Considering a Master’s? Six popular destinations you may want to explore
Originally published in the Hindustan Times
As a college student or a working professional, you might be considering a master’s education abroad. Whether you are looking to enhance your skills, deepen subject knowledge, avail of research opportunities or simply broaden your horizons and gain global exposure, planning and preparing for a master’s degree involves several considerations when choosing a destination –
- Your undergraduate degree
- Your proposed program of study
- Your finances
- Your long-term goals
Layered into these are considerations of every country’s unique requirements for undergraduate educational equivalency and rules and regulations surrounding employment during and after graduate studies. There are differences in the choice of programs, faculty, research, funding and resources across destinations as well as within universities in a specific country.
Here are a few quick tips on 6 popular destinations
The United States remains the favourite, go-to destination for Indian students. US universities offer cutting-edge technical and laboratory resources, research opportunities, funding for STEM students, financial aid/scholarships as well the opportunity to work during and after your course, contingent upon meeting required criteria. There are over 2000 educational institutions offering a wide range of master’s programs (generally 2- years in duration) whether in STEM, business, humanities, social sciences or arts as well as a thriving economy that encourages competition and innovation, access to capital and organizations that absorb talent. The US is one of few countries where you can pursue a super-specialized master’s, dual master’s or a joint degree. Indian applicants to master’s program at US universities should keep in mind that the Indian 3-year bachelor’s degree is usually not considered equivalent to a 4-year bachelor’s degree – the exception being the 4-year BTech qualification. In this case students need to fulfil the 4-year requirement by completing a diploma program from a recognised institution or year 1 of the two-year master’s program in India before they start their master’s in the US. As for the ability to work after graduation, though the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program is being reviewed by current government administration officials, presently STEM students enjoy a two-year extension on their visa, while students in other fields have a year to find employment under OPT.
Traditionally the United Kingdom was a popular destination for Indian students interested in pursuing master’s programs in business, humanities, law and the arts. Although changes in immigration rules have resulted in a significant drop in the number of students going from India to study in the UK, it remains a wonderful option for those who are looking for high-quality education and global experience.
The UK has fewer educational institutions than the US, but continues to attract international students because of its heritage in education, well-reputed universities, abundant resources and excellent faculty. Fees are generally lower than the US or Canada and most master’s programs are one year in duration, which translates to lower living and tuition costs. International students can get work experience because they are eligible to work for up to 20 hours per week while enrolled in full time study. Once the course is over, students need to find a sponsor for their work visa. The UK is a great option for students who are prepared to return to India and apply their learning and leverage their network to find employment.
With cheaper tuition fees and excellent teaching facilities, Australia is a big draw for many Indian students, who also want to stay on to enjoy a better quality of life. The visa rules have very recently been updated and now students will need to be more focused on their line of study to apply for residency. Institutions like Melbourne University and Australian National University offer a variety of master’s programs, from finance and accounting, to business, culinary skills and engineering programs. The Indian 3-year bachelor degree is recognised in Australia and most universities do not require the GRE exam, however students must still demonstrate language proficiency through IELTS. If your goal is to immigrate, then Australia offers opportunities to live and work once the master’s degree is complete, provided you meet specified criteria.
New Zealand is a relatively new destination offering excellent educational opportunities. Its leading universities offer master’s courses in subject areas of business, humanities and technology. Animation is also a very popular course at universities in New Zealand as is hospitality. The culture at these universities is research intensive and that is why it attracts a number of master’s aspirants. Being a young country, New Zealand welcomes international students to its cities such as Auckland and Canterbury, and its employment and immigration policies are friendly for applicants seeking work after graduating.
Countries like Germany, The Netherlands and Ireland are great options for Indian students for different reasons. Germany offers some excellent programs for those interested in automotive and mechanical engineering. The Netherlands offers a wide range of degree courses in English for international students, a great learning environment and the fees are among the lowest in Europe. They also allow students to pursue job opportunities up to one year after graduation. Ireland is an English-speaking nation and is popular for its courses in finance, management, engineering and software. International students who qualify for the third-level graduate scheme in Ireland can seek full time employment on their student visa. The Minister for Education and Skills of Ireland in 2017 agreed to give permission to double the ‘stay-back option’ for masters and PhD students from 12 months to 24 months*.
Singapore and Japan are also emerging as popular destinations for management and technical students. Proximity, lower costs and advancements in the fields of management and the sciences in both countries are the attraction for many students.
All of these destinations can offer rich learning experiences for international students. What you choose really depends on your program of study and your goals. It’s important to do your research and pursue a master’s degree from a well-reputed and accredited university abroad.
*Ireland information updated on August 17, 2017