Studying in the UK vs. US: What you Need to Know

According to the world university rankings gathered by the Times Higher Education, the United States and the UK are both leading countries in the academic field, with 200 universities located in either the UK or the US. Both the US and UK share a rich culture of superior education, outstanding research facilities and a tradition that promotes intellectualism as well as academic liberty.

Differences between Studying in the UK and US

As much as both the US and UK offer a perfect learning environment, the variance can be felt in terms of the registration process, the length of study, the cost of study, and the structures of the universities.

Registration processes

The enrolment process at UK universities is different from American universities. Britain lets international or British students apply to multiple universities at once either through pre-registration services or the UCAS website.

On the contrary, to enrol in American universities, you will need to apply to the college or university directly. This process can consume an extended period of time as students who would like to study in the US must apply directly to the learning institutions personally, via the Central Admission Department or through an email.

Length of study

This is the most significant difference in the education systems of the two countries. Generally, a degree in the US takes longer than the programs available in the UK. However, this will depend on whether you get a Master’s degree before a PhD. In both the education systems, you can go straight to a PhD program out of your undergraduate program. But, in the UK, you will need to finish a Master’s program before moving to a PhD.

If you plan to study in the UK to get your Master’s Degree and then proceed to a PhD, and later stay there, you have to apply for leave to remain. That will help you stay in the UK without any time limitations.

Study cost

The cost of study in both the US and the UK is high. However, the cost of studying in the US is usually higher. According to a law passed in 2012, universities in the UK are allowed to charge up to £9000, which is approximately $14, 300 every year. Keep in mind that this only applies to students that are citizens of the UK, and the EU. Therefore, fees for international students can be considerably higher.

On the other side, the US government has very little to say over what universities can charge. The government distinguishes between in-state education fees and out-of-state tuition fees as well as the public and private universities. The differences determine the tuition fees. The good news is that there are various US scholarships and UK scholarships that can help students cover their cost of studies.

University structures

Most universities in the UK are made up of colleges that are dedicated to a particular subject; for instance, an institution might have an art or even drama college. However, the college is still administered by the university and its guidelines. The main difference in UK universities is that you will have to remain limited to the course you picked until you graduate.

In the US, you apply to the main university for one or more years of study. Then you can start taking courses in various disciplines and pick the one you want to complete at the end of your first or second year.

Bottom Line

While both the UK and the US offer many benefits of a great education, every system approaches education differently. And, there are downsides to each. Therefore, if you are planning to study in the UK or the US, consider the various differences mentioned above.


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