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Continuing education is becoming increasingly important in many professional fields. More than 16 million people in the U.S. have a master’s degree — a 43% increase since 2002. There are many benefits to pursuing continuing education, including career advancement and increases in marketability, earning power and networking opportunities, to name a few.
While the U.S. has some of the world’s best colleges, it is also among the most expensive choices, deterring most potential students or pushing them to take out loans. In the U.S., the average studen-loan debt for graduate school is $71,000. Furthermore, the U.S. educational system offers the least number of scholarships available to students and their eligibility requirements are the most stringent, further exacerbating the problem.
Studying abroad may be the much-needed but little-known solution for young professionals seeking to pursue additional education. According to StudyFree’s own research, only 1% of potential students globally are aware of the possibilities for full-time study abroad, saving up to $200,000 in the process. International education offers American students a myriad of opportunities and benefits, including lower tuition costs, excellent quality of education and increased marketability.
Related: How Living and Learning Abroad Makes You a Better Entrepreneur
The cost of a graduate degree varies depending on the institution and program. On average, a U.S. master’s degree costs between $30,000 to $80,000 a year. Costs of living, textbooks, healthcare and other related expenses add up to hefty sums and should also be taken into account; 38% of families say they weigh financial concerns as heavily as academic needs when selecting a college.
Many American students do not realize they can study in English and obtain a graduate degree abroad for a fraction of that price. For example, in Austria, students from non-EU countries must pay a bare minimum administrative fee of 300 euros per semester. This policy applies to all programs and levels of education. And the average cost of living in Austria is about 800 euros a month, including rent.
Tuition at France’s state universities amounts to 3,770 euros a year for all foreign graduate students. In business schools, a year of studies costs upwards of 8,000 euros. Foreign students may obtain a scholarship from the French government, the Eiffel Scholarship or additional scholarships from universities such as Science Po and IFA Paris. The scholarship amount varies depending on the school. Moreover, every foreign student has a right to partial monthly compensation of their rent costs by submitting a request at Caf.fr.
Even in the Netherlands, where graduate programs can cost over 9,000 euros a year for non-EU students, the foreigners can study in English and have their costs fully covered.
Related: 94% of Indian Students Want to Study Abroad This Year: Report
Quality of education
The U.S. is home to some of the world’s best universities. Degrees from Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University, among others, can open countless career possibilities to their graduates. But beyond these top-ranking U.S. institutions of higher learning, there are plenty of foreign universities that offer a stellar quality of education.
In fact, according to QS World University Rankings, 73 out of 100 top universities are located outside of the U.S. Thirty-three of them are located in Europe, including University of Cambridge and University of Oxford in the U.K., Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Switzerland and Technical University of Munich in Germany. The latter, for example, is one of the world’s strongest research universities in the field of business, and its tuition is free for all students. All that needs to be paid per semester are a Student Union Fee (92-144 euros per semester) and a basic Semesterticket for the public transportation network (201.60 euros per semester).
Related: How Entrepreneurs Can Solve the Higher Education Problem
An international master’s degree helps students stand out in the job market, opening plenty of career opportunities after graduation. According to the Institute of International Education (IIE), study abroad can have a considerable impact on the development of 21st-century workforce skills and the ability to secure employment. The Institute for the International Education of Students (IES Abroad) has also linked studying abroad to increased hireability and starting salaries. According to the University of California, it makes students twice as likely to land a job after graduation: 97% of students who studied abroad found employment within a year of graduation while only 49% of college graduates could secure jobs in the same period.
This happens regardless of whether students choose to return to their home country or work elsewhere. The skills gained in the process of study abroad and exposure to a new market will make a resume stand out among other candidates. For example, in a progressively globalized world, the rewards of learning a different language have both a positive professional and personal impact. Students will interact with people from different countries and backgrounds, creating long-lasting friendships and professional contacts. Study abroad also teaches people to communicate better across cultural and language barriers, increasing intercultural skills and confidence. Adaptability and the ability to thrive in a new environment are other skills that will come in handy in any workplace.
Our future will be shaped by the values and experiences of our youth. Traveling and studying abroad allow us to try a new lifestyle, broaden horizons and cooperate with people from different backgrounds. In a growingly interconnected world, such skills as tolerance, curiosity and intercultural collaboration are now essential. Gaining a graduate degree abroad can foster these skills and contribute to career advancement, all while creating a global workforce that can facilitate peace. At StudyFree, we understand the value of higher education and work to democratize this experience by connecting students with international educational opportunities worldwide.