UK vs USA for International Students


Table of Contents

  1. Which are the top universities in the UK and US?
  2. Eligibility criteria for UK and USA universities
  3. Documents required to study in the UK and US
  4. How to apply for UK & US universities?
  5. Cost of study in the UK vs US for international students
  6. Cost of living in the UK vs. US for international students
  7. UK vs. US: What are the scholarship options for international students?
  8. UK vs. US: How to get a student visa?
  9. UK vs. US: Which is better for job opportunities?
  10. UK vs. US: How to get permanent residency?
  11. Frequently asked questions

Studying abroad is a life-changing decision you make as a student. While the benefits of studying abroad motivate you to make the right choice, selecting a country to study abroad requires you to think over again and again. You might be having multiple concerns, and your choice will be based on your priorities. 

The UK and US are prominent options among the top study-abroad destinations. Both countries are home to excellent academic practices, the best career choices, and alluring living standards. This blog will help you with detailed guidance on the UK and the US as study abroad choices and help you make a better decision after analyzing your personal concerns. 

Which are the top universities in the UK and US?

Both the US and the UK have world-class universities for all disciplines of study. The US and UK universities are known for their academic quality, international standards, and job prospects, where you will be exposed to a career-promising multicultural environment.

Top UK universities 2023 

According to the latest rankings based on academics, infrastructure, alumni strength, job prospects, etc., here are the top universities in the UK:

University in the UKQS World University Rankings 2024
University of Cambridge2
University of Oxford3
Imperial College London6
UCL9
The University of Edinburgh22
The University of Manchester32
King’s College London40
The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)45
University of Bristol55
The University of Warwick67

Top US universities 2023

The following are the top universities in the US, according to the latest rankings based on the quality of academics, job opportunities after graduation, alumni strength, etc. 

University in the USQS World University Rankings 2024
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)1
Harvard University4
Stanford University5
University of California, Berkeley (UCB)10
University of Chicago11
University of Pennsylvania12
Cornell University13
California Institute of Technology (Caltech)15
Yale University16
Princeton University17

Eligibility criteria for UK and USA universities

The eligibility criteria for the UK and US universities include academic, financial, and student visa-related requirements. The academic institution concerned determines the minimum GPA, need for work experience, other certifications, etc. 

  • You must have the necessary academic qualifications
  • You must obtain optimum entrance scores – IELTS, TOEFL, GRE, etc. 
  • You must have all documents ready with you while applying for admissions

Documents required to study in the UK and USA

It is crucial to have all documents handy before applying for the UK and US institutions. You must start gathering them at least 6 months prior to your application. Here are the list of documents you need to study in the UK or US: 

For UK universities & collegesFor US universities & colleges
Application form – duly filledApplication form – duly filled 
Receipt of the paid application feeReceipt of the paid application fee
Your passportYour passport
Student visa – Tier 4 (General)Student visa – An F-1 visa for full-time undergraduate and graduate applicants, M-1 for vocational training, & J-1 visa for visiting students
CAS letter (Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies) from the UK universityForm I-20 from the US university
Proof of language proficiency – IELTS (6.0+), TOEFL (78+), PTE (53+), Duolingo (120+), Cambridge C1 Advanced (180+), and C2 Proficiency (200+)Language proficiency proof – IELTS (minimum 6+), TOEFL (minimum 78+), PTE (53+), Duolingo (120+), Cambridge C1 Advanced (180+) and C2 Proficiency (200+)
Mandatory entrance test results – GRE, GMAT, BMAT, LNAT, UKCATMandatory entrance test results – GRE, GMAT, SAT, ACT, LSAT, MCAT
SOP (Statement of Purpose) SOP (Statement of Purpose) 
At least 2 – 3 letters of recommendationAt least 2 – 3 letters of recommendation
A resume or CVA resume or CV

The table presents you with a generalized list of documents, and we recommend you visit the website of your university concerned to get the complete list of documents required for admission. 

How to apply for UK & US universities?

The crucial part of admission in the UK or US is planning a timely application process. It is best if you could start your application at least one year before your estimated course start date. To plan your application well, here are some smart suggestions: 

  • Explore your universities or colleges: Understand that all academic institutions will not suit your needs alike. You must list down the top options for your needs, considering academic reputation, cost of study, post-study job prospects, etc.
  • Have documents handy with you: As said, the academic, financial, and visa-related documents must be with you while applying for universities or colleges in the UK or US. Remember, a lack of proper documentation may lead to your disqualification. 
  • Plan your intake: There are different admission intakes in the UK and US, and all intakes may not be relevant to your course. Note down the important admission sessions for your course and desired universities well in advance. 
  • Start your application: You can initiate the application by visiting the website of your desired university or college or via centralized admission applications, such as UCAS (for undergraduate courses in the UK). 
  • Find your funding options: You must start exploring your funding options when you apply for admissions. You can either self-fund or apply for education loans to sponsor your studies abroad. It is mandatory to show proof of funds to obtain a student visa for the UK or US. 
  • Receive your CAS letter or Form I-20: If the application is accepted, the universities in the UK will issue the CAS letter while US universities issue Form I-20. You must have these documents to complete your admission process.
  • Apply for student visa: For the UK, you need to apply for the Tier (4) General visa and, for the US, you need to apply for an F-1 visa (regular courses), M-1 visa (vocational training), or J-1 visa (visiting programs), according to your requirements.

Cost of study in the UK vs USA for international students

A major factor determining your choice of study abroad is the total cost of study and living. In the US, the application fee for undergraduate and postgraduate programs can be 50 – 100 USD, and some institutions charge no application fee. In the UK, the undergraduate application fee can be 76 USD and 32 – 64 USD for postgraduate courses. 

The following table shows the average tuition fees for undergraduate, postgraduate, and doctoral programs in the US: 

Level of studyTuition fees in the UKTuition fees in the US
Undergraduate13,800 – 46,000 USD20,000 – 40,000 USD
Postgraduate11,000 – 36,500 USD20,000 – 45,000 USD
Doctoral18,000 – 42,500 USD28,000 – 55,000 USD

Note that your tuition fee is dependent upon various factors, including your course and university of study. There are also scholarships in which the tuition fees can be waived. Considering these, it is better to visit the website of the university of your choice to find out how much is the actual tuition cost. 

Cost of living in the UK vs. USA for international students

Living costs abroad is crucial in selecting a country to study abroad. The country you choose must be affordable according to your funds. 

  • In the UK, the living costs for international students on a monthly basis can be around 1,600 – 1,700 USD in London and 1,100 – 1,600 USD in other parts. 
  • In the US, the monthly living costs for international students can be around 1,000 – 1,500 USD. However, the cost of living differs significantly across the states in the US. 

See the table for the average monthly living costs in the UK and US for international students.

Category of expenseUKUS
Accommodation500 – 1,500 USD500 – 1,200 USD
Travel46 – 90 USD50 – 70 USD
Food & Groceries200 – 350 USD450 – 650 USD
Visa Insurance (yearly)570 – 600 USD500 – 1,000 USD
Books & Stationaries30 – 50 USD50 – 100 USD
Electricity, gas, internet, etc. 50 – 100  USD100 – 200 USD
Entertainment100 – 150 USD150 – 300 USD
Others/ Extra money100 – 200 USD100 – 200 USD
Total1,600 – 3,000 USD1,900 – 3,700 USD

UK vs. USA: What are the scholarship options for international students?

Scholarships can help international students to finance their hefty tuition fees. International students can apply for multiple scholarships offered by governments, NGOs, trusts, etc. The sections below give you details on top scholarships for international students in the UK and US. 

Scholarships in the UK for international students

Scholarship Amount
Felix Scholarship75,000 USD
Clarendon Scholarship22,000 USD
Chevening Scholarship22,300 USD
Commonwealth Masters Scholarships30,500 USD
Charles Wallace India Trust Scholarships1,300 USD
Aga Khan Foundation ScholarshipVariable
Inlaks Scholarship100,000 USD
Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation Scholarship24,000 USD

Scholarships in the US for international students

ScholarshipAmount
AAUW International Fellowships20,000 – 50,000 USD
Fulbright Foreign Student Programs64,000 USD
Cornell University Tata Scholarship80,000 USD
Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship ProgramVariable
National Overseas Scholarship15,400 USD
The Next Genius University Scholarships1,20,000 USD
Aga Khan Foundation ScholarshipVariable
Inlaks Scholarship100,000 USD
Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation Scholarship24,000 USD

UK vs. US: How to get a student visa?

You need a student visa to study in the UK or US, and your application must be on time to avoid last-minute hassles. Getting a student visa is not a tough nut to crack if you have proper documents, but the process can be time-consuming. 

Steps to get a US student visa

  • First, get an admission offer letter from your university and note down your SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) ID. This ID helps the authorities track international students in the US. 
  • Pay your SEVIS fee of 350 USD.
  • You need to apply for and get the Form I-20 from your university.
  • Fill out form DS-160 and apply for a US student visa (F-1, M-1, or J-1).
  • Provide the documents, schedule your consular visa interview, and attend it.

Documents for a US student visa:

  • A valid passport
  • Confirmation page of DS-160
  • Receipt of application fee paid
  • Recent photographs
  • Proof of admission
  • Entrance test results
  • Validity of a US student visa: 5 years
  • The optional Practical Training (OPT) program allows you to stay for a year post-completion of your studies in the US
  • Around 21 working days are required to process your US student visa application

Steps to get a UK student visa

  • Once you get the CAS letter, you can apply online for the UK student visa
  • Pay the visa application fee, which is 440 USD
  • According to the Student Route visa rule, your visa is valid up to 5 years in the UK
  • You can stay for 2 years post-completion of studies in the UK

Documents for a UK student visa: 

  • A valid passport
  • Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from your university
  • Proof of funds – an FD, education loan, etc. 
  • ATAS certificate (if required)
  • Tuberculosis test results (if asked for)
  • Entrance test results 

 Around 3 weeks are required to process your UK student visa application.

UK vs. US: Which is better for job opportunities?

International students have a very good market for jobs in the UK and US for various disciplines, such as STEM, Humanities, Social Sciences, Arts, etc. The table below gives you details of the average salary in the UK and US for various job roles. 

However, remember that this is a general picture, and the actual salary can be higher, depending on your job title, company, location, academic qualifications, professional experience and skills, etc. 

Job opportunitiesSalary in the UKSalary in the US
Engineering – Software engineer, Mechanical engineer, Civil engineer, etc. 55,600 USD100,000 USD
IT jobs – Data analyst, Data scientist, Cybersecurity analyst, etc.55,000 USD74,100 USD
Healthcare – Doctor, Nurse, Pharmacist, etc.  42,000 USD53,700 USD
Finance – Financial professional, Accountant, Finance Manager, etc. 63,500 USD100,000 USD
Arts – Curator, Art teacher, etc.37,000 USD39,000 USD
Humanities – Teacher, Subject matter expert, Market Research analyst, etc. 63,000 USD52,000 USD

UK vs. US: How to get permanent residency?

  • In the UK, 5 years of work experience with a minimum salary of 31,887 USD per year or 13 USD per hour will help you get a PR. 
  • You must be offered a Tier (2) work visa and upgrade yourself to a Skilled Worker in the UK. 
  • For permanent residency in the US, you must obtain a Green Card. Your duty is to find an employer and get your work visa in the US.

Conclusion

The UK and US can be your study abroad choice, given the top-notch academics, professional opportunities, and living standards. It is best for your interest to weigh your preferences, compare with the UK and US, and choose your study-abroad destination. 

If your concern is finding a suitable financial option to fund your studies in the UK or US, you need not worry as we will help you with proper guidance. Get in touch with us for guidance on education loan options available for your needs and eligibility. Explore admission counseling assistance for US universities and other services, at zero cost for you. Check the link, connect with us, and kickstart your hassle-free study abroad journey. 

Frequently asked questions

Which is better for Indian students, the UK or the US?

The UK and the US are both sought-after choices for Indian students since both countries offer top-notch academic facilities. Many publications would rate that the US has a better job market for Indian students compared to the UK. However, it ultimately depends on your personal circumstances, industry, degree, and university. However, your final decision must be based on your course of study and personal preferences. 

What is the difference between the UK and the US for international students?

The UK and the US differ in their education systems, program duration, immigration policies, job market, and so on. In the UK, Indian students can complete a Master’s in one year, whereas it is 2 years in the US. You need to check those differences closely against your concerns before finalizing your choice of study abroad.

Which country has a better education system, the UK or the US?

The UK and US education systems are both considered to be among the top in the world. Both countries have the world’s top universities for international students and the university environment in general is friendly for international students. If to chose a better academic space, you must check your desired university website and see which is better for your course, considering the fees, location, exposure, job prospects, etc. 

The UK or the US, which is safe for Indian students? 

Both the UK and the US are safe countries for international students. According to the Global Peace Index Rankings 2023, the UK ranks 37 and the US ranks 131.

Is the cost of living more in the US than in the UK for international students? 

In general, the cost of living can be higher in the US than in the UK for international students. But you need to remember that your cost of study is dependent on the course, university, location, and various other factors.