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How Education is Different in the US and the UK

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Written by CB Community

According to rankings on a worldwide level in terms of best universities, the US and the UK together hold over half of the selected institutions. There are 200 top-rated universities, and these two countries have most of them on their territory. This strongly confirms the existence of rich and quality higher education, academic freedoms, and advanced research facilities.

However, while these two belong at the top of the list of study destinations, there are many differences in terms of the educational structure and environment between the two. That being said, there’s also somewhat of a competition between them both. In this article, you’ll learn about the difference in the educational battle: England vs. USA.

Cost of Education and Living Expenses

Both US and UK educational institutions, especially universities, are known for their high priced tuition. The price range can differ significantly from university to university. It’s mostly determined by the prestige of the university, as well as its type – private or public.

When it comes to the cost of tuition, UK institutions are generally cheaper to study in than US universities, thanks to the highly embedded regulations by the government. The cost of living can also lower drastically from one location in the UK to the next one, which is not the same in the US. For example, living in London is 65% higher priced than living in Newcastle with rent.

Length of Study

The length of study is probably one of the biggest differences between the UK and U.S. education systems. In the UK, it takes one less year to get a Bachelor’s degree, compared to the US where you have to study for four years. However, when it comes to international students, the American school system has shown to be faster, so it will probably take this same amount of time for the student to obtain the BA degree in the UK as it takes him in the US.


There are plenty of opportunities for quality education in both the UK and the American school system, which is why they are so highly rated. The UK is, for example, highly known for great study opportunities in the field of business, e-commerce, etc. While the US thrives in technology, science, and other disciplines.

But, regardless of what you choose to study at a college in the UK or US, you need to get into that college first. To do this, you have to meet the requirements. To get accepted into a UK higher education institution, you have to complete the Foundation Programme or A-levels Programme. Some U.S. universities, on the other hand, request that their students take the SAT, which is much simpler and less time consuming than the programs required by the UK. This is why the duration of studying can be quite prolonged in the UK, while it goes much faster in the US.

Moreover, both countries have their own English Language test to show that the student knows how to speak, write, read, and listen in their native language. You don’t have to be absolutely fluent in it to be accepted in the universities, but the more you’ve mastered the language, the better. If English is not your first language and you get accepted into one of these institutions, many students get help online with their assignments. For example, students can get help with thesis papers, help with essay structure, and even get help with managing their time so they can focus on improving their English.


If we were to compare the curriculum of the two countries, the UK has a more specialized and focused system than the US. That being said, you have to decide on what your field of study is before you choose a program. In the US, you’re given more flexibility and freedom with this choice. You’ll be given two years to pick a university major. Within this timeframe, you can take a wide range of subjects of your choosing to see what fits you best.

The US focuses on a larger scope of knowledge and the creation of liberally educated students. This also gives you a chance to pick a double minor or major, and the two fields don’t even have to be related!


In the UK, universities are mostly made up of different colleges that tackle a specific field or subject matter. These are governed by one university, but each college enjoys its autonomy from the rest of the colleges. As a matter of fact, they are so autonomous, you don’t even have to go through the university to apply to a college – you can do it directly at the college’s admission department.
In the U.S., it’s quite different. You can apply to a college or use a centralized system to get more options. Basically, you can send out an application to more than one college at the same time. This system is called the UCAS – Universities and College Admissions Service.


Making the choice between studying in the US and the UK can be really hard, especially since these are the two most promising countries to get a quality education. So, it’s time to weigh the pros and cons and pick what suits your preferences best. Whatever you choose, you’ll be embarking on an educational journey of proven high quality.

For more great College content, check out the other blogs on College Basics.

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CB Community

Passionate members of the College Basics community that include students, essay writers, consultants and beyond. Please note, while community content has passed our editorial guidelines, we do not endorse any product or service contained in these articles which may also include links for which College Basics is compensated.