How To: Get Your Master’s Degree Abroad

When I started the process of looking at going to school abroad the #1 issue I ran into wasn’t a lack of information but a lack of information compiled in one place. So this is about to be a long, long post but my hope is that it makes someone out there feel like it’s possible for them.

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If that’s you please shoot me a note (kelseyjbardwell@gmail.com) or leave a comment below with any questions – I’d love to hear from you!

  1. Pick the country
  2. Pick the school
    1. Factors I considered:
      1. Total Cost (Tuition + Housing + Living Expenses)
      2. End goals (i.e.: Some MBA’s are worth the extra cost if you want to be a CEO)
      3. Difficulty of application process (I wanted to avoid the GMAT if possible due to cost and working full time)
      4. Start Dates (September vs. January)
      5. Location (Rural vs. City)
  3. School Application
    1.  UKPass
      1. If you’re going within the UK most likely you’ll end up storing most of your common information on a site called UK Pass so you can reuse it for multiple applications
    2. You’ll need..
      1. Transcripts from undergrad
      2. References (Personal and Professional)
      3. Application Form
      4. Personal Essay
      5. GMAT scores (dependent on program)
  4. You got in!
    1. Conditional vs. Unconditional offers
      1. Pretty self-explanatory but a Conditional offer is essentially a wait list pending either a spot opening up or you getting in an additional piece to your application packet
    2. Start transferring $$ each month
      1. Knowing I was heading to the most expensive city on earth I started setting aside a few hundred dollars a month to cover living expenses while I was there
    3. Complete school forms
      1. Most universities have some form of a student contract you’ll need to sign
  5. FAFSA (unless you’re lucky enough to not have loans)
    1. Can’t apply until Jan 1 of the year you’ll start school
    2. Need to complete taxes first
    3. Factor In:
      1. Tuition costs
      2. Housing costs
        1. A UK Tier 4 Visa requires that you show funds for tuition plus housing (Housing is estimated at 11,385 GBP/year). Electing loans means you do not need to show that amount in your bank account.
      3. Estimate your expenses
        1. You can take out loans for anything school related (books, transportation (Oyster card for the tube), etc.)
    4. US banks do not support International universities
      1. Wells Fargo, for example, only provides Private loans for US schools
    5. Your two main options for Federal loans are:
      1. US Direct Unsubsidized ($20,500 max; based on citizenship)
        1. Remember those wonderful Subsidized loans that didn’t charge you interest while you were in undergrad? No go on those for Grad school.
      2. Grad PLUS ($100,000 max; credit check will determine eligibility)
        1. Entrance counseling
        2. Sign Master Promissory Note
  6. Scholarships
    1. Richmond’s scholarship application was a personal essay and they also award some based on academic performance from your undergraduate degree
  7. Housing
    1. Schools will offer “campus” housing or you can go it yourself. I chose the former just knowing I would feel a level of comfort having it through the school plus I could get a single room and not have random Craigslist roommates. Additionally, most leases are for a full year so if your program ends before that you’re a bit stuck.
    2. Complete the Housing Application
    3. Deposit + Wire transfer fee ($500 + $50)
    4. Opt in for a Meal Plan? I’d recommend no – the British dining centers won’t compare with anything you had in a US undergrad program guaranteed.
  8. Loan Confirmation Letter
    1. Need to receive this letter from your school’s Financial Aid office before you can move forward with anything else. This won’t come until they’ve received your completed FAFSA from the US government.
  9. CAS Request Form
    1. Will be issued from your school when:
      1. Offer is unconditional
      2. Paid 50% of fees or have loan proof (from Loan Confirmation letter)
  10. International Visa (Tier 4 Student Visa)
    1. www.gov.UK/apply-UK-visa
    2. Visa Application will require:
      1. CAS # from university
      2. Up to date passport
        1. I needed to renew mine ($120)
      3. Supporting Documents
        1. Final, Original, Official transcript ($20)
          1. I went in person and got mine from Bethel in a sealed envelope
      4. Loan Confirmation letter from university
    3. Immigration Health Surcharge ($342)
      1. Makes you eligible for UK National Health insurance for the year you’re there
    4. Visa Fee ($499)
      1. Pay online when you apply
    5. Once you complete your online application you go in person for your Visa Appointment
      1. Visa Application Center
        1. Fingerprints/photograph taken for Biometric Residence Permit
        2. Determine if you need a Credibility Interview
          1. Often used to determine English proficiency – I didn’t need to have one
    6. Mail copies of EVERYTHING noted above to the British Consulate in NYC ($50 via courier) from a UPS store
      1. Don’t need priority shipping unless you’re running really short on time. I sent in my packet around the end of July with my program starting September 5th.
      2. Include return envelope/label in packet
  11. Book your one way flight!
  12. Gather Biometric Residence Permit
    1. When your visa has cleared they’ll mail you information on where to get your permit
    2. Have to pick it up within 10 days of arriving in UK

Estimated Application Total Costs = $1,581.00

Oofta that was long. I know it seems expensive and time-consuming and it is. But the payoff is the most incredible, life-altering, growth encouraging experience.

And worth it if you get to go to HP Studios right?? Maybe that’s just me..

*Disclaimer: This process was unique to my experience with Richmond and applying for a Tier-4 student visa in the UK. Please consult with your university and supporting government for specific questions.

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2 thoughts on “How To: Get Your Master’s Degree Abroad

  1. Valuable information!! I never realized the full extent of work that you put in to this!! Point #11 still bothers me…just sayin’

    Like

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