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Master’s in the UK vs EU vs US

The UK, US and EU all have highly regarded higher education systems. Source: Jaafar Ashitiyeh/AFP

From learning a second language to enriching your global perspective, the list of benefits of studying abroad is long. Studying a master’s in a foreign country presents students with the opportunity to take in the allure and culture of a new land — this includes basking in the new terrains, natural wonders, museums and landmarks of your host nation. Taking extra language classes when you’re out there can also be a great way to meet new people —  after all, immersion is the most effective way to learn a language quickly. 

Exposure to many different types of people will not only help you develop people skills, but it will also give you a more in-depth knowledge of others, particularly those from different cultures. In a globalised, well-connected world, employers increasingly value graduates with international experience and education. In fact, a study done by IES Abroad found that 90% of students who studied abroad found employment within six months of graduation as compared to just 49% of the general graduating population. 

The UK, US and EU all have highly regarded higher education systems, and a huge percentage of the world’s highest-ranking universities are in these few countries. Here’s everything you need to know about master’s in the UK, US and EU.

Fees

The average cost of a taught master’s degree in the UK is between 8,407 pounds to 20,000 pounds, but postgraduate fees can vary greatly between different subject areas, universities and countries — this excludes living costs and other study expenses. Postgraduate courses in the UK are normally cheaper, per year, than undergraduate courses. 

Tuition fees in Europe can vary significantly, but they are generally lower when compared to the US and UK. In fact, several countries even offer free master’s programmes — that doesn’t mean that the quality of education is compromised. The average fees for a master’s degree in the EU is between 5,000 euros to 30,000 euros per academic year. 

With 50 states, 9.8 million square miles and over 4,300 higher education providers, there’s a lot to take in when considering a master’s degree in the US. There are over 900,000 overseas students, many of whom study in the country’s renowned graduate programmes. As a rough guide, the average cost of a master’s degree for students is between US$30,000 and US$120,000.

A master’s student poses for a photo during graduation. Source: Allison Dinner/AFP

Duration

Master’s degrees are usually focused on one particular area of a wider subject, giving students a greater amount of specialist knowledge; more flexible in terms of modules and study options; more intense, advanced and faster-paced; and smaller in terms of class size.

Full-time master’s in the UK usually involves one or two years of study, while part-time programmes last between two and four years. Studies typically involve completing a series of modules and writing a dissertation. 

The standard European master’s programme is two years in length, but there are a few that are just one year, full time. Some programmes are two years part time, but only for EU students. Once you’ve completed it you will be eligible to study a PhD. The value and recognition of your master’s programme will be guaranteed by international quality assurance guidelines.

A US master’s typically requires about 30 to 36 credits of coursework and takes two years of full-time study. In some programmes, work on a doctorate begins immediately after the bachelor’s degree, but a master’s may be granted along the way as an intermediate qualification. 

Eligibility

Most UK and EU universities require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree in a relevant subject. International applicants should hold an overseas qualification of a similar standard, from a recognised higher education institution as well as English language requirements (TOEFL or IELTS). While the requirement at most universities is an upper second class degree (2:1) or its equivalent for entry to a master’s degree, some universities and courses also accept students with lower second class degrees (2:2).

Every university has different criteria for admission in master’s in the US, but the basic requirements include 16 years of previous education (which is mandatory), an average GPA of 3.0 or 80% and above, standardised test scores of GRE, GMAT, LSAT or MCAT depending on the choice of course.