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Study in the USA

The United States of America, also known as the USA, the US or America, is one of the most popular destinations for international students. The USA has one of the largest education systems in the world, making it a powerhouse of international education and research. From Hollywood to some of the world’s most prominent technology companies, the country’s influence is seen and felt globally.

Why study abroad in the USA

Many international students choose to study in the USA each year. It is an incredibly popular choice, and appeals to students who are interested in a variety of subject areas, due to its highly-ranked universities offering well-regarded degrees across the board. Some of the most well-known universities in the USA are members of the Ivy League, which is a group of 8 universities and colleges.

Higher education is delivered in institutions sometimes referred to as colleges, which are split into two main types. Public colleges are state-funded, have lower tuition fees and a larger capacity for students. Private colleges are funded by donations, tuition fees and grants, meaning that they have higher tuition fees, but fewer students. You can find out more about this on our Public vs. Private Universities in the USA page.

The USA is a very large country, and the experience you have in an east coast state such as Massachusetts will be different to a west coast state like California. This is an exciting prospect, as the opportunities are endless, with 50 states for you to choose from to take the next step in your international education journey.

The east coast has bustling cities like New York, Boston and Chicago, where residents experience all 4 seasons, and have access to places like The Hamptons, Myrtle Beach and Miami. The west coast has cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland and Seattle, where you can enjoy beach life in the summer and snowsports in the winter. The areas in the middle of the USA, which are sometimes called the ‘flyover states’, are not to be ignored. From Yellowstone National Park, which straddles Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, to the Grand Canyon in Arizona, there is plenty to be found in the less popular states.

About the USA

Language(s) of tuition English
Universities on StudyLink 73 universities
Major Student Cities Washington D.C. (capital), New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles

Highlighted courses in the USA

United Nations Studies Certificate

Columbia University, School of Professional Studies United States

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Food & Agribusiness Management in a Digital Age Professional Development, Professional Certificate

Agribusiness Academy United States

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Entrepreneurship BSc

Saunders College of Business at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) United States

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Master of Science in Dentistry MSc

University of Minnesota United States

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Master of Science in Forensic Science Program MSc

Sam Houston State University United States

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Search for courses in the USA

Common student questions

Can I get free tuition in the USA?
Most universities and colleges in the USA charge tuition fees for international students. However, the resources available for financial aid, such as scholarships and grants, are plentiful. For more information about scholarships in the USA, take a look at our How to Get a Scholarship for the USA page.

Can I study as an international student in the USA?
The USA is a fantastic country to study in as an international student. Many of the big cities are incredibly diverse, and the universities are highly popular with international students. This popularity means that they will have a large international community waiting to welcome you.

Do I need IELTS to attend college in the USA?
If your first language is not English, you will likely have to provide evidence of your English language proficiency. Most universities and colleges in the USA accept TOEFL and IELTS qualifications.

How to apply

Applying to an American university is done either with directly to each university, or through a system such as Common Application or Coalition Application. These allow you to apply to more than one university at a time. You might be required to pay an application fee for each university regardless of how you apply.

Common application requirements for universities in the USA include:

  • A high school diploma (or equivalent) or a bachelors degree
  • Evidence of funds (including scholarship information)
  • Proof of language proficiency
  • A CV or resume
  • Recommendation letters

More information about applying to universities in the USA can be found on our Degrees and and Masters in the USA.

Cost of studying in the USA for international students

The USA uses the USD ($) as its currency.

Tuition fees in the US can vary widely, and are influenced by a range of factors. Public universities, which are funded by state governments, generally offer lower tuition rates for state residents, but international students won’t qualify for these in state rates. This means that international students generally pay out of state tuition fees for public universities.

Private universities, on the other hand, tend to have higher tuition rates, but these rates will sometimes be the same for domestic and international students. Most of the highly prestigious universities and colleges in the US are private, and can charge upwards of $50,000 annually for their programs.

Although America is known for its higher tuition fees, international students can get financial help. Some universities will offer scholarships to cover the entire cost, or contribute to overall costs. These scholarships are normally available for academic and sport excellence. If you cannot get a scholarship, you may be eligible for financial aid. For more information about scholarships, take a look at our How to Get a Scholarship to Study in the USA page.

Your cost of living will be highly dependent on the area in which you choose to study. If you choose to live in a big city such as New York City or Los Angeles, this will cost more than a smaller city or town. You should budget between $1,000 and $7,000 per month. This should cover your rent and utilities, groceries, travel and any additional study expenses.

As well as tuition fees and living costs, you should be aware that you need to purchase health insurance for the duration of your studies in America. If you already have health insurance, you need to check that it is valid in the USA. There is no national health provider, as the health system is private. If you do not have health insurance, any medical attention you might require will be extremely expensive. Your institution will be able to provide you with more information about this.

If you hold an F-1 visa, you will be able to get a part-time job to help finance your studies. However, there are restrictions that apply to this. During the first year of studies, international students must work at on-campus jobs. After they have completed one year of study, they can seek permission to get an off-campus job. This will be granted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. If you apply for a job, you should check with the employee if the job is considered as on-campus or not. During term-time, you may only work up to 20 hours per week.

Student visa

If you are an international student looking to study in the USA, you will need to get a valid student visa. The most common visa is the F1 student visa, which is applicable for any degree programs that require more than 18 hours of study per week. You can find more information about USA student visas and how to apply for them, see our USA Student Visa Guide.

Language requirements

The official language of the USA is English.

Bachelors and masters degrees will be delivered in English throughout universities. If English is not your first language, you will need to provide evidence of your language proficiency. This can be done through IELTS or TOEFL test results. If you do not meet the language requirements, you might be able to take a language course offered by your university.

Photos from universities in the USA

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