Applying to Grad School in Europe: How does it compare to the US?


Whether you’ve already chosen your top 3-5 grad school programs or you’re just curious to know about the process, you’ve come to the right place. If you’re looking for a simple answer, the answer is: applying to grad school anywhere in the world is quite similar. And to prove it, I’ve highlighted some key facts about applying to grad school in Europe below.


Critical to any application process is the timeline. I have encouraged past clients to start investigating programs up to 2 years in advance, to make sure that scholarship and other critical deadlines aren’t missed. But the reality is, you can probably be fine starting one year before you’d like to begin.

  • 2 Years Before Program Start: Explore Your Options
  • 1.5 Years Before Program Start: Narrow Down Your List
  • 1 Year Before Program Start: Apply, Submit, Repeat

In my experience, scholarship deadlines can be as early as the fall semester of the year before you want to start (i.e., scholarship deadline November 2016 for program start of Fall 2017), so you’ll want to start identifying application deadlines as soon as you’ve identified a program.


Similar to the application process in the US, European institutions will require several documents in order to process your application. These documents can include (but are not limited to):

  • Academic Transcripts
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Personal Statement (if you need help with this, contact me for help)

NOTE: Check each program website carefully to understand exactly what they require. There is NO standardized application process in Europe (not even at the country level in my experience!).


After applying and getting accepted, you’ll have to secure a study visa (if you are not an citizen of an EU member country), which will likely include the following documentation:

  • a copy of your Passport
  • if married, a  copy of your Marriage License
  • Proof of Funds (to show you have sufficient funds to reside–alone or with your spouse–in your host country throughout the duration of your studies)

NOTE: You must check with your host country’s embassy in Washington DC (or your home country) in order to understand exactly what documents are required for obtaining an study visa for the duration of your program. The list above are common documents required in the European I have studied and/or worked in as an American citizen.

Sound confusing? Don’t worry! I explain these documents and how to create/obtain them in greater detail in Chapter 6 & 7 of my FREE Grad School in Europe ebook. Click here to learn more about the ebook or click on the image below to download your free copy:

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