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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 program

When should you start your application?

The general rule is the sooner you start the better. Applications can take time and effort to complete properly, so don’t leave it until the last minute to get started.

For many applications, you’ll need to write a thorough and enticing personal statement, or a set essay showing your knowledge and passion for the program you’re applying to. These can make or break your application, so take the time to get them right.

Find out when the application deadlines are for the universities you want to apply for. Make sure you submit your application well in advance of the deadline - some universities look unfavourably on submissions close to the closing date.

Not only that, but many programs fill places as they receive applications, so if you leave it too late all the slots may be already filled. The deadlines differ from university to university, and from country to country so make sure you know exactly when you need to apply.

If you’re planning to go straight to university abroad after you finish school, you don’t have to wait until you’ve got your confirmed grades. Universities can offer provisional places based on your predicted grades and other aspects of your application, like your extracurricular activities.

How many universities should you apply for?

It is well worth applying to several universities to improve your chances of gaining a place. If you only apply to one or two programs and are unsuccessful you may have missed your opportunity to study abroad.

It’s a good idea not to apply to loads of universities because, not only will it be a lot of work to complete lots of applications, most universities charge a non-refundable fee. That means it could be quite expensive if you plan on applying to more universities than you need to.

A sensible approach is to choose around six to eight universities you want to attend:

  • Two or three ‘stretch’ universities, which may just be out of your reach - there’s no harm in aiming high
  • Two or three target universities, which should be your favorite options you could realistically achieve
  • Two safety universities, which you should have no problem getting a place at to guarantee you'll be offered a place somewhere

It’s important that you’d be happy to attend any of the universities you apply to. There’s no point paying to make an application if you know you would never accept your place if successful.

The number of applications you can make may be limited depending on the country you want to study in. For example, in the UK you must apply through UCAS, which only allows five course applications.

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.

How Studee helps you apply for university 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 could 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.