Student Guides Country comparison: USA vs. UK



Get help with choosing your study abroad destination basis cost of living, visa, course eligibility, work opportunities etc. Here is a comparison between two popular countries with Indian students: US and UK.

1. Popular courses

Country comparison: USA vs. UK


Engineering, MBA, PhD, IT and allied fields, Sports, Sports Management, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Biotechnology, Physiotherapy, Hospitality.



Business and management studies, Law, social studies, Art and design, Psychology, Education, Nursing, Biosciences, Dentistry.

2. Eligibility/Requirements

Country comparison: USA vs. UK


For undergraduate (UG) courses, you need to have completed 12 years of schooling. To get admission though you need to appear for the SAT exam.

In postgraduate (PG) courses, you need 16 years of education. For Indian students, it translates to 12 years of schooling and four years of undergraduate education. But since most Indian colleges offer three years of education at UG level, you might need to take up a one-year course to cover up the difference. If you have studied from premier Indian institute, some US universities might accept your three years’ degree as well, although the cases are rare. You can check with the university’s admissions cell and ask about your case. To get admission in management courses you will have to appear for GMAT, and for science courses you need to give the GRE exam.

There are no cutoffs for colleges, so you need to score the best that you can in all the exams. Colleges provide average scores accepted to different courses on their websites. That will give some idea about what’s considered a good score. You will also need to appear for language exams like TOEFL or IELTS, irrespective of the degree. Even if the colleges may not require any language test for Indian students, you should still give either TOEFL or IELTS as they are important for the purpose of getting a visa.

In the case of MBA, you might be required to have a few years of work experience.



For UG courses in the UK, premier universities used to require 13 years of pre-university education. This rule was recently changed and now UK universities recognise CBSE plus-two certificate for admission to UG courses.

In PG courses, you can get admissions after finishing a three-year UG degree. To get admission in management courses you will have to appear for GMAT. For science courses, you may not need to give the GRE exam so check with the university first.

Similar to the US, you might be required to have a few years of work experience in case of management courses. TOEFL or IELTS may be waivered by the university but are important for the purpose of getting a visa.

3. Cost of living

Country comparison: USA vs. UK

The overall cost to study and living in the US and the UK is dependent on many factors like university, course, and location.

Costs for undergraduate courses


Undergraduate course in US

Undergraduate course in UK

Tuition $10,000-$30,000 per year £8,000-£15,000 per year
Room and Living expenses $10,000-$15,000 per year £12,000-£15,000 per year
Duration of course 4 years 3 years
Total $20,000-$45,000 per year £20,000-£30,000


Costs for postgraduate courses


Postgraduate course in US

Postgraduate course in UK

Tuition $15,000-$45,000 per year £10,000 and £12,000 per year
Room and Living expenses $10,ooo-$15,000 per year £12,000-£15,000 per year
Duration of course 2 years 1-2 years
Total $25,000-$60,000 per year £22,000-£27,000 per year


4. Visa process

Country comparison: USA vs. UK


A full-time student visa is called F1 visa. This visa has the following regulations –

  • A personal interview is compulsory, and you will be required to appear for an additional appointment to provide Biometrics (fingerprints).
  • You can remain in the US up to 60 days beyond the length of time it takes to complete your academic program unless you have been approved to stay and work for a period of time under the OPT Program (Optional Practical Training)
  • It costs $160 to apply for this visa. You will be required to pay additional $160 for the dependent visa (per dependant)
  • You cannot work more than 20 hours per week. During holidays, breaks and summer sessions, the student may work up to 40 hours per week. The student can only work on-campus for a commercial firm that provides services to the college, such as a bookstore or cafeteria.



A full-time student visa is called the Tier 4 (general) student visa. Due to tightening of visa rules over the last few years, getting a British student visa is more difficult than before. For this visa, these rules apply –

  • It is granted only for a full-time study program
  • If you are applying for a diploma course, the length of the visa would be three years (maximum)
  • If you are applying for a degree from a university then the length of the visa would be four years (maximum)
  • It costs £310 to apply for this visa. You will be required to pay additional £310 for the dependent visa (per dependant)
  • You may or may not be called to the consulate to appear for a personal interview
  • You may or may not be allowed to work part-time during your studies, it depends on individual cases. The two types of work which International Students are allowed to do are 1. Part time – Up to 20 hours a week in during term, and full time during vacations (only on-campus) and 2. Full-time work placements which are part of a ‘sandwich course’.

5. Post study work permit

Country comparison: USA vs. UK


  1. If students want to stay back in the US to gain practical knowledge in their subject, they have the option to do so through OPT. It is a temporary employment permission allowing students the opportunity to gain practical experience in their field of study for a 12-month period. You can apply for OPT after being enrolled for at least 9 months, but you cannot begin employment until you receive your Employment Authorization Document
  2. The Student Co-Op Program is a formally structured program where the intent is to recruit students, while still in school, to fill permanent positions upon graduation. Co-op programs are generally undertaken at colleges and universities. In most cases, you will have to apply for Work Visa upon getting a full-time job of permanent nature.



  1. In 2012 Tier 1 (Post-study work) was closed to new applicants. So technically you don’t get Post Work Visa with Student Visa.
  2. If you want to work there after your studies, then you need to apply for Tier 2 visa which is meant for Highly Skilled Workers.
  3. In order to be eligible to apply for Tier 2, your annual lowest wage for the new job should be £20,500 or above.
  4. You can stay and work in the UK with a Tier 2 visa for a maximum of 5 years.

6. Employment opportunities

Country comparison: USA vs. UK


Jobs in fields like management, advertising, finance, dentistry, software engineer etc. are some of the top jobs in America.



Top jobs in the UK are corporate managers, directors, mechanical engineers, aircraft pilots, nurses etc.

Note – The Indian concept of campus placements and on-campus recruitment does not apply to American or British universities. Students are expected to look for internships and jobs on their own.

7. Permanent residency opportunities

Country comparison: USA vs. UK


Permanent residency option is possible but it is a very long-drawn and slow process. It is a complicated process and requires the person applying for it to reside in the US for at least five years on the grounds of employment. After that you will be granted a “Green Card”, but the whole process might take years to complete.



Due to change in government and legal policies recently, immigrating to the UK is deemed really difficult. The UK govt. has taken a lot of measures to delist “bogus” colleges and limiting non-EU migration. If you are staying back in the UK on Student or Work visa, then in most cases you will be required to leave the country

8. Scholarships

Country comparison: USA vs. UK

Abroad, most of the universities have a provision for financial aid. You can find out about the scholarships your university offers through its Financial Aid department. Apart from universities, there are a lot of scholarships made available to organizations, funds etc. here are a few scholarships for Indian students interested in studying in either US or UK.

US scholarships

UK scholarships

Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation scholarships British Council GREAT scholarships for Indian Students
Asian Women in Business Scholarship Fund Sir Ratan Tata Fellowships for South Asian Students at LSE
Stanford Reliance Dhirubhai Fellowships for Indian students Oxford and Cambridge Society of India (OCSI) Scholarships
Fulbright-Nehru Research Fellowships Cardiff Business School India Scholarships
S.N. Bose Scholars Student Exchange Program for Indian Students Charles Wallace India Trust Scholarships
Tata Scholarships at Cornell Heriot Watt SML International Merit Scholarships for Indian Students
Asian Cultural Council Individual Grants London Metropolitan University Mahatma Gandhi Scholarship for Indians
East-West Center Graduate Degree Fellowship Newcastle University Undergraduate India Scholarships
Yale University Fox International Fellowships University of Aberdeen Indian Master Scholarships
Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowships Program Westminster International Partnership Scholarships

9. Climate

Country comparison: USA vs. UK


The US is a huge area of land and has varied temperature and climate in different areas. East Coast has warm climate and covers cities like St. Louis, NYC.  The Midwest and New England regions have frozen winters and cover cities like Chicago, Boston.  The Pacific Northwest has a humid oceanic climate and covers cities like Seattle, Portland. The Southwest has a hot desert climate and covers cities like Phoenix, Las Vegas. The south-east has a warm to hot, humid climate and covers cities like Houston, New Orleans.



The UK has a variable climate changing from day to day. It is difficult to predict the weather. In general, the summers are warm and winters see snowfall. Summers are cooler than those of India. Also, the rains are unpredictable and it could rain at any time during the year. The average temperature in summers is around 25°C to 15°C; in winters it is around 7°C to 0°C.


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