US vs UK: Which is Better for Study Abroad?

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Samarpita Goswami
Updated on Apr 03, 2023 07:13 PM IST

USA and UK are among the top study abroad destinations for international students. Yet, there is a significant difference between their education systems, employment opportunities, cost of living, etc. Read the article below to decide which country is more suitable for you.

US vs UK: Which is Better for Study Abroad?

US or UK as study abroad destinations pose a huge confusion for international students. While US universities offer a flexible academic environment, the UK is widely preferred for its post-study work opportunities offered through its new Graduate Route.

We cannot claim the US to be better than the UK or vice versa, but we do understand that the needs of each student are unique depending upon their profile, budget, course and so on. The choice becomes further difficult considering that both US and UK have been top players in the international student market.

So, considering that there are numerous parallels and contrasts between the US and UK, here we will briefly address each aspect and provide you with a comparative analysis of studying in US vs UK.

Overview of US or UK to Study Abroad

There are four main differentiating factors between UK and US education: the method of education, choice of degree, teaching and assessment and the duration.

Method of Education: The US education system tends to have a more hands-on approach. This is evidenced by the number of projects and internships that students undertake. The UK's education system tends to focus on theory, which means it doesn't give students the opportunity to take up many varied subjects.

Course Duration: The duration of education is a major factor that students consider when choosing between the UK and the US. In the US, many students study for four years while those in the UK have a shorter duration of 3 years. In the US, many master's programs last for 2 years. In the UK, they only last for a year. This means that students need to have at least 12 years of education to apply.

Choice of Degree: In the US, students generally declare their major at the end of the second year. This provides them with the opportunity to explore courses and finally select one. Students also have to take courses on core subjects apart from their chosen courses. In the UK, students have to choose their majors before entering the campus which encourages students to pre-plan their academic journey from the very beginning.  

Teaching and Assessment: Universities in the UK provide classroom lecture-based teaching with occasional assessments. They generally do not have formal assessments till the end of the term. On the other hand, in the USA, universities are more based on assignments and assessments which are taken regularly and the marks are added up in the finals. 

Let us now look at a quick overview of US vs UK to study abroad:

Comparison Parameters

USA

UK

Intake Seasons

Spring, Summer, and Fall

Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter

Application Documents

Academic Transcripts, SOP, LOR, Academic CV, Language Proficiency Test Score

Academic Transcripts, SOP, LOR, Academic CV, Language Proficiency Test Score

Average GPA and Admission Test Requirements

GPA - 2.8

Bachelors: SAT - 1300; ACT - 25

Masters: GRE - 315; GMAT - 590

GPA - 2.5

Bachelors: SAT - Optional/Not Required

Masters: GRE - Optional; GMAT - 550

English Language Proficiency Tests Scores

IELTS - 6.5; TOEFL - 80; PTE - 73; or Duolingo - 120

IELTS - 6.0; TOEFL - 75; PTE - 65; or Duolingo - 105

Acceptance Rate

>70%

40% - 58.7%

Top University in World Rankings

California Institute of Technology (#2)

Harvard University (=#2)

Oxford University (#1)

Top Courses

Business and Management

Engineering

CS & IT

Hospitality Management

Sports & Athletics

Business and Management

Engineering

Law

Biomedical Science

Cultural Studies

Annual Bachelors Tuition Fees

USD 20,000 - 40,000

GBP 7,000 - 29,000

Annual Masters Tuition Fees

USD 20,000 - 40,000

GBP 15,000 - 32,000

Annual Doctorate Fees

USD 28,000 - 55,000

GBP 45,000+

Scholarships

Special scholarships for international students sponsored at University, State, and National levels

Special scholarships for international students sponsored at University, and National levels

Post-Education Opportunities

Corporate Jobs, R&D sector, Professorship, Consultancy services, etc.

Corporate Jobs, R&D sector, Professorship, Consultancy services, etc.

Annual Average Cost of Living

USD 10,000 - 16,000

GBP 12,000

VISA Approval Duration and Level

Easy; 3 - 5 weeks

Moderate-difficult; 7 weeks

Student VISA Rejection Rate

27%

3.78%

Overall Environment

A welcoming country with flexible immigration policies being reinstated by the Biden administration

Safe, secure and welcoming environment

From profile evaluation to visa guidance, our study abroad experts have years of experience in speeding up your application and making the study abroad process easier.

Get FREE Profile Evaluation from Our Study Abroad Experts.

Eligibility Criteria to Study in UK vs US

US or UK decisions could be simplified by understanding their respective education systems. You can understand how each country caters to international students in terms of education, and compare these with your own expectations and goals. The country which best matches your requirements is the best study abroad option between US and UK.

US

You need to have at least 12 years of schooling to get into Bachelor'scourses in the US and to get into Masters courses, you need 16 years of education. For Indian students, this figure is equivalent to 12 years of schooling and four years of undergraduate education. In most cases, they need to take a one-year course to meet this requirement.

Some US universities may accept your three years of study from Indian universities. However, these cases are rare. To get into management courses, you need to take the GMAT and the GRE exam.

At US universities, your score will be computed according to the average scores of the participating schools and should comply with the minimum score requirement. Also, make sure that you take both the TOEFL and the IELTS exams to get into the best courses. Having said that, many international students can study abroad without IELTS, including US.

UK

For UK universities, the minimum pre-university education was required to be 13 years. From now, they can accept CBSE plus two certificates for admission to Bachelors courses in UK. After getting an undergraduate degree, you can get admission to various Masters courses in the UK. However, to get into management courses, you need to appear for the GMAT.

Similar to the US, you will need to have at least a couple of years of work experience in order to get into a management course. Students can study in UK without IELTS as well.

Tuition Fees in the US vs UK

The cost of living in the US and the UK is influenced by various factors such as university, course, and location. Your final decision needs to be in sync with your career goals and budget. Here it needs to be noted that the UK is a better investment if your field of study is related to Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, and Pure Sciences. On the other hand, the US is a better option if you are applying for STEM courses, Digital Arts, Business, etc.

Type of Expense

Annual Cost in US (USD)

Annual Cost in UK (GBP)

Bachelor Courses Tuition Fees

10,000-30,000

8,000-15,000

Masters Courses Tuition Fees

15,000-45,000

10,000-12,000

Accommodation and Living Expenses

10,000-15,000

12,000-15,000

Universities and Colleges in US vs UK

Although the US has a huge number of universities in the top ranges of world rankings, the UK has the highest number of top universities which provide quality education. The UK is a leader in several fields of study, such as engineering, science, art, and finance.

Around 60,000 international students visit the UK each year. Out of all the world's top 100 universities, 33 alone are based in the US. This proves how the country's education system works as well-oiled machinery. US universities have a reputation for satisfying various ranking parameters, from high-quality education to advance and modern infrastructure.

Courses/Parameters

US

UK

Best STEM Universities (THE)

Harvard University

Stanford University

UC, Berkeley

MIT

Princeton University

University of Cambridge

University of Oxford

Imperial College London

UCL

University of Manchester

Best Law Schools (THE)

Stanford University

New York University

Harvard University

Yale University

University of Chicago

University of Cambridge

University of Oxford

UCL

University of Edinburgh

LSE

Best Business Schools (FT)

Wharton School

Columbia Business School

Harvard Business School

Northwestern University

Stanford Graduate School of Business

London Business School

University of Cambridge

University of Oxford

Alliance Manchester Business School

Warwick Business School

Best Arts Schools (THE)

Stanford University

MIT

Harvard University

Princeton University

University of Chicago

University of Cambridge

University of Oxford

UCL

University of Edinburgh

Durham University

Number of universities in top 100 rankings of THE

38

11

Number of universities in top 100 rankings of the QS

27

17

Number of universities in top 100 rankings of US News & World Report

43

11

Average Acceptance Rate

66%

71%

Average Graduation Rate (6 years)

58%

63%

Average Employability Rate

86%

93%

Average Starting Salaries of Masters students

USD 70,000 - 85,000

(INR 54,23,600 - 65,85,800)

GBP 35,000 - 50,000

(INR 33,84,700 - 48,35,300)

International Scholarships in US vs UK

Let us now have a look at the scholarships offered to international students in the US and UK:

USA

Despite the high cost of education in the US, there are numerous ways to support your education. Although many international students are eligible for scholarships, they will not be able to receive funds designed for US citizens. If you plan on studying in the US, it is still possible to get scholarships from American universities and schools before the deadlines. It has been widely believed that studying in the US would allow students to build a better life after they graduate.

However, there is a wide range of non-STEMcourses and STEM courses scholarships available in US for Indian students. According to Open Doors Report, the number of Indian students in US universities increased by 5.4% in the 2017-18 academic year and they made up 17.9% of the total foreign student population.

Name of Scholarship Funded by Value
Hubert Humphrey Fellowship Program Government

Intensive instruction, a monthly maintenance stipend, and access to professional expenses such as field trips.

Fulbright- Nehru Fellowships Government

Varies; Monthly allowances for PhD

IEFA Non-Government

INR 35,000+

AAUW International Fellowships Non-Government

Master's degree - INR 366,486

Postdoctoral degree - INR 21,91,485

#YouAreWelcomeHere Scholarship Non-Government

50% of tuition fee

UK

The UK is regarded as one of the best places to live in the world. With a variety of scholarships available to international students, it's no wonder why. There are a variety of scholarships available to international students in the UK. They can choose from a wide range of scholarships and grants. The number of scholarships that international students can get is increasing every year. Unfortunately, full scholarships are rare these days. However, there are some strategies that can help you improve your chances of obtaining one.

Scholarship Name

Funded by

Description

Chevening Scholarship

FCDO and other partner organisations

Tuition fees, economy travel, an arrival allowance, etc.

Commonwealth Scholarship

Government-funded Tuition fees, examination fees, airfare from home country to the UK and return.

Charles Wallace India Trust Scholarship

Charles Wallace India Trust

INR 51,778 to 62,131

Great Scholarship

Government-funded

INR 10,35,895

Student Visa in US vs UK

US student visa and UK student visa applications are not only made to different countries, but their requirements are also different. It is important for you to know about each of these requirements to decide which is better for you, UK or US.

Visa Requirements to Study in USA

  • A US student visa or F1 visa is a type of full-time study visa.

  • A personal interview is required to obtain an F1 visa or other visa types as well.

  • You can stay in the US for up to 60 days after completing your academic programme.

  • You can stay in the US for up to 60 days without being approved to stay and work in the country under the Optional Practical Training program.

  • The cost of this visa is USD 160. You must also pay an additional USD 160 for a dependent visa. The student can work up to 40 hours per week while on campus.

Visa Requirements to Study in UK

  • A Tier 4 student visa (now Student Visa) of UK is a type of visa that allows students to study in the UK.

  • This visa can be granted for up to three years if you intend to study for a diploma or a degree. It is usually issued for four years if you intend to pursue a postgraduate program.

  • It costs GBP 310 to apply for the visa. You will also be required to pay an additional GBP 310 for a dependent visa.

  • Depending on the type of work that you want to do, you may or may not be allowed to do it during your studies. There are two types of work that international students are allowed to do: Part-time and full-time.

Career Opportunities and Salaries in the UK vs US

Career prospects and job salary are two important aspects of studying abroad. UK and USA are top leading countries for Indian students to study and work. Both destinations are extremely developed and are the land of opportunities. Here is a comparison between the two countries. 

Career Opportunities in the USA

 Medical professionals get a high salary in the USA. Besides healthcare, career opportunities in engineering and information technology are booming. Multiple job opportunities in the USA provide incredibly high salaries that help students get a good return on investment. 

International students get 12 months of Optional Practical Training and STEM graduates get a 24 months extension. The companies may sponsor visas for employees that allow them to stay for six years in the USA. The best jobs in USA along with their average salaries are given below: 

Job Roles

Average Annual Salary (in USD)

Software Developer

370,600

Nurse Practitioner

112,720

Information Security Analyst

102,600

Financial Manager

131,710

Lawyer

127,990

Career Opportunities in UK

UK is the second most popular country for international students in the UK. The National Minimum Wage is GBP 8.91 per hour. The unemployment rate is also low with a robust economy with huge job vacancies. The competition for jobs is fierce but for candidates with the right skills, qualifications and experience, it is easy to find a suitable job. Some of the important job sectors include healthcare, retail, engineering, education, construction, accounting, banking and finance. The top job positions and the average salaries in UK are given here: 

Job Roles

Average Annual Salary (in GBP)

Software Developer

63,965

Endocrinologist

99,723

Information Security Analyst

49,574

Financial Manager

67,165

Lawyer

52,822

Stay Back Period in US vs UK

The UK and US are among the study abroad destinations that allow you to apply to stay back after completing your courses and pursue job opportunities. This stay back period is different for different courses. Courses like STEM and degrees and Master's research often assure a longer stay back period in comparison to other qualifications and non-STEM courses.

Stay back period in UK and US is almost similar, however, it must be noted that even a difference of a month can be of importance to you. US allows a 24-month extension on Post Study Work Permit visa for STEM course graduates.

Parameters

Maximum Stay Back Period in US (years)

Maximum Stay Back Period in UK (years)

Bachelors Degree

1

2

Masters Taught Degrees

2

2

Masters Research Degrees

2

2.5

PhD

2

3

PR in US vs UK

US PR or permanent residency is an option that can be pursued only by certain individuals. However, it requires a lengthy and complex process. After securing a green card, the applicant would need to stay in the US for at least five years.

In the case of UKPR or permanent residence, the situation is not as positive. Due to various changes in the UK's immigration policies, it is becoming harder to enter the country. Many people would be required to leave if they are staying in the UK on a work visa or Student visa. The UK PR visa application can be made before the expiry of the Study or Work visa to ensure that there is no time wastage while deporting back to the home country.

In both UK and US, the PR visa application is bound with several requirements as they are based on skilled migration. You will have to ensure that all the basic requirements are fulfilled in order to ensure that the PR visa application is not rejected.

While both countries provide great education, they have slightly different approaches to education. If you are thinking about getting a degree in the UK or US, consider the differences between these two countries mentioned in this article and find the right one based on your profile and requirements.

We have renowned experts and Ivy League mentors on board who can guide you through a hassle-free experience in the US or UK. Please write to us at abroad@collegedekho.com to have them clear out your doubts.

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FAQs

Is it better to study in UK or USA?

Both UK and USA are popular destinations to study abroad with institutions that are excellent in academics and research. The application process for undergraduate courses in the UK is easier than in the USA but in the USA, you get more options of courses to choose from. The admission process is the same in both countries so you can study where you will get maximum benefits. 

Is it cheaper to study in UK or USA?

Fees for international students are high in both UK and USA. The courses in the UK are of shorter duration, therefore, the cost of completing the whole course is cheaper in the UK than in the USA. Also, the UK government has set the limit up to which universities can charge fees but in the case of the USA, universities can set fees at their discretion.

Is US education harder than that of UK?

The US education system is harder than that of UK due to the duration of its courses. In USA, bachelor’s courses are of 4 years and master’s courses are of 2 years while in the UK the bachelor's course and master's courses can be completed in 3 and 2 years respectively. Apart from that, both the countries provide equal emphasis on hands-on training along with theoretical knowledge and have a high standard of education.

Does USA provide a longer stay back period than UK?

The USA provides a longer stay back period only in the case of STEM courses where students can stay back for 3 years. For non- STEM courses, it is 1 year. In the UK, all degree holders get 2 years to stay back and enjoy a wide range of employment opportunities. For doctoral degree holders, stay back period is 3 years in the UK.

Is the UK better than the USA for bachelor's degree?

The UK education is deeper than in the USA where more emphasis is put on certain portions. The USA education is more expansive with more topics to study in bachelor's. In the USA, one-fourth of the course is related to general education which is not the case in the UK. The rest of the course in the USA is related to the major subject. In the UK, students get the opportunity to study their subjects from the beginning.

Which is better for masters, USA or UK?

Master’s degree courses in the UK are cheaper as they are shorter than in the USA. Master’s degrees in the UK are standalone courses, allowing students to specialise in a particular course. In the USA, a master's degree is part of bigger graduate programs which include master's and doctoral programs. Students tend to continue with a PhD after master’s.

Which is safer for international students, UK or USA?

Both UK and USA are more or less equal in terms of safety. Universities in both countries arrange for various provisions to make the education and living experiences safer for international students. Further, the law and legal system in the countries provide protection to foreigners against different crimes.

Which is better for MBA, UK or USA?

An MBA in UK is better than an MBA in USA in terms of return on investment (ROI). The fees charged for an MBA in UK are lower than that in the USA. Students get a longer stay back period of 2 years in the UK after completing their MBA than a 1-year stay back period in the USA.

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