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Where Can You Study a Masters for Free?

Written by Sarah Hastings-Woodhouse

If you’re looking to study a Masters abroad, it’s likely that tuition fees and funding options will play a large role in your choice of destination. Luckily, there are plenty of budget-friendly options out there for prospective international students.

This guide will list the cheapest study abroad locations around the world, including several where you may be able to study abroad for free! We’ll talk about countries providing free education, what caveats apply, and any other associated costs that you should budget for.

It’s worth noting that many European countries only offer free tuition for EU nationals. Students from countries outside the EU (including the UK) may have to pay higher fees. However, there are several countries that offer free (or very cheap) Masters degrees to students of all nationalities.

Free for everyone

The following countries have generous higher education policies that offer free education to everyone, regardless of nationality:

Iceland

Public universities in Iceland do not charge tuition fees to students of any nationality, for any level of study.

Is there a catch?

While students in Iceland are not technically charged for tuition, all students at public universities must pay an annual registration fee of €535, which is determined by the Icelandic Parliament. Students with disabilities can apply to pay a reduced fee of €390.

Of the seven universities in Iceland, three are private (Reykjavík University, Bifröst University, and Iceland Academy of the Arts). Fees at private universities range from €4,290-15,880 per year.

The cost of Masters study in Iceland may be low, but the cost of living, unfortunately, is not. The Welfare Division of Reykjavík City recommends that students budget around €1,400 per month to cover living expenses, including €715 for rent and €355 for food.

Read more about studying and living in Iceland.

Germany

Most public universities in Germany do not charge tuition fees to Masters students, regardless of nationality. The only exception is the state of Baden-Wurttemberg, which charges €1,500 to non-EU students.

Is there a catch?

Not really! Germany is renowned for its generous higher education policies. Unlike Nordic countries with free tuition but high living costs, such as Iceland and Norway, Germany is not an especially expensive country. The recommended budget for international students in Germany is €867 per month, which is on par with the EU average.

All students are required to pay a semester contribution of €100-350. This helps fund student support services (Studentenwerk) and the students’ representative body (AstA). It will usually include the cost of a public transport pass (Semesterticket), for your local area, which can be worth up to €200.

In some states, you may be required to pay an administrative fee of €50-75. You might also be charged up to €500 per semester if you exceed in the regular study period (because you need to retake a module, for example).

Read more about studying, living and Masters funding in Germany.

Brazil

The right to free education is enshrined in the Brazilian Federal Constitution, meaning that you can study abroad in Brazil for free!

Is there a catch?

While tuition is free for international students at public universities is free, the majority of higher education institutions (around 2,000) are private. There are still 300 public universities to choose from, but admission is competitive. You will have to pay fees of between BRL 18,540 to BRL 37,730 (USD $3,305 to USD $6,720)

If you do manage to secure a spot at a public university however, you won’t have to worry about your free tuition being cancelled out by high living costs. Brazil is an affordable country, with accommodation options available for as little as R$160 (USD $50) per month.

Read more about studying and living in Brazil.

Czech Republic

By law, all courses at public universities in the Czech Republic are completely free… if taught in Czech. Students must pay an admission fee of €20-30.

So, if you’re looking to take up the challenge of studying your Masters in Czech, you won’t have to pay any tuition fees, regardless of your nationality.

Is there a catch?

The obvious caveat is that free tuition is only available to those willing to study in Czech. Programmes taught in foreign languages (which include English, French, Russian, Italian, Spanish and German) may charge tuition fees of up to €22,860. There are a number of free foreign language Masters degrees available, however.

You may also incur some fees if you take longer than expected to complete your course. If you exceed the regular length of study by more than one year, you can be charged a maximum of €615.

Read more about studying and living in the Czech Republic.

Free for EU nationals

EU, EEA and Swiss nationals are entitled to study in Europe for free.

Norway

While Masters programmes in Norway are free for students from EU/EEA and Switzerland, there has been an announcement that from autumn 2023, there will be tuition fees for students from outside EU/EEA and Switzerland. We're currently waiting for these to be confirmed.

Postgraduate students may have to pay a small semester fee of €30-60. You’ll need to pay this fee to register for classes, sit examinations and attain a student card. It also covers membership of your university’s student welfare organisation, allowing you to access numerous benefits such as sports activities, social events and counselling. Your student card also entitles you to reduced public transport fares and cheaper entry to cultural attractions.

Is there a catch?

Though EU students in Norway do not have to pay tuition fees, you should bear in mind that living costs are higher than in many other European countries. The Norwegian government recommends that students budget approximately €1,320 per month to cover living expenses. You’ll also need to prove that you have access to at least this amount to apply for a student visa.

Tuition is only free at public universities. If you want to attend a private university, you can expect to pay fees of €400-9,360 per year.

Read more about studying, living and Masters funding in Norway.

Denmark

Universities in Denmark do not charge any tuition fees for EU, EEA and Swiss nationals. All other international students will have to pay full tuition fees, which range from around €6,000 to 16,000.

The cost of living in Denmark is relatively high (though so is its standard of living!). Average monthly living expenses for students range between €870 and 1,240.

Read more about studying and living in Denmark.

Finland

Masters study in Finland is free for EU, EEA and Swiss nationals. All of other international students pay fees of between €4,000 and €18,000 per year. You will also need to pay a student union fee of €80-100, which entitles you to discounts in restaurants and on public transport.

Read more about studying and living in Finland.

Sweden

EU, EEA and Swiss nationals do not have to pay tuition fees in Sweden and are also exempt from administrative fees. You may occasionally have to pay tuition fees if completing a joint or multiple-degree programme.

British citizens who have been living in Sweden since before the end of the EU withdrawal period are also exempt from tuition fees, provided they applied for Swedish residence status before 31st December 2021.

All other international students will need to pay fees, which are usually between €7,265 and €26,792 per academic year, with an average of €11,716. They will also need to pay a €90 application fee.

Other study-related expenses you might encounter in Sweden include €70 per month for textbooks, and between €5-35 for student union membership.

Read more about studying, living and funding in Sweden.

Poland

Masters study in Poland is free for EU and EEA nationals (you will still need to pay an administrative fee of up to €200, however). You may also be exempt from tuition fees if you have Polish heritage and meet the conditions to be granted a Polish Card (Karta Polaka).

All other international students will need to pay tuition fees, which cost an average of €3,000 per year. Fees can be as high as €6,000 per year, or €12,000 for MBA programmes.

Read more about studying and living in Poland.

Austria

EU, EEA and Swiss nationals don’t pay any tuition fees at Austrian universities. However, you’ll need to complete your programme within the regular study period, which is equivalent to the minimum duration of your programme, plus two semesters (usually around three years). After this, you’ll be charged €363.36 per semester.

Austrian universities of applied sciences (Fachhochschulen) are technically allowed to charge domestic and EU students fees for up to €363.36 per semester from the beginning of their programme – but many of them do not.

All other international students will pay tuition fees, but these are still relatively low compared to other European countries, at €726.72 per semester, or €2,906.88 for a full two-year Masters.

All students, regardless of nationality, will need to pay a Student Union membership fee of €20.70 per semester.

Read more about studying and living in Austria.

Lithuania

University students in Lithuania are either self-funded or state financed. State-financed students have the entire cost of their tuition covered by the government. Though most of these places go to Lithuanian students, EU nationals are also eligible to apply.

Self-funded students pay fees starting at around €2,300.

Read more about studying and living in Lithuania.

Honourable mentions

While tuition in the following countries isn’t quite free, you can still expect to pay considerably less than in most other locations!

Luxembourg

Almost all courses at the University of Luxembourg (the country’s only public university) cost just €400 per year. A small minority charge higher fees of €1,000-12,200 per year.

Read more about studying and living in Luxembourg.

France

French tuition fees for domestic students, as well as EU, EEA and Swiss nationals, are capped by the government at a highly affordable €243 per year.

Other international students will have to pay higher fees of €3,770 per year.

France is also a relatively affordable country to live in, with the government estimating that students will need around €615 per month to cover living costs.

Read more about studying, living and funding in France.

Belgium

Masters study in Belgium can cost as little as €835 per year for EU nationals (other international students can expect to pay up to €4,175). Fees for specialist courses in Law, Medicine or Business may cost considerably more than this, however.

You may also have to pay an application fee of between €50 and €100.

Read more about studying and living in Belgium.

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Last updated: 23 December 2022