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Why study in the USA?

  • The USA is the number one destination for all international students wanting to study abroad - currently over 850,000 international students study there each year according to the Institute of International Education
  • There's a huge variety of universities and subjects you can study - there's something for everyone
  • The USA is well known for it's academic excellence, use of new technologies and exciting research possibilities. You're sure to get a world class education
Discuss studying in the USA with other people in the forums.

The USA's education system

There are two types of undergraduate degree you can study for in the USA:

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  • BA (Bachelor of Arts)/BSc (Bachelor of Science) - 4 years
    • A wide range of modules are available in your first year: from arts, humanities and languages, to social and physical sciences
    • At the end of your first year you decide on a major and from then on, at least 50% of your classes will be based on that subject
    • A Bachelors degree can lead on to Postgraduate study, including a Masters or PhD
  • Associate Degree - 2 years
    • You can get an associate degree by studying at a Community College
    • After the two years, this can then lead onto a full university course and a Bachelors degree

Find out how to apply to university in the USA

How much will it cost?

Tuition fees

Tuition fees are a lot more expensive in the USA than the UK, however, the amount varies greatly between universities.

For an undergraduate degree, you'll be paying around $15,000 - $40,000 (£9,931 - £26,483) per year.

While a Masters Degree will cost you $25,520 - $79,317 (£16,580 - £51,540) per year.

You'll find that courses such as engineering and medicine are often a lot more expensive than humanities or arts subjects for example. The better the university you go to, the higher the tuition fees will be!

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Living expenses

Living expenses are going to include things like accommodation, bills, food and social activities. Here's a break down of what you might expect to be spending in a typical year:

  • Accommodation: $3,000 - $7,500 (£1,950 - £4,965)
  • Food: $2,500 (£1,655)
  • Travel: $300 - $700 (£198 - £463)
  • Books and study materials: $500 - $1,000 (£331- £662)
  • Social activities/Other: $2,500 (£1,655)

Therefore, you can expect your yearly living expenses to be between $8,800 and $14,200(£5,826 - £9,401).

Find out about student Visas for studying in the USA


The currency in the USA is the US Dollar, depicted by $. The current exchange rate is $1 : £0.66

Exchange rates can change quickly and, while this value is correct at the time of writing, it's worth checking again before you travel.

Financial assistance

There are a number of grants, scholarships and loans available to both home and international students in the USA; there are even some universities who, based on your first year grades, are willing to award partial tuition fee waivers! But even before your first year there's still a real amount of financial support available.

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Working while you study

With a student visa you can work for up to 20 hours a week in a job on campus while you study in the USA. Some universities can even guarantee jobs for international students, as part of a financial aid package, to ensure they are able to support themselves financially throughout their degree.

Living in the USA

Living in the USA while you study is going to provide you with a very different experience to studying in the UK; there'll be different customs, different activities to try and different foods to experience. It might be overwhelming at first but if you prepare well and know what to expect it's sure to be less of a shock.

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What to expect from people

People from the USA may act in an unfamiliar way when compared to the cultures you have previously experienced. Be prepared for new styles of greeting and for relationships to, in general, be more informal - even between teachers and students! Don't be alarmed if people act differently in certain social situations and try not to assume a person is being rude if they differ from what you are used to.

What about food?

Where you get your meals will depend on where you're living while you study. A lot of on-campus accommodation will be near a cafeteria or food outlets; this means you can either buy your food on campus or sign up for a meal plan where you'll have your meals made in the cafeteria for you.

However, if you're living off campus, you will probably be renting somewhere with a kitchen which may be shared with room mates. In these cases you will either have to cook for yourself, or rely on any eating outlets close by.

Campus activities

The type of activities available will be different at each university, but it's worth investigating the events that will be happening on campus while you're there! Most universities will have a Student Activities Centre which will give you the opportunity to get involved in activities and meet new people!

Depending on the campus, the Student Activity Center will offer different services and activities. Some may have prayer rooms while others contain bowling alleys - others offer large spaces for meetings, music and dance collaborations and general socialising. Whatever the facilities available, the Student Activity Centre aims to create a strong student community, and a place where you can go for help, fun or to unwind from your incessant studying.

Ultimately, if you choose to study in the USA you're going to be experiencing something completely new, facing challenges every day and gaining knowledge that will support you for the rest of your life. With such a diverse mix of people, the USA is sure to provide you with a university experience that will be very hard to forget.

Find out about student accommodation in the USA

Where to study?

Choosing where to study can be difficult, especially as the USA has thousands of universities and colleges to choose from. Included in these are 31 Universities which featured in the QS World Ranking's Top 100.

Here's a list of the top 100 universities in the USA with their top 100 world rankings (where appropriate) written in brackets, while these may be considered the best universities in America, according to the Forbes top 100, it's worth remembering that there are literally hundreds more universities to choose from. A full list can be found here.

  1. 1) Williams College, Massachusetts
  2. 2) Stanford University, California (4)
  3. 3) Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania
  4. 4) Princeton University, New Jersey (7)
  5. 5) Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Massachusetts (6)
  6. 6) Yale University, Connecticut (9)
  7. 7) Harvard University, Massachusetts (2)
  8. 8) Pomono College, California
  9. 9) United States Military Academy, New York
  10. 10) Amherst College, Massachusetts
  11. 11) Haverford College, Pennsylvania
  12. 12) University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania (16)
  13. 13) Brown University, Rhode Island
  14. 14) Bowdoin College, Maine
  15. 15) Wesleyan University, Connecticut
  16. 16) Carleton College, Minnesota
  17. 17) University of Notre Dame, Indiana (86)
  18. 18) Dartmouth College, New Hampshire (152)
  19. 19) Northwestern University, Illinois (21)
  20. 20) Columbia University, New York (14)
  21. 21) California Institute of Technology, California (1)
  22. 22) Davidson College, North Carolina
  23. 23) Duke University, North Carolina (18)
  24. 24) University of Chicago, Illinois (11)
  25. 25) Tufts University, Massachusetts (88)
  26. 26) Vassar College, New York
  27. 27) United States Naval Academy, Maryland
  28. 28) Georgetown University, District of Columbia (173)
  29. 29) Wellesley College, Massachusetts
  30. 30) Middlebury College, Vermont
  31. 31) Cornell University, New York (19)
  32. 32) Rice University, Texas (69)
  33. 33) Washington and Lee University, Virginia
  34. 34) United States Air Force Academy, Colorado
  35. 35) Barnard College, New York
  36. 36) Boston College, Massachusetts (126)
  37. 37) University of California, Berkeley, California (8)
  38. 38) Colgate University, New York
  39. 39) Colby College, Maine
  40. 40) University of Virginia, Virginia (130)
  41. 41) College of William and Mary, Virginia
  42. 42) Kenyon College, Ohio
  43. 43) Oberlin College, Ohio
  44. 44) University of California, Los Angeles, California (12)
  45. 45) University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan (17)
  46. 46) Reed College, Oregon
  47. 47) Whitman College, Washington
  48. 48) Lafayette College, Pennsylvania
  49. 49) Smith College, Massachusetts
  50. 50) University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina (46)
  51. 51) Colorado College, Colorado
  52. 52) Harvey Mudd College, California
  53. 53) College of the Holy Cross, Massachusetts
  54. 54) Vanderbilt University, Tennessee (96)
  55. 55) Hamilton College, New York
  56. 56) Franklin and Marshall College, Pennsylvania
  57. 57) Union College, New York
  58. 58) Grinnell College, Iowa
  59. 59) Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania (24)
  60. 60) Bates College, Maine
  61. 61) Wake Forest University, North Carolina
  62. 62) University of Rochester, New York (121)
  63. 63) Washington University in Saint Louis, Missouri (42)
  64. 64) Cooper Union, New York
  65. 65) Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania
  66. 66) Macalester College, Minnesota
  67. 67) Johns Hopkins University, Maryland (15)
  68. 68) University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois (29)
  69. 69) Scripps College, California
  70. 70) University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin (29)
  71. 71) Villanova University, Pennsylvania
  72. 72) New York University, New York (38)
  73. 73) University of Washington, Washington (26)
  74. 74) Brandeis University, Massachusetts (147)
  75. 75) Wheaton College, Illinois
  76. 76) University of Texas, Austin (28)
  77. 77) Lehigh University, Pennsylvania
  78. 78) University of Southern California, California (75)
  79. 79) Brigham Young University, Utah
  80. 80) Occidental College, California
  81. 81) Centre College, Kentucky
  82. 82) University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland (132)
  83. 83) Trinity College, Connecticut
  84. 84) Connecticut College, Connecticut
  85. 85) Wofford College, South Carolina
  86. 86) Santa Clara University, California
  87. 87) University of Florida, Florida (126)
  88. 88) Dickinson College, Pennsylvania
  89. 89) Boston University, Massachusetts (57)
  90. 90) Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia (27)
  91. 91) DePauw University, Indiana
  92. 92) Earlham College, Indiana
  93. 93) Rhodes College, Tennessee
  94. 94) University of Georgia, Georgia
  95. 95) Denison University, Ohio
  96. 96) University of Richmond, Virginia
  97. 97) Mount Holyoke College, Massachusetts
  98. 98) Sewanee – University of the South, Tennessee
  99. 99) Sarah Lawrence College, New York
  100. 100) Furman University, South Carolina

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