Options to study postgraduate studies for free with your European passport

Accessing the high quality of European academic offerings is undoubtedly a significant motivation for seeking residency and citizenship options in the Old Continent. The standard in this matter is that higher education is free and public, especially in countries like Germany, where quality education is considered a guarantee that the workforce has the necessary tools to perform in a highly industrialized and knowledge-based economy.

Let’s review some alternatives where, in addition, students are remunerated for dedicating themselves 100 percent to their academic work.

Germany: As a general rule, public universities in Germany do not charge tuition fees for postgraduate programs, except for a minimal administrative fee per semester. The only German state that charges tuition fees is Baden-Württemberg, and this applies to non-EU students. However, this does not apply to PhDs.

Programs like the Collaborative Research Centres offer outstanding doctoral students a four-year contract with a salary equivalent to that of a public employee (between 65% to 100% of a full-time position).

There is also the Erasmus+ program, through which you can apply for full funding for 12 months for each academic stage, including Masters and PhDs. It is available to people from each of the 27 European Union (EU) states. Students are also exempt from paying tuition fees, if any.

Another option is the Heinrich Boll Foundation scholarships. These require the applicant to share the foundation’s values, such as ecology and sustainability, democracy and human rights, self-determination, and justice. European postgraduate students receive a monthly remuneration of €1350, along with a research expense allowance of €100. In terms of duration, for those pursuing a Master’s degree, it is for the regular period of study, with the possibility of extension. For a PhD, it is up to two years, with two possible six-month extensions.

Denmark: In this country, there is a state scholarship system called Statens Uddannelsesstøtte (SU), which is also available to people from other EU and European Economic Area (EEA) countries. The amounts provided are variable, but generally cover the student’s expenses for up to 6 years.

Here, there is also access to the Erasmus program, for up to 12 months, and for certain Master’s programs, which are jointly offered by a Danish institution and another European country, there is Erasmus Mundus.

For those from other Nordic or Baltic countries, there is the Nordplus cooperation program.

In the case of PhDs, in Denmark, the student typically receives a salary and does not pay tuition fees. To access this, you need to have a Master’s degree or a similar internationally recognized qualification, and prove a competent level of English (TOEFL or IELTS). The usual duration is 3 years. There are also Industrial PhDs, which are collaborations between a university and a company.

If the postgraduate program you would like to pursue does not include remuneration or a stipend to cover personal expenses, there is a wide variety of scholarships and financial aid available for studying in Europe that is worth reviewing.

How can I obtain a European passport?

There are various ways to achieve this, and they differ in each country. For example, in Portugal, you can obtain nationality if you are a grandchild of Portuguese citizens. To do this, you must prove your relationship with your grandparents and also a connection to Portuguese culture, which is generally demonstrated by having knowledge of the local language (fluency is not required).

Another option would be to create a company in Portugal through the so-called “entrepreneur visa.” It has simpler processes and requirements compared to other options, and it does not require a minimum investment. The amount only needs to be reasonable for the type of business you want to establish.

There is also the option of the Golden Visa, which in the case of Portugal, requires an investment in funds starting from €500,000 or a contribution to artistic and cultural projects starting from €200,000. It allows you to obtain a passport in just 5 years.

Spain also has a Golden Visa program, which you can access through an investment in properties starting from €500,000 (an amount that may vary in the coming years). It is worth noting that citizens of former Spanish colonies, such as Chile, can obtain Spanish nationality after just 2 years of residence in the country.

An option that you would need to act on very soon is the so-called Ley de Nietos (Grandchildren’s Law), which grants Spanish nationality to children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of Spaniards born outside of Spain.

Whatever path you choose, at AIM Global, we are experts in global mobility and can advise you to achieve success in your plans. Schedule a meeting with our team right now.

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