5 cool European cities where you can do a Master’s for free

Thinking about postgraduate study, but worried about the cost? We’ll let you in on a little secret – you can do a Master’s in Europe for free (and in English)!

If you’re stuck between travelling or further study after graduating, why not combine both and do an MA in Europe? The best part is it could be completely free!

You can now get postgrad loans to cover the cost of studying an MA in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, but it’ll still add to your pile of student debt and you’ll likely have to stump up for living costs.

But many countries in Europe have state-funded universities meaning that EU students can study for free! We’ve picked out some of the best options.

Is university free in Europe?

Not everywhere, but in some countries it certainly is! Many of Europe’s university systems are publicly funded, which means that higher education is often partially or fully subsidised by each country’s government.

As a result, they can provide top class education for a fraction of the price we currently pay in the UK, and in some cases even offer free courses.

In other words, UK students can avoid high tuition fees at home by hopping over to mainland Europe to study instead – as long as we remain in the EU, that is!

The only catch is that some countries that offer free tuition have higher living costs than the UK, meaning the money you save on your degree could end up going on rent and food instead – so make sure you do some thorough research before picking your destination!

The 5 best places to do a free master’s degree

Here’s our pick of some of the best cities in Europe where you could do a master’s for free and make your home for a year or two.

We’ve chosen these cities not just because they offer free (or substantially cheaper) postgrad courses in English (and at some of the best unis in the world) but because we think these cities are student friendly and would make for a particularly interesting experience abroad.

  1. Berlin, Germany

    study in berlin germany europe

    Easily one of the trendiest cities in Europe, Berlin is super laid back and a serious hotspot for creativity. Also the home of German techno, you certainly won’t struggle to come across some great bars and clubs for a good night out. Berlin not only oozes with coolness, but you’ll be happy to hear it’s also really cheap to live there!

    Master’s tuition fees for UK students: None

    Non-EU student tuition fees: Free in Berlin, although other areas of the country have started charging non-EU students.

    Best universities for overseas students: Freie University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin

    Financial support available to UK students: None, unless one of your parents has German citizenship, you have a German spouse or you’ve lived in Germany for five years. Check out DAAD UK for postgraduate scholarships for study in Germany.

    % of the population able to chat about the weather in English: 56% (in Germany overall, but this figure will be much higher in their multicultural capital)

    Cost of a pint: £2.40

    Why choose Germany? Germany has been cited as one of the most supportive countries for international students worldwide, and Berlin’s prestigious universities combined with low living costs make it an ideal location for studying abroad.

    What’s the catch? Most students are required to pay an administration fee or ‘Semesterbeitrag’ of €50-100 per semester depending on the university. However, this often also covers a public transport ticket and entitles you to discounts, so it’s not money for nothing!

  2. Copenhagen, Denmark

    Dubbed “the coolest kid on the Nordic block” by Lonely Planet, Copenhagen is stylish to the core. Thanks to its high standards of living, chic shops and bars and low crime rate, it’s no wonder Copenhagen is also considered one of Europe’s ‘most livable’ cities. It’s not the cheapest choice, but if you budget effectively and avoid the city centre, you can turn your Danish dreams into reality.

    Master’s tuition fees for UK students: 

    Non-EU student tuition fees: Tuition fees range between €6,000 and €16,000 a year

    Best universities for overseas students: University of Copenhagen, Technical University of Denmark

    Financial support available to UK students: Typically none unless you’ve lived in Denmark for five years or more or you’re married to or the child of a Danish citizen. Check out the Danish State Educational Support website for more details.

    % of the population able to chat about the weather in English: 86%

    Cost of a pint: £5.08

    Why choose Denmark? There are loads of things we love about Denmark, but perhaps the best thing is that it’s ranked the least corrupt country in the world. Denmark is also known for providing some of the highest quality master’s programs in English outside of English-speaking countries.

    What’s the catch? As you can see from the price of a pint, it ain’t cheap! However, salaries are relative to the living costs in Denmark, so a part-time job should provide more than enough beer money if you have the time to spare. The grants and loans available to international students would also be a big help, but watch out for the T&Cs mentioned above!

  3. Stockholm, Sweden

    Sweden’s gorgeous capital city is made up of 14 different islands – each said to have its own distinct identity. Stockholm is painfully stylish, effortlessly cool, and with English on every school curriculum, you can easily get by without worrying about speaking the local language. There’s certainly more to Sweden than IKEA and meatballs, that’s for sure!

    Master’s tuition fees for UK students: None

    Non-EU student tuition fees: €90 application fee plus university tuition rate (can be anything from €8,140 and €14,245 a year)

    Best universities for overseas students: Stockholm University, plus six more universities in the city to choose from (all offering courses in English)

    Financial support available to UK students: None unless you have permanent right of residence in Sweden, have lived in Sweden for five years or more, are running a company in Sweden or you are married to, co-habiting with or the child of an EU/Swiss citizen working in Sweden

    % of the population able to chat about the weather in English: 86%

    Cost of a pint: £5

    Why choose Sweden? Home to the largest number of multinational companies per capita in the world, Sweden has been a leader in innovation for… well, forever really. Universities encourage a form of learning where students are taught to question everything and to think critically – it seems to have worked well for them, anyway!

    What’s the catch? Like its neighbouring Denmark, Sweden also isn’t the cheapest place to study. Make sure you thoroughly budget your living costs for the year and see if you can live outside the city to keep costs low.

  4. Vienna, Austria

    Vienna is a city well known for being both culturally and musically rich, and with an increasing number of master’s courses being offered in English, the city is quickly building its rep as a hub for international students.

    Master’s tuition fees for UK students: None (but you are obliged to pay €19.20 per semester to cover student insurance and become a member of the Austrian Student Union)

    Non-EU student tuition fees: €726.72 per semester (however, this fee doesn’t apply to students from certain developing countries)

    Best universities for overseas students: University of Vienna, University of Innsbruck

    Financial support available to UK students: None

    % of the population able to chat about the weather in English: 73%

    Cost of a pint: £2.61

    Why choose Austria? All students receive a student identity card that gets them discounted public transport, free entry to museums and events (although sometimes an age restriction of 24-27 years is applied).

    What’s the catch? A lot of the perks of being a student (such as the discounts mentioned above) only apply to students under the age of 27, so not ideal for anyone who has taken a bit of time out between undergrad and postgrad courses.

  5. Amsterdam, the Netherlands

    For a city of only 200km² (about the size of Reading), Amsterdam manages to cram just about everything that’s great about urban life into one easy-to-cycle space. There’s beer on every corner and you can strike up a conversation with pretty much anyone in a bar thanks to their perfect English, so it’s a great place to spend a year or two studying abroad. Just don’t waste too much time in the ‘coffee shops’ and you’ll make it to graduation!

    Master’s tuition fees for UK students: €2,060 per year (we know, this isn’t technically free tuition, but we’re including Amsterdam because it’s a great city for students, the fees are still way cheaper than you’ll find in the UK, and there’s lots of financial support available to students)

    Non-EU student tuition fees: From €8,000 to €20,000 a year depending on the university

    Best universities for overseas students: University of Amsterdam, Leiden University (neighbouring city, around 20 mins train ride away)

    Financial support available to UK students: Many EU students are eligible for student finance in the Netherlands, which includes a regular loan of €486.08 a month, a supplementary grant of €396.39 a month and a tuition fee loan of €173.58 a month. To find out whether you’re eligible, this page on the Dutch Ministry of Education website should have all the details you need.

    % of the population able to chat about the weather in English: 90% (and this figure will be even higher in Amsterdam)

    Cost of a pint: £3.88

    Why choose the Netherlands? The Dutch way of life is very laid back, and Amsterdam is perfectly suited to student life – it’s compact, creative, liberal and full of history. It’s also famous for its nightlife if you’re up for a party while you study!

    What’s the catch? The bureaucracy. There’s a lot of financial support available to students in various forms, but dealing with the paperwork to get access to the benefits can be extremely difficult. It’s definitely worth looking into and perhaps getting a Dutch person to help you sort everything out. Also don’t forget that as a capital city and busy tourist destination, prices in Amsterdam can be quite high if you don’t find the cheap areas.

Don’t forget to budget in the cost of travelling to and from your chosen destination each semester. Use our guide to finding the cheapest flights for the best deals.