Located in southern Europe, Greece forms an irregular-shaped peninsula in the Mediterranean with two additional large peninsulas projecting from it: the Chalcidice and the Peloponnese. Modern Greece traces its roots to the civilization of Ancient Greece, considered the cradle of Western civilization. As such, it is the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy, the Olympic Games, Western literature and historiography, political science, major scientific and mathematical principles, and Western drama, including both tragedy and comedy.
Greece is a rugged, mountainous Mediterranean country with thousands of years of history and tradition, which have had significant impact on Western culture. The country is located on the southern tip of the Balkan Peninsula in the southeastern part of Europe. Greece is a true crossroads as the continents of Europe, Asia and Africa meet near the country. Greece shares borders with Bulgaria, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Albania and Turkey and has coastlines on the Mediterranean, Aegean and Ionian Seas. In addition to the mainland of Greece, the country has about 6,000 islands of varying sizes in the Aegean and Ionian Seas. Major industries include tourism, food and tobacco processing, textiles, chemicals, metal products, mining and petroleum.
Greece has a Mediterranean climate with very warm summers; however, the mountainous regions are significantly cooler than the rest of the country. Northern Macedonia has freezing winters with hot, humid summers while much of the rest of Northern Greece has a mild winter with hot, dry summers. Southern Greece is warm nearly year round. The average temperature in Athens is about 10 degrees C in January and about 28 degrees C in July. Thessaloniki ranges from a low of about 5 degrees C to about 27 degrees C.
Greek cuisine is based on a healthy Mediterranean diet that emphasizes whole grains, olives, olive oil, fresh vegetables and fruits, nuts, feta cheese, fish and chicken. Legumes are often turned into delicious spreads that are paired with pita bread and pastries are popular desserts.
Cost of Living
Greece is a moderately expensive country, and international students can expect to pay about €1,000 per month for housing, food and miscellaneous expenses.
Study in Greece
Higher Education in Greece
Greek higher education is largely state sponsored and is divided into two parts: university and technological. Higher university education programs are taught by universities, polytechnic schools, an institute of fine arts and an open university. Higher Technological Institutes provide higher education focused on science and applied research. Master’s degrees are awarded as Master of Science (MSc), Master of Arts (MA), or Master of Business Administration (MBA). Greece also awards a Graduate Diploma, which is considered to be between the Bachelor’s and Master’s level and can be earned in about half the time of a Master’s degree. Credits earned from a Graduate Diploma can be applied toward a full Master’s degree.
Why Study in Greece?
Studying in Greece provides students the opportunity to learn in a creative environment with thousands of years of history of high-quality education, begin with the earliest western philosophers. Greek schools are especially known for programs in the fine arts, theater, photography, philosophy, archeology, history and business. Most master’s degree programs are taught in Greek, but for international students not proficient in Greek, some of the more than 100 master’s degree programs are taught in English. Students not proficient in Greek also have the opportunity to study Greek for one year prior to admission to a Greek-taught program.
Two specialized schools offer additional programs. The Hellenic Open University also offers distance learning programs for master’s degrees in a variety of disciplines. In addition, the International University of Greece in Thessaloniki offers various residence and distance learning programs focused on foreign students.
Universities in Greece
Eighteen universities in Greece offer master’s program in six cities – Athens, Glyfada, Herklion, Mytilini, Thessaloniki and Volos. Universities award degrees in humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, health sciences, technology, economics and business. Technological Educational Institutes award degrees in art, music, business, economics, health, technical applications, nutrition and agronomy.
Tuition and Program Duration
Higher education in Greece is free of charge for most programs to students from EU member countries. Other international students pay tuition of €11,000 to €16,000 per year. Specialized and distance learning programs also require a fee for all students.
Full master’s degrees typically take two years to obtain, while a Graduate Diploma can be obtained in about one year.
The academic year in Greece consists of two semesters, each usually 16 weeks long, including 13 weeks of classes and 3 weeks of exams. However, some schools use the quarter system. The academic year generally begins in September and concludes in June.
Despite the current recession in Greece, there are some opportunities for post-graduate employment for international students, especially in the hospitality industries. Citizens from an EU nation, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway or Switzerland may work in Greece without a work permit; citizens from other countries must have a work permit.
Students from EU member nations do not require a visa to study in Greece. All other international students must have a student visa. To obtain a visa, a student must have a letter of acceptance from the university they will be attending, proof of health insurance and proof that they have sufficient funds for living in Greece for the duration of their studies. Students also must have a letter from a doctor stating that they have no communicable diseases. Most higher education institutions will help students with the visa process. Once students have all the required documents, they should submit an application to their local Greek embassy or consulate.
Students from EU member nations are eligible for free health care while studying in Greece. Other international students must obtain private health insurance; proof of this insurance is required to obtain a student visa. Private health insurance ranges from about €200 to €600 per year.
Greece is an EU member and uses the euro for currency. A passport is required when exchanging currencies.
In addition to major religious holidays, Greece celebrates Independence Day on March 25, Labor Day on May 1 and a national celebration with a military parade on October 28.
Public transportation in Greece is generally inexpensive. Students from EU member nations who want to drive may use the license from their home country; however, all other international students will need to obtain an International Drivers License.