Skip to main content

MortarFull-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...

Gap year

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).

Undergraduate exchange

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.



Related articles

  • The typical European university

    The prototypical University of Europe exists as a collection of old, pretty buildings sprinkled through the historic centre of your average, fairy-tale European town, indistinguishable from all the other buildings around them but for a discreet plaque by the door.

  • Exchange students and integration

    Europe is the land of exchange. It seems like every student in the world who wants to take a year or term out to study abroad descends on Europe with high hopes of self-discovery and Broadening of Horizons. Within the continent itself, the ERASMUS program generates thousands of criss-crossing exchangers every semester.

  • Six things you need to know about uni in Europe

    If you want to escape our Island, why look further than across the channel?

  • The Bologna Process explained

    You'll see mention of the Bologna Process cropping up in a number of our European uni write-ups; it matters to you for all kinds of reasons if you want to study in one of the 47 countries that have now signed up to it. Simon Sweeney's explanation of this fairly complicated new educational development is the clearest and most succinct we've seen.

  • Uni in Germany

    Germany’s educational reputation is perhaps the best in the world after the US and UK. The snag is that all international students must pass stringent German language tests to study at most good universities in Germany. This has lead to the bizarre contradiction that the country is among the most popular destinations for exchange students, but one of the least popular for full degree-taking students.

Subscribe for instant access to in-depth reviews, data and catchment:

Comprehensive catchment maps for English state schools inc. year of entry.
 School exam results by subject and performance GCSE, Alevel or equivalent.
 Which schools pupils come from and go onto.
 Honest, opinionated and fearless independent reviews of more than 1,100+ schools.
 Overall school performance by GCSE, Alevel or equivalent.
 School data comparison by A/B weighted, relative success and popularity.
 Compare schools by qualities and results.
 Independent tutor company reviews.

Try before you buy - The Charter School Southwark

The Good Schools Guide subscription

 GSG Blog >    In the news >


Educational insight in your inbox. Sign up for our popular newsletters.

This month 'Breducation'

Are you knowledgeable about Scottish schools? Would you like to review them for the Good Schools Guide? Click here for more information.