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Studying in the USA

The USA has the world’s largest international student population, with over 800,000 students choosing to broaden their education and life experience in the United States. 1Nearly 4% of all students enrolled in higher-level education in the USA are international students, and the numbers are growing. From the mid-1950’s, when international student enrollment was only just reaching 35,000, international education in the USA has come a long way.
There are many reasons that students like to come to the USA to study at undergraduate and graduate level — learn more about what the USA has to offer to an international student. This section will help you focus on the main factors that students should consider when deciding whether to pursue an education in the USA.

Tips to studying in the USA

Making the right choice

The USA has 4,000 universities and colleges and there are many different types. Beyond the prestigious Ivy League group, which includes Princeton and Yale, they range from small private liberal arts colleges with their focus on undergraduate teaching to the large public research universities with a greater student population and breadth of courses.
You’ll want to think about the kind of environment you’d be spending up to four years in, be it a large city or a college town. Wherever you choose, you are likely to find that student life in the US revolves around a close-knit campus experience.

Narrowing down the choices

Once you’ve prioritised the factors important to you when choosing a university, draw up a list of 20. Narrow it down to six or so by checking prospectuses, reading student blogs, talking to students who have returned from the USA. There are online tours for this purpose.

What qualifications are available?

At undergraduate level in the US, there are four-year Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Sciences (BSc) degrees. There are also two-year Associate degrees available at community colleges, which could lead into a full university degree course. The BA aims to give students a well-rounded academic experience. You’ll start by taking a wide range of courses in the arts, humanities, languages and the social and physical sciences. At the end of the first year, or some way into the second, students can decide on the subject in which they want to major. From that point, 50 per cent of your classes will be in your specialized area.

What exam results will I need?

At the top end, Yale looks for three or more A’s and A’s at A-level or the equivalent, but many universities with a good reputation will be flexible in their approach.

Do US universities have their own entry tests?

Most American universities will expect you to take SAT or ACT admission tests. Samples of these tests can be found or so you can practice in advance. The most competitive universities will ask you to take SAT subject tests or the ACT with the optional writing section as well.

Will I need a VISA?

Yes. Once you have received your offers, you will need to start the visa application process, which will include paperwork plus an interview.

How much will it cost to study in the US?

There are wide variations in the cost of studying at different universities and colleges in the US. The annual average cost at a private university can exceed USD 63,000 including food and accommodation, but will be considerably less at a public university or community college. The Fulbright Commission recommends looking closely at funding options when you are applying to avoid the disappointment of having to turn a place down if funding doesn’t materialise.


Once you’ve completed your initial research into the course that will work best for you, the key message is – don’t delay. You’ll need to set the ball rolling 12-18 months ahead. Check the Fulbright website for a full timeline of the process of applying to American universities



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