Growing up in Stary Oscol, Russia, I had always dreamed of studying abroad, however, my family couldn’t afford expensive education overseas. I was a smart student and always on the lookout for scholarships and grants to study abroad. These efforts paid off and now I have several degrees from international universities together with 5 prestigious scholarships to my credit –  a bachelor’s in International Business from Zhejiang University in China and a master’s in finance from Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance, Shanghai Jiao Tong University. I also studied economics as a visiting student in Spain and completed a course in Machine Learning from Stanford University in the US, all for free. Following my success, I became a sought-after expert among fellow and prospective students on studying abroad with help of scholarships and grants. That interest from the public in studying abroad for free or at a reduced cost sparked an idea of starting a consultancy service. With the growing demand, in 2018 I founded StudyFree – a platform that allows students to find free or low cost higher education opportunities from the world’s leading universities. I aim to create a world with opportunities for everyone and to help students around the world make their dreams to study abroad come true, no matter what their financial situation. In this article, I will cover short-term and long-term programs that a professional of any age can attend. 

  1. Let’s start with short-term programs.

Short-term programs (up to 12 months) are professional programs that last from several weeks to several months. All programs are highly specialized (marketing, finance, management, investment, etc.) and offer a high intensity of training, hands-on approach, and practice-oriented skills. 

Short-term programs are the best choice for those who don’t have time or freedom to get an MBA degree, but want to gain the competencies and skills of a top-notch professional without suspending their career.

If you want to go abroad to network, establish useful business connections, break out of your daily routine, and expand your horizons, short-term programs (executive education/professional programs) fit the bill. However, it should be mentioned that such programs do not provide a full degree, and that they can be attended both online and offline. 


Usually, admission to short-term programs requires only your foreign passport, consent to pay the tuition fees and strong desire to study. Some universities and programs may also require a letter of motivation and CV.

Pros and cons

The main advantage of short-term programs is that there are a lot of them around the world and you can go at any time. One might call it professional tourism. In addition, you don’t need to take any exams to attend a short-term program. Very often, people are afraid of taking the GMAT exam or other language tests, because there is no time to prepare or they simply lack perseverance. So, if you don’t have time to prepare for exams, you can still enroll in such a program and gain valuable knowledge.

The main disadvantage of short-term programs is that they provide no tangible advantages for those who want to get a job abroad or move. Moving to another country, finding a job or moving up the career ladder would be helped by enrolling in medium- and long-term programs, and we’ll discuss those in the next section. 

It should be also noted that short-term programs do not offer scholarships.

We compiled 5 short-term programs that are popular among our students.

  1. University of California Berkeley, UC Berkeley Extension – Digital marketing program 5 weeks, $785. 
  2. University of California Berkeley, UC Berkeley Extension – Project Management, 3 weeks, $950. 
  3. MIT Sloan – Global Executive Academy (multi-language): 10 days, $15,300. 
  4. Stanford Graduate School of Business – Executive Leadership Development: Analysis to Action. 100 days, $28,000
  5. Harvard Business School – General Management Program: Creating Outstanding Business Leaders. 4 months, $72,000. 
  6.  Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) – Enhancing Leadership for Peacebuilding. 5 days, free of charge.

2. Professional Certificate Programs

If you want to find a job abroad or move to another country, it’s worth noting that an MBA is not the only option. There are plenty of professional programs that last 12 months. These offer entrepreneurial management and leadership skills along with the possibility of employment in the country of study and a simplified immigration track. 

The year-long programs are essential for those who want to expand their professional network AND potentially find a job abroad and move.

The year-long programs give opportunity to earn a cool diploma from a well-known university, gain strong practical knowledge, and establish a solid business network.


Applying for the year-long program involves a more standard admission process. You will need to pass IELTS/TOEFL, possibly GMAT (not always, depending on the university and program), prepare a motivation letter and recommendations, send your CV, and apostille your diploma.

Pros and cons

The main advantage of the year-long programs is a chance of further employment or relocation. Plus, you receive a diploma from a top university, cool acquaintances and valuable knowledge that will enable you to find a job in an international corporation and build a successful career.

If you decide to take a medium-term program in the United States, then look for the programs that last 12 months. After a year-long program, you are given an OPT (Optional Practical Training) visa for 12-18 months, which allows you to legally stay in the country and look for a job related to your profession. If all goes well, you can apply for an American H1B work visa that allows an American company to hire a foreign employee for up to 6 years. The H1B category usually includes IT workers, engineers, and representatives of the scientific field. Another option is an O1 visa (a US work visa for persons of “outstanding ability”). A visa of this type can be obtained by a person with outstanding abilities in business, entrepreneurship, science, arts or sports. The O1 visa is issued for a period of 3 years and can be easily extended if the person continues to work in the professional field in connection with which the visa was given.

The main disadvantage of an year-long program is that it’s not a traditional, full-fledged degree, but, on the other hand, if you get into a top university, you will still benefit from association with its brand, and that will help you find a job, move and, of course, invest in the further development of your skills.


The cost of such programs starts from $12,000 and can reach $50,000. But there’s good news too! For year-long programs, you can find scholarships that will significantly reduce the cost of study. For example, our student chose a one-year program at Berkeley, which costs $12,000. She was able to obtain two scholarships and now pays only $5,000 for a year-long program, lives in Silicon Valley and studies with the leading practitioners from around the world.

  1. Certificate Program in Marketing. $4,700 per course.
  2. Certificate Programme in Finance. $6,735 per course.
  3. Certificate in Leadership and Management. $6,320 per course. 


If your goal is a prestigious degree, an outstanding career growth and cool business contacts, you have certain resources and your dream of “going to Harvard” is priceless, then you should consider an MBA or EMBA degree.

MBA (Master of Business Administration) and Executive MBA are a common way of obtaining a full-fledged business education in the United States and countries in Europe and Asia. During the training, an MBA student updates fundamental knowledge from a wide range of elective courses offered by the program, while also receiving practical skills of entrepreneurship, business analytics, effective business communication. This is most often done in the format of specific practical cases, and develops the students’ strategic thinking and their leadership qualities.

Who would benefit from such programs

The MBA and EMBA programs are suitable for mid-level or senior managers from different fields such as venture capital industry, consulting, investment banks. Such programs are in many ways about prestige and corporate careers, and they are great for those who want to significantly strengthen and expand their network of international business contacts.

An MBA can also be considered if you want to change your professional field. A top business school diploma remains a priority for future hiring in most industries.

An average MBA student is 28 years old, with previous work experience of 5 years. But for EMBA candidates, the average age is 45 years, and the work experience is 15.

What is it good for?

Everyone knows that when you buy an MBA education, you pay for more than simply knowledge you can immediately “put to work.” You also invest in massive networking, because your studies will bring you together with current and future industry leaders from all over the world. To choose the right school with the most useful contacts, you can do some research by viewing student profiles, which are available on each program’s website. From the profiles, you can learn who enrolls in this program: their background, experience, and knowledge of languages. This way you can discover which university’s network will be the most useful to you.


Obviously, enrollment in MBA programs is the most difficult of all, especially if we are talking about top schools. You will need to pass IELTS/TOEFL, GMAT, demonstrating high results, and also provide a full package of documents with an apostille and certified diploma, a motivational letter (on which your success depends overwhelmingly), recommendations, and CV. By the way, in top business schools, recommendations from former graduates are very much appreciated.

Pros and cons

An MBA is a full-fledged degree and if received from a prestigious university, it will definitely contribute to the further take-off and growth of your career. An MBA also increases the chances of being able to immigrate to your country of choice and get a work permit there.

But as we already mentioned, the disadvantage of an MBA is the suspension of your career. Business Insider even published an article demonstrating that fewer people are taking time off to get an MBA abroad, preferring short-term courses. The top reasons for such a decision are the price of study, the difficulty of admissions process, and the length of the programs.

But if you feel the need to invest as much as possible in your career, then an MBA should be considered as an option.


MBA training in business schools is quite expensive (from $70,000 to $200,000), but there are scholarships and grants for these programs around the world. Some programs and universities offer scholarships of 30% to 40%, but tuition fees are still high.

  1. Stanford Graduate School of Business. $115,000. Scholarship
  2. Harvard Business School $110,000. Scholarship
  3. European business school Insead $97,450. Scholarship
  4.  University of Pennsylvania: Wharton. $115,000. Scholarship
  5.  Ceibs.  $62,700. Scholarship
  6.  London Business School $113,426. Scholarship
  7. University of Chicago: Booth. $144,000.Scholarship
  8.  MIT: Sloan. School of Management. $192,000. Scholarship
  9. Columbia Business School $114,000. Scholarship
  10. University of California at Berkeley: Haas. $100,000. Scholarship

Top 10 EMBA programs:

  1. HEC Paris $90,820. Scholarship
  2. Kellogg/HKUST $183,500. Scholarship
  3. Trium: HEC Paris/LSE/NYU: Stern. $185,150. Scholarship
  4. EMBA-Global Asia: Columbia/HKU/LBS. $189,600. Scholarship
  5. Ceibs business school. $103,000. Scholarship
  6. EMBA-Global от Columbia и LBS (London Business School).  $201 720. Scholarship 
  7. Washington University: Olin $137,280. Scholarship
  8. London Business School. $127,104. Scholarship 
  9. Tsinghua University and Insead $125,000. Scholarship
  10. University of Oxford: Saïd. $177,768. Scholarship