Three Differences Between Studying at a British and an American University

The choice between applying to US or UK universities is often a clear one. Generally, people either dream of studying in the US, or have always wanted to attend a university in the UK. 

Either way, there are considerable differences between the two options. The application processes are entirely different, and life at a UK university is a very different experience to that at a US university. 

Let’s take a look at three of the main differences between the two.

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1. The Duration of the Course

I guess the most obvious and the biggest difference between the UK and America is that in America the majority of courses are 4 years. Whereas in the UK they’re three years. 

So you finish university sooner in the UK and you can start working, and earning, and paying off your student debts much earlier. 

You might see this as a benefit, if your aim is to get a top degree so you can enter the world of work with a headstart over your competitors then a shorter degree would be perfect for you. 

Alternatively, if academia is your thing, then a longer degree course might appeal. 

2. Flexibility 

In America, there is more flexibility once you’re on your course. So in the UK there is a lot less flexibility in terms of what to do, and if you want to switch courses it’s quite a difficult process and often in practice, it’s not possible, 

In America, it’s much easier and in your first year of university, you can do a lot of picking and choosing and then gradually specialize and narrow down your focus on the particular area or two areas that you want to specialize in. 

That’s why in America you have something called a major and a minor. A major is what you spend the majority of your time on and your minor is unsurprisingly what you would spend the minority of your time on. So, whilst we may not recommend such a mix of specialisms, you can graduate from University in America with a major in finance and a minor in fine art 

In the UK that’s not really possible. If you’re studying economics here then from day one it goes from zero to a hundred very, very quickly and you’re studying that subject all the time. So if six weeks into your university degree you realize that actually you hate economics and you hate your professors there isn’t really as much flexibility.

3. Culture

The third in the most significant difference between the UK and America is cultural in terms of your social and in terms of people being outgoing in terms of activities you can get involved in.

On campus at US universities there is generally a lot more to do because universities take it much more seriously.  organizing campus life in the UK it’s a bit more hit and miss and you can either be very very busy or not very busy at all.