The cost of a master’s degree
It’s difficult to put an exact number on the cost of a master’s degree given the number of elements involved. Tuition fees can vary dramatically depending on the subject you want to study and the country where you want to study. You’ve also got to factor in things like:
- Living costs
- Course materials
- Application fees
- Admissions tests
- Language exams
The cost of all these elements also differs depending on the country, university and subject.
In this article, we’re going to focus on the average cost of tuition in some of the most popular study destinations in the world, along with some advice on how you can finance your master’s. These figures are intended as a guide only. To get accurate information about the cost of individual master’s programs, we recommend consulting the university website.
The cost of a master’s degree in the USA
The average cost of a master’s degree in the USA is between US$20,000 and $30,000, though the price of many programs will fall outside of this price range. Remember that this figure relates to the total cost of the program, which in the USA can be spread over two years instead of the customary one year in the UK and Europe.
In general, tuition fees at public universities in the US are likely to be lower than those at private institutions. This is because they’re partly subsidized by the local taxpayer. However, this also means that tuition fees may be higher for “out-of-state” students who come from a different US state to where the school is located. At public universities, international students tend to be charged the same as out-of-state students.
Private universities generally charge higher tuition fees than public schools. Private schools are also more likely to charge a higher rate to international students, as they don’t distinguish between in-state and out-of-state students. That’s because they are privately funded rather than state-funded.
The cost of a master’s degree in the UK
If you’re from the UK or EU/EEA, the average cost of a master’s degree in the UK is between GBP£7,000 and £12,000. If you’re an international student, you can expect to pay between GBP£12,000 and £20,000 on average.
As with any other country, the cost of a master’s in the UK can vary depending on the subject and university. Degrees in popular subjects such as law, business administration and international relations are likely to fall at the higher end of – or even beyond – the average price range. Similarly, a master’s from the UK’s top-ranked universities is likely to be more expensive.
It should also be noted that since the UK left the European Union, EU students are now classed as international students rather than domestic, and are therefore subject to higher rates of tuition.
The cost of a master’s degree in Europe
In Europe, the cost of your program differs depending on whether you’re an EU/EEA citizen. EU/EEA citizens are charged the same price as students from the same country as the school. Citizens from outside the EU/EEA will be charged a higher rate.
For EU citizens, the cost of a master’s degree in Europe ranges between EUR€0 and €3,000. Yes, you read that right – it’s possible to do a master’s in Europe for free. In Germany and Norway, all international students can study for free, while in Austria, Denmark, Poland, and Sweden, only EU citizens can study for free.
Non-EU citizens can expect to pay between EUR€3,000 and €8,000 for a master’s in Europe. As always, this is only an estimate and the costs differ from country to country. However, it’s certainly true that master’s programs in Europe are typically cheaper than those in the USA, UK, and Canada.
The cost of a master’s degree in Canada
Canada is similar to the USA in that it has a higher proportion of two-year master’s programs than the UK or Europe. However, in general, the costs of studying in Canada are cheaper than in the USA.
The average tuition fees for a master’s degree in Canada are between C$10,000 and $20,000. Again, you’ll still be able to find plenty of master’s programs that fall outside of this price range.
The Canadian government website has a handy college and university search tool, which you can use to get a better idea of the tuition fees for the subject that you would like to study.
How to finance your master’s
Now that we know the cost of a master’s degree, the next obvious question to ask is: How do you finance your master’s?
There are a number of ways to find the funding you need, including:
- Scholarships and grants
- Public loans
- Private loans
- Employer sponsorship
- Family support
- Part-time work
In the next sections, we’re going to take a closer look at these different options. If you would prefer to get some personalized advice on how to finance your master’s, you should speak with the university’s admissions team.
Scholarships and grants
Scholarships and grants are a popular way of financing your master’s because unlike student loans, they do not need to be repaid – and more students benefit from them than you might think.
Scholarships tend to be merit-based, which means they’re awarded to students based on their academic performance. On the other hand, grants are typically need-based, meaning they’re awarded to underprivileged students who don’t have the financial resources to complete the program.
Many scholarships or grants are awarded by public or private organizations. For example, the British Council website lists a number of UK scholarships that are available to students from all over the world. The US government website has a page dedicated to scholarships in the USA, as well as a scholarship finder.
Otherwise, you’ll find that most universities offer their own form of scholarships and grants to prospective students. They cover either the tuition fees or living costs related to your program. In some cases, they will cover both. To learn more about these forms of financial support, it’s worth visiting the website of each university you’re thinking of applying to.
Student loans from governments and public organizations
You can also take out a student loan to pay for the cost of your master’s degree. Unlike scholarships and grants, these need to be repaid in full, often with an added amount of interest.
Student loans come in two forms: public or private. Public loans are provided by governments and other public institutions. Private loans typically come from banks and other private organizations.
In general, public loans are available from the government of your country of citizenship. Some countries encourage their residents to study abroad, and so will cover the cost of an entire degree at a foreign university. However, other countries will only provide financial assistance to those who study at home, or those who study abroad for a term or semester. Check with your government to learn about the financial support that’s available to you.
Student loans from private companies
Private student loans tend to be the best loan option for those wishing to study abroad. They’re available for a wider range of students and are not necessarily need- or merit-based. The drawback is that they normally come with a much higher interest rate than public student loans – but that interest rate is still lower than traditional bank loans.
The most popular private student loan providers include:
Most companies only offer student loans for specific countries, but companies such as Prodigy Finance offer international student loans.
When we spoke to Virginie Fougea, Global Director of Admissions and Financial Aid at INSEAD, she told us that you might also consider taking a loan out from a company based in the country you intend to work in afterward. This is because when it comes to repaying the loan, it makes sense to repay it in the same currency as the lender.
Many universities and business schools recommend specific student loan providers to students. INSEAD, for example, works with Juno, Lendwise, and Prodigy Finance. Sourcing a loan from a company affiliated with your university may make the application process easier and increase your chances of acceptance.
Alternative sources of finance
If a loan, scholarship, or grant isn’t suitable for you, there are other ways in which you can finance your master’s. Some students are fortunate enough to be able to pay for their degree from their own personal savings. Others receive financial support from friends or family.
Some employers may agree to cover the cost of your master’s, which is sometimes known as sponsorship. Often, this comes with an agreement to return to your place of employment after your studies, and you’ll most definitely have to repay the loan in full after you graduate.
You may also be able to work part-time alongside your studies to help cover your tuition. This depends on whether your master’s allows you the spare time to do this, and also whether your student visa permits you to work in the country where you’re studying. Each country has different rules, so check with your country of study before going down this route.
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There are a number of ways to finance your master’s, so make sure you research all of your options as thoroughly as possible. Hopefully, this guide will get you one step closer to your dream master’s program. Good luck – and happy searching!