Study Abroad Guide for Adult Learners


Mrunmayai Bobade
Updated on Aug 07, 2022 10:08 AM IST

Do you feel that studying abroad is a missed opportunity now that you are an adult? Well, there is absolutely no age limit to studying abroad. International universities welcome mature students or adult learners with open arms to complete their education. In this article, we will discuss how you can study abroad as a mature student.

Apply Abroad as Adult Learners or Mature Student

Who said studying abroad only comes with a set of time restrictions or a specified number on an age scale? Agreed, the conventional image of studying abroad is of undergraduate students gaining international exposure or professional continuing studies for a career boost. But, this myth needs to be busted.

As per the author Lailah Gifty Akita, It is never late to earn a degree, master's or doctorate. Learning has no age limit. All age groups are welcome to the act of learning. This assertion is undeniably true when it comes to studying abroad, especially between the age of 25 to 40 or even more.

Individuals who are returning to university or college after a hiatus from full-time study are referred to as mature students or adult students. There could be a number of reasons why they had to abandon their studies. It could be financial difficulties, family responsibilities, or maybe just a lack of interest in continuing their education. Many students take the decision to work even before completing their basic education. However, later in life, this proves a hindrance as a lack of a degree or diploma can get in way of career growth.

In most cases, mature students or adult learners refer to students who are above 21 years at the start of their undergraduate programme or over 25 years at the start of their postgraduate programme. Students in this age group often balance their studies along with work or carrying responsibilities of their families.

Needless to say, being a mature student entering the domain of higher education may be thrilling and intimidating at the same time. You should take into account a lot of metrics if you are deciding to study abroad as an adult, like your desired country, the field of study, personal circumstances, etc. Let us start discussing each aspect one by one.

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Short-Term Study Abroad Programmes for Adults

As a mature student, you should start by researching a subject that particularly interests and nurtures you. The duration of study abroad programmes for adult learners generally differs. They can last for just a week, a month, or even a whole year. It totally depends on the person who is applying to decide which programme to choose. The following are the two popular types of mature student study abroad programmes:

Summer Abroad Programmes for Adults: You should consider adult summer abroad programmes if you have a spare amount of time and money. These programmes provide in-depth opportunities for cultural immersion and can last up to eight weeks. For example, during mature students' summer study abroad programmes, you may live in your own apartments in the heart of Paris, take morning French classes, and spend your free time leisurely exploring Montmartre and eating baguettes. In short, you can make this programme as flexible as you want.

Short-Term Study Abroad Programme: You should consider short-term study abroad programmes if you cannot take a lot of time off work. If you are on a tight budget and can only afford a short-term experience abroad, this type of study abroad programme for older adults is also incredible. These programmes can be completed in as short as one week.

Entry Requirements to Study Abroad as a Mature Student

While applying to a foreign university as a mature student, the major difference is in the admission requirements. A mature student can be as young as 21 years, although many are in their late twenties, early thirties, or even older. Some students have dropped out of school without receiving the appropriate diplomas/certifications.

Students in such circumstances who desire to enrol in university programme admission requirements, such as:

Access to Higher Education (HE) Diploma: These courses are intended for students who were unable to enter higher education after finishing their education.

Foundation Courses: These courses allow you to accelerate your learning of the subject you are interested in studying. If you have been away from education for a long time, foundation courses may be ideal for you.

List of Courses for Adult Learners Students With No Qualifications

You must decide which field of study interests you most before deciding which course to pursue abroad as a mature student. This is why it is important to spend some quality time researching the best degrees for adult students, such that you will meet your future goals or aspirations. The following are some courses for mature students with no previous qualifications required as your original education or work experience may be enough to fulfil the basic criteria:

  • Business and Management.

  • Acting- includes Stage Management and Community and Applied Theatre

  • Art and Design- include Fashion Design, Architecture, Interior Design, and Fine Art

  • Music- includes Jazz, Music Technology, and Music

  • Construction- includes Planning, Surveying

  • English- includes English Literature and Drama

  • Computing- includes Computer Science and Forensic Computing

  • Media- includes Interactive Entertainment, Digital Art and Games Development, Media and Communication, and Digital Marketing

  • Education

  • Law

  • Social Sciences- includes Sociology, Criminology and Psychology

  • Health- includes Midwifery, Nursing, Speech and Language Therapy

  • Engineering- includes Mechanical Engineering and Automotive Engineering

Country-Specific Scholarships for International Mature Students

For mature students, money can be a barrier to studying abroad because they often have to think about how paying for their education would affect their household finances. For international adult learners, there are a variety of financing options available to help them offset this. Government-backed student loans and grants for higher education are also available.

Below is a list of country-specific scholarships available to international mature students. However, it is worth remembering that mature students can also apply fortop scholarships to study abroador the majority of ordinary scholarships.

Scholarships to Study in USA for Adult Learners

The following are a few scholarships to study in USA as a mature student:

Jeannette Rankin Scholarship: This scholarship is open to low-income female students who are at least 35 years old and enrolled in an undergraduate programme at a US university that has been accredited. Scholarships are given directly to the recipient and are renewable for up to five years.

Scholarships to Study in UK for Adult Learners

The following are a few scholarships to study in UK as a mature student:

Loughborough University Mature Student Scholarship: This scholarship is available to undergraduate students who are above the age of 21 to study at Loughborough University.

Lancaster University Mature Student Scholarship: For international mature students enrolling in a postgraduate programme at Lancaster University, there is a GBP 1,000 (approximately INR 96,255) scholarship available.

Scholarships to Study in Canada for Adult Learners

The following are a few scholarships to study in Canada as a mature student:

York Universitys A.O Miller Bursary for Mature Students: For mature students enrolling in a programme at York University in Toronto, Canada, a scholarship worth CAD 623 is available.

Bowers Family Mature Student Bursary: For international mature students who have been out of full-time education for more than five years and are enrolled in a Canadian university, a scholarship worth CAD 500 is awarded.

Scholarships to Study in Australia for Adult Learners

The following are a few scholarships to study in Australia as a mature student:

Macquarie University Mature Age/Non-Current School Leaver Scholarship: For international mature students enrolled in any undergraduate degree at Macquarie University, a yearly scholarship of AUD 5,010 is provided.

Venerable Archdeacon Edward Leo Hayes Adult Undergraduate Scholarship: A scholarship worth AUD 3,000 per year for senior students enrolled in courses at Australia's University of Queensland. To qualify for this award, students must be at least 25 years old.

Scholarships to Study in New Zealand for Adult Learners

The following are a few scholarships to study in New Zealand as a mature student:

The Mildred Keir Award: A scholarship worth NZD 3,000 is available to assist women over the age of 27 in their studies in New Zealand. The award aims to support women in completing their education enter the workplace.

Kate Edger Educational Charitable Trust Tressa Thomas Retraining Award: The Auckland University of Technology is providing this scholarship for older women, aged 25 and over. This scholarship is worth an NZD 2,000 grant so that adult learners can pursue education in order to return to the workforce or undertake paid or unpaid work in the community.

Note: This is not an exhaustive list of scholarships available to international mature students. Most universities offer a range of scholarships for adults looking to continue their education. Thus, it is advisable to check the university website for updated information about scholarships.

Prepare Yourself for a Tough Transition

Almost all foreign universities admit mature students or adults. The only difference is that some have a smaller mature student population than others. Even if you are far older than what is termed as the typical 'student age range, the doors to study abroad are always wide open for adults of any age. This can be evidenced by the following facts:

  • All throughout the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, the mature student markets in Iran, the Philippines, and Latin America remained robust.

  • Throughout 2020 and the first five months of 2021, nearly 25% of all new study permit approvals were granted to adult mature international students.

  • According to studies, 40% of international mature or adult students are over the age of 30, and more than half are between the ages of 21 and 24.

So, get on board with adult short-term study abroad programmes or adult summer abroad programmes, whichever you want. As an older student, you can challenge all you already know, share your personal experiences, and completely expand your higher education.

Feeling this information is insufficient? Or, looking for an expert who can answer all your queries related to studying abroad as a mature student? We have got you covered, drop your queries at

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How can I study abroad as an adult learner?

You can study abroad as an adult learner in the following six popular ways:

  1. Travel abroad programs for adults
  2. As a researcher
  3. As a graduate student
  4. Language immersion programs for adults
  5. Through Student Exchange Programmes in your country 
  6. Fulbright and other similar programs

What are the benefits of studying abroad as a mature student?

Following are the benefits of studying abroad as a mature student:

  1. A return to academic life is a welcome change
  2. You are able to understand lectures in a mature way.
  3. You appreciate bonding with your tutors and professors.
  4. You learn to organise your time and work more efficiently.
  5. You improve your intercultural sensibilities.
  6. You learn more about the world and its etiquette.

Is there any age limit to pursuing masters abroad?

No, there is no age limit to pursuing masters abroad. Many students dream of studying abroad from an early age, but very few consider getting an international degree much later in their professional careers. However, there might be a few extra challenges while getting back to studies after a long gap.

Can I study abroad at the age of 30?

Yes, you can study abroad at the age of 30. When it comes to studying, age is no impediment. The average age of senior university students is beyond 30, and some are even in their 50s and 60s. Many of them work full-time, have dependents, and are on mortgages.

What are the disadvantages of being a mature student?

There are some disadvantages of being a mature student that vary from one individual to another. A perceived lack of academic readiness brought about by interruptions in study or by taking non-traditional paths is one of the main drawbacks of being a mature student. Another is a lack of social integration as a result of feeling different from their classmates or peers.

Can I do masters at the age of 40?

Yes, you can do masters at the age of 40. Most colleges do not have an upper age limit for master's degree enrollment. The usual requirements or eligibility criteria are a bachelor's degree, proof of English language proficiency, and sufficient funds for tuition and living expenses. However, GRE scores or GMAT scores are other typical prerequisites.

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