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Where Can You Study Abroad for Free?

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While university fees continue to rise in many parts of the world, some of you might be thinking that getting a recognized degree qualification, either in your home country or abroad, is simply impossible without having a four- or five-figure budget at your disposal, or without obtaining a scholarship.

You’ll be pleased to hear that this isn’t necessarily the case. There are many countries worldwide where students are able to study abroad for free or for a very affordable amount. You just need to know where to look.

Below you’ll find a selection of countries that offer low-cost or free tuition, with details on eligibility and what current (low) university fees you can expect. To find internationally renowned universities in these countries, visit the QS World University Content® 2018.

Study in Germany for free

Germany

Interest in studying abroad in Germany just seems to keep on growing. This is largely due to the fact there are no undergraduate tuition fees at most public universities in Germany, and this applies to both German students and internationals, regardless of nationality. Just a small nominal university fee is charged, of around €150-250 (~US$180-300), to cover administration costs.

The exception is the state of Baden-Württemberg in south-west Germany, which reintroduced tuition fees for non-EU/EEA students in autumn 2017. These students must pay €1,500 (~US$1,800) a semester (€3,000 or ~US$3,600 per year). PhD students and refugees aren’t affected, and the fees are reduced for those pursuing a second degree (to €650 (~US$780) a semester, which is €1,300 (~US$1,550) a year. It’s possible that other German states will follow and reintroduce fees in the future, as they seek to invest in and improve university education, so watch out for this.

Germany’s low study costs, combined with its strong economy and excellent higher education system, makes the prospect of undertaking study in Germany extremely appealing for both students and their parents worldwide. More than 40 German universities are featured among the world’s leaders in the QS World University Content – again, beaten only by the US and UK – with the highest place taken by Technische Universität München.

If you’re successful in finding a university at which to study in Germany for free, you will of course still need to budget for living costs. If you need a German student visa, you’ll need to prove you have around €8,700 (~US$10,400) per year for living expenses. However, you’ll probably need closer to €9,600 (~US$11,500) to live comfortably in Germany.

Two of the top destinations for study in Germany, Munich and Berlin, were also ranked within the top 20 most affordable cities to study in the QS Best Student Cities 2017.

For more information on how to study in Germany for free, see the following articles:

Study in France for free (or at low cost)

France may not be quite as widely known as Germany for affordable higher education, but international students may be surprised to hear they can also study in France for free (or, at a very low cost), regardless of their nationality.

Although technically university fees do exist at public universities in France, they’re just a fraction of those charged in most countries, amounting to just €184 (~US$220) per year at undergraduate level. Additional charges can bring this price up, particularly for more specialized programs such as medicine and engineering, but not dramatically. If you’re looking to study at a leading grande écolehowever, expect fees to vary widely.

As is the case in Germany, the majority of programs offering the chance to study in France for free are taught in the native language. However, there are a growing number of opportunities to study in English, particularly at graduate level. Alternatively, you can also attend a preparatory school to perfect your French skills before beginning your degree, but you’ll have to pay for this.

Living costs in France are also relatively affordable, amounting to around €9,600 (~US$11,500) per year, though you should expect to pay more if you choose to live in capital city Paris. While Paris isn’t a cheap city to live in, rent is on average more than 50 percent lower than London (according to ). The French capital’s comparative affordability, combined with a huge selection of internationally ranked universities, means it continues to rank within the top five of the QS Best Student Cities index.

Find out more:

Study in the Nordic countries for free

Sweden

Known for their high quality of life, stunning nature and liberal politics, northern European nations (known as the Nordic countries) also boast some of the strongest higher education systems in the world. Nordic nations DenmarkFinlandIcelandNorway and Sweden all offer opportunities to study free or at low cost:

In Norway, university study is available free of charge to all students, regardless of study level or nationality. Like Germany, you will only need to pay a semester fee, in this case around NOK 300-600 (~US$37-74). The majority of undergraduate programs are taught only in Norwegian, and international students need to demonstrate proof of proficiency in Norwegian in order to study at this level. At master’s and PhD level, English language programs are far more common and free tuition still applies.

In Iceland, there are no tuition fees charged at the country’s four public universities, with only a registration fee of around €400 a year (~US$425).

Denmark, Sweden and most recently Finland only extend their free higher education perks to students from within the  and Switzerland, meaning that students from outside these regions must pay tuition fees for bachelor’s and master’s programs. However, PhD programs in these countries are fully funded, offering exceptional PhD candidates the chance to gain their degree without paying fees, and earn a salary. Non-EU/EEA students can also still study in Finland for free if they study in either Swedish or Finnish.

International fees at bachelor and master levels in Denmark, Sweden and Finland vary. In Denmark, university fees range from between DKK 45,000 and DKK 120,000 (~US$7,200-19,300) annually, while in Sweden they fall between SEK 80,000 and SEK 140,000 (~US$9,750-17,060) for most courses. In Finland, the recently introduced tuition fees currently amount to at least €1,500 (~US$1,800) per year, although most students will pay between €4,000 - 20,000 (~US$4,900-24,500) per year.

But what about living costs? Well, this is the catch, as the costs of living in northern Europe are among some of the highest on the continent. This is largely due to the healthy economy of the region and the strength of the Nordic currencies, so paying more for living when the streets are clean and the people are happy perhaps isn’t so bad. Four Nordic capitals have been ranked among the world’s top student cities: CopenhagenHelsinkiOslo and Stockholm.

Find out more:

Other places to study in Europe for free (or at low cost)

Belgium

What about other places to study in Europe for free or at a low cost? There are a number of European countries which offer affordable or free universities, without any need to sacrifice on quality. See below for more examples.

Austria

Another country where students can study in Europe for free (or at a very low cost) is Austria. EU/EEA students enjoy the same rights as Austrians when it comes to the cost of higher education, and can study for free at any degree level. After this time, students pay a fee of just €363 (~US$434) per semester. International students from outside of the EU/EEA should expect slightly higher fees of around €726 (~US$870) per semester. Living costs will set all students back approximately €11,400 (~US$13,650 a year. Vienna, Austria’s capital city, is ranked 16th in the QS Best Student Cities 2017.

Belgium

There are two main language communities in Belgium, each with their own stance on university fees. However, EU students will pay a maximum of only €835 (~US$1,000) a year. And while it’s just EU students who get the major benefits of being able to study in Europe for free, fees are still very affordable for international students, ranging from €890 to a maximum of €4,175 (~US$1,065-5,000) per year. You can live in Belgium with a budget of around €11,400 (~US$13,640) a year. Brussels, the capital city, was ranked 45th in this year’s QS Best Student Cities.

Czech Republic

Students who speak Czech are able to study abroad for free in the Czech Republic at any public university. Students who wish to study in English can also study fairly cheaply, at around €3,800 (~US$4,550) per year. Living costs are more affordable than in many countries in western Europe, at around US$9,000 per year. The Czech capital city, Prague, is ranked 30th in the QS Best Student Cities.

Greece

All students from within the EU/EEA are able to study abroad for free in Greece at public universities and colleges, with the exception of some master’s programs. International students from outside of the EU are also eligible for low-cost higher education, at approximately €1,500 (~US$1,800) per year. Greece offers one of the lowest costs of living in the European Union.

Italy

Although private universities in Italy can be known to charge fairly high tuition fees, public universities in Italy are markedly cheaper, charging between €850 and €1,000 (~US$1,015-1,200) per year for undergraduate programs. EU students are eligible for the same funding opportunities as Italian students, including loans, grants, scholarships and fee waivers. Living costs in Italy are also not as high as you might expect, at around €12,000-18,000 (~US$14,350- 21,530) per year. Milan is ranked 33rd in the most recent QS Best Student Cities, while capital city Rome is 65th.

Spain

EU students aren’t required to pay high education fees in Spain, while international students, are able to study for between €750 and €2,100 (~US$900-2,500) per year at public institutions. Fees are charged on a per-credit basis and can be higher at graduate level. To live in Spain, you should expect to spend between €10,800 and €13,200 (~US$12,900 - 15,800) a year in living costs. MadridBarcelona and Valencia are all featured in the QS Best Student Cities 2017, with Barcelona the highest ranked at 23rd.

Other places to study abroad for free (or at low cost)

Argentina

Argentina

While Argentinian students all enjoy access to free universities, international students should expect to pay a small, nominal fee to enroll at public universities in the country. Private institutions in Argentina, on the other hand, can charge upwards US$5,000 a year. In the QS Best Student Cities 2017, Argentinian capital Buenos Aires is 42nd.

India

In India, international students will typically pay tuition fees of no higher than US$7,300 a year, though private university and graduate fees tend to be more expensive. Living costs in India are, for most students, likely to be very appealing – according to , consumer prices are 178 percent cheaper than in the UK, while rental prices are as much as 386 percent cheaper. Overall, you should be able to live comfortably on as little as US$5,000 a year. However, it’s worth noting that international students aren’t allowed to work in India during their studies.

Taiwan

Tuition fees in Taiwan offer great value, with the nation’s top universities offering affordable programs. For example, National Taiwan University (NTU), the nation’s leading university at joint 76th in the QS World University Content, last year charged undergraduate students just TW$100,920-124,200 (~US$3,400-4,200) per year. In the QS Best Student Cities 2017, Taipei was ranked 16th in the world and 16th for affordability. 

This article was originally published in March 2015. It was updated in December 2016 and again in January 2018.

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Laura Tucker's profile image
Written by Laura Tucker
Laura is a former staff writer for TopUniversities.com, providing advice and guidance for students on a range of topics helping them to choose where to study, get admitted and find funding and scholarships. A graduate of Queen Mary University of London, Laura also blogs about student life.

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226 Comments

Hi I am interested for a PhD programme I had studied Ms management sciences . need you'd suggests what?… thanks

I am waiting for Bcom results. which countries in Europe is cheaper than others.can you help me?thanks a lot

These fees are still way too high..

Hi, I'm a graduate of agricultural and bioresources engineering from Nigeria. Please I will like to know how and where I can do Masters in engineering option for free or less Fees in any ternational countries. Thanks

hi I'm studing tourism management in master in iran.i like to study phd in Europe.i don't know which countries in Europe is cheaper than others.can you help me?thanks a lot

I'm a bba student in final year.. So I want to go abroad to study for free... As I tried my best to increase my CGPA but it was not possible for me to rise my CGPA from 2.81. So I want to start a fresh again. All I want is to go abroad to study and settle there. Is there any country which provides free education along with greencards and citizenship facilities so that I can set my future there?

Hello madam I'm currently studying 12th in science faculty .looking forward to study further abroad in merchant navy where it is best to study. And if there is any scholarship ? Plzz help me !!!!

Hello madam I completed my bachelor's in commerce now I want to study masters in finance so will you please inform about top free cost universities

Hail Said from Yemen, I want a scholarship for graduate studies in accounting and finance

Hello, you can find accounting and finance scholarships included in this list of business scholarships

I want to know the Universities with free tuition fee and less cost of living where I can study master in Physiotherapy in Europe. Thanks

Hi I'm a high school student from Malaysia .I wish to find some universities with free or less education fee in europe. Mechanical engineering is my subject that I want to study. Thanks.

Hi am an undergraduate student and I want to study Economics please I want to know the Universities with free tuition fee and less cost of living. Please which country is more preferable and which University please, really need to know it's urgent Thanks.

Hi im gonna be a graduate of bachelor in hotel and restaurant management this dec... but wanted to even further continue to study... where can i find free of charge education? By the way im from philippines

Hello, I am a computer science Engineering student at a university in India. I want to pursue my masters from abroad but at full scholarship. please suggest me.

Hi Rahul, please take a look at our list of computer science scholarships. You might also like to download our guide on how to find scholarships to study abroad, which includes advice on submitting strong scholarship applications. :)

Hi am Sharon with a degree in Real estates from Uganda in Africa I would like to get a scholarship for a masters in any country abroad for free..Thanks any help is welcome

Hello! I'm an American citizen currently teaching ESL in South Korea. I have a BS degree from an American university, I'm certified in Bilingual/ESL teaching and I've been teaching for 15 years. I would like to get my Masters Degree in TESOL or another similar area. Where is the best place to go for that with tuition free or low tuition for international students? I'd love to try Europe or the Nordic countries. Thank you in advance.

Hello... I am Asriadi Ansir. I am from Indonesia. I have finished my bachelor degree in english language education. And I am a teacher of a senior high school. I really want to take a master degree with scolarship. Help me please.

Hi
I am lohith i am studying electrical and communication engineering in INDIA and i m interested in doing MS so which is best place to do it can u guide me

Why isn't portugal on the list?

hello,
I'M Rajendra m completed my m pharm in pharmacology looking for phd in pharmacology, so which is the best universities where i can do phd at low cost
thankyou

Hey everyone!

I am from India, is it my dream and. I want to get master degree in abroad for free coz I am not affordable to pay high fee...BUT I need some help from you. I know that not a lot of people have money to spare, I request you to help me about studying in abroad. I want this enough to beg for money from you, and THAT should say something!

Hello ..please I took the survey and registered for the scholarship but I'm trying to send my essay and don't know how to ..can I send it by mail?

Hi Winnifred, could you confirm which scholarship you're applying for please? If it's a QS scholarship you attach your essay at the end of the application process.

Hi,
i'm Ankit from india. i have completed my master of commerce in year 2015 but i want to go abroad for double masters.. so is it possible???? And i'm not capable to pay high fees for masters..would you plz suggest me which universities are affordable for me and how can i apply over there.???? i need a help..plz help me.. Thank you

Hi. I am Kate from the Philippines. Just a highschool student. I was looking earlier for possible scholarships to be a physician or any medical course. I would take up BS Biology. What should I do? What are the processes? How much amount should you have when you get there and where would I live if ever? Please help me. Thank you very much!

Hi, I am studying bachelor of engineering(civil department) in india.After finishing that i wish to do MS in foreign countries. Please guide me in correct way.I wish to study in free of cost or at low cost plese help me.Thank you.

Dear Kishore. Norway will be best option with Zero/Negligible fee.

Hi Kishore, as well as considering some of the affordable study destinations above, you could look for a scholarship to help with your costs - we've listed a range of scholarships for engineering students here. If you'd like to continue studying civil engineering for your MS, you can view our latest rankings by subject for this field here. Hope this helps.  

Hi, I am a Pakistani student currently graduating in commerce. I want to study in the UK for MBA program. is there any insirution which

Hi, I have a Dutch passport only speak English and would like to study free in Europe with cheap accommodation it seems Germany is the best option. I have a Diploma in Supply Chain Management and would like to further my business learning in Supply Chain, learn Excel etc, learn Spanish. Any advice would be much appreciated!

Hi , I wanna know about this tuition free of fees in some Universities you have described above,I mean, in my case,I have a baccalaureate in science, and spend one year in the local University(Antananarivo, Madagascar),but for now I want to pursue a study in Technology in a foreigner University,then I wanna know if I am eligible or qualify for any program in any University in Europe? or even America

Hello, i am from Nigeria. I currently have Higher National Diploma (HND) in mass communication and I will like to know if I am qualify for any program in Europe and if there is any chance of having a scholarship or an institution with a low tuition fee.

Hello!
I want to study in New Zealand about fashion designing as undergraduate.Which university over there can provide this course at affordable rates.

I want to study for free in Europe , if any one can help me to get approval at the university for
free , please contact me

Hello! I completed high school which is the 11-year course.So, can I apply to this university?

Hi Imran, which university do you mean? (TopUniversities.com isn't a university, we just provide information about universities around the world.)

hi i'm abir from Tunisia . i got my licence in marketing recently .. and i want to complete my master degree abroad .. i've asked a lot of people and they've told that i only can study at private universities and that's too expensive for me .. so i wanted to know if i can study at a public and cheap university , if yes than what are the universities to study marketing masters ? thanks in advance :)

Hai I am abhay

Where could I send my daughter to study abroad for cheap. I have a budget of 5-8000 us dollars. Your help would be welcomed.

Hey .. I'm mohamed from algeria i had my baccalaureate this month and i want to go and study abroad ( i wanna be a pilot ) so any help ... any advices ..... thnx

Hello...I am Mehedi from Bangladesh. Currently I am on MBBS course in Dhaka Medical College. I want to do my post grad in medicine abroad in a reputed institution. Please give a suggestion.

Hi Mehedi, to help get you started, you might like to view our latest rankings by subject for medicine - the results can be narrowed down by country or region and you could use our compare tool to help narrow down universities. We also have a range of dedicated country guides with detailed advice on studying in particular study destinations. Hope this helps! 

Hi, next year is my final year in school, after graduating am looking for a free or a low tuition fee universities over Europe and my interest is electrical or mechanical engineering , i wish you could help , your regards

Hi, am Benazir from India. I have completed my UG as B.E computer science. I need to know which course i should take in a country with no tuition fees. Please help me with this.

Hello am Meble coming from Uganda .I finished my highschool in 2007 & got 19 points .Want to get a scholarship & do fashion & Design. Where can i find such opportunity because am coming from a poor family.Thax

Hi Meble, please take a look at our list of art scholarships around the world, which includes options to study fashion and design. Hope this is helpful, and good luck! 

Hi,
I am from Nigeria and have a Bachelor's Degree in Statistics. i am looking for an option to continue studying for my master degree in statistic or related course. Is there any chance for me to get a scholarship to participate in master degree's programm in North America or Europe for free or at low cost.
Thanks.

Hello. I am from Uzbekistan, and I am graduating lyceum-high school in 1month and I really want to pursue my Bachelor degree abroad for free, as my parent cannot help me financially. I have passed an IELTS exam recently. So I have an IELTS certificate, B2-6.5. Thank you for your attention. Hope your help.