The Study in Europe website covers higher education in 33 European countries. Each country has its own nationally governed higher education system, but all form part of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA).
The EHEA system helps to ensure that higher education systems across Europe are compatible and that students, researchers and academics in Europe can collaborate and study or work abroad more easily.
Differences with the American higher education system
Below, a few differences between the European higher education system and the American higher education system are listed:
Higher education institutions
In Europe, there are countries with a higher education system based upon a distinction between higher education institutions, universities of applied sciences and research universities.
Universities of applied sciences are focused on the practical application of arts and science. Research universities offer research-orientated programmes in an academic setting.
There is no distinction between universities of applied sciences and research universities in the United States.
The grading system differs per country in Europe. In Austria, grades form 1 to 5 are used, with 1 being excellent and 5 being insufficient. In some European countries, grades are based on percentages from 0 to 100 and in other, grades range from A to F, or from 1 to 10.
In colleges and universities in the United States, the grading system is based on a 4.0 scale from A to F, where ‘A’ is the highest grade you can receive and ‘F’, the lowest.
Tuition fees for non-EU students in Europe range from approximately €1,000 to €20,000 per year. Tuition fees in the United States are generally higher than those in Europe.
Typical tuition fees at public universities for undergraduate and graduate programmes in the United States range from $10,000 to $70,000 per year for international students.
Content of study programmes in Europe
Most study programmes in Europe involve lectures and classes, assessed through essay assignments, exams and coursework. Some also involve a period of time working in industry or on industry-related projects.
Higher education qualifications in Europe
Higher education qualifications in Europe are structured according to three ‘cycles’ defined as part of the Bologna Process
Most full-time Bachelor's study programmes in Europe last 3 or 4 years (this will be longer if you study part-time).
To do a Bachelor’s degree, you usually need school qualifications – this varies, so check the entry requirements for your chosen study programme.
A Bachelor’s degree can be a great way to prepare for further study, as well as for skilled employment.
Most full-time Master's study programmes in Europe last 1 or 2 years (this will be longer if you study part-time).
To study a Master’s degree, you usually need a Bachelor’s degree or other undergraduate qualification.
Master’s degrees are a great way to develop professional and research competences. A Master’s degree may be research-focused or more modular and assessed by coursework and/or exams.
Most study programmes involve lectures and classes, with assessment through essays, exams and coursework. Some also involve a period of time working in industry or working on industry-related projects.
Most full-time doctorates in Europe last around 3 or 4 years (this will be longer if you study part-time).
To do a doctorate, including a PhD, you usually need a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree.
Doctorates are ideal for people with a passion for research. They are especially useful if you want to work in academia, become a specialist in a particular field, or an industry researcher.
Doctorates typically focus on independent study and research, specialised in one particular subject.
To apply, you usually have to submit a research proposal, outlining what your doctorate aims to achieve.
Research programmes in Europe
EURAXESS is the European Union’s (EU) website for researchers wishing to pursue their research careers in Europe. On EURAXESS, you can find information about funding and scholarships for research programmes, as well as advice on planning your move to Europe as a professional researcher.
You can also search through over 40,000 research jobs per year in universities, research institutes and industry across Europe.
As well as the main EURAXESS website, there are national websites for 40 countries in Europe, providing more detailed information about each country.