There are quite a few differences between European universities and their American counterparts. For one, in Europe, major tests make up nearly all a student’s grade, whereas in the U.S., smaller assignments throughout the semester tend to outweigh midterms and finals. European institutions rarely provide on-campus residential options, so it can be more difficult to meet and interact with fellow students; meanwhile, American students highly prize their campus lifestyles. However, one feature remains the same: Students can receive a quality education, regardless of the university’s national origin, as long as they apply to a reputable program.
While some American students seek overseas degrees, many Europeans are heading to the U.S. in pursuit of high-quality graduate-level education. The process of going abroad for a degree is easier than some students might expect — but there are two different ways of going about it.
The Easy Way
By far, the easiest way to obtain an American graduate degree is by enrolling in an online program. American universities have adopted to e-learning and digital education remarkably quickly; today, nearly all American schools offer at least one online course, and most offer complete programs over the web. This means students everywhere can participate in courses and gain credentials without setting foot in a classroom.
It should go without saying that online American universities are ideal for European students. The primary benefit is this: Europeans can save thousands of dollars on their graduate education by choosing an online university. Most Europeans already have access to the internet and connective devices, which are often the only tools necessary to complete online programs. Courses that require texts often rely on digital copies, which can cost hundreds of dollars less than paper versions while providing benefits like searchability.
Additionally, because online courses are available wherever there is internet, European students can eschew exorbitant expenses like flying to the United States, living in student housing, traveling back and forth to campus, and more. Perhaps most importantly, because online schools avoid common expenses like classroom upkeep and campus maintenance, they can afford to charge students less tuition and fewer fees.
Furthermore, applications for online programs like the best online MBA programs tend to be less arduous. Generally, online schools are more progressive than their traditional counterparts; as a result, many are willing to adapt to new findings about qualifications and skill. Many internet-based universities have decided to no longer require typical admissions tests for undergraduate and graduate programs. Because many of the American standardized tests are unavailable or difficult to find in Europe, Europeans benefit greatly by this slackened requirement. Now, European students can complete American MBA programs with no GMAT score — all from the comfort of their European homes, thanks to online education.
The Less Easy Way
While online graduate programs are dramatically easier to access, European students eager to engage with the American style of higher education can attend traditional university classes. The requirements for application to in-person schools tend to be more rigorous, including proof of English proficiency, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and more.
Crucially, European students need to obtain U.S. student visas, which might become an even more difficult process in the coming years. Already, F-1 non-immigrant visas are only available to international students who have already secured a place at an American school. In the visa application materials, students will also need to provide proof of sufficient funds to pay all related expenses as well as confirm their intention to leave the United States once their graduate program is complete.
U.S. universities are notoriously expensive, and because European students must have financial support before they can attain a visa, they must be able to research and procure appropriate funding before reaching the United States. By law, American universities are required to provide tuition and fee calculators on their websites, so students can develop an accurate picture of their financial needs. Many universities offer certain types of students financial aid; for example, athletes and notable academics often have a portion of their tuition waived. European graduate students can also seek financial assistance from private scholarships and grants as well as paid, off-campus internships.
In some circumstances, European graduate students are allowed to remain in America for one year after graduation to receive post-grad training, but after that, they must return homes. Still, the education they receive can be superior to options in their home countries, so it is worth investigating U.S. graduate education programs.