Study Abroad Programs in the UK
Guide to studying abroad in the UK
Where castles dot rolling green hills and historic buildings line busy streets: the UK is the perfect destination for students who want to study abroad where old meets new. Universities in the UK are known for their academic rigor, impactful research, and vibrant student scenes that actively welcome international exchange students.
Popular countries in the UK
The UK is more than just England! Explore these popular destinations for study abroad students.
When people think of studying abroad in the UK, English universities like Oxford and Cambridge often come to mind. While these are top choices for international students, England is full of quality higher education institutions that draw students from all over the world. Outside of your studies, get lost on the busy streets of London or spend a weekend picnicking and hillwalking in the Lake District with new friends.
📌 Popular majors for studying abroad in England: English literature, business, IT
Castles, whisky, and traditional music are a few of the magical things Scotland has to offer. Outside of Glasgow and Edinburgh, Scotland’s rugged and beautiful terrain calls to adventure seekers. With over 790 offshore islands, countless historic sites, and miles of coastline, there are so many hidden corners to visit.
📌 Popular majors for studying abroad in Scotland: medicine, art, social science
Wales is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream and is the perfect destination if you want to spend your weekends hiking and exploring places like Eryri National Park (Snowdonia), Bannau Brycheiniog National Park (Brecon Beacons), and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. Embrace the Welsh language and dive into their cultural heritage of storytelling and music during your study abroad.
📌 Popular majors for studying abroad in Wales: environmental science, tourism and hospitality, education
Despite the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921 that established Ireland as an independent republic free from UK rule, Northern Ireland remained a part of the UK. Although it has a tumultuous past, Northern Ireland is home to friendly people who proudly embrace their culture. This coupled with its incredible natural beauty makes it an ideal place to study abroad.
📌 Popular majors for studying abroad in Northern Ireland: health and social care, agriculture, natural sciences
Top-ranking universities in the UK
The United Kingdom is home to countless top-ranking universities that have a lot to offer international students.
- University of Cambridge: ranked 2nd by QS World University Rankings, Cambridge is one of the best universities on Earth. It was founded in 1209, making it one of the world’s oldest. The town of Cambridge is based around the university giving you a truly immersive collegiate experience both on campus and off.
- University of Oxford: this iconic university, ranked 4th globally, has produced a plethora of world leaders, thinkers, and innovators. Study abroad students at Oxford will join this record of excellence as they engage in societally important research.
- Imperial College London: ranked 6th in the world, Imperial College London is a great choice for students keen on studying engineering, medicine, and the natural sciences as it's the only university in the UK to focus on these subjects. Imperial College puts a large emphasis on research that makes a real difference.
- University of Edinburgh: The University of Edinburgh is another highly rated university coming in at 15th. Research is a cornerstone here and 90% of its research activities are considered world-leading.
How to study abroad in the UK
To study abroad in the UK, these are generally the steps you’ll need to follow:
- Research programs and universities. You have several options for how to study abroad in the UK including applying to and enrolling directly at your university of choice, using a third-party provider, or going on a university-led or exchange program through your school. There are pros and cons to every option so make a spreadsheet and start your research!
- Prepare your application materials. These can include documents like your transcripts, letters of recommendation, and/or personal statement.
- Apply for a visa. For study abroad programs lasting fewer than 6 months, US citizens will need a student visa.
- Start budgeting & exploring scholarships. While studying abroad in the UK can be more affordable than in the US, you’ll still want to work out a budget and check out available scholarships to offset costs.
- Prepare for your adventure overseas! Buy your plane tickets, make a packing list, and get ready for this new and exciting experience!
Cost and funding
Learn about tuition costs, scholarships, and the average cost of living before studying abroad in the UK.
Average costs of tuition
Depending on the option you choose to study abroad in the UK, your costs can range from $8,500-$20,000 USD for a semester. The cheapest way to study in the UK is generally to enroll directly although participating in a university-led program or exchange can help save money.
Third-party programs may be more expensive but after you apply and are accepted, they arrange everything from your class schedule and housing to even weekend tours and social activities. Weigh the pros and cons of each option to see what best fits your budget and comfort zone.
Scholarships and grants are a great way to help fund your study abroad experience in the UK. Scholarships are usually open for most students, but certain opportunities or grants may only be available for students demonstrating financial need or students from underrepresented groups.
Generally, you’ll need to fill out an application and submit a personal essay or video explaining your interest in studying abroad and what you hope to accomplish during your time overseas.
Cost of living
Your cost of living as a student in the UK will vary by city, though prices are generally higher in major cities like London, England, and Edinburgh, Scotland. Here are some average monthly expenses you can expect across the UK.
- Housing: $450-$900
- Food: $180-$250
- Transportation: $60-$130
- Entertainment and excursions: $200-$400
Costs will largely depend on your lifestyle and where you choose to study. Northern England tends to be more affordable than Southern England while Wales is typically cheaper than Scotland.