An introduction to studying in America for UK students
Thinking about doing your degree in America but unsure if you have enough dollar to fund university across the pond? We've got you!
Embarking on a course in a foreign country can be daunting for the bravest of students, but it's a once in a lifetime opportunity that you may regret not taking!
If you're still weighing up the pros and cons of doing your undergraduate degree in the US, look no further. Our Study in America series takes a look at whether studying in America is worth the hype and breaks down exactly how much it will cost to get you there.
It might seem like an expensive adventure, but there are ways of buffering the toll it could take on your finances!
This guide will serve as an introduction to the different degrees on offer and how much each one costs, what kind of financial support is available for international students, how the American higher education system works and what you need to do to apply.
We'll also provide links to our other guides along the way which go into further detail about each of these topics as well as why a US degree could make you more employable.
Ready? Get set... go! 🙂
What's on this page?
Why study in America?
According to the Fullbright Commission, there are currently around 11,600 students from the UK enrolled at American universities.
America is home to many of the world's most respected universities, including the likes of Harvard, NYU, Yale, Brown and Stanford. Foreign students flock to these institutions for the high quality of teaching, learning resources and extracurricular activities.
However, a lot of the decision-making will factor in what you're looking to get out of studying in America. There are many universities and colleges which aren't as well known internationally, but still offer a great education and a fab overall student experience.
We've made a list of locations you might want to consider if you're still stuck on which part of America you'd like to live in. The possibilities are endless (ish).
Popular university cities in the US
- Austin, Texas
- Boston, Massachusetts
- Chicago, Illinois
- Los Angeles, California
- New York City, New York
- Portland, Oregon
- Seattle, Washington
- San Francisco, California
- Washington DC
And if you're still mulling over whether America is the right place for you, here's a list of benefits up for grabs if you do decide to take the plunge!
How much are American university fees?
We're not going to hide it from you. Tuition fees in America can be higher than in the UK, believe it or not, but there's a whole host of scholarships and bursaries available for international students, so don't fret!
The cost of American university fees varies depending on the type of degree you embark on, as well as your chosen institution. Here are the average going rates for each one:
- Public two-year college – £2,840
- Public four-year college (in-state) – £7,939
- Public four-year college (out-of-state) – £20,404
- Private non-profit four-year college – £27,808.
Find out which of these courses is right for you and how much you'll need to put aside for uni materials and accommodation in our guide to American university fees.
How do you fund studying in America?
Funding your shiny new US education is one of the most important things you'll need to consider, as this could ultimately decide whether or not you make the leap.
But don't let the high(er) tuition fees fool you into thinking that the Land of the Great is out of your reach. There are lots of options for international students, you just have to know where to look!
- Needs-based scholarships: contingent on your parents' income
- Niche scholarships: awarded to targeted students according to a skill they possess, their background or their area of study
- Merit-based scholarships: awarded to students with outstanding results in a particular area of study
- Sports scholarships: awarded to students that excel at a particular sport.
In 2014/15, 86% of undergrads at American universities received financial aid — you could be one of them! Have a look at our guide on funding degrees in the US to learn more about the organisations offering support to international students.
How does the American university system work?
For a start, it takes four years to complete an undergraduate degree in America. Courses tend to be very general during the first two years, and the specialism in your subject will come into play in towards the tail-end of your degree.
Degrees in America are also heavily coursework-focused. This means that your overall grade is based more on the work you hand in throughout the year than on a cluster of exams organised at the end of a term (which translates to a slightly heavier ongoing workload as well!).
What are the other main differences between universities in the UK and the US? Funny you should say that because they're all listed right here!
How do you apply for university in America?
Firstly, it's important to note that there is no central body (like UCAS) that facilitates American university applications. You will need to apply for each university separately on their website.
Visit each university's international student section to find out what documentation you'll need to provide as getting through the red tape can take longer than the application itself!
There's no limit to the number of universities you can apply to. However, it's worth bearing in mind that it costs between $30 and $90 (or £23 and £69 to you and me!) so only apply for the ones you're genuinely interested in.
Want to learn more about the application process for American universities? Good, 'cause we've only gone and written a step-by-step guide on how to apply for American universities for you!
What are the benefits of studying in America?
Apart from having access to the world's greatest hotdogs and being able to actually see where some of your most beloved films were made (we're looking at you, New York!)? And being able to complete that Route 66 road trip you've always dreamed of?
Well, having a degree from an American university on your CV will make you look that much shinier to potential employers. You'll come out the other end with a well of life experience and independence that most of your peers who stayed in the UK won't have gained.
Here's a full list of the benefits of going to an American university if you're still umming and ahhing!
Most popular American universities
Harvard... Yale... Stanford... Princeton. Which one comes out top trumps?
If it's academic credentials you're after (or maybe a prospective employer only hires from a select few unis?), you'll want to know which American universities sit on the golden throne of international rankings.
We've put together our top 10 universities in America based on rankings from US News, an internationally recognised leader in American university rankings.
But remember, ranking systems are based on a variety of statistics. Just because a uni ranks number one doesn't mean it's right for your chosen career path. Aim for one that's right for you and course subject and you can't go wrong. 🙂
Best of luck on living your American dream, we know you'll have an absolutely fantastic time! Already applied to your dream uni? Take a look at our top tips on how to nail the Skype interview to make sure you secure a place for the next academic year!