How to study abroad

  • 8 min read
How to study abroad

Taking your studies abroad unlocks so many exciting possibilities. You’ll gain a top-quality education, discover new cultures, boost your career prospects, and loads more besides.

As long as you do your research, prepare all the relevant documents, and work logically through the admissions process, applying to an overseas university is relatively simple.

Follow these steps and you’ll be studying at your dream university in no time.

Study abroad applications

Once you’ve decided on the subject you’d like to study and the country you want to live in, you can begin applying to universities.

Each country and university you apply to may have a different process. In countries like the UK and Australia, all university applications are submitted through a centralized application service. While in other nations, you must apply directly to the university.

As an international student, you might have to complete a two-stage application process. You’ll firstly apply for a place at the university itself, before submitting a more specific course application.

Full application details can usually be found on the university’s website. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the university’s admissions office too.

Once you’ve been offered a university place and have received a letter of acceptance, it’s time to start the visa application process. Securing a visa can take months, so it’s sensible to give yourself as much time as possible.

Applying for a bachelor’s program abroad

To earn a place on a bachelor’s program, you’ll need to show that you have an interest in the subject you want to pursue, as well as the academic ability for the course you’re applying for.

Entry criteria vary between universities and countries, so it’s always best to familiarize yourself with these first. To stand the best chance of being offered a place, you’ll need to meet the grade requirements of your chosen institution and possibly provide proof of your language proficiency too.

Applying to multiple universities can improve your chances of success. However, you may need to pay an application fee for each program you apply for.

You’ll also be asked to provide some supporting documentation. The files requested will depend on your university, but here’s a breakdown of what you might need:

  • Secondary education qualifications and transcripts
  • References / letter of recommendation
  • Essay / personal statement
  • English language certification
  • Admissions test results
  • Passport / ID photos

Find your perfect bachelor's program

Applying for a master’s program abroad

Master’s applications generally require lots of information about your educational history, and especially your undergraduate qualifications. You might need to submit the following documents as part of your application:

  • University results with module / class breakdown
  • References / letter of recommendation
  • Essay / personal statement
  • English language certification
  • CV
  • Passport / ID photos

To win a place on most taught or research master’s courses, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree that fulfills your university’s entry requirements. Most universities prefer undergraduate qualifications in related subjects, but this isn’t always the case.

If you’ve studied an English-taught program at the undergraduate level, you may be exempt from providing a language proficiency test score.

Find your perfect master's program

Applying for a PhD abroad

To secure admission to a PhD program, you must prove your dedication to academia or a particular profession.

You won’t always need a master’s degree to study for a PhD, but you will need sufficient subject knowledge. Shouting about your understanding and ambitions in your CV or personal statement will show you’re suited and committed to your chosen area of research.

Be sure to find and contact a university professor whose areas of expertise match your research interests. Describe the topics you’d like to investigate and see if they’d be happy to oversee your work if you were to gain a university place. If they agree, you can use this to strengthen your application.

You may be asked for the following as part of your PhD application:

  • University results with module/class breakdown
  • References/letter of recommendation
  • Essay / personal statement
  • English language certification
  • CV
  • Photo ID
  • Research proposal

Find your perfect PhD programs

Complete an English Language Test

Most universities offering English-taught programs require proof of English proficiency from non-native speakers. An English language test (ELT) is crucial for several reasons:

  • Academic success: Universities want to ensure you can understand the course materials, participate in discussions, and complete assignments effectively.
  • Integration into campus life: Strong English skills help you adapt better to the university community, participate in extra-curricular activities, and build networks.
  • Visa requirements: In many cases, an ELT is a key factor in getting approved for a student visa.
  • Career advantages: The ability to speak English can be a major benefit in your future career, particularly in international roles or global industries.

Common tests like TOEFL and IELTS assess your listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills, ensuring you're prepared for the demands of academic and everyday life in an English-speaking environment.

Speak to your parents

When planning to study abroad, gaining your parents' support is often a crucial step. Here's how you can approach the conversation:

  • Share your research: present the information you've gathered about the study abroad program, including details about the university, courses, and living arrangements. Ensure your research is thorough and your decision is informed.
  • Understand and address concerns: Recognize and discuss any concerns your parents might have, such as safety, cost, or academic quality. Look at factual information and realistic plans to address these concerns.
  • Discuss benefits and challenges: Talk openly about the potential benefits, such as career opportunities and personal growth and the challenges, like adapting to a new culture or managing finances.
  • Financial planning: Discuss how you plan to finance your studies. This includes tuition fees, living expenses, and potential sources of funding like scholarships or part-time work.
  • Safety and communication: Look into safety measures and emergency plans. Also, talk about how you plan to maintain regular communication.
  • Seek their advice: Encourage your parents to share their thoughts and advice. Involve them in the decision-making process and allow them to provide valuable insights.

Study abroad timeline

The timeline for studying abroad is critical, it will help you stay organized and submit everything on time. Each institution’s application process is different but here are general steps of what you need to do and when::

  • Pick a country and program (12-18 months in advance): Research countries, universities, and courses. Attend education fairs and webinars if possible for in-depth insights.
  • Apply for your course (10-12 months before departure): Start the application process, keeping an eye on deadlines and preparing essential documents like transcripts and personal statements. Register and prepare for any necessary test you need to take.
  • Financial planning (9-12 months before your studies): Apply for scholarships and grants, and start budget planning, including tuition, accommodation, and living expenses.
  • Accept an offer (6-8 months before arrival): Accept a university offer and begin the visa application process, ensuring all documents are in order.
  • Prepare for moving (3-6 months prior): Find accommodation and sort out health insurance and vaccinations.
  • Pack your belongings (1-2 months before): Begin packing and making travel arrangements.
  • Upon Arrival: Settle into your new environment.

Top tips

  • Start early: Starting the application process early gives you plenty of time to arrange the rest of your study abroad experience, like accommodation, part-time work, and insurance.
  • Remember the application deadline: Write it in your calendar, set a reminder on your phone, just don’t forget about it.
  • Ask for help: You don’t need to go through the application process alone. Our Studee support team is always on-hand to answer your questions and offer guidance.

Here are more hints and tips to make sure you have the best possible chance of submitting a successful application.

How Studee helps and supports you with studying abroad

Our friendly student advisors take the stress out of studying abroad. They’ll guide you through every stage of the application process, so you can turn your dream into a reality.

Here’s how Studee can help you:

  1. Resources: The Studee website contains information to help with your study abroad decisions. Explore what specific countries and universities have to offer, or read our guides to understand the international student experience.
  2. Personal advisor: Providing your details through our website means we can assign you a free personal advisor to help you every step of the way.
  3. Universities and programs: We support you however you choose, whether that’s by phone or online, and match you with a university and program that’s perfect for you.
  4. Application assistance: We simplify your university application process by answering any questions you have about fulfilling university requirements such as English language tests.
  5. Visa advice: Your personal advisor will give you up-to-date advice on getting a visa for your chosen study country and any documents you’ll need.
  6. Enrolment guidance: We help ensure you’re fully prepared for your first day of international study.

If you want to kickstart the adventure of a lifetime, don’t hesitate to get in touch.