Study in Germany, UK or in the USA: Which country offers which advantages for foreign students?

You want to do your Master's or MBA degree abroad and are wondering which country is the best choice for your personal needs, goals and career plans? Many young professionals choose to study in Germany, the UK or the USA. In our blog post we compare these three countries as locations for international students.

Group of students sitting on stairs

Master or MBA in Germany

Germany has a diverse higher education landscape with numerous excellent universities with strong research capabilities that are highly ranked internationally. Their strengths lie primarily in engineering and technical sciences. Because of the good conditions for studying in Germany, many foreign students are attracted to the country. As a result, the student body at many universities is very diverse. Of the more than 400 universities currently operating, approximately two-thirds are publicly funded and one-third privately funded (see difference between public and private universities). 
In addition, Germany has one of the strongest economies in the world and, with its location in the heart of Europe, offers security, liberality and optimal conditions for starting a career after graduation. Many universities offer courses in English, so German language skills are not required for study.


Study fees and cost of living

Postgraduate studies in Germany usually take 1-2 years to complete. International students usually have to pay tuition fees for postgraduate studies in Germany. At state universities, these are generally much lower than at private universities, where you can expect to pay around €25,000 to €38,000 per year. In addition, there is a semester fee (around €350, varies from state to state) that covers administrative costs, student services and often the use of public transportation.

In terms of cost of living, Germany is in the lower mid-range of European countries. The average student expenditure is around €900 per month. This includes rent, food, clothing, study materials, health insurance, telephone, internet and recreation. However, there are regional differences, especially in rental costs. For example, they are comparatively high in large cities such as Berlin, Munich and Hamburg, but lower in smaller cities such as Bremen (learn more about the cost of living in Bremen).


Scholarships for international students

Comparatively few students use scholarships to finance their studies in Germany – so the chances of getting a scholarship are not bad. The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) supports more than 100,000 German and international students and scholars worldwide every year. These Scholarships do not have to be repaid. Check out the DAAD scholarship database to learn more about the different types of scholarships available.


Visa and career opportunities in the heart of Europe

The general conditions for obtaining a visa in Germany are student-friendly. A student visa, which is linked to admission to a German university, is required for the stay, as well as proof of financial security for living expenses for the duration of the studies. After completing their studies, international students can stay in Germany for up to 18 months on a job seeker visa to find a job that matches their qualifications. They can then apply for a permanent work permit. In addition, academics from outside the European Union who take up employment in an EU member state and earn a certain minimum gross salary can apply for the EU Blue Card. This makes it easier for you to stay and pursue a career in different EU countries. A Master or MBA in Germany thus opens up many attractive opportunities and is a springboard into the European and international business world.

Master or MBA in the United Kingdom (UK)

The United Kingdom, consisting of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, has a long tradition of higher education and boasts many prestigious universities that enjoy worldwide recognition. Foreign students make up a significant proportion of the student population in educational institutions. In addition, the United Kingdom is rich in history and culture, reflected in many historic sites and cultural attractions. Because English is the primary language, it is a good choice for students who want to improve their English skills.


Tuition fees and cost of living

Postgraduate studies in the UK usually take 1-2 years to complete. The costs are usually higher than in Germany and the studies are not financed by the state. Tuition fees vary by country and university, as universities are free to set their own fees.

The cost of living in the UK is comparatively high – in addition to the cost of everyday activities and food, high rents are the main cost of living. The capital, London, is one of the most expensive cities in the world. 


Scholarships for international students

The British government offers a variety of scholarships and other financial assistance to students from a wide range of countries. Visit the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) website to find out about funding opportunities for postgraduate study in the UK and to see if you qualify for a scholarship.


Visa, career prospects and Brexit

You will be granted a student visa for the duration of your studies. If you want to start your career in the UK after your studies, you can apply for a two-year graduate visa and a skilled worker visa if you have an employment contract.

After leaving the European Union in 2020, the United Kingdom faces an economic crisis. On the one hand, there is a great need for international skilled workers; on the other hand, Brexit leads to a loss of value of the pound, significantly increased food prices, lower growth of the gross national product, as well as difficulties and losses in trade. Last but not least, for students in the UK, leaving the EU means restrictions on the freedom to travel within Europe, which is a given within the EU.

Master or MBA in the USA

The U.S. has an excellent higher education system and a diverse higher education landscape where students can choose from several thousand higher education institutions (academic or vocational; public or private). Unlike many other countries, the U.S. higher education system is highly decentralized and there is no national law governing education. The structure of shared responsibility for education between the federal, state, and local governments is complex, but primary authority rests with the institutions themselves and local communities.

The Master's or MBA programs in the USA belong to the “graduate studies". These programs are offered exclusively at universities and institutes of technology, not at colleges. They usually take two years to complete.


Tuition fees and cost of living

Tuition fees vary widely by institution and program, as they are set individually by the universities. On average, they range range from US$20,000 to US$33,000 (approx. €18,700 to €30,000 per year. MBA programs are often much higher.

While undergraduate students are often required to live on campus, Master's students can usually choose to live in a dormitory, private apartment, shared apartment, or with a local host family. Rent and food prices vary by location, but you should expect to spend at least US$1,000 (approx. €900) per month on living expenses.


Scholarships for international students

Scholarships are much more common in the U.S. than in many other countries. Many universities offer scholarships not only to American students, but also to foreign students, which is said to have a positive effect on their image. Most universities in the U.S. also offer scholarships to athletes. Scholarships are applied for directly at the university. Both the award criteria and the amount of the scholarship are very individual. In addition, there are organizations and foundations that offer scholarships for international students (learn more about general sources of student funding).


Visa and career prospects

To study in the U.S., you will need a student visa, which will be issued upon presentation of the Certificate of Eligibility, which you will receive from your American university. Note that student visas do not include a work permit, but in some cases your university may be able to provide one. Detailed visa information is available from the embassy.

Especially if you see your professional future in international business or research, postgraduate studies in the USA can give you a career advantage. By studying English and being exposed to different cultures, you will not only improve your English language skills, but also your intercultural and social skills. In addition, American universities place special emphasis on developing individual strengths.

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