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These Are The World’s Happiest Countries To Study Your Master’s Degree

Hear from international master’s students who reveal what it’s like to study abroad in some of the world’s happiest countries, according to the UN’s World Happiness Report 2024

Wed Mar 20 2024

Choosing a destination to study your master’s degree is a big decision. You’re likely considering the people you’ll meet, the country’s culture, the potential career impact, and how all these factors will contribute to your overall happiness. 

Every year, the United Nations publishes the World Happiness Report, which analyzes data from the Gallup World Poll—a worldwide survey where respondents share a measure of their personal happiness known as a ‘life evaluation’ score, rated out of 10. 

Other factors that the survey considers include the country’s GDP, social support, mental and physical health, individual autonomy, generosity, and corruption in government or business. 

BusinessBecause spoke to international master’s students to find out their experience of studying in some of the world’s happiest countries, finding out everything from work-life balance and mental health support to career opportunities.  


Rank: 1 

Average life evaluation score: 7.741

Finland has ranked in the top spot of the World Happiness Index for seven consecutive years.

Finland is renowned for its impressive education system that’s built on equality. This means that all education is free for Finnish, EU, EEA, or Swiss citizens. 

For those looking to study abroad, international students can expect affordable fees when studying a master’s degree. 

At Aalto University School of Business, for example, master’s programs cost around $18k. International students can also apply for a study abroad scholarship that covers 50% or 100% of tuition fees. 

When you graduate, you’ll also find a thriving business landscape with a fast growing startup ecosystem of more than 4,000 businesses as well as many other career opportunities. 

09f7ac61959979b4ef4022bb167ebe114931768c.png © Emmi-Karoliina Sillanpää 


Moving from China to study the Master of Information and Service Management at Aalto University School of Business, Yifan Wang (pictured) has already secured a role as an analyst at Deloitte before graduating. 

Deloitte ranks as one of the best consulting firms to work for in the Vault Ranking 2024.

“The working culture in Finland definitely attracted me. People are treated equally, respectfully, and there’s a good work-life balance,” says Yifan. 

An important concept embedded into Finnish culture is ‘sisu’, which means stoic determination, something that Yifan says that he’s absorbed after his time at Aalto. 

“I’m constantly looking for...

rough professional knowledge or soft skills such as learning English and Finnish languages, and networking,” he says. 

Yifan also enjoys life outside the classroom. Aalto’s student union organizes events to help international students such as Yifan settle into life in a new country. The school also provides students with regular mental health check-ins or opportunities to speak about work pressure.

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The Netherlands 

Rank: 6 

Average life evaluation score: 7.319

Though it may have slipped down the ranking by one point since last year, The Netherlands still remains one of the world's happiest countries. It is continually recognized for its strong work-life balance and has one of the shortest working weeks in the world at an average of 29 hours. 

If you’re enjoying life in the Netherlands as a student, there are also generous work visas for graduates so you can stay in the country to start your career. 862e38facc33baa4280cfe44dc7a9a40cf8cf007.png

That’s exactly what Daniel Cerceja (pictured) intends to do. Daniel moved from Romania to study the Master in Marketing Management at Rotterdam School of Management (RSM). 

“I want to launch my career in the Netherlands mainly because of the country’s recognition of maintaining a proper work-life balance and embracing remote work,” he says. 

Daniel is also attracted to the country’s drive towards sustainability. 

“Many companies and individuals here are actively working towards reducing their carbon footprint and promoting sustainable practices, making it easy for me to find a company where I can have a positive societal impact,” he says. 

When he’s not studying, Daniel takes advantage of the Netherlands’ proximity to other European countries, travelling to Belgium, France, and Germany for short trips. 


Rank: 7 

Average life evaluation score: 7.302

Norway is considered one of the most developed countries in the world, experiencing a strong economy, gender equality, and a low crime rate

Higher education is free for Norwegian, EU, EEA, or Swiss citizens at publicly funded business schools. However, since autumn 2023, international students now have to pay tuition fees.

At NHH Norwegian School of Economics, international students on the Master in Economics and Business Administration can expect to pay around $18k per annum. 77825a8d51b88f93a89d40a3314aecaf5af43f5e.png

Azerbaijan-born NHH student Aygul Ismayilova (pictured) had her heart set on studying abroad in Norway since she was young.  

“I fell in love with Norway: the nature, how happy people are, the gender equality, well-functioning society, and the work-life balance,” she says. 

Aygul has secured a full-time role as an analyst with Rystad Energy in Oslo after completing an internship with the company. 

In Norway, you’ll also find beautiful scenery to explore in your spare time. Aygul says she has joined a student society where she enjoys hiking and camping trips with other nature lovers. 

Norway also offers high salaries so you can expect a good return on investment (ROI) when you graduate. 

The average salary for master's graduates across Norway is $91k and careers in business and management are the second highest paid with an average salary of around $109k.


Rank: 9 

Average life evaluation score: 7.204 

Switzerland is well-recognized for its high quality of life and ranked as the world’s most innovative country in the Global Innovation Index 2023

With four national languages—German, French, Italian, and Romansh—the country is a popular destination for international students and companies such as Nestlé, Zurich Insurance Group, and UBS.  e0a6a18bc60b4f2ac3c6f5fe996612f389f384df.png

Jessica Santos (pictured) was attracted to Switzerland for its reputation as a global leader in the hospitality industry, leading her to move from Florida to study the Master in Hospitality Management at EHL Hospitality Business School. 

“I was drawn to Switzerland’s high standard of living, natural beauty, and multicultural environment,” she says. 

While the workload is demanding, Jessica says there’s a strong emphasis on looking after your mental health at business school and prioritizing self-care. 

EHL organizes workshops and seminars on stress management, mindfulness, and other mental health topics. 

While it’s important to find a master’s degree that’s the right fit for your career goals, the study destination also plays a huge part in your experience. Especially if you’re moving abroad, learning about the country’s culture and quality of life can make a huge difference to your business school journey.

*If the ranking was based on 2023 alone, and not an average of the last 3 years, Israel would be in 19th place