Foreign universities are increasing their offerings of English-language graduate-school programs, often at costs far below what students will pay in the US and even for free, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The courses are cheaper in part because they’re often shorter than in the US. In addition, many of the foreign graduate programs are heavily subsidised by the government in the host country.

The result is a hefty influx of US students abroad. In 2015, over 47,400 US students were pursuing full degrees abroad, according to estimates from the Institute of International Education, a nonprofit focused on international education. That’s up from an estimated 42,000 in 2011.

Before jumping at the chance to save money and broaden their cultural horizons, US students should make sure to answer some basic questions. Among them:

What do you want to do after graduating?

Before choosing to attend grad school in another country, students should do some critical thinking about exactly what they want out of their degree and whether a school in a foreign country will help them get it and with less debt, Mitch Gordon, the CEO of GoOverseas.com, a site that helps people find and book travel and educational programmes, told WSJ.

Check out: How to Choose a Destination for Master’s or MBA Abroad

Gordon also suggests students ask university officials specific questions about student outcomes, such as job-placement rates in a given field. He also says students should connect with alumni a few years removed from their degree to see how they’ve fared.

Pursuing a graduate degree abroad can be a great option for many students, Gordon says, but if they know they want to work in the United States, or that they might want to be in a particular niche, they may want to think twice depending on what university they’re going to.

There are some fields where pursuing a degree in another country may actually be an advantage, provided the school has a solid reputation, says Anna Ivey, a former dean of admissions at University of Chicago Law School (US) who runs an admissions consulting company that works with applicants to undergraduate and graduate schools. Ivey says that:

A classic example would be an MBA degree, which is truly international. That world is very flat.

The savings can be substantial for MBA students, according to data provided by a sampling of schools to the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, an international network of business educators and students. According to that data, the total average tuition for a full-time MBA at a US public university is USD 37,546; for out-of-state students, the average cost is USD 50,219. The cost of an MBA at a private US university is USD 62,884 on average, the association’s data show. By comparison, the association’s data show that in the European Union, the average cost of an MBA for a foreign student at a public business school is USD 37,110 and USD 45,664 for a private school.

Will a degree or licence from a foreign university let you work in the US?

For some fields like pharmacy or veterinary medicine, students can potentially save USD 40,000 or more and face relatively few obstacles getting licensed in the US, according to Jennifer Viemont, the founder of Beyond the States, a website that provides information on accredited degree programmes in continental Europe.

But aspiring doctors and dentists may have a tougher (and more expensive) time translating their degrees. Before practicing in the US, dentists with a foreign degree typically have to attend a two- or three-year programme at a US dental school, which can cost more than USD 100,000, including living expenses.

For doctors, being able to practice in the U.S. requires passing a series of medical licensing exams and participating in an American residency programme. For law students, the ability to practice as a lawyer with a foreign degree varies by state.

Did you consider the school’s reputation?

Students hoping to use a foreign graduate degree to get a job in the US need to be sure that US employers recognise the credential, Rajika Bhandari, Deputy Vice President of Research and Evaluation at the Institute of International Education, says.

Among the questions she says students should ask: Does it have a large international student body and faculty? Does it have global partnerships? Even within that country, is it a reputable institution?

But even if the school meets all of those criteria, students may still struggle to translate their degree into a job offer in the US.

Did you really do the math?

When comparing the cost of pursuing a degree abroad to the price of one in the US, students need to look beyond the tuition price tag, according to Bhandari. Among other costs: student-visa fees and the cost of travel back home. Living expenses may also be higher in a European city than in a US college town.

Another consideration: Student visas may prohibit students from working while abroad, cutting off a potential source of income to stave off debt. Those are all costs that should be accounted for, Bhandari says.

Source: The Wall Street Journal