Best Countries in Europe to Do Your Economics Master’s Degree

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Best Countries in Europe to Do Your Economics Master’s Degree

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Studying abroad: what an adventure! The majority who've done it usually say they loved it, and that despite some difficulties, the experience was unforgettable. It makes sense, too: for little can compare to the excitement of moving abroad, exploring a foreign culture, practicing a new language (perhaps), and meeting people that you would never have met otherwise.

The exposure to new peoples, conversations, and ways of life is thrilling, healthy, and a great thing to do while studying. Is it challenging? Well, yes, but the worthwhile things in life tend to be, and if you’re already considering studying economics abroad for your Master’s, you're likely up to the task. Fortunately, economics is a subject that is applicable no matter where you study it – economic truths, unlike legal systems and medical licenses, don’t change across borders.

Suggested Opportunities

Do you find the prospect appealing? Then the obvious first question is: where to go? There are many places around the world to consider, of course, though this article will focus on places to study abroad in Europe. 

Europe’s a big place, and the options may seem intimidatingly endless. To assist you with sorting through your options for this momentous decision, we’ve compiled a list of the best European countries where you can study abroad, paying particular attention to the costs (ever an important consideration!), and what the country has to offer.


The Netherlands, consistently rated as one of the happiest countries in the world, also happens to be a great place to study. However, the cost of studying is a bit higher than some other options on this list. For Dutch students, and those from EU/EEA countries, Switzerland or Surinam, most of the cost of studying at Dutch universities is covered by the government. That being said, all students are required to contribute a statutory tuition fee, also known as ‘collegegeld’, which typically comes to around 2000 euros (which is two thousand; take note, dear reader, that Europeans use periods and commas the opposite way that Americans do). For non-EU/EEA students these costs can be higher and dependent on your prospective institution, course, etc. 

English speakers may be interested to know that Dutch higher education institutions offer a very high proportion of courses taught in English. Though, if you speak Dutch, all the better for your immersion!

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In many respects, the prospect of living in Italy sells itself. Few places can match its natural beauty, architecture, historical sites, gastronomy, wine, and seductively slow way of life. If that wasn't enough, it’s affordable too, with living costs averaging about €1000-2000 per month (depending on lifestyle and your lodging situation, of course), and the average tuition for Master's degrees is between €850-2000 per year at public institutions.

Rome is, of course, one of the most famous cities in the world. But many other Italian cities are very worth living in too, and have fewer tourists to boot. Don’t forget to check out study opportunities in Florence, Milan, Pisa, and more.

Fancy some of la dolce vita? Yes of course you do.

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France has long been a favorite of the adventurous international student, for good reason. Paris sets the country’s tone, boasting exquisite art, fashion and food. If the city of love is little too pricey – living costs there are among the highest in Europe, after all – there’s also the gastronomic capital Lyon, the hub of the wine-growing region Bordeaux, and the Spain-bordering Toulouse, which are all far more affordable

English speakers will be pleased to note that there are many programs taught in English in the French higher education system. Still, we politely remind you that this is no excuse not to at least attempt to learn a little French – the locals will appreciate it. For EU/EEA citizens a Master's degree will cost you around €260 per year. If you’re an international student, however, owing to a recent change in the rules, it’ll cost you €3,770.

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As a country, Spain may just have it all. Great weather, diverse landscapes, fascinating history, delicious wine, and friendly, passionate people. And, in terms of getting by, Spanish is supposed to be an ‘easy’ language to learn, and is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. As such, learning Spanish is always a good choice. Yes, the reasons to live – and study – in Spain are many! 

Now onto the study stuff. Citizens of the EU can attend public university in Spain without cost. For foreigners, tuition is set by the government, and calculated using the slightly unusual pay-per-credit format. A typical Master's degree costs between €900-3,500 per year depending on how fast you do it – so there is quite a range. Private universities can be quite expensive as well, up to €20000. And of course, you must consider living expenses, which can run another €1000 or so per month.

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United Kingdom 

The UK houses some of the oldest and most esteemed educational institutions in the world: the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Glasgow and Edinburgh, take your pick. Graduate from one of these educational giants, and doors will open for you, that’s guaranteed. Interestingly, one in four world leaders studied in the UK at one time or another, so if its power you’re after, well, look no further. As mentioned, enjoying this privilege will cost you a pretty penny. On average, a taught Master’s degree in the UK is £11,000. Unfortunately, Brexit has disrupted many of the scholarship programs that were available to EU and international students. There are still some out there, but they are in dwindling supply... Better get saving.

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Germany is renowned for its generosity when it comes to higher education. (Which more than one member of the INOMICS editorial team have personally benefitted from!). In 15 of its 16 states, public universities charge no tuition, regardless of degree or nationality. 

There are, however, some costs to consider. Some states in Germany may have additional fees for international students, such as the state of Baden-Württemberg, which recently introduced fees of €1,500 per semester for international (non-EU) students. Even so, Germany remains one of the cheapest places to study abroad in the world.

Study in Germany and you’ll experience a country with a unique history and an unavoidably vibrant culture. Its nickname "Das Land der Dichter und Denker" (the country of poets and thinkers) is highly apt. Interested in studying in Germany, but don’t know how to get started? Check out our guide for applying to get your German student visa.

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Ireland is one of the pricier places on the list. But similar to the UK, that should not rule it out of contention, far from it. Ireland boasts some of the best universities in Europe - think Trinity College Dublin and the National University of Ireland, Galway. Although widely varied, Master’s students from the EU/EAA tend to pay around €6000 per year, while international students pay upwards of €9000. 

Seem steep? A little, but the education you'll get is second to none. And, Ireland is famous for its beautiful landscapes like the Cliffs Moher, earning it the nickname “Emerald Isle”.

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Famed for its neutrality and high gun ownership, Switzerland is also rare for being one of the few countries in the world, and the only one in Europe, with instruments of direct democracy. This gives citizens the right to instigate changes to the constitution and/or ask for referenda to be held on any law voted on at any level of government. To go along with this interesting fact, here’s two more that are relevant to your studies: Switzerland boasts four national languages (Romansch, Italian, French, and German) and is one of the most expensive countries to live in Europe.

Master’s tuition fee ranges between CHF 3,000 to CHF 13,000, with Master’s programs in private institutions higher than that, naturally. If you're planning on doing an MBA expect to pay around CHF 24,000, with some reaching as much as CHF 85,000. This may sound a bit expensive but one should bear in mind, Swiss universities are prestigious and are routinely found in the worldwide top 200 list – the education you will receive will be first-class.

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The Portuguese higher-education system has a reputation for being particularly research-oriented, though its polytechnics also offer students the chance to study in professional fields too. So there’s still plenty of choices for an economist interested in either academia, policy roles or industry positions

Studying abroad in Portugal is a bit more cheap than some of the other countries on this list. One should expect to pay between €950-1300 in yearly tuition for a Master’s, and living expenses range from €1000-2000 per month.

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Belgian chocolate may be all that’s needed to persuade some. For the others, read on!

First, the housekeeping: tuition fees for Master's degrees in Belgium can be a little bit confusing, ranging from as little as €800 per year for EU students to as much at €3000 per year for those coming from outside of the European Union (at public institutions). To help offset that cost, though, the Belgian government has an array of scholarships available, many specifically aimed at international students. 

And some miscellaneous bonuses: Belgium has a high quality of education, offers great beer and amazing waffles, and it has three official languages – perfect for the polyglot.

Browse top economics Master's programs in Belgium


Fancy doing your Master's degree in the birthplace of Freud, Mozart and Schwazenegger? Although not always the first country to spring to mind, there are numerous reasons to consider the homeland of these three giants. 

First, the standard of living is high: consulting agency Mercer has ranked the capital Vienna as the city with the world’s highest quality of life yet again in 2023. On top of that, If you’re an EU/EEA national, you won’t have to pay any tuition fees, come from outside Europe, and you’ll be obliged to pay a relatively small amount per semester. It’s also at the center of Europe – geographically speaking – so you’ll be spoilt for choice when trying to travel. A quick train or bus ride, and you can be anywhere.

Cost of living index for comparisons: 
Disclaimer: statistics have been taken from a variety of online sources including: Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, Campus France, France Expatica, UCAS, DAAD, Education in Ireland, Canapprove, University of Porto, Study in Belgium, Study in Austria. 


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