How Much Does It Cost To Apply To Foreign Universities?

Pursuing post-graduation in a foreign university involves a significant investment of time and money. Since the application process requires Letters of Recommendations from professors and your employers, you have to pester those people time and again.

Disclaimer: This post is relevant only to the postgraduate applicants and may not be a great resource for undergraduate aspirants.

My Experience With University Applications

In 2017-18, I applied to 5 US universities, 3 UK universities, 1 French, 1 Belgian University, 1 Swiss University and a Common European Master’s Degree Program (just like Erasmus Mundus Joint Master’s Degree Programs).

GRE scores were mandatory for applying to the US universities. My current academic program (Common European Master’s In Biomedical Engineering) also required GRE scores with a minimum of 160/170 in the Quantitative Reasoning Section.

GRE was optional for KU Leuven (Belgium), Imperial College London and EPFL (Switzerland). Unlike the US universities, I didn’t have to send the scores through ETS. I just had to upload the soft copy. If the universities use the GRE scores while evaluating your profile, they would later ask to send them the official scores. KU Leuven considered my GRE scores for evaluating my profile. The admission committee asked me to send the official GRE scorecard through ETS before sending the official admission letter.

In total, I spent around INR 77,000 (approximately $1200 @ $1=64 INR) during my application to 12 programs. It is important to note that I didn’t spend a single penny on my GRE and TOEFL preparation. I scored 323/340 (Q-170, V-153) and 106/120 in TOEFL with 24+ score in each section. Since I didn’t opt for the US universities I was admitted to Here is a breakdown of all my expenses.

University Application Expenses

What Is The Typical Expense Of University Applications?

Parth Vijay is a student at Purdue University pursuing MS in Building Construction and Management. He scored 308 in his first GRE attempt and 313 in his second attempt. He spent almost $400 on GRE preparation materials from Magoosh and ETS. According to his blog post, he spent at least $2190 for his university applications, taking into account the conservative calculations (no miscellaneous costs included). He applied to just 5 US universities, 3 Swedish universities and 1 Dutch University (TU Delft).

The following table shows the average cost of application in USD to various universities by country of study.

Applying To US Univrsities

Usually, students apply to 8+ universities if they are particularly targeting the US for their post-graduate study. Despite the crackdown on H1B visas and a decrease in the number of applicants over the last 5 years, the US still remains the top choice for international students.

Applying to each US university costs at an average $75. As a rule of thumb, private universities have a high cost of application than the publicly funded universities. So, for applying to 8 US universities, you need to spend around $600 on the application fees. Add to that the additional cost for sending GRE and TOEFL scores.

By now you might have heard that you can send your GRE and TOEFL scores to 4 universities free of cost. Let’s assume that you have done your calculations right (which is most often NOT the case) in sending the GRE and TOEFL scores to the same 4 universities. So, the cost for sending additional GRE scores (beyond the first 4) to a university is $27. The cost for sending an additional TOEFL score to a university is $20. You can add a few USD for the banking transactions each time you payout, making the overall cost of sending additional cost as $50. So, for an additional 4 universities, you need to spend $200. The cost for applying to GRE and TOEFL exams are $205 and $180 respectively.

You need to spend at least $1185 to apply to 8 US universities.

Applying To Central European Universities

I didn’t pay any application fee while applying to CEMACUBE, Imperial College, Paris Tech, University of Glasgow and University of Leeds. I didn’t even have to send the TOEFL official scores during the application phase. Once you accept the offer, you have to send the official scorecard.

Almost all the public universities of Germany and France don’t have an application fee. You may just need to send your transcript of academic records. Even several of these universities require you to send the official TOEFL scores only if you accept the university admission offer. Since most of the European universities don’t require GRE, it obviates the additional costs incurred during application to the US universities.

I have compiled a list of European Universities With No Application Fees. You can refer it for your convenience.

Top European Universities Without Application Fees

Applying To Nordic Universities

Applying to Swedish Universities is a real bet. KTH, Lund and Uppsala feature among the top 100 World Universities in QS, Times and Shanghai rankings. With a common application portal, you can finish the application process in a couple of hours.

The Swedish school education system is probably the best in the world and they have an amazing application portal. It’s just like common application portal for Texas universities. However, unlike the Texan counterparts, you don’t need to pay application fees to each and every university.

These are the 4 reasons you should apply to a Swedish University if there is a program of your choice.

  • By paying a one-time application fee of $100, you can apply up to 4 Master’s level university programs through the common University Application Online Portal. It means you can apply to 4 different universities for similar programs. If you are applying to interdisciplinary areas like Biomechanics, it’s a real deal. This is because you can apply to either Mechanical Engineering or Biomedical Engineering. Bachelor’s applicants can apply for up 10 courses and programmes. It saves your time and money.
  • KTH, Lund and Uppsala University feature among the top 100 World Universities in QS, Times and Shanghai rankings. They have high research budgets with significant publications.
  • Swedish universities have several scholarships for international students.
  • Sweden is a predominantly English speaking country. This makes it easier to communicate with the locals if you study there.

Applying To UK Universities

I have previously mentioned that I didn’t have to pay any application fee for applying to Imperial College London and the University of Glasgow. However, there are several universities which charge you an application fee like the University of Nottingham. The University of Nottingham charges you $90 for application but it is generous with scholarships. You need to find universities with no application fees and UK universities are relatively easier to get into for taught master’s degree programs in Engineering.


University application is a very hectic process. I know how it feels to be rejected and how it feels to receive admission offers from universities like Carnegie Mellon University and Imperial College only to let it go.

If you have made it to this end, this shows your endurance in reading long posts. So, why not trouble your eyes and read a few more informative articles I have mentioned below. I guarantee it would be worth your time if you are a serious aspirant.

How To Select Universities For MS Abroad? The X Different Factors

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