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Spending a semester or year abroad is an increasingly popular opportunity for US university undergraduates. The UK remains the top destination for American students. In fact, in 2007-08 there were over 33,000 US students participating in a short-term study program in the UK.
There are two ways to study abroad in the UK at the undergraduate level:
Choosing an established study abroad program coordinated by a US university or private company is often the most straightforward option for students. To learn more about these programs, you may wish to contact your university’s Study Abroad or International Programs Office. Staff in these offices can often assist with information on program options, funding, cultural/language issues, travel and visas. Staff may also be able to advise you on how coursework completed in the UK may be applied toward your major.
There are many types of study abroad programs:
In a university-coordinated study abroad program, international students generally pay their own institution’s tuition fees rather than those of the UK university. A program coordinated by a private company will set its own fees.
You generally will be able to apply your US government loan or US-based scholarships to cover costs of the study abroad program. However, you should contact your US university’s Financial Aid or Study Abroad offices well in advance for confirmation and information on the process.
You may also consider external funding bodies, such as Mobility International, as options for funding. You may wish to do a search for external study abroad scholarships on the IIE Study Abroad Funding website. If funding is a significant restricting factor, you may wish to consider summer programs which are shorter in length and less expensive.
For more information about study abroad programs, contact your university’s Study Abroad or International Programs Office. You may also wish to visit StudyAbroad.com, IIE Passport or the British Council website.
It is also possible to apply directly to UK universities to attend under non-degree or visiting student status. Under these arrangements, you may be able to complete degree-level coursework and have access to university and department facilities, similar to that of degree-seeking students. Therefore, applying for non-degree or visiting student status can be a good option for students wishing to complete a gap year, short-term study or a research project in the UK.
As a non-degree or visiting student, you will likely pay similar tuition and fees as degree-seeking students. If this is the case, you may be able to apply your US government loan or US-based scholarships to cover costs of the program. You may also consider external funding bodies, such as Mobility International, as options for funding. If funding is a significant restricting factor, you may wish to consider summer programs which are shorter in length and less expensive.
To begin researching universities and choosing a program, you may wish to read the choosing a university section of this website. Once you have selected universities, you should contact their admissions office to determine whether it is possible to apply to study on a short-term basis and if so, what the admissions criteria and application procedures will be. Please note some non-degree programs require existing enrollment in a four-year university, while others require a high-school diploma or the equivalent.
Keep in mind that some universities may not have an option for visiting students. Further, you may be asked to submit a transcript, resume/CV, recommendation letter(s) and/or plan of study to apply for these programs. For more information on completing an application, please see the application process section of this website.
A third option for short-term study would be to participate in a government exchange programme. For example, the Fulbright Commission administers two Summer Institutes in the UK, held at Newcastle University and Roehampton University in Summer 2010. The four to five week cultural and academic programmes are open to US high school graduate students (aged 18 and over) who have completed no more than two years of University level study. The Summer Institutes will cover the majority of the participant costs. This includes round-trip airfare from the US to the UK, tuition and fees at the University, accommodation and social programme, subsistence e.g. food and drink and visa processing. For more information please visit our Summer Institutes for US undergraduates.
There are two categories of student visas for US citizens studying in the UK, the Student Visitor and Student Visa. Students completing programs of less than six months can enter the UK as a Student Visitor. Students completing programs of any length may enter the UK under the Student Visa category. For more information, please see the visas section on our website.
Please note that our staff are not trained to handle specific enquiries related to visas in the UK. Detailed information about the visa requirements and application process for both categories can be found on the BritainUSA and UKVisas websites.