Study in the USA

The USA is the world’s biggest provider of international higher education, with nearly 600,000 students going there to study in 2002, double the number that the UK receives. The sheer extent of what is available in the USA ensures that international students will be able to find exactly the course they want, no matter how recondite it may be. Since the 1950’s, growth in the numbers of international students going to study in the USA has risen exponentially, year on year, and this growth has remained resilient during times of trouble or tension, whether in the sending or the host country. The response to this growth has been the appearance of more and more American universities entering the market to recruit students from abroad who want to study in the USA. Many of these are smaller, more specialised or in remoter regions than the bigger players, and this has had the effect of providing more choice and greater possibilities for students who are more selective or who have particular needs. It has also increased the competition between institutions in the US and forced a more proactive approach to recruitment with a need for more up to date methods of reaching the right students.

Why are students choosing to study in the USA?

  • A high standard of living and the lifestyle of choice
  • The right to work while studying in the USA on a student visa
  • A wide choice of courses available
  • Internationally recognised and respected qualifications
  • A multicultural base which makes integration easy
  • A country containing every geographical and climactic aspect imaginable
  • An international student infrastructure for support and guidance
  • A cheaper cost of living than in Europe

The Higher Education System

The United States has one of the world’s finest university systems, with outstanding programs in virtually all fields. At the undergraduate level, excellent programs exist in traditional disciplines as well as in professional fields. At the graduate level, students often have the opportunity to work directly with some of the finest minds in the world. American university degrees are recognized throughout the world for their excellence. American universities pride themselves on being at the forefront of technology and educational techniques, and in making available to their students the best possible equipment and resources. Even if your field does not directly involve science or engineering, you will become skilled in using the latest technology to obtain and process information. You will find ways to stay connected with people in your field all over the world. There are over 500,000 students from outside the USA enrolled at 3,000 colleges, universities and graduate institutions. Many students come to study in the USA because of the diversity of educational opportunities available. There are over 600 major fields of study offered at the various American universities & colleges.

These colleges and universities are located in some of the world’s largest cities and rural communities, in a variety of climates and in areas of diverse cultural opportunities and ethnic heritage. The extensive network of Community Colleges offers an alternative and cost-effective route towards Associate and Bachelors degrees that many international students find appropriate to their needs. Some of these community colleges as well as some American universities and colleges, can be found in our Uni and College Profiles section..

The Costs

There is huge variation in tuition fees and living costs and it is extremely difficult to provide an accurate assessment of what it might cost an international student to study in the USA on a year to year to basis. In the US there are both private and state institutions offering higher Obviously, if you are living in a major urban centre such as New York, the cost of living, especially accommodation, will be much higher than it would be in a rural area. As a rough guideline, you will probably pay $10,000 to $15,000 a year for tuition fees to study in a state institution and between $17,000 and $25,000 for a private one. The cost of living could be $12,000 to $20,000 a year, but this depends on where you are and what type of life-style you require. All the US universities and colleges will give you a breakdown of costs, including tuition fees, medical insurance, registration and exam fees, campus accommodation and so on, when you receive their prospectus. Back to top.


International students studying in the USA with a full student visa are permitted to work on campus for up to 20 hours a week during course time in their first year. However, many institutions only permit local students to work a maximum of 15 hours to prevent student burnout, and there is encouragement to make this standard practise for all students. Written permission to work is required from your programme sponsor. This is slightly different if you are engaged on an assistantship place within your university, so check what your particular circumstances allow before you arrive. The earning potential that students have, can be a great help in funding their time abroad and there are many employment possibilities for those wishing to work.

Life in America

American society is enormously diverse and complex and cannot be reduced only to a few stories or stereotypes. Important differences exist between geographical regions, between rural and urban areas, and between social classes. In addition, the presence of millions of immigrants who came to the United States from all corners of the world with their own culture and values adds even more variety and flavour to American life. It would be difficult to find a language that is not spoken, a food that is not eaten, a sport that is not played or an art form that is not excelled at in the US. The iconography of the US is so familiar around the world that we take it for granted, and its ability to export its culture in many different forms is undisputed. The fact of the US being relatively unregulated makes for a society in which anything seems possible to the individual, the attainment of the ‘American Dream’, and the number of stories testifying to the truth of this possibility is legion. For the international student, America represents a place of great freedom, with leisure possibilities of every imaginable description available and a population that is open, inquisitive, friendly and welcoming. Back to top.

The Country and Climate

To try to give a brief portrait of the United States of America is a daunting task. The scale of the country, its diversity and complexity, do not make for easy summary. The US is the world’s third largest country after Russia and Canada, with nearly 300 million people, 12,500 miles of coastline, nearly 15,000 airports and a GDP of $10.45 trillion. Its geographical extremes extend from a lowest elevation of minus 86 metres in Death Valley to a highest of 6,194 metres at the top of Mount McKinley. The terrain includes the vast central plains, mountains in west, hills and low mountains in east. In Alaska are found rugged mountains and broad river valleys, and equally rugged but volcanic topography in Hawaii. The climate in the US is, generally, temperate, but there is no shortage of exceptions and extremes within that generality; Alaska is in the arctic while Hawaii and Florida are tropical. The great plains west of the Mississippi River are semiarid and in the Great Basin of the southwest it is arid. The low winter temperatures in the northwest are ameliorated occasionally in January and February by warm Chinook winds from the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains. Whether your penchant is dog sledging on glaciers or desert survival, you will find the conditions you want somewhere in the US. Back to top

The Regional Guide

EST ­ Eastern Standard Time Zone

This area sits on the Eastern, Atlantic Coast of America. It runs from the Canadian border in the north, to the beautiful beaches of Florida in the south, with the Appalachian mountain range stretching most of the way down.

The tri-state region around NY City truly embodies American diversity and dynamism. The Mid-Atlantic landscape is spectacular and ranges from dramatic mountain scenery, superb river valleys and forest interspersed with rolling farmlands. The six states of New England are tucked in the northern region of America. Many of the country’s earliest settlements were established here, as were the centres for higher education, therefore making it rich in historic sights and prestigious universities.

Washington DC

South of Baltimore, Washington DC is the home of the American government, with grand avenues and monumental public buildings that reflect the pride and ambitions that course through the corridors of power.

New York

New York City or ‘the big apple’ is a vibrant, cosmopolitan city and the financial capital of the world. With its skyscrapers and bright lights, this is a city of superlatives. It covers an area of 780 square km and has a population of eight million. It has many internationally recognised sights like the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Central Park and the Empire State Building, to name a few. SUNY College


Boston is the capital of Massachusetts and covers an area of 48 sq miles and has a population of 589,000. It is a major centre of American history, culture and learning.


Philadelphia is the birthplace of America. Its port has always welcomed thousands of immigrants from all over the world. These people contributed to its growth and development and today this ethnic mix is reflected in the city’s neighbourhoods and restaurants. Philadelphia’s rich history, world-class art collections, special interest museums, and the nation’s largest landscaped public park all combine to make this a very interesting place to stay.


Today greater Miami covers 5,180 square km and has a population of two million. Miami’s top sights are its beaches, especially fun-filled South Beach. It is also famous for its Art Deco architecture that had its own version of the style with motifs such as flamingos, sunbursts and seaside features. Back to top.


PST - Pacific Standard Time Zone

This includes the whole west coast from the Canadian border in the Pacific Northwest, to the Mexican Border by the southern, Californian region. The northwest of America is a region of great natural beauty. Its lofty mountains, deep canyons, crystal clear lakes, mighty rivers and rugged shoreline offer a wide range of outdoor experiences. The cities have excellent museums and a vibrant cultural scene.

Los Angeles

Sitting in a broad, flat basin, surrounded by beaches, mountains and deserts, the 469 square miles city of Los Angeles has a population of 3.7 million. The city’s celluloid self-image, with its palm trees, shopping malls and opulent lifestyles has been idealized as the ultimate ‘American Dream’. LA offers a wealth of entertainment and outdoor pleasures. It has dominated the world stage for most of the 20th century, being the centre of the film industry.

San Francisco

San Francisco, California, is one of America’s most beautiful and unique cities. With over 700,000 people, San Francisco is one of the nation’s most densely populated cities in the US, making it very easy to get around. It is located at the top of a peninsula, between the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay. The estimated 43 hills give many of the streets near impossible gradients but offer superb views. The city prides itself on its variety of cultural and entertainment opportunities which is reflected in both the San Francisco cityscape and lifestyle. The Civic Centre is the main venue for classical music, opera and ballet, while pop music is where the city really excels. There are also diverse theatre companies and speciality movie houses.


Portlanders are eager to claim that their city is one of the most sophisticated and cultured anywhere. Known as the City of Roses, its beautiful parks and gardens and well preserved historic landmarks are a tribute to foresight and successful urban planning. In the heart of Portland’s Downtown it is alive with free lunchtime concerts, flower shows and other events.


Seattle is the commercial, cultural and advanced-technology hub of the U.S. Pacific Northwest, housing companies like Microsoft and Boeing. Surrounded by mountains and water, the greater Seattle area features picture-perfect views and abundant recreational opportunities year-round. Greater Seattle excels in liveability with a mild climate, affordable housing, a full range of arts, cultural and sporting events, an abundance of shops and restaurants, and easy access to outdoor recreational activities throughout the year.

San Diego

San Diego was the site of the first Spanish mission. Today, it is a large modern metropolitan centre, a year-around tourist resort and a thriving commercial seaport with a large naval base. Extending to the Mexican border, its coastline has 112 km of stunning beaches, rocky cliffs, coves and seaside resorts. The museums and art venues of Balboa Park are the prime cultural attractions of San Diego. Despite its size, San Diego seems less congested and frenzied than Los Angeles. It has a very hospitable climate with comfortable temperatures in all seasons. Back to top.

CST ­ Central Standard Time Zone

Central America is not as densely populated as the coastal areas. To the North are the Great Plains, which divide the United States into East and West. Stretching from Canada to Texas, it is largely rural with wide-open spaces and distant horizons. The Great Plains have the famous Mount Rushmore with its giant sculpted heads of four US Presidents. The residents’ obvious pride in traditional values and lifestyle explains why this area is still the ideal location for much that is essentially American.

The Rockies offer great outdoor opportunities. This beautiful but sparsely populated region encompasses a wealth of natural wonders with various famous National Parks. Colorado is also celebrated as the skiing capital of the US.

Located in the south, Texas usually evokes visions of the lonely cattleman, gun-toting cowboys and rough oilmen but there is far more diversity of people and land in this great state. The huge scale of the state seems to have inspired a culture of all things large, and its past as an independent nation has given Texans a sense of pride and a spirit of freedom.


Chicago is a city of almost 3 million people covering 591 sq km of the Midwest. Situated at the edge of Lake Michigan, the city claims 47 km of lakefront. It is world famous for its innovative architecture, its vibrant cultural and educational institutions, and for its colourful and turbulent political history. Navigation in Chicago is not difficult as the city streets are laid out in a rectangular grid pattern with the downtown loop as its centre. Chicago has many culturally distinct neighbourhoods throughout the city; Greek town, Little Italy, Chinatown, Little Saigon and the Ukrainian Village are all located near the downtown loop with German, Polish, Afro-American and Hispanic American neighbourhoods not far away. Each neighbourhood offers a distinct cultural flavour with many ethnic shops and restaurants.

New Orleans

New Orleans, with a population of just fewer than 500,000, is the capital of Louisiana, the only state that was once a French royal colony. First-time visitors are often struck by the European flavour of this city, which is reflected in the architecture, food, and music of the city. New Orleans is known as the birthplace of jazz, and rightfully so. Early jazz greats like Louis Armstrong, Buddy Bolden, Jelly Roll Morton and King Oliver got their starts in the nightclubs of Storyville, a musical district that flourished between 1897 and 1917. The city's musical tradition remains strong with the Neville Brothers, the Marsalis family, Harry Connick, Jr., and many others. Events such as the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, the French Quarter Festival, Satchmo Summer Fest and others share these gifts with the world. New Orleans is also famous for its great festival of Mardi gras, always held 47 days before Easter and one of the greatest street parties in the world.


Located in the northeastern corner of the state of Texas, Dallas is the commercial and the financial centre of the ‘lone star’ State. This fast-growing metropolis is devoted to business with a population of 1,100,000 people. Nevertheless, Dallas is an energetic, enjoyable city, home to many prestigious museums, restaurants and cultural venues. It’s a sprawling city with a lively downtown, which houses some of the best museums in America.

San Antonio

Predominantly Hispanic and Mexican in character, San Antonio balances a thriving economy with a careful preservation of its past. Most of the historic area of San Antonio lies within a block of the pedestrian-friendly River Walk in the downtown core. It is also famous for the Alamo when the Mexicans and the Texans clashed in 1836. As in most southern cities, San Antonio can become very hot during the summer months especially July and August.


Minneapolis lies next to the famous Mississippi River and is a flamboyant, modern city. With its modern skyscrapers it is a cosmopolitan commercial centre. Downtown revolves around the pedestrian Nicolett Mall where various cultural events are held including the annual summer Music Fest. The Uptown area revolves around a chain of lakes with a network of biking and jogging trails. The country’s largest enclosed shopping mall is located in the southern suburb or Bloomington. Back to top.

MST - Mountain Standard Time Zone

The Southwest is full of dramatic landscapes containing twisting canyons, cactus-studded deserts and rugged mountains. It is a crossroads of the three great cultures that shaped America ­ Native American, Hispanic and Anglo-Americans. Spanish and Native American languages are both spoken in this region.

The Rockies offer great outdoor opportunities. This beautiful but sparsely populated region encompasses a wealth of natural wonders with various famous National Parks. Colorado is also celebrated as the skiing capital of the US.


The Phoenix metropolitan area, known as the Valley of the Sun, is home to almost 3 million people and includes the cities of Scottsdale, Tempe, and Mesa. Sunny days and comfortable temperatures are the rule from November through April, making this the most enjoyable and popular time of the year. Phoenix's climate provides ample opportunities for nature lovers to soak up the sunny Sonoran Desert sun, with hiking and cycling being very popular activities.

Art of unrivalled diversity can be found in Phoenix, ranging from Native American artefact collections to classical European art, pieces depicting life in the West to those of more contemporary themes. Urban galleries highlight art works by emerging as well as by established artists. Downtown Phoenix has blossomed into an impressive cultural centre, boasting an array of performing arts venues.


Located at the base of the Rocky Mountains, Denver is one of America's most beautiful cities and one full of life. Blessed with 300 days of sunshine a year, Denver is a lively city with a great love of the outdoors. Denver is the most educated city in the country, having the greatest percentage of college graduates of any major metropolitan area in the U.S. Denver is a clean, young and green city with over 200 parks and dozens of tree-lined boulevards. The architecture reflects the city's three boom periods: Victorian, when silver was discovered in Leadville; turn-of-the-century, when gold was discovered in Cripple Creek; and contemporary, when the energy boom added 16 skyscrapers to the downtown skyline in a three year period, 1980-1983.

Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City is the cultural and political centre of Utah. With a population of 181,000 residents, Salt Lake is Utah's most populous city by a significant amount, yet remains remarkably pleasant and liveable. It has plenty of cultural offerings, numerous parks and some inspiring buildings, including the splendid structures of the Mormon Temple Square.

Salt Lake City sits very attractively in a valley beneath the Wasatch Mountains. The mountains provide a wonderful backdrop and a variety of great recreational opportunities. In winter piles of dry snow smother the Wasatch providing excellent downhill skiing at 7 large resorts within 45 minutes of downtown. In summer, there is good hiking and mountain biking.

HST - Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time Zone

Hawaii is a tropical Island paradise of golden beaches, waterfalls and lush forests. Located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean midway between mainland US and the Far East, the population is only 1,100,000 people. Only a few thousand full-blooded Hawaiians survive today, but the native spirit of ‘Aloha’, a Hawaiian word that means hello, goodbye, welcome and love, is still alive.


Honolulu is Hawaii’s capital city and historic and cultural centre. The city has 2 focal points -- the historic and business district of downtown Honolulu and the world famous resort of Waikiki. The downtown area manages to squeeze together towering skyscrapers, a royal palace, Japanese Shrines, New England-style missionary houses and fish markets in a small area. It encompasses business and shopping districts, including modern Ala Moana and historic Chinatown. And it is well known for its restaurants, nightlife, Diamond Head, and Waikiki's yacht harbour and beach

AKST ­ Alaska Standard Time Zone

Alaska is home to 635,000 people. The vast majority of Alaska is owned by the government and much of this is protected in national parks and other undeveloped areas stretching from