Full-time study is not the only option available for students wishing to spend time in the land of plenty. It is possible to spend a semester, a year or a summer studying at a US university - during a gap year before UK university or as part of your UK undergraduate degree, as we explain...
For students wanting to take time out before going to university in the UK, it is possible to spend that time by taking a course (or several) at a US university.
You may find there are more possibilities for short-term study in small, private, liberal arts institutions than in larger state-funded colleges and universities. When you have found universities you are interested in, contact the admissions office for each university, making it clear you will be applying to spend a year in the US before going on to university in the UK. You will be applying for ‘special’ or ‘non-degree’ student status. It is possible that you will have to fulfil the same requirements as those applying for full degrees.
Studying in the US can be expensive. Tuition ranges between $4,000 and $35,000 for nine months. Cost of living can range between $7,000 and $15,000, depending on the region and your lifestyle. And be warned - there are few scholarships available for short-term study.
The academic year generally begins in late August or early September. If you are only interested in a one semester deal, it is also possible to enrol for the Spring/Winter semester (normally beginning in January).
There are two main ways to study for a short time in the US as part of your UK undergraduate degree: participate in an established study abroad programme through your UK university, or apply directly to the US universities themselves.
Generally, programmes run for a summer, semester or entire academic year. It is easier to go with an established exchange programme organized by your UK university than to apply to US universities directly. Exchanges are normally run by the International Office or possibly the American Studies department.
If your UK institution does not have any exchange links with any US universities, it is possible to contact US universities directly and apply as a non-degree student. This, however, can be complex and time-consuming. You will need to check with your UK institution to see if they will recognize the courses you wish to take at the US institution. If you decide to apply as a non-degree student, then you should read the section above on Gap Year study, as many of the criteria there will apply to you as an undergraduate.
Funding for international students to pursue one year of undergraduate study in the US is very limited. If you find you are not eligible for financial assistance from your UK university or the US university you will be attending, consider approaching multinational companies, local businesses or a Rotary group.
Transferring from part-way through a UK university degree is possible – but talk to the Fulbright Educational Advisory Service (or engage a one-on-one Uni in the USA consultant) before you do anything else.