How to study in Europe: All the requirements you need to know

How to study in Europe: All the requirements you need to know

by Anne Walther

Updated November 7, 2022

Studying abroad is one of the best ways to broaden your horizons and prepare yourself for a successful career. It allows you to develop an international social network, all while experiencing new cultures, traditions and languages. It’s no surprise that millions of students each year decide to leave their home country and study abroad. 

Europe is the destination of choice for many students. About a third of all current students who live abroad are studying in a European country. Europe is home to some of the best universities for international students, whether you’re looking to complete an undergrad degree, Master’s program or even a PhD. . However, there are several requirements to be met in order to study there. We’ll give you an overview of what to keep in mind when planning your education abroad.

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Visa requirements for studying in the European Union

If you are entering the EU as an exchange student staying less than 90 days, you can apply for a student Schengen visa, allowing you to stay and travel within the Schengen Area – meaning all 27 countries of the European Union. In most cases, however, you will stay longer than a few months in order to pursue a full study program. You will then need a residence permit in your destination country, which you can request once you’ve been accepted at a university.

Visa requirements for studying in a non-EU European country

Not all European countries are part of the European Union: think Norway, the UK or Switzerland. As a result, studying there may come with different requirements than in the rest of Europe. 

Similarly as in EU countries, there are different visas depending on the length and purpose of your stay. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that a visa from a non-EU country may not allow you to travel to a country within the EU.

Finding the right university

There are currently more than 2500 universities in Europe, so deciding which university is the best fit for you is the first and most important step. Because of this diversity, we recommend you to check some university rankings based on which field of studies you want to pursue. Different websites such as TopUniversities and Times Higher Education offer rankings based on the different subjects you can study.

Language and skill requirements

Once you have found a few universities to apply to, it’s best to check the specific requirements for the degree of your choice. For example, Bachelor degrees are often taught in the local language, whereas Master’s  or PhD studies in Europe often have a certain English proficiency as a requirement

In addition, you should check the university’s website for information on admissions.  For example, many highly-skilled degrees in Europe like medicine have additional requirements for grades or certificates. There are study advisors employed by universities who can help you with more detailed questions or can advise you on which study track to follow. They usually also offer support in finding housing, health insurance and obtaining a bank account.

Tuition fees

In addition to finding the right study track, you should also check for the tuition fees at your target universities. Each European country has a different approach to higher education, with some having private universities or specific policies for the degree you want to pursue.

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Applying for a visa

Once you have narrowed down your choice of universities, you should check which visa you might need in your destination country. Generally speaking, you can request your visa as soon as you’ve been accepted at the university. For this, you will need:

  • a valid passport
  • a valid birth certificate
  • two passport photos
  • a proof of financing, for example through income or a scholarship
  • your proof of enrollment at the university of your choice.

You may also need to give proof of your language skills, previous education or previous stays in Europe.

Ready for Europe? A check-list

There are many different ways in which you can study in Europe – be it a short exchange, pursuing a full study program, in or outside the EU, in English or the local language. In either case, it’s important to know exactly where you want to go and how to prepare. The essential steps you should take are:

  1. Choose your destination based on your interests and previous education.
  2. Check the requirements for the specific program you want to pursue via the university’s website, such as language skills.
  3. Check the requirements for a visa in your destination country.

Everything done? Then you are ready to start your exciting new life abroad!

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Anne is a German freelance writer and communication consultant. In addition to her job, she is founder and coach of the Dutch non-for-profit organization CLUB Coaching. Due to her work, she resides in both Germany and the Netherlands. Whenever her time is not occupied with communication in all its forms, she spends time with her six pets, gardening or being creative with fashion and design. You can follow her on LinkedIn.

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