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Masters in Asia - an Overview

Studying a Masters in Asia is becoming an increasingly popular choice for students looking for innovative postgraduate programmes.

Having invested heavily in their higher education systems, countries like Singapore, India, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates are now looking to recruit more promising international Masters students to make the most of their postgraduate opportunities.

This means that now can be a great time to study abroad in Asia! That’s why we’ve put together a series of detailed guides to help you find your ideal Asian Masters degree.

To get started, just pick a country from the menu on the left.

Or, if you’ve got general questions about studying a Masters in Asia, stay on this page and we’ll do our best to answer them.

How popular is Masters study in Asia?

In a word: very.

European and North American universities may top rankings tables, but they’re facing more and more competition from up-and-coming Asian institutions.

These universities are building high-tech campuses, developing cutting edge facilities and exploring new academic research areas. Basically, they’re ticking all the boxes necessary to create excellent and innovative postgraduate programmes.

Where do international students study in Asia?

Some Asian countries have always attracted large numbers of international applicants. Japan, for example, already hosts over 150,000 foreign students – making it the seventh most popular study abroad destination in the world.

Other parts of Asia have seen substantial increases in recent years as the size and reputation of their higher education sectors have expanded.

They include countries like South Korea (where nearly 60,000 students study abroad – many in the high-tech mega-city of Seoul) and India (where the higher education sector has nearly doubled in size during the 21st century).

The ASEAN network

Many of Asia’s fastest growing education hubs are members of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) network. This includes small countries like Malaysia and Singapore that have invested heavily in new universities. The number of students studying in these countries is often quite remarkable; Singapore – a city-state – is home to nearly 50,000 international students.

Are Asian universities well ranked?

Despite their relative youth, Asian universities are already doing incredibly well in international rankings tables.

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2014-2015 featured the National University of Singapore in 25th place out of 400 institutions worldwide – that’s no mean feat for any university, let alone one that’s only a little over a hundred years old.

Japan’s flagship University of Tokyo does slightly better in 23rd place, whilst South Korea’s Seoul National University is 50th.

As a prospective postgraduate you should also bear in mind that the quality of Masters degrees in Asia isn’t just reflected by rankings.

Even universities that don’t yet feature at the top of league tables will offer innovative higher degree programmes, taking advantage of brand new facilities and emerging research areas.

Do rankings matter for Masters degrees?

International rankings use all sorts of metrics to assess universities and they aren't all equally relevant to postgraduate study. That's why we've put together a guide to university rankings for Masters students.

International campuses in Asia

As well as taking advantage of excellent domestic universities, you can also study a Masters in Asia at one of a growing number of international campuses.

These are becoming increasingly popular as established universities in Europe or North America set up branches in emerging higher education hubs. With its substantial local investment and rising student numbers, Asia is a particularly popular option for these ventures.

Some Asian cities are renowned for their wide range of international education facilities - for example, Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates is home to a range of innovative branch campuses.

International campuses can be a great option if you’re looking to study a Masters abroad. They often operate in partnership with local universities, offering the reputation of a European institution along with the innovation and academic vigour that’s putting Asian higher education on the world map.

A Masters degree from an Asian branch campus can also combine local research and training opportunities with the academic expertise of their ‘home’ institution (and the opportunity to study in English).

What are international campuses?

International campuses can be a great way to benefit from a region's expertise whilst studying within a familiar format. For more information on studying a Masters at an overseas branch campus (in Asia, or elsewhere) check out our detailed guide.

How expensive are Masters degrees in Asia?

You won’t be surprised to learn that the cost of studying a Masters in Asia can vary quite significantly between individual countries.

That said, some of the best Asian universities charge significantly less for their Masters degrees than equally prestigious European and North American institutions.

Japan, for example, is the best-ranked and most popular Asian study destination, but its universities only charge an average of $7,000-8000 for their Masters degree programmes.

Malaysia, meanwhile, charges as little as $560 for some postgraduate courses, whilst Singapore subsidises some tuition fees for applicants who wish to work in the country after graduation.

Do international students pay more to study a Masters in Asia?

Not necessarily. Many Asian countries are keen to encourage international students and their course fees reflect this.

Some, such as South Korea, make a point of charging the same rate for domestic and overseas applicants. Others offer generous scholarship programmes to attract high quality international students.

Are Masters degrees in Asia taught in English?

You might assume that language would be a bit of barrier to studying abroad in Asia. After all, Indian, Malaysia and Korean aren’t particularly common subjects in Europe and America (not yet, anyway). Thankfully Asia’s universities have taken it upon themselves to address this issue by developing a wide range of international-language programmes.

All popular Asian study destinations will offer some Masters degrees in English and some, such as India, have actually gone as far as delivering all of their postgraduate courses in this way.

You can read more about language requirements for international postgraduates in Asia in our specific country guides. Just pick a destination from the menu on the left.

Language training and language tests

Of course, just because you don’t have to learn another language to study in Asia doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pick up some new language skills whilst studying in Asia.

Part of the reason for studying abroad is to develop new skills and experiences, after all. And, with Asian economies continuing to expand, who’s to say that knowing a bit of Chinese or Japanese won’t come in handy later in your career?

You can read more about language training and language tests for Masters students in Asia (or elsewhere) in our guides to international language tests.

Last updated - 12/04/2016

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