Six Steps To Choosing A University and Master’s Degree Abroad


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One of the most exciting things about deciding to study abroad is that you have, quite literally, a whole world of choices, with thousands of universities around the world to choose from.


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Each of these schools will offer many different courses, and it can be hard to even begin figuring out what or where you want to study.

Join the QS Discover Master’s Fair in Johannesburg on 16 May and network with representatives from top global universities to help you decide.

Here are six steps to help you start your search and choose a university abroad:

Listen to both your heart and your head

They might take you in different directions, but both have valid points to make. Often it can be worthwhile to start by going straight to what you’re passionate about, then starting to think carefully about that.

Be honest with yourself

Seriously. Any sort of degree is a big commitment, but studying abroad even more so. Make sure that this is something you want to do rather than something you feel you have to do.

If you’re doing it because you want to, it will be easier to keep going through the tough times.

Research carefully, and use multiple sources

Studying a master’s degree can take anywhere between one to two years, and it can be quite expensive. It will almost certainly be a worthwhile investment and life-changing adventure, but make sure you know the facts.

Check university websites for official data, and student forums for a wider range of opinions. If you’re interested in studying in the US, UK or Australia, check out the QS Course Matching Tool, which matches you with your perfect
course and university after you’ve answered a few simple questions.

Stick to these ground rules, and you’ll find these next steps even more effective!

Identify your ‘essential’ requirements

Narrow down your search by deciding what you definitely want to do or want to avoid. For example, maybe you only want to study abroad at a university where the language of teaching is French?

Perhaps you have a specific budget, or want to be within a few hours’ flight of home? At this stage, it’s best to set out some clear guidelines for your search. Here are some examples to consider:

  • Only universities in a particular country/ world region
  • No universities in large and busy cities
  • Only highly ranked universities (in general or in a particular subject)

This step is particularly useful if you want to study a subject that is offered across a very large range of universities. If you want to specialise in a field that’s particularly rare, you’ll probably find you already have a narrower field to focus on.

Choose your subject

Many people know straight away what they want to study, but for some the choice is less obvious. It’s helpful to narrow down your list of options to three or so subjects. To help you, think about these questions:

  • Which subjects do you most enjoy learning about?
  • What skills do you want to gain during your studies?
  • Do you want to go into a job where a particular master’s degree is required?

You can then select your preferred universities based on the master’s courses and curricula they offer. To help you with this, you could start by checking the subject-specific QS World University Rankings.

Attend university fairs in your country

One of the best ways to make your master’s application stand out is to attend a university fair in your country, and meet with admissions staff from the universities you’re interested in directly.

  • Get information straight from the source – learn about the master’s degrees available and what is required to study at each university, including admissions hints and tips, campus life, and job opportunities after you graduate.
  • Apply for exclusive study abroad scholarships - One of the best reasons to attend a QS Discover Master’s Fair is to gain access to exclusive scholarship opportunities that are only available to event attendees, such as the QS ImpACT Scholarships worth $50k in total. In addition, schools participating in the fair will also have scholarship opportunities and information on how to best finance your degree.
  • Discover universities and master’s degrees that you hadn’t considered - Do you already know where you want to study abroad, or are you still in the process of narrowing it down? Either way, a university fair can help you discover schools you may not have considered. It’s always a good thing to broaden your horizons.

The next QS Discover Master’s Fair in Johannesburg is on Thursday 16 May at the Radisson Blu Gautrain Hotelregister now and get ready to meet university representatives from top global universities including Hult International Business School, Politecnico di Milano, Johns Hopkins University and many more.

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