850 universities that teach in English, so you can choose any city out of 550 options in 32 countries. (Keep in mind, we don’t include UK universities due to their the financial barriers and difficult admissions process). Nonetheless, European countries offers an impressive range of educational opportunities, and you’re bound to find your ideal school!
At Beyond the States, we have gathered all of the information you need to know about finding your school and studying in Europe – from the different types of colleges in Europe 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.
All in all, studying abroad in Europe is a great way to gain new experiences, meet new people, and get a taste of what it means to live overseas as a student. If you’re thinking about going to a university in Europe yourself, we recommend you explore a membership with Beyond the States.