Studying in the UK vs Studying in the USA

According to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2019, more than half of the world’s top 200 universities are located in either the US or the UK. If you want to study abroad in an English-speaking country, there is a good chance one of these countries will be your first choice. This article will help you understand thoroughly the differences between studying in the UK and studying in the USA.

Studying int the US vs Studying in the UK
Source: Freepik

How long it takes to obtain a degree while studying in the UK vs studying in the USA

The difference between the education system in the US and the UK is the amount of time it takes to finish your degree (except for in Scotland, where a bachelor’s degree also lasts four years). In general, degree programs in the US take about one year longer than programs in the UK. In both systems, you can go directly to a Ph.D. program out of your undergraduate program. However, in the UK it is more common to complete a master’s degree program before moving on to a Ph.D. Courses of study are shorter in the UK because the course programs are generally much more focused on the degree subject than in the US. The degrees are of equal value and are recognised as the same around the world.

Furthermore, a master’s degree in the US is generally twice as long as in the UK. In the UK, the majority of master’s courses last only one year. Again, UK master’s degrees are recognised the same as master’s degrees in the US, which means international students can save time as well as money on living costs and tuition fees by studying in the UK.

University Organisation UK vs US

Many universities in the UK are made up of “colleges” that are dedicated to a specific subject matter. While the colleges are still governed by the university, each college has quite a lot of independence and autonomy from the university itself.

By contrast, in the US you apply to the larger university and for the first year or more, you take courses in a variety of fields and only declare a major at the end of the first year (sometimes even during the second year). American universities have different “schools” or departments, such as the School of Arts and Sciences, which house a number of related majors. Therefore, we can say that the general emphasis of higher education in the US is breadth, or getting a range of knowledge from a variety of different subjects. In the UK, the emphasis is more on depth; getting a very thorough understanding of your chosen subject.

Homework and Grades

homework studying in the uk vs studying in the us
Source: Freepik

As the US system emphasises breadth, courses require weekly or even biweekly readings as well as other assignments such as small writing projects, major research papers, and oral presentations throughout the course. In the UK, most schools are much more lecture-based, with only occasional assignments throughout the semester. In some cases, there may be no actual required assignments and instead your entire grade may be based on one final exam. In the US, your grade will be based on your performance on the variety of assignments, with a final exam making up only a percentage of your total grade.

Cost of studying in the UK vs studying in the US

studying in the uk vs studying in the us cost

The cost of education in both countries is far from cheap, but the cost of an education in the United States is generally higher. According to a law passed in 2012, universities in England may charge up to £9,000 (approximately $11,700) per year. Of course, this applies only to citizens of the UK and the EU, not international students. Fees for international students can be significantly higher. The government sets the limits for tuition fees, and each individual school sets its own fee up to that limit.

By contrast, the government has very little control over what universities charge in the United States. The US differentiates between in-state tuition fees and out-of-state tuition fees.

The average tuition fee for public two-year institutions is around $3,000 per year, while the average fee for private four-year institutions is around $29,000 per year. Finally, some private four-year institutions can cost up to $50,000 per year.


Both countries provide students with residence halls in which to live. They are roughly equivalent, although in the UK it is more normal to have a bedroom by yourself, whereas in the US, you may very well share a bedroom with at least one other person. However, after the first year, students in the US may have additional housing options available to them, such as private housing or off-campus housing. It is also more common for dormitories to be self-catered in the UK, while the US normally provides a range of full dining options for its students. One potentially significant difference is that maid service is common in the residence halls in the UK, although students pay a nominal fee for this service.


While both countries provide a great education, each system approaches education slightly differently, and there are advantages and disadvantages to each. If you are considering getting your education in either the US or the UK, you should take into consideration the various differences mentioned in this article, especially the amount of time it takes to finish the degree, the tuition fees and whether you prefer more depth or more breadth in your degree program.

If you are considering studying in the UK, simply click here to leave your details and UKEC will get back to you shortly to help you with any queries you may have.

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