Studying undergrad abroad vs studying postgrad abroad

Paige Lyman
Paige Lyman
Published on: 12 October 2020 • 5 min read

When it comes to deciding on when to study abroad, there are two main time periods that can come into consideration for most students. The first is to study abroad during your undergraduate degree and the second is to study abroad for your postgraduate degree. When considering the right time for you to study abroad, there can be a number of factors that go into making this decision.

Thousands of students study abroad every year for various degrees, but figuring out when to can be one of the most difficult parts of the whole process. There are several differences between studying abroad as an undergrad versus as a postgrad. From cost to the variety of courses available, below we’ll walk you through some of the differences to take into consideration when figuring out when you would like to study abroad.

Length of time

Typically undergraduate studies are three to four years. So when considering studying abroad for your undergraduate program, keep that time period in mind. You’ll be away from home for a significant amount of time while you’re in school and that can be an important factor to carefully think over.

Postgraduate studies, on the other hand, tend to be shorter. Some might be as short as a year when compared to undergraduate programs. Postgraduate programs are also going to be much more intense due to the shorter duration as well as the higher level of expectations for students.

Depending on how long you’d like to be studying abroad, consider the duration of each degree path.


Difference in cost, when considering school in any form, is always going to be a major factor. When it comes to studying abroad, cost may differ quite a bit when it comes to undergraduate and postgraduate programs.

Generally, many postgraduate courses will have higher fees than undergraduate courses. But taking into consideration that postgraduate studies are significantly shorter than undergraduate studies, studying abroad as a postgrad may ultimately be less expensive than studying abroad as an undergraduate.

Variety of courses

Keeping in mind the difference in courses offered for each degree option might be an important factor to you! For undergraduate studies, you’re often going to have a bit more variation in the courses you can take. For example in the US, you will take general education courses like history and math while taking courses related to your undergraduate degree simultaneously.

Once you start a postgraduate program, your courses are going to be much more specific to your chosen degree. Postgraduate classes usually have some variety from a chosen selection of classes, but the choices will be far fewer than when you’re in an undergraduate program. 

Variety of courses might be important to you when studying abroad. If you want a bit more freedom in the courses you take, you might consider studying abroad for your undergraduate degree! If you want a very specific area of study, postgraduate study abroad might be the direction for you instead.

Overall learning experience

The undergraduate versus postgraduate learning experience is going to differ quite a bit! There are some elements to both programs that can be helpful to keep in mind when you’re looking at university in general and when looking at pursuing either as an international student.

Undergraduate degrees are going to be where most students start. They typically introduce students to the knowledge associated with your specific area of study, from English to medical studies. As mentioned above, undergrads will typically have more classes to pick from and class sizes will be a bit larger.

Postgraduate degrees are going to be full-on immersion into your area of study. Postgraduate degrees are going to require in-depth understanding of your discipline and students will often have smaller class sizes, more access to professors, and the overall experience will be more individualized.


Another element that serves as a difference between undergraduate and postgraduate programs abroad are entry requirements. Requirements are going to differ from university to university. Undergraduate programs are typically going to require students to have completed secondary education (A levels, high school, etc…). Your grades will need to meet your chosen university’s standards as well and there may also be application fees involved.

In terms of minimum requirements for a postgraduate program, students need to have a bachelor’s degree. Other requirements might include Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) test scores, transcript, letters of recommendations, and financial aid records.

If you’re unsure about what time would be right for you to study abroad, keep the above factors in mind as you look at schools and programs. As with anything related to university, the decision is ultimately up to you - but it can be helpful to know some of the key differences between undergraduate and postgraduate programs when you’re trying to determine the best time for you to go abroad.

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Paige Lyman
Written By
Paige Lyman

Paige Lyman is a freelance writer and journalist who writes in the pop-culture space.

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