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Comparing the Educational Systems of the United Kingdom and the United States

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Comparing the Educational Systems of the United Kingdom and the United States

Comparing the Educational Systems

According to the Times Higher Education’s compilation of international university rankings, a large proportion of the top 200 universities in the world can be found in either state. Both countries have a long tradition of valuing education highly, and they both have progressive intellectualism and an open-door policy regarding teaching.

While both countries provide a conducive environment for education, there are significant differences between the two in terms of the institutional framework and student experience. This piece will look closely at what sets the American and British educational systems apart.

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Perhaps the time it takes to become certified is the most noticeable difference between the American and British educational systems (besides in Scotland, where a four-year college education likewise endures four years). However, this varies depending on whether or not you earn a Bachelor’s degree first.

Ph.D. programs in the US typically take about a year longer than those in the UK. You can transfer credits from your undergraduate institution into your graduate studies. However, in the United Kingdom, a Master’s degree is typically obtained before a Doctorate is pursued. The level of class participation is much higher than in the United States.

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Mid to late September is when the academic year at most American universities begins, though smaller colleges focusing on the humanities may start later. Most people take a break beginning around the middle of December and return to school around the middle of January for the second semester.

However, universities that operate on other timetables, such as a trimester- or quarter-based framework, may kick off their winter break in November, when the Thanksgiving holiday is celebrated.

The academic term is a little less consistent in the United Kingdom. However, a few universities use either the trimester or quarter system instead of the more common semester.

The academic year at many schools typically begins in September or October and concludes in April or July. However, the academic term is not as standard across the Unified Realm, so if you decide to study there, your school may follow a very different schedule.

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The University Club

Educational Systems

In the United Kingdom, many colleges are made up of smaller “universities” that focus on a specific field. Even though the college stands in for the schools at the moment, each institution enjoys considerable autonomy from its peers and the college itself.

You eat and sleep with classmates and never leave campus, no matter how long your tests go on. In contrast to the United States, where students submit their applications to a central college confirmation office, European students apply directly to the school of the subject they wish to study or, for undergraduate programmers, through a centralized framework that allows them to apply to multiple universities at once.

UCAS is the acronym for the Colleges and Universities Affirmations Administration and describes this system. So, before applying, ensure you know where to put your efforts.

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In the United States,

It is common to practice applying to a more prestigious school, taking a variety of courses in different departments, and then announcing your major at the end of your first year or sometime in the following year.

In the United States, different academic disciplines are housed in their own “schools,” or departments; for instance, the Institute of Expressions and Sciences is home to several different but related academic disciplines.

However, even after declaring a major at an American college, you are still expected to take classes outside that field, known as “electives.” This means that the overall emphasis of higher education in the US is broadness, or learning various things. The UK places a more significant premium on in-depth knowledge of a particular topic.

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Tasks and Marks in the Classroom

The US educational system places a premium on breadth so that students can expect weekly or biweekly reading assignments and a wide variety of other assignments, such as short essays, research papers, and presentations.

Most classrooms in the UK place a much greater emphasis on oral communication, with periodic assignments spread out over the semester. Sometimes there will be no actual assignments, and on second thought, your entire grade may be based on a single end-of-year test.

In the United States, your final grade will be determined by how well you do across various assignments. The final, most crucial test accounts for only a tiny percentage of your overall grade.

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The price of learning in both countries is astronomical. However, the cost of higher education is much more prohibitive in the United States. A 2012 law allows universities in the United Kingdom to charge up to £9000 (about $14,300) per year in tuition.

Only citizens of the UK and the EU are eligible for this, not students from around the world. Fees for international students tend to be more expensive. The government sets maximums for school funding, and individual institutions determine their tuition rates within those parameters.

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College tuition is set independently of the US government, which paradoxically has no control over it. There are distinct price ranges in the United States for attending public, private, and out-of-state universities.

To what extent an institution charge depends on these criteria. Average annual tuition at public four-year institutions is around $29,000, while at private nonprofits, it’s closer to $3,000. Lastly, some top-secret four-year businesses can cost as much as $50,000 a year.

Government-issued loans with manageable interest rates and terms are available to students in both countries. By checking out our Financial Guide Community, you can learn more about how to fund your education in the United States. You can also learn how to fund your education in the United Kingdom by checking out our Financial Guide for the UK area.

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Both countries offer dormitory-style housing for their students. They are equivalent, though, in the United Kingdom, you are more likely to have a private room than you would be in the United States. However, after the first year, students in the United States may have more housing options, including private apartments and off-campus houses.

In addition, self-catering living quarters are more common in the United Kingdom, whereas a variety of fully-prepared meals are provided for students in the United States. While students in the United States typically pay a nominal fee for house cleaning services, this is not the case in the United Kingdom.


While both countries provide excellent education, their systems take slightly different approaches to schooling, each having its advantages and disadvantages. If you’re trying to decide between a degree program in the United States and one in the United Kingdom, you may want to consider the differences highlighted in this article.

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