International experience is often regarded as one of the most decisive selection factors among Masters aspirants considering their study options. And many of them discover that getting international education does not necessarily require them to move abroad.
Against the background of the ongoing economic globalisation and internationalisation of the workforce, ‘global immersion’, or exposure to different cultures, is increasingly appreciated by employers and employees alike. Employees know that to succeed in today’s working world, they need to possess a degree of intercultural awareness which was not as universally required just a few decades ago. Today’s workplace involves interaction with colleagues and clients from all around the globe and calls for considerably heightened cross-cultural sensitivity. Speaking several languages is no longer deemed exceptional.
Employers, for their part, are acutely aware of the growing need to hire people who are not out of their depth in an international environment. Recruiters look for people whose education and experience testifies to their ability to feel at ease in a multicultural setting. Masters’ students know that their CVs would be incomplete without international experience, a key advantage which signals that they possess highly praised attributes such as cross-cultural communication skills, independence, language skills, and responsibility.
So, what are the options for Masters’ aspirants who want to get international education at home?
Foreign universities in your home country
It is very likely that your country is home to one or more foreign universities. The United States, for example, has a long tradition of exporting its education system overseas and establishing universities around the world that use the American academic credit system. More than 70 institutions (free-standing US universities or satellite campuses) outside the US currently follow a US model of higher education.
Gabrielle Kerins is American and is currently pursuing her Masters degree in Global Communications in the fashion track at the American University of Paris (France). She decided to attend the programme because she was drawn to AUP’s liberal arts educational approach that she felt would best prepare her for professional life. “The curriculum is aimed at allowing each student to benefit from international exposure,” she says, adding that cultural trips to countries all around the world are common. “The class structure also incorporates teaching techniques from both the American and French systems with a constant emphasis on global citizenship.”
A total of 110 nationalities and 65 languages are represented at AUP; however, most of the student body is American. So, if you live in France and want to get international education with a distinctly American flavour, AUB would be a good choice. Gabrielle notes that: “The only palpable difference in studying in an American school in France versus the US is the campus culture where students here are much more independent and less reliant on the school in terms of academic responsibilities and socialisation.”
Local international programmes
Another option for those who crave international experience but are rather unwilling to (fully) leave the comfort of their home country is to look around for local programmes that have international elements embedded throughout. One such programme is the Masters in Media, Communications and Culture delivered jointly by Sofia University (Bulgaria), Viadrina European University (Germany), and Université Nice Sophia Antipolis (France). The programme is bilingual and conducted in German and French. Students spend the first semester in their respective countries, the second in Frankfurt (Oder), Germany, the third in Bulgaria, and the fourth in Nice, France, where also the Masters’ thesis defence takes place.
Nelly Delcheva says she chose the programme because she considered it interesting and diverse. “I was attracted by the dynamism and the fact that you don’t have to spend two years stationed in one location but have the opportunity to travel and explore new places. You spend a total of three to four months abroad, which gives you enough time to travel and experience different teaching methods and university organisations.” She says that every facet of the programme was international and multicultural. Her classmates came from Bulgaria, Germany, Poland, and Mauritius. The teaching staff was international too.
Making the right choice
However important the international aspect may be in the search for the right Masters programme, it should not be the leading factor in your decision. Rather, you should focus on the subject you want to study. You can implement the following strategy: First, list the local programmes you are interested in by subject, then try to assess the international appeal of each of them. This will help you avoid the possibility of finding yourself in a course that, albeit international, is incompatible with your career plans.
An international Masters at home is an option definitely worth considering as it offers many of the advantages associated with studying abroad. This is a good way to expose yourself to a diverse blend of cultures, study in a foreign language, and expand your horizons without leaving your home country. It sounds great, doesn’t it?