If you are looking for an experience of a lifetime, with diversity, culture, and a degree, then it may be perfect to study abroad! There are many colleges in Europe for Americans, you just need to define your goals and do some research. We will share with you what we know and provide you with some tools and vocabulary to get you started.
- Study in Europe – Americans going to college in Europe
- Bachelor’s Degree Programs In Europe
- Searching for colleges in Europe for Americans
- Universities in Europe for International Students
- Norway Public Universities
- Universities and Colleges in Spain in English
- Why Study in Spain?
- American Universities in Europe
- Tuition Costs
- When to Apply for European Universities & Residency
- Erasmus+ Program
- Countries in Europe that speak English
- Study Abroad Programs
- Student Visas and Residency
- Cost of Living Calculators:
Study in Europe – Americans going to college in Europe
Before you consider studying in Europe, there are several things for you to consider. I will just list them out and once you have a clear idea of how to approach these, you may then be able to narrow things down to a specific location or program.
- Do you want a diverse cultural experience?
- Do you speak a foreign language? Would you like to enhance your fluency in studying in a country with that language?
- Do you need to have your course taught in English or another language?
- Do you want familiar surroundings, and a little more English spoken in daily life?
- Is the cost of living or tuition a consideration?
- Does the university need to be accredited in the USA?
- Do you know what you want to study?
- Can you adapt to cultural change?
- Do you have dual passports or residency in a European country?
These are just a few things for you to think about and try and find the answers to before digging in.
Next up, let’s get a little vocabulary out of the way before you begin searching the internet for affordable colleges in the EU for American students.
What is the EU?
The European Union is a unique economic and political union between 27 EU countries that together cover much of the continent. Here is a list of the 27 EU countries and more information about the EU.
What is the Euro Zone?
The euro (€) is the official currency of 19 out of 27 EU countries. These countries are collectively known as the Eurozone.
See which countries use the euro.
What is the Schengen Zone?
The Schengen Zone is an area in Europe without internal borders. This is where citizens and tourists can freely travel within the Schengen area without being subjected to border checks. Since 1985, it has gradually grown and encompasses today almost all EU countries and a few associated non-EU countries. If you have long-term residency in one of these countries, you may receive tuition breaks in other Schengen area countries.
Here is a list of the Schengen Area countries.
Bachelor’s Degree Programs In Europe
Many of the bachelor’s degree programs in Europe are 3-year programs. Keep this in mind when you are doing your research and calculating the full cost of the degree. That said, Spain mainly has 4-year degrees, so it will vary based on country. This is just something for you to be aware of and make note of.
Searching for colleges in Europe for Americans
College vs University
Americans tend to use the term college for undergraduate and master’s studies. In Europe, it is more commonly called University. So if you are doing an online search and looking for undergraduate programs in Europe, you may want to change your search terms.
Try using “Universities in Europe for Americans”, “Universities in Europe with bachelor’s degree in English”, “Study in Europe in English”, “Cheap universities in Europe that teach in English”, and more along those lines.
Tools and Compilation Sites to find colleges in Europe for American students
We are just going to provide you with several websites we discovered during our research for our kids to go off to University. These tools are great to use for most countries and some are location-specific. We just want to give you everything we know to help get you started. Many of them will have a great deal of overlap, but each has something unique as well.
- Education – This site was a big help for us! There are several filters to narrow down options for universities in Europe and country-specific too. You can select the type of degree program, as well as the language the courses are taught in. Visit their site here.
- Study EU – A search portal for universities in Europe. Once you type in the degree you are interested in, there are options to search by location, tuition, degree, non-EU students, and more. Visit their site here.
- Study in Holland – You can see English-taught bachelor’s degree programs in Holland here.
- Go Abroad – These are online study abroad programs but also volunteer abroad, teach abroad, and more. Visit their website here.
- Bachelor’s degree, study in Europe – These are programs, which I have filtered for Europe in English.
Visit the website here.
Universities in Europe for International Students
As you can see there are many tools to choose from. Once you narrow down the degree program or the country, it is easier to fine-tune your search.
When we started the search, we had a list of about 10 universities all over Europe (Holland, France, Switzerland, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Poland, Hungary, Cypress, Czech, and more). Of course, I kept a spreadsheet and did data gathering for each one he mentioned. I had it listed by university name with the ability to sort by country.
You can’t just look at the tuition and know what the full cost will be. To do a comparison of the full cost of living, you need to also account for living expenses.
For example, he had his eye on a university in Switzerland with very low-cost tuition for international students. But, the cost of living was more than double if not close to triple what we expected. The total annual spend was going to be close to 30k. Plus students were limited to the number of hours they were allowed to work, which would factor into how much income they would have.
Here is a list of some of the criteria we used to help compare which universities in Europe were more affordable for us. Some of the eastern European countries have a very low cost of living, with student houses for about 100€ a month!
Norway Public Universities
Public universities in Norway do not charge students tuition fees, regardless of the student’s country of origin. This is a unique opportunity to obtain a degree at a quality university at no cost, and one of many reasons why Norway has become an attractive country for foreign students. They offer programs taught in English and there are more Master’s degree programs available over Bachelor’s degrees. Read more
The Bachelor’s portal also helps you find Bachelor’s or Master’s programs in Norway, Finland, Germany, and Sweden. Here is the link to the portal.
There is also a guide to the University of the People in Norway, offering many degree options as well. They also offer volunteer opportunities, if you would like to help out with instruction, reviewing materials, organizational skills, and more. Read about volunteering.
Universities and Colleges in Spain in English
We’ve compiled a list of American Universities in Spain. Yes, with courses taught in English and you would graduate with an American degree! In some cases, it is less expensive than studying in the United States! We provide you with tools and information to search for the right college, request a student visa in Spain, student health insurance Spain, and more!
Why Study in Spain?
Why not study in Spain and have an experience of a lifetime? You may select programs to study in Spain in English or Spanish. You can take your course in English and then practice your Spanish in your daily life. Soak up the Spanish culture and have tapas with your friends and make your college years something to enhance your future lifestyle.
American Universities in Europe
You may want the education of the USA in the European environment. This is not an impossible task, as there are several American universities in Europe and beyond. Some of which are accredited and others not. These are not your cheapest options for university, but there is a comfort level for Americans if you can afford the fees.
You may look at American Universities Abroad (AUA) is a group of private American Universities located outside of the United States. AUA Universities are US regionally accredited, non-profit, and operate on US academic credit systems.
Here is a full list of American colleges in Europe and around the world. You may sort the list by country, city, university name, and accreditation.
There are many universities in Europe with very low costs or free tuition for the citizens of the EU. Some of those do extend a lower cost to international students from abroad, but you just need to search and dig to find out. It is not likely that an American student can study in Europe for free, so be prepared. Some universities list the tuition cost per term, semester, or year. Make sure you know which one it is. Some have 3 terms, 2 semesters, or various combinations.
- Here is a list of 8 European countries where Americans can study for free.
- Low-cost or tuition-free universities for international students.
- We have a link from GoAbroad highlighting some of the cheapest universities for Americans in Europe.
If you are American and have long-term residency in an EU country, you may get some special reductions on tuition as well. Read the fine print and you may discover a hidden gem. We found in the fine print of the University, one small paragraph which brought his tuition down from 15,000€ (non-EU students) a year to 2,000€ (EU citizens) a year!
“Students who are third-country nationals – a country from outside the EU – and have been granted long term resident status (permanent residence permit – EU) in another EU member state will be treated as Dutch nationals if they receive a residence permit in the Netherlands (residence document ‘Duurzaam verblijf Burgers van de Unie’ or an endorsement ‘EG-langdurig ingezetene’ in the passport). If they meet the conditions that also apply to Dutch students, then they will be eligible for the statutory tuition fee.”
Woo hoo! This means our long-term residency in Spain will grant him access to the University with the tuition of an EU citizen. Also, he was eligible for the statutory fee, so his first year is half-price!
UPDATE November 2021:
The required long-term residency is the Larga Duracion – EU, which can be issued in Spain or any other EU country. Make note that it is different from the standard Larga Duracion and is something that you would need to qualify and apply for.
Believe it or not, scholarships are possible for international students. We found many to apply for and some tools to find various scholarships, but some seemed like they weren’t legitimate. We will share with you some tools we found and you can decide for yourself.
- US Federal Aid – To qualify for Federal Student Aid from the US, you need to study in the US or at one of their participating universities. Visit the website for Federal Student Aid.
- Country-specific scholarships – Check with each country of interest to see what they offer for international students. We found that the individual universities often offered a scholarships to some international students as well. Here are some we found for Holland:
- Scholarships in Holland – read more.
- Studying in Holland is a great resource for just about everything, including finances and scholarships.
- International Scholarship – You just enter your home country and where you would like to study. It will present matches available for you. This is a scholarship search tool.
When to Apply for European Universities & Residency
Typically Americans are doing their college research in their junior year of high school. SATs or other college entry exams need to be taken and applications are done well in advance. In Europe, this process varies.
Our son applied for his university in Holland during the winter of his senior year. I believe there were 3 application periods, all during his senior year (October 2019, February 2020, and April 2020). He applied in February 2020, as we needed to know if he was accepted before we could start the residency application. Most of the residency paperwork needed to be completed by the end of June 2020.
In Spain, as a resident, he didn’t apply to universities until just after high school graduation, usually in July. This may vary for incoming international students from abroad, so check with each university for their timeline.
International students not only need to consider applying for the university but there also needs to be sufficient time to apply for the student resident visa. So, when you are doing your research for Europe, make note of the application windows for international students. Also, keep a list of important dates and deadlines for residency applications.
What is Erasmus? Erasmus+ is the EU’s program to support education, training, youth, and sport in Europe. There are also partner programs outside of the EU, so think of it as an exchange program for a semester or a year. Even if you are doing a full program in Europe, you can take a year or a semester to study in a new location. It is amazing! You can read more about their program details here.
Countries in Europe that speak English
While this shouldn’t be a requirement to study abroad, it can make the culture shock have a little less sting. It is tough to show up in a country and not know the language. You may find a bachelor’s degree program taught in English, but in day-to-day life, it will be in the country’s native language.
Mainly Ireland and the UK are the countries with English as the first language, but there are several countries with a high level of English fluency as well. Several Western European countries are masters of multiple languages. English is widely spoken in Holland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, and several other locations.
Here is more about English spoken in Europe.
Study Abroad Programs
There may be some study abroad programs out there, which do much of the research for you. There should be several colleges in Europe for American students to choose from. I am sure these preset study abroad programs come at a greater cost to you, but it depends on the time you have and what you are looking for. It could be a one stop shopping to just join and full degree program or 1-year abroad program to meet your needs.
Student Visas and Residency
No matter which country you decide to study in the EU, they will all have certain requirements to obtain a student visa and residency during your degree program. Most will grant you residency for the first year and then you will need to renew, showing you are still taking your course and can afford to live in the country. Some universities will help you through this process.
Some of the basic requirements by all countries, with slight variations:
- Acceptance to a university program (application to program, proof of university entrance exams, high school grades/diploma)
- Visa application form
- Copy of Passport valid for the duration of the program (minimum 1 year)
- Sufficient funds to live and study (usually a set amount for each country based on the standard cost of living, plus the cost of tuition)
- Usually some sort of health check or statement
- Private health insurance, we have a great list of student health insurance in Spain, but they may also cover other countries.
- Some have a certain level of the local language required, so double-check
Cost of Living Calculators:
- My first stop is always Numbeo when planning a vacation or a move. “Numbeo is the world’s largest database of user-contributed data about cities and countries worldwide.”
- I like to get an idea of prices for everyday things. I have personally contributed to this site using actual receipts to enter my data, so I think it is fairly accurate. This is not inclusive of every small town, but you can get pretty close from a stick of butter to utilities. This does include housing as well, but as you will see a full search on current prices on the housing market is better.
- I often head directly to the cost comparison between 2 locations. This helps me spot-check my current location for accuracy and then I can estimate the accuracy for the “to be” location as well. There is so much to learn here. Prices by City or Country as well as Cost of Living Calculators. Go ahead and poke around and get a feel for it.
Phew! I am sure I am missing something and if so, I will add it when I remember. Keep in mind this took us many months to learn and discover and I am sure there is still more to learn.
For now, this should get you thinking outside of the traditional box. The world is out there for you to take hold of and conquer. No matter where you go, it is just a flight away from home. I am sure your family would love to come visit you in your new home too. Don’t be timid, just embrace it and give it a go!
if you have more questions, leave them in the comments below. We will do our best to answer, but we aren’t experts on every country so keep that in mind.