Difference between studying in the USA versus UK education systems

For an Indian student wishing to study abroad, the dilemma is choosing `where’ to study and most often he or she is stuck for a choice between USA and UK and lately Asia, too. For parents of these children, the natural concern is which country is better in terms of safety, facilities, and budget, while for the children it is campus life, education system, reputation of the university etc.

To address these differences and arrive at a logical decision, it is important to study some of the major differences between the two countries’ education systems. One important difference is the curriculum itself and for students in US, it is expected that along with their chosen field of study, the students will also study academic subjects outside the course. This is to ensure that the student has a well rounded education which prepares him for professional and personal growth. In UK, this is not the case and students only study their chosen subject.

The second important difference is in the deliverance of classes. In the US, the curriculum is broader, without getting too deep into the subject. However, in the UK, the subject is studied in deep detail.

Regarding campus life, American education requires regular work with classes almost on a daily basis. In the UK there will be period of intense study followed by a lull. These periods of inactivity allow students to create a social life and use this time for mingling with others. In the US, campus life is extremely academic with not so much emphasis on social aspects. Also, since classes are so regular, the student is expected to put in continuous hard work.

In the US the terms `college’ and `university are used interchangeably and campus refers to the actual land on which the college sits. Two year colleges (community colleges) offer Associate of Arts Degree (A.A.) and the fee structure for these is lower compared to four year schools. Four year colleges, referred to as `undergraduate’ schools are the mainstream educational institutions of U.S. Here one can obtain a B.A., B.S. etc. Private schools are expensive, but students can avail some sort of financial aid, depending on several other factors. The most prestigious colleges in the US include Harvard, Princeton, Yale (Ivy League),

In UK, undergraduate degrees take three years to complete and at the graduate level, a master’s degree can be earned in a single year. Research masters’ takes two years and a doctoral degree takes three years. Professional courses like medicine are five year undergraduate degrees. If the student has an undergraduate degree in another subject, shorter graduate level courses can be opted for.


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