Europe has long been a classic destination for study abroad students. From studying French in Paris to business in London, Europe is home to several of the world's most popular (and best) study abroad countries.
Europe also gets a reputation of being expensive. Though true that some nations, like Switzerland and Norway, aren't exactly student-budget friendly, places like Germany, Malta, Spain, and Portugal are surprisingly cheap -- not to mention all the student discounts offered throughout the EU and the UK!
No matter what your major, budget, or study abroad goal is, you're sure to find a program that suits you in diverse, little Europe.
With over 40 countries in Europe, it can be hard to decide where to spend a semester, summer, J-term, or year learning overseas! Each country has something to offer whether its the cuisine, culture, stunning landscapes, or captivating languages.
To help you with your research for the perfect European study abroad destination, here are a few of the most popular countries to consider:
However, some of the more overlooked European study abroad destinations also happen to be a bit more affordable (and off the beaten path!). If you want to expand your options beyond the above, you could also consider:
- Sweden: which has affordable full-degree programs (though not a very affordable cost of living).
- Malta: whose one university (the University of Malta) conducts courses in English.
- The Netherlands: which also have a few English-language university options.
- Portugal: Spain's overlooked, budget-friendly neighbor.
- Czech Republic: another budget-friendly option with a unique, non-Western culture.
In addition to popular countries, international students can zero in on the top cities to study abroad in Europe.
Costs & Funding
Cost of Living
The cost of living varies throughout Europe, but fortunately, there are some ways to save -- no matter where you are -- as a student. Take advantage of student discounts (especially on transportation and in museums) or under 26 (years old) discounts. Look for student housing rentals (places like UniPlaces and Homestay.com are good places to start) and eat in when possible.
However, there are some expenses that you just can't avoid -- like tuition. But how much will you spend exactly?
Well, that depends on where you go and which program/university you choose. For example, the total price of a semester in England could run you as low as ~$10,000 if you're super thrifty and score a cheap flight, to $18,000 - $23,000 (especially if you're heading to Cambridge). Most students will fall somewhere in between.
In Italy, on the other hand, students confident enough in Italian to enroll directly at a university, could pay as little as $3,000 for a semester abroad. However, most students are more likely to spend around $17,000 - $32,000 for a single semester (the wide range mostly being due to tuition/program fees).
Oh, and France? Paris, unsurprisingly, will be the most expensive city to live in but smaller cities -- like Montpellier and Lyon -- are far more reasonable. Regardless, you could spend $4,000 on the low end if you directly enroll in a French university. On the high end, a program with a third-party provider could cost as much as $28,000. A more middle range number if going through a program provider is somewhere between $20,000 - $25,000.
Scholarships for Studying Abroad in Europe
Many European universities, study abroad providers, private organizations, and government agencies offer scholarships for students studying in Europe. Some well known scholarship and financial aid providers are the Fulbright scholarships and Gilman scholarships. This helpful website allows you to search a database of offered scholarships by entering your specific needs and information.
Go Overseas has also compiled a list of study abroad scholarships and grants that can be applied to almost any student level and program around the world.
Planning Your Trip
Otherwise, try to book your flights at least 5 weeks in advance to get the best deal. You can set price alerts and search for flights on sites like Kayak.
For the most part, the health standards are high in Europe. Foreign students not part of the E.U. will most likely have to purchase their own health insurance for the duration of there study abroad program. You may also not be able to drink the water in a few countries, so it's always good to ask before you arrive.
One of the biggest safety risks for study abroad students in Europe is petty theft. To avoid this, make sure you don't leave valuables unattended (like on the back of your chair at a cafe) and stay alert in crowded areas. Have your pockets zipped up and wear your backpack or purse in front of you in crowds.
Since safety is also a major concern for study abroad parents, our best advice there is to keep up to date with the news and register for the State Departments STEP program to get alerts from them as well.
Your best bet for cell phones while you're in Europe -- especially if you're studying abroad for longer than 2 weeks -- is to come with an unlocked phone (most phones in the U.S. are unlocked for international usage or, if not, you can easily make this request to your phone carrier) and get a local SIM card and pay as you go plan. For more details, read this guide to cell phones in Europe.
How do you recommend staying safe in Europe?
Always be aware of your surroundings and have a buddy when walking at night. Like anywhere in the world, some cities are safer than others. Do your research before you arrive and learn about about what petty crime looks like in the location where you'll be living. Be confident when you walk and blend in as a local. People looking to steal will often target people who stand out as tourists. Pickpocketing tends to be a very common offense, so always be aware of your purse, phone, and wallet, especially if on public transportation. Learn your surroundings and safety will follow.
What is the best European country for study abroad?
The best country for your study abroad needs may differ, but popular European destinations include France, England, Ireland, Spain, Germany, and Italy.
Which are the cheapest countries to study in Europe?
Sweden, Malta, Portugal, and the Netherlands tend to have more affordable study abroad options. However, overall, Eastern European countries tend to have a cheaper cost of living and tuition than Western Europe. Consider studying abroad in countries like the Czech Republic, Poland, Croatia, or Hungary.
Is studying in Europe worth it?
Absolutely! Not only can you study almost any subject in Europe, but the continent is also full of high-quality universities, exciting travel opportunities, and cultural activities that will expand your world-view.