The first question to ask yourself when thinking about studying is: What do I want to study?
Which is then followed by the question: Where?
It is quite difficult to get an overview of all the bachelor and master degrees that exist. If you don’t know exactly what you want to study, it can be helpful to check out the majors and degrees that some universities offer, as well as the areas of research they participate in. Some universities offer interdisciplinary studies, which can be interesting, when you are interested in many fields. Knowing what you want to study is already a major step and narrows down the choices for your future university. But despite the major, there a few very important characteristics, that have to be taken into account when choosing the right university for you, like the tuition and finances, ranking and the student life. We have compiled a list of further criteria to help you choose, where you will spend the probably most exciting years of your life.
The number of majors and degrees the university offers, the areas of research and the possibility to choose interdisciplinary studies are important to consider. Characteristics, like the majors of the university can, for example, indicate the field the university is focused on. Universities that offer the most undergraduate majors are for example the University of Washington-Seattle Campus with 227 and the Brigham Young University-Provo with 159 undergraduate majors. For more info, check out the universities with the highest number of undergraduate majors, where you will maybe find your favourite studies. An undergraduate degree is basically your first university degree and includes all the studies you do between your high-school and your bachelor, whereas a graduate degree is any degree you do beyond your first degree, so a master or a Ph.D.
When choosing a university for your bachelor degree, especially when it is an interdisciplinary study, it is important to take a look at the topics and credits, in case you are planning to change the university for a master. This is quite important, since some bachelor studies don’t fulfill the requirements of all masters. So, to make sure you have all the necessary credits to be able to do your master somewhere else, check out some master requirements and the topics you will have in your chosen university.
The areas of research of a university are showing how forward-thinking and research-led a university is. So if you could imagine to work in research in your field, this factor might be a very important one for you. For more info on this criteria check out the top ranking research universities, where factors like academic per endorsement, citations per paper, research papers per faculty and prolific academic experts are taken into account.
Interdisciplinary studies are a study combining many different fields, where you can create your academic degree program upon your interests, which mainly exists in the U.S.
If you already know what you want to study, the choice of possible universities can be narrowed down pretty much. Of course this depends on what you decided on. Major subjects like law, psychology, languages and mechanical engineering are offered by more universities than subjects like veterinary science. If you have a wide range of universities to pick from, the following criteria can help you decide which university could be the perfect match for you.
A good indicator for the quality of your studies and the prospects for your future is the ranking of a university. The best and most famous universities are mostly in the States and England and it is very hard to get a place there. The ARWU (Academic Ranking of World Universities) uses six objective indicators to rank the universities, like the number of highly cited researchers, the number of Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals won by the university’s students and staff, the number of articles published in journals of Nature and Science etc. According to the ARWU rank the world's best university in 2016 is Harvard U., followed by Stanford U. and UC Berkeley. Harvard is also the best university in the fields of social science, medicine and pharmacy, economics and life and agricultural science. According to the Forbes rank, the best university in the world is the Oxford University, followed by the California Institute of Technology. Other outstanding universities are for example the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich, the University of Tokyo and the University of Toronto.
The oldest universities in the world you will find in Europe and North Africa, where the oldest one is the University of Bologna, which goes back to 1088.
One major aspect, when deciding which university it should be, is the financial question. Criteria that have to be taken into consideration, when finances play a big role for you, are the tuition per year and the financial aid. If you want to study abroad, the university’s tuition per year for international students would be relevant for you. Of course, it is most of the time the same with universities as it is with everything in life: With quality comes more expense. The best universities are as well the most expensive ones, starting with Columbia University in New York, with a yearly tuition fee of 159,644 $. If you didn’t plan to go to Harvard and Co. there are quite good and affordable universities around the world, like the Lomonosov Moscow State University, which is ranked on place 161 by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2015-16 and has a average annual cost of 4,450 £. According to the FAIRFX ranking, cheap countries to study in, with good universities, are for example India, with an average annual costs of 3,630£, Germany with 5,650£ and Denmark, with 5,862£, considering tuition fees and the cost of living. Check out the cheapest places to study and find more information about where the university’s quality and the expenses are fairly balanced, without that you need to spend a lot of money. Considering the cost of living and the tuition fee together with the university’s quality, Australia is the most expensive country to study in, followed by Singapore, the U.S. and the U.K. Especially for international students, places like Germany, France, the Nordic Countries and Austria are interesting, since they offer university places, either for free or for low tuition fees. Here you can find out more about the cheapest places to study abroad.
Financial aid plays a big role for students, especially in the U.S., since universities are not for free. If you are depending on financial aid and you plan to study in the U.S., universities like the University of Texas, the California State University and the University of North Texas might be interesting for you, since they provide the biggest financial aid. If you want to know more, check out the universities with the highest financial aid in the U.S.
A good indicator for a university's quality is the endowment and the budget spent on research. The financial endowment is the transfer of money and/or property donated to an institution and is, especially in the U.S., a very important factor and indicator for a university’s health. Better endowment leads to, for example, more land for building university facilities, to more funding of financial aid and to better equipment in research laboratories. The university with the biggest endowment is Harvard with 37,615,545,000$ per year. Of course the budget spent on research highly depends on how wealthy a university is. The university that spends the most on research is the Johns Hopkins University.
If you are interested in a very international student life, universities like the Qatar University, the University of Luxembourg and the University of Hong Kong might be interesting for you, since more than 99% of their students are international. Check out the most international universities and get an inside view of how international the universities in the world are. Of course the more majors the university offers, the bigger is the diversity of students with different study backgrounds, which makes meeting new people very interesting. Networking is one of the major activities of students, therefore it is very important that the university offers the alumni a good network possibility, with for example extra-curricular activities, like a poetry or literature club, any kind of olympiad or competitions in science and sport, or art and language lessons. The universities with the best alumni networks are the Stanford University, followed by the Harvard and the Columbia University. If networking is important for you check out the universities with the best alumni networks in the U.S.