Let's see here. You've either just graduated college and are ready to continue down the path of academic achievement, yet want to add a little sum 'em sum 'em to your program. Maybe you've been working for a few years and now have a sudden desire to return to the classroom to build on those skills you picked up in undergrad. Or maybe you're just looking for a total change of pace. Whatever your reason for seeking a graduate program abroad, you're in luck. With thousands of awesome universities in just about every corner of the world, your options are anything but limited.

If you want to narrow your search down an eensy bit, Top Universities' 2012 World University Rankings Report should do the trick. They've consolidated your options to 869, with the ability to filter by region or ranking. Assuming you have *some* idea about which part of the world you'd like to complete your graduate program abroad, that list may serve you well!

Photo credits: University of the Fraser Valley.

Yes, grad school abroad is a great idea, but you don't want to go in on a whim. Here are a few things to think about before you hop the pond:

Money

Be sure to get your finances in order before you apply for your international graduate program. Many schools may ask you to pay for your entire program up front (China!), or to prove that you have enough money in your bank account to survive in their economy (England!). Don't be surprised if you need to jump through various financial hoops to ensure you can make your abroad dreams come true.

On a lighter note, most programs overseas cost a great deal less than what you'd be forking out for a graduate degree in the USA. I'll drink to that!

31,000 U.S. graduate students received credit for study abroad in 2011. Compare that to the 280,000 international students who came to the U.S to receive their advanced degrees.

Your Long Term Goals

Chances are, it'll be an incredible experience that you won't regret for a second - but you are making a considerable financial investment, and that means saying no to other paths in your life. If it's travel you're after, maybe a working holiday visa or volunteer work would be better for you. Think about what you hope to do after you get your graduate degree.

Transference of Skills

There remains the possibility that students who earn a degree abroad may encounter differences in how their work is valued in their home country. Because the quality of education available around the world varies considerably across borders and even within borders, evaluating a degree can be potentially difficult.

While this could be a potential hiccup in your overall plans, I see it as a positive. Now YOU get to define the value of your program, and you don't need to chalk it up to some bogus standards. Impress colleagues or potential employers with your assessment of your skills and knowledge, and don't forget to brag about doing it all in an entirely foreign climate!

Language

Should you travel to a country that speaks a different language in hopes of learning something new or gaining more concrete linguistic experience? Or would a country that is a bit more familiar, such as other English-speaking nations, be more suitable?

There is no shortage of universities abroad that offer programs taught in English (especially useful for those who lack the foreign language gene!). For example, universities in Hong Kong, Amsterdam, and Finland are just a few of your many options for English language programs abroad (outside of the oft-mentioned standard Britain, Australia, and Canada!).

However, one of the greatest skills that you can achieve and parlay into better career opportunities for you is fluency in another language. So think seriously about how you want to play this card in the coming years. If you have any interest in foreign languages or previous experience studying a foreign language, I say run with it.

If you are specifically interested in doing research abroad, you may find that many programs abroad offer better quality options than what you would find in your home state. By studying abroad, you may have the opportunity to work directly with certain documents that are only available in certain museums, libraries, or city vaults.

If you are studying a specific bio-region, you may reside in that special corner of the world and experience the habitat first-hand, providing a more stimulating learning experience! Studying abroad affords rare opportunities to live in another country or be immersed in programs that strongly correlate with your future coursework or areas of interest.

Contributed by Megan Lee

Graduate Study Abroad Programs

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