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A guide to studying abroad for students from Nigeria

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This article is a guide for students currently in Nigeria looking to study abroad.

Despite the impact of the COVID pandemic in Nigeria, Nigerian students continue to apply to top-ranked universities abroad in larger numbers each year. Nearly 100,000 Nigerian students enrolled at foreign universities in 2020, and the 2022 The Nigeria Market Sentiments Report states that 9 out of 10 Nigerian students are exploring options for studying abroad.

Searching for top-ranked foreign universities, identifying the best scholarships available to you, and correctly applying for student visa applications to different countries can become a complicated and confusing process. If you do not follow the ideal methods for dealing with each issue related to applying abroad as a Nigerian student, you may miss out on top-ranked universities which would be ideal for you.

In this article, we will take a step-by-step look at the entire journey for Nigerian students applying to study abroad. What are the top countries for Nigerian students to study abroad? What are the most popular courses and degree programmes pursued by Nigerian students abroad? What are the things you should keep in mind during the student visa application process to various countries?

Top International Study Destinations for Nigerian Students

Below are the countries where top-ranked universities receive the most applications from Nigerian students:


With 38 Chinese universities ranked in the latest QS World Rankings, it is no surprise that the East Asian country is quickly becoming a favourite destination for Nigerian students. As of today, there are approximately 7,000 Nigerian students at China’s universities.

Living costs in China typically range between 750-1,250 US Dollars per month. Tuition fees for Nigerian students in China can vary between 3,000 to 9,000 US Dollars per year, with specialised degree programmes in fields such as medicine costing more – 20,000 to 50,000 US Dollars a year. Tsinghua University, Peking University and Zhejiang University are a few of the top-ranked universities where large numbers of Nigerians study in China.

Find out more about Studying in China.

United States of America

With over 12,000 Nigerian students currently enrolled at American universities, the country is definitely a popular choice for most Nigerian students.

Current student visa rules allow Nigerian students to work 20 hours every week during the semester and full-time during academic breaks. This allows Nigerian students to offset many of the living costs in America, such as accommodation in large cities such as New York City and San Francisco which can often reach 1,600-1,800 US Dollars per month.

As for tuition fees, they can range between 10,000 to 55,000 US Dollars per annum, depending on whether the university of your choice is a public or private institute. New York University, Boston University and UCLA are some of the popular choices for Nigerians studying abroad in the United States.

Find out more about Studying in the USA.


With nearly 14,500 Nigerian students enrolled at Canadian universities, the country has quickly overtaken the USA as the second-favourite destination for Nigerians studying abroad.

Canada’s excellent public facilities, multicultural cities and affordable living costs are a few of the reasons for an increase in Nigerian students. But the main reason is undoubtedly Canada’s welcoming job market. The country offers guaranteed 1-year work visas post-graduation for Nigerian students, and there are plenty of opportunities for you to secure ideal jobs at world-leading companies in Canada.

Living costs range between 500-700 US Dollars per month in most Canadian cities, and the tuition fee is typically between 20,000-30,000 US Dollars per year in the North American country. The University of British Columbia, McGill University and York University are some of the most popular top-ranked universities in Canada for Nigerian students.

Find out more about Studying in Canada.

United Kingdom

Despite increasingly expensive living costs and tuition fees, the United Kingdom remains a very popular destination for Nigerians studying abroad. Between 2020 and 2021, the number of Nigerian students enrolled at UK universities rose by 64% from 13,000 to 21,000!

The United Kingdom’s high-quality educational infrastructure and a large and welcoming Nigerian community in many British cities are some of the reasons why the Nigerians look at the UK as an ideal study destination.

Tuition fees in UK universities usually range between 15,000-25,000 US Dollars per year. Living costs, meanwhile, can be expensive in London, at around 1,400-1,600 US Dollars per month. But in most other British cities and small towns, a budget of 800-1,100 US Dollars per month will be more than enough to cover living expenses.

The University of Portsmouth, University of Leeds and Aston University are some of the popular choices for Nigerians studying abroad in the United Kingdom.

Find out more about Studying in the UK.

Most Popular Courses For Nigerian Students

Nigerian students apply for a wide variety of courses to study abroad, from mainstream degree programmes such as civil engineering and economics, to more specialised degree programmes such as agriculture and the fine arts.

A majority of Nigerian students apply for postgraduate degrees abroad, followed by undergraduate applicants, with PhD degree students forming a small percentage of applicants. Below are the most popular courses pursued by Nigerian students in various countries abroad:

How to Study Abroad from Nigeria

Although every university abroad has a set of specific application requirements to study abroad from Nigeria, there are a few general requirements which you should make sure to complete as a basic checklist if you want to know how to study abroad from Nigeria.

As an example, while the minimum GPA required for admission depends on the quality of the foreign university you have in mind, a minimum US GPA of 3.0 is a must for applying to most universities abroad. In terms of Nigeria’s most common 5-point GPA system, a 3.0 US GPA would equate to a score of approximately 3.75.

Below are a few more required documents you should keep in mind for an applications checklist:

  • Language Proficiency Certificate: Most countries accept TOEFL or IELTS scores, with a minimum TOEFL score of 80-85 and IELTS score of 6.0-6.5. Certain countries may require a different language test, such as France which requires Def/Dalf
  • International Passport
  • At Least Two Recommendation Letters: These can be academic or professional
  • Bank Statements
  • Birth Certificate
  • Secondary School Transcript or University Transcript
  • WAEC/SSCE Exam Results
  • A Valid Student Visa for the Foreign Country
  • Healthcare Documents such as Insurance etc.

The Student Visa Process for Nigerian Students

The student visa process for Nigerian students can be very different depending on the country you are applying to.

Studying abroad in the USA, for example, will require an F1 Student Visa from the US Embassy in Nigeria. For studying abroad in the United Kingdom, meanwhile, you will need a ​​Tier 4 (General) student visa. 

We recommend that you begin the student visa application process as early as possible once you have received an admission offer from abroad. This is because student visa applications can sometimes be delayed by large amounts of time. Canada, for example, is currently taking longer to process student visas, and some Nigerian students have had to wait for months to receive their student visas.

Another great solution to managing the study abroad process for Nigerian students can be hiring a certified education agent.

Education Agents in Nigeria

Education agents are specialists who will help you through the entire application process, from identifying high performing universities abroad, to managing your student visa application process. They are experts in their field, and are either paid a fee by foreign universities or will require you to pay a fee for their services.

Hiring an excellent education agent can help you significantly reduce the stress of the application process. This will let you focus on your academics while your agent makes sure that the documents on your checklist, such as student visa applications, are ready and up-to-date. 

However, you need to be aware of fraudulent education agents in Nigeria, and it is important that you identify the correct ones. Below are a few things to keep in mind when selecting an education agent:

  • Ask the agent if they are registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission and other major authorities such as the British Council and the Quality International Study Abroad Network
  • Check for testimonials and comments from past Nigerian students who have hired the education agent
  • Make sure that your education agent has an operating office and official email address

Fees and Funding for Study Abroad from Nigeria

Study Loans are a popular way for Nigerian students needing financial assistance to study abroad. The requirements for study loans will depend on the lending bank or institution, with most banks requiring either some collateral or a co-signer who will guarantee that you can pay back the loan amount.

You should research the specific eligibility for each lender, because some banks may only give you a student loan for studying abroad in a specific country or set of countries. Below are a few of Nigeria’s largest student loan providers:

  • LendWise
  • MPower Finance
  • Stilt Finance
  • Future Finance
  • Prodigy Finance

Along with student loans, study abroad scholarships are yet another method for allowing you to study abroad from Nigeria with financial assistance. There are hundreds of study abroad scholarships available to Nigerian students every year, and they can either be specific scholarships for one university or general scholarships for studying in a group of universities or a set of countries.

Each scholarship has its own application process and you should conduct detailed research on the scholarships you think you will have the best chance of getting. Below are a few such scholarships available to Nigerian students:

  • Italian Government Scholarships for Foreign Students
  • DAAD Helmut-Schmidt Masters Scholarships for Public Policy and Good Governance (Germany)
  • Hubert Humphrey Fellowships in USA for International Students
  • Nottingham Developing Solutions Scholarships (University of Nottingham, UK)
  • Australia Awards Scholarships

In addition to scholarships such as the ones above, Nigerian students wanting to study abroad who require financial assistance should consider countries such as Germany, which provides world-class education with very low tuition fees.

There is a wide range of top-ranked universities abroad for you as a Nigerian student, and with enough research and preparation you will always find the correct financial package which will allow you to fulfil your dreams by enrolling at a university abroad. All the best for your applications!

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