Universities in European English Programs

english-taught-masters-programmes-listed-at-mastersportalIn less than two years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of master’s programmes taught in English at universities in Europe. US-based Institute for International Education (IIE) recently released a report based on data from, which showed that a total of 6, 407 graduate programmes taught fully or partially in English were available as of June this year – representing a 37.4% increase over the 4, 664 programmes available just 18 months earlier and accounting for nearly a third of all master’s programmes offered in Europe.

The study’s authors attribute this growth to an interest among European institutions in meeting domestic demand for higher education in English, but also an expanded effort to attract students from around the world. They note as well a correlation between the prevalence of English-taught programmes across countries and such factors as whether or not institutions are allowed to charge differential tuitions for international students, government policies with respect to English-language instruction, institutional capacity to offer courses in English, and market demand.

“With the increase of English-taught programmes, Europe’s higher education is becoming more and more attractive for global talent, ” says Edwin van Rest, CEO of StudyPortals. “We notice that students from around the world are keen to study and live abroad in Europe. They want to get to know new cultures and languages, while having the opportunity to get an English-taught education.”

disciplines-of-english-taught-masters-programmes-in-europeThe report, , explains further:

“[The total number of programmes] can be broken down into courses taught entirely in English and partially in English, with the largest growth occurring in the former category. The number of master’s programmes taught entirely in English rose from 3, 701 at the end of 2011 to 5, 258 in June 2013, an increase of 42% occurring in the remarkably short span of one and a half years. Programmes taught partially in English increased from 963 to 1, 149 over the same period, a 19% increase.”

The study updates an earlier IIE briefing from 2012 that first looked at English-taught master’s programmes in European countries where English is not the primary language. Both for 2012 and for this year’s count, the findings were based on programme listings available on StudyPortals, which claims to list roughly 90% of English-taught graduate programmes on the Continent.

Overall growth in English-taught programmes since 2002. Source: IIE

IIE notes as well that the number of master’s programmes offered in Europe has also grown, but not as quickly as the number of English-taught master’s. “From 2011 to June 2013, the number of master’s degree programmes offered by 1, 200 public and private universities across Europe rose to 21, 000 – an increase of 25%.”

The Netherlands and Germany continue to offer the largest number of English-taught master’s but Denmark and Sweden have registered the fastest growth in English programme offerings since 2011 (above 70% in both cases).

English-taught master’s programmes listed at MastersPortal.eu by country and year. Source: IIE

Fields of study have remained fairly constant since 2011, even as the total number of programmes has increased.


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