Saving Dinero: Getting a Master’s Overseas

Getting a Master’s was something I had always wanted to do, but just never seemed to find the right fit. I applied for three different programs at three different universities (or group of universities) in three different states in three different years and was either rejected or not given the scholarship I wanted to attend whichever school. Basically, I was the Taylor Swift of applying to grad schools.


Look at all those poor souls: Hairiest One Style, Maggie’s Brother Gyllenhaal, and Teenage Wolf Turd.

Suddenly…I had the idea to look overseas. The latest post-graduate studies that peaked my interest was International Relations/Affairs/Studies/Fight the Nazis and I started to think “What would be the best place to study an “international” degree?” You guessed it: the Red Spot on Jupiter.

No, it would be some place international of course! So after some Googling (that’s literally all I did) I happened upon Universidad CEU San Pablo, a private university in Madrid, Spain, which had a program that attracted my interest.

To make a long story short: I done graduated, learned stuff, and here I am; ready to plunge myself back into the ever enjoyable real-world of job hunting and dark unknown.

There were multiple reasons I decided to study in Spain, those of which I hope to cover in a later blog, but the one I want to focus on now(mainly because it’s been on of the most frequent questions I’ve been asked). How much did it cost? What did it run you? How much cheese did ya spend? What was the damage?  How much cheaper was it than American Universities assuming Bernie’s dream of free college and waffles never becomes a reality?

Things to be excluded in the calculations: “play money”, travel expenses, books, cost of basic life necessities (food, toiletries, etc.) These were just too difficult to calculate, especially when one country’s currency was different. For currency conversions, I used the median average (roughly August 2015-now) of 1.10 euros to dollars in my calculations. 


My program, unlike most U.S. programs, was only one year which was both great and terrible at the same time. Imagine trying to stuff yourself into a child’s car seat in the backseat of a 2-door sedan. You can do it, but it’s going to be super uncomfortable and there won’t be room for much else.

First thing I noticed was the lack of extra costs and fees while studying in Spain. There were no lab fees, specific course fees, meal fees, athletic fees, or octopus farm fees. There was simply the tuition and registration fee/deposit. The deposit was unique because it would be counted as part of your overall tuition. Which was cool, I guess. The registration fee was 790€ or $869 but that also holds one’s place unlike your dickhead friend Todd who always takes your chair because “you never said ‘seat check’ bro”.


I wonder how hard it is to sit with a water bottle in your back pocket.

After getting past this fee, you had to start making the tuition payments. My tuition total was 7281€ or $8,009, the same exact thing as buying 8009 things off of the McDonald’s Dollar Menu for those of you that like visual comparisons.

The only other expense I want to compare is living expenses, what I paid in rent. While some colleges offer on-campus living even for grad students, I wanted to live off-campus in my own apartment where I would be reprimanded by the police and not some RA stiff if I was pwning noobz too loud and often on Xbox Live, disturbing my neighbors. My apartment rent was 430€ or $473 per month, considered expensive for Madrid, but I wanted to be close to work and school. I lived there 11 months, so the total was $5,203.

Saving you the math, mainly because math is dumb, that’s a grand total of $8,878 for a Master’s degree and $5,203 for living.

Total Spent: $14,081

The In-State Option

While researching other articles it gave me the feeling of going back to school. I had to stop after a while because it just brought back horrible memories of emailing people, filling out forms, and answering a thousand questions of where I was going to school, essentially school purgatory. I’m sure something like that is in Dante’s epic, he must have understood the struggle.

The program I found was the International Affairs program at Middle Tennessee State University, something that looked interesting and I considered.

For in-state residents, MTSU is an attractive place. They only charge $443 per credit hour and the program itself was 36 hours. It was recommended that students do 9 hours per semester, meaning this program would take 4 semesters to complete unlike my one year program. The tuition cost over two years would be $15,948. Each semester also has a $630 program fee, bringing the total cost to $18,468.

Since MTSU is close enough to my house, I would be able to live at home with the parents (assuming they let me), thus incurring minimum charges for rent. It would also mean I would get the wonderful privilege of driving through Nashville traffic every day, which is about as fun as being punched every morning by Mike Tyson as your alarm clock. I would, however, be responsible for helping out with food, roughly $250 a semester or around $1000 in total. Let’s add it up!

Total Spent: $19,468

The Out-of-State Option

There were just so many choices for this option, since there are roughly 49 states (New Jersey really isn’t a state as much as it is a garbage dump) to choose from and hundreds of universities thereafter. I ended up settling on the University of Georgia’s Master of Political Science and International Affairs degree, since it was far from home but not too  far from home. Just to mention, their website are awful. It took me forever to find any kind of relevant information, exactly what an incoming student would like to deal with.

This program was a minimum 30 hours but you had to write a thesis which was an extra six, so I don’t understand why they just didn’t tell you it was 36 hours. Whatever.

Let’s get to the numbers. Being an out of stater, I expected the credit hour to go up and it did…a lot.

Being from anywhere outside the state of Georgia means you’d be paying $1,004 per credit hour. That’s roughly 2 and a half PlayStation 4s. So for the 36 hours and two years of study, one would be paying $36,144 for tuition alone. Adding insult to injury, there were $1,129 of yearly additional fees (athletic, administrative and whatever the hell a green fee is) that students were required to pay. Tacking that on with tuition, that’s $38,402.

Athens is a little far to drive from home but with a quick look at the apartment website, it has numerous options around $300 for one room in  a 2-bedroom. Which isn’t too bad considering the housing market we’re in now, signing your first-born over and all. Add that up over two years, and that puts on $7,200 in rent costs.

Total Spent: $45,602

The Private University Option

Wait! Don’t throw your computer out your window. You still have to binge watch all those episodes of that one show.

I decided to check out my alma mater Baylor University which has increased in price roughly 2309498234890890908X since I went there.

I chose the Master’s Program of Political Science, also a two-year, 36 hour program.

Skipping right along to the credit per hour, your jaw will bounce off your keyboard when you see that it’s $1,583 per credit hour, making this Master’s a whopping $56,968 for your time there. With $900 of fees per semester, that makes the total cost of school related things $60,568.

The city of Waco, assuming you’re not trying to be on the Fixer-Upper, is a very cheap city, among the country’s least expensive (but one of the higher murder rates shhh).

Living in my old apartment complex, which has also increased its rates, you can get a bedroom in a 2-bedroom apartment for $450, making you pay $10,800 over your two years.

Total Spent: $71,368

The “I Bathe in Gold” Option

For those of us that wake up every day, surrounded by servants and eat gold flakes with your sandwiches, this option is for you.

I found a program that’s not really that interesting to me, but for someone who likes money, why not learn how to make more of it? That’s why I chose Yale’s International and Development Economics program which makes me want to gauge my eyes out just reading it, but thank goodness I’m wearing sunglasses while writing this.

The program is not really two years but it’s basically two years but since you make enough money to build a house with (the actual cash, not paying someone to build a house), you’ll do it. It’s more or less 36 hours and it’s not clear if you have to write a thesis, but these professors, I’m sure, are familiar with what a bribe is just in case you don’t want to do it.

Yale does not charge by credit hour, but instead charges by the full year. You’ll be doling out $39,800 just for one year of studies. Two years will take about $79,600 out of your bank account.

Yale is also nice enough to put estimated living costs and fees wrapped into one. I took out travel fees to make it fair, but these will run you an $20,831 per year. For two years that’s $41,662.

Total Spent: $121,262


Here’s a nice table for you to compare the damages:

University Name Total Cost Amount Difference
Universidad CEU San Pablo $14,081 N/A
Middle Tennessee State University $19,468 $5,387
University of Georgia $45,602 $31,521
Baylor University $71,368 $57,287
Yale University $121,262 $107,181

As you can see, overseas options are much cheaper. This does not mean you should immediately start swimming towards Europe or wherever, but I just wanted to present this to anyone who might have been curious. Happy (potential) studying!


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