See the best Bachelor’s universities in Europe for international students, ranking for the most engaging, affordable, and powerful English-taught programs for 2024.
Our undergraduate rankings for the best 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.
The rankings for best universities in Europe for international students reflect many years of on-the-ground research, vetting, and experience by ourselves and our members, and speaks directly to what really matters to US students pursuing an English-taught undergraduate degree in European countries and Ireland.
Why Study Abroad in European Universities
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.
Culture at Universities in Europe
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.
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 Rankings for Best Universities in Europe
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 the Best Universities in Europe
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
1. University of Groningen
Regularly at the forefront of our featured European universities, University of Groningen has a breathtaking 37 English-taught bachelor’s programs in our database that span the range of most study-areas. One of Europe’s oldest universities, this research-driven school is located in the heart of Groningen, Netherlands, a young and student-centered city with a lively reputation.
2. Vrije University of Amsterdam
Vrije University of Amsterdam is no stranger to international Ranked lists, since it is a world-renowned research university in Europe. Located in the vibrant city of Amsterdam, VU has a notable international staff and student body. Thirty English-taught programs for study abroad here, spanning many areas of study, and like many Dutch research universities, it has liberal arts programs as well. For US students, it has a FAFSA number.
3. University of Pecs
Study abroad in Europe at the UNESCO-recognized ancient city of Pecs, Hungary at the oldest university in the country, founded in 1367. A lively, cultured city, Pecs University was once the European Capital of Culture. The internationally recognized University of Pecs has had a long history of offering many and varied English-taught programs, and therefore familiar with international students, for which the school/city has a large population. Exceptional student supports offered here, such as a mentor program strictly for international students that assists with acclimation.
4. Erasmus University of Rotterdam
Located in the bustling and urban port city of Rotterdam, Netherlands, EUR attracts students from around 37 different countries world-wide. Boasting a vibrant student scene, EUR has a modern and “true” campus that’s a 15-minute bike ride or 20-minute tram ride from the city center. There is a strong student support system in place, and many student associations and clubs to take part in.
5. Toulouse Business School
Although Toulouse Business School has only a single English-taught bachelor’s offering in Management: Business Administration, Management and Operations, it is one of our favorite undergraduate business options in Europe. TBS is a multi-campus school, with locations in Toulouse, Barcelona, Casablanca, and students have the option to study in all of these cities. Incredibly impressive curriculum, student supports, internationalization, employability #’s, and safe and affordable tuition and cost of living options. TBS emphasizes learning through experience with applied learning techniques, small groups, and work experience placements.
6. Maastricht University
Maastricht University is known for being one of the most international and fully bilingual schools, and the youngest university in the Netherlands. There is an incredibly large international student (50%) and faculty (40%) population, leading to excellent international student resources with a wider range of study abroad programs. Practical learning is emphasized at UM, something that is often missing at research universities, and study abroad is a requirement for many of their programs. You’ll find stunning and modern facilities that rest within a city that strikes a unique balance between old and new. For those looking at business programs, UM has the rare “triple crown” accreditation, and for US students, there is a FAFSA #.
7. Charles University
Situated in the famously beautiful European city of Prague, Charles University was founded in 1348, making it one of the oldest universities in the world. Yet, it is also renowned as a modern, dynamic, cosmopolitan and prestigious research institution. CU provides a variety of undergraduate options for students who want to take advantage of the affordable tuition and cost of living in Eastern Europe, while studying in a truly livable city with a high quality of life. For US students, CU has a FAFSA #.
8. Carlos III University of Madrid
Carlos III University of Madrid is one of our standout universities, with a dedication to internationalization, true affordability of its many English-taught programs, notable accreditation (AACSB) for its business programs, and has strong student supports. UC3M allows and encourages its students to study abroad for up to two years at one of its partner schools, many of which are in the US, like Boston College, Tulane University, Duke University, Vassar and Middlebury. A US student could study abroad at any of these schools, but still pay the relatively small (6,000-7,000 euros) UC3M tuition, versus the high price tags of these schools, if they were so inclined. Admission can be competitive here, but they offer a foundation program that can give a boost to those who don’t initially make the cut.
9. Central European University
No other school on our list has both their own country’s accreditation and US accreditation, but CEU boasts this double-accreditation. Located in one of the most “livable” cities in the world, Vienna, Central European University claims that the majority of its student body is international. Small class sizes, remarkable facilities, and uniquely dynamic and multidisciplinary degrees, like Philosophy, Politics, and Economy, for instance. Admissions can be competitive here, but it may be worth your while. This school has a FAFSA # for US students.
8. Riga Technical University
Riga Technical University really impressed our founder, Jenn Viemont, when she visited the school a few years ago. This internationally recognized polytechnic university – the largest in Latvia – has 24 English-taught programs that are truly rigorous, hands-on, and usually include lab work and internships. RTU offers really good value, a large and well-supported international student body, and even has an international student council. For those choosing more technical vocations, this school is a gem.
Discovering the 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 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.
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 your ideal degree, all without the need to learn a new language.
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.
Beyond the States provides easy access to 11,600+ European bachelor’s and master’s programs across 870 universities, 550 cities, and 212 areas of study, plus all the resources you need to get there. No sponsorships. No bias.
English-taught bachelor’s programs in our database.
Beautiful European cities to choose from.
Typical savings against a private university in the US.
English-taught master’s programs in our database.
Top-tier universities accepting international students.
Typical savings against in-state tuition in the US.
All inclusive of tuition, living, food, books, health insurance, travel expenses, as well as hidden fees. Compiled with data from students and the official websites from KU Leuven, UNC, and Duke.