10 Places Where You Can Study in English for Under $5,000 a Year
It’s well known that one of the many benefits of studying abroad is the opportunity to learn a new language, but that doesn’t always mean you want to study in a foreign language – especially if it’s hugely different from your own, or your course contains complex terminology. Fortunately, English is the most common second language in the world, and many universities abroad are increasing their range of available English-taught courses in order to attract more international students. We’ve looked at a range of places where you can study abroad in English here, but if you’re on a budget, this article will tell you where you can get a degree for US$5,000 or less.
Of course, you’ll still need to consider other expenses when budgeting to study abroad (student visa/university application fees, health insurance, accommodation, food and so on), but saving money on fees should ensure a cheaper student experience.
The main language of instruction at universities in the land of ice and fire may be Icelandic, but affordable English-taught courses are available, albeit mostly at graduate level. Iceland’s four public universities don’t charge tuition fees, meaning you only need to pay an annual registration fee of ISK 75,000 (~US$700). If you’re willing to enroll in the spring semester, the registration fee at the University of Iceland is reduced to ISK 55,000 (~US$500). Non-EU/EEA students will also be charged an application fee when they apply – this is ISK 8,000 at the University of Iceland (~US$70).
Unfortunately, the catch is that Iceland is an expensive country to live in – the University of Iceland recommends students budget at least ISK 119,300 a month (~US$1,100). This means you’ll need at least US$13,200 for your living expenses each year. One other downside: no Icelandic universities feature in the QS World University Rankings 2018.
If you want to study in English somewhere a little warmer, Malaysia could be a good option for you. All courses at private universities are taught in English, and most postgraduate degrees at public universities are also English-taught (they are less common at undergraduate level). Malaysia has an ideal combination of low tuition fees and living costs, with capital city Kuala Lumpur ranked as the most affordable city for students in the QS Best Student Cities index in both 2016 and 2017. Most students pay tuition fees of less than US$3,000 in Kuala Lumpur, and you will only need around US$5,000 for living costs, according to StudyinMalaysia.com.
Highest-ranked university in Malaysia: Universiti Malaya (joint 114th)
With its universities frequently topping the QS University Rankings: Arab Region, Saudi Arabia offers high quality education at a low cost, with no tuition fees at universities such as King Saud University. The country’s strict interpretation of Islam might take a little getting used to, as alcohol is prohibited and there is a strict gender division. There are many courses with English as the medium of instruction, particularly at master’s level and for courses in engineering, science and medicine. Many residents speak English, but it’s worth learning conversational Arabic to help you settle in. Saudi Arabia’s capital and largest city, Riyadh, was ranked as the third most affordable city for students in the latest QS Best Student Cities index. However, living costs are high, and you can’t work during your studies.
Highest-ranked university in Saudi Arabia: King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals (joint 173rd)
An ever-popular destination with our readers, all students can study in Germany for free at public universities in all states except Baden-Württemberg, where fees have been reintroduced for non-EU students. However, if you’re a non-EU student in Baden-Württemberg your tuition fees will still be far lower than you’ll find elsewhere, at €3,000 (~US$3,500) per year. It’s possible that other states will also reintroduce fees in the future, so study here for free while you still can.
Elsewhere in the country, some master’s degrees do have tuition fees, and all students do need to pay a compulsory semester fee to cover administration costs – this is typically less than €300 (~US$350). Many German people know English but it’s still a good idea to learn basic German, especially if you’re thinking of working during or after your studies, as it will increase your employment prospects. If you want to study in Germany in English, you may have to be quite relaxed about your choice of program if studying a bachelor’s degree, as English-taught courses are much more common at master’s level. The Study-in.de website has a useful search tool for finding programs taught in English.
Highest-ranked university in Germany: Technical University of Munich (64th)
Another good option if you want to study in English abroad is Taiwan, where there are around 120 English-taught courses available. Tuition fees vary between universities so there isn’t an average figure available, but, as an example, tuition fees at the country’s highest-ranked university, National Taiwan University, range between 100,920 and 124,200 TWD (~US$3,300-4,100) for most courses. For living costs, the university estimates that you’ll need up to 226,000 TWD (~US$7,450) per year. You can search for English-taught programs to study in Taiwan here.
Highest-ranked university in Taiwan: National Taiwan University (joint 76th)
If you want to study in France but you don’t parle français, good news: there are about 1,200 English-taught courses available (more commonly at master’s level) and tuition fees are low. Bachelor’s (licence) degrees cost €184 (~US$215) per year, master’s degrees are €256 (~US$300) and PhDs are €391 (~US$460). French universities tend to bring up the price with additional administrative fees, but the final figure will nonetheless be far lower than other study destinations.
Highest-ranked university in France: Ecole normale supérieure, Paris (43rd)
A fascinatingly multicultural study destination, India’s official languages are Hindi and English, but English is the language of instruction at all universities. Tuition fees vary and are much lower than in many other study destinations, with private institutions charging higher fees than public universities. You can get a degree for as little as US$3,200, although some courses do cost up to US$7,700.
Even better news is that living costs in India are incredibly low: you can live comfortably on as little as US$5,000 per year. However, it’s important to note that you can’t work while you study in India, so you can’t earn extra funds this way.
Highest-ranked university in India: Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (172nd)
English-taught courses are increasingly common in Norway, particularly at master’s level, making it an ideal place to study in English. Tuition is free for all students at all public universities in Norway, meaning you’ll only need to pay your university’s student welfare organization fee (300-600 NOK (~US$38-75) each semester. Unfortunately, living costs in Norway are high, with the University of Oslo recommending a budget of at least US$17,300 per year. Students can work in Norway during their studies (non-EU students will need a work permit) and you might be able to find a scholarship.
Highest-ranked university in Norway: University of Oslo (joint 142nd)
How about studying in warm and sunny Greece, the birthplace of academia itself? As in other study destinations, you’ll find that English-taught courses are much more common at postgraduate level in Greece, with the postgraduate International Hellenic University being the only public university where all programs are taught exclusively in English. You can read about other Greek universities offering English-taught postgraduate courses here.
If you’re an EU/EEA student, there’s good news: you won’t pay tuition fees at public Greek universities. If you’re not one of this lucky group, fees for non-EU students are nonetheless affordable at around €1,500 (~US$1,750). Living costs in Greece are also some of the lowest in Europe (unfortunately, this is due to the country’s recent economic problems), with students needing around US$8,400 per year.
Highest-ranked university in Greece: National Technical University of Athens (401-410)
Finally, our list of cheap places to study in English ends with this beautiful central European country, which has much to offer international students – prestigious universities, high quality of life, and exciting student cities. The majority of courses are taught in German at bachelor’s level, with a much wider range of English-taught courses at master’s level – StudienWahl.at has a useful search tool for finding programs (simply use the define filter tool to show only English-taught courses).
Many people speak English here, especially young people, but it’s still a good idea to try your hand at German. If you’re an EU/EEA national, you can study you bachelor’s or master’s degree for free provided you complete it in the minimum timeframe (plus two semesters of leeway). After this, you’ll need to pay a tuition fee of €363 (~US$425) for each additional semester. Non-EU students pay tuition fees of €1,453 (~US$1,700) per year, and all students also must pay the student union membership fee, which is around €18 (~US$21) per semester.
Highest-ranked university in Austria: University of Vienna (154th)
Other places where EU students can study in English for free…
- Scotland: Scottish and EU students study for free in Scotland, although students from the rest of the UK do pay fees. Although this may not last much longer due to the UK leaving the European Union, the Scottish government has assured EU students entering in the 2018/19 academic year that they are guaranteed free tuition for the duration of their course.
- Denmark, Finland and Sweden: All three of these Nordic countries offer free tuition to EU students, with a large range of English-taught courses available. Unfortunately, non-EU students do need to pay tuition fees, and living costs in these countries are high.
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This article was originally published in August 2017 . It was last updated in July 2022