Getting Started FAQs

Q: I'm just getting started. What steps should I follow to apply to American universities?

Q: Is studying in the USA a good fit for me? Why do British students study in the USA?

Q: What qualifications do I need to apply to an American university?

Q: When should I begin the application process?

Q: I want to begin university in January/Spring semester. When do I start applying?

Q: Is it possible to study law or medicine at the undergraduate level?

Q: At what point is it too late to apply to an American university?

Q: What is the difference between an Associates and a Bachelor’s degree?

Q: Do American universities offer January admissions?

Q: Can I take a gap year before studying in the USA?

Q: I am a mature student. Can I still apply to universities in the USA?

Q: How will a degree from an American university be perceived by a UK employer or postgraduate programme when I return home?

Q: Is it possible to transfer from a UK university to an American university?

Q: Where can I find additional or one-to-one support on my application(s)?

Q: I have questions beyond what is on the Fulbright website. Where can I get further information?

Q: I'm thinking of hiring an educational consultant. What information should I find out first?

 

Getting Started 

QI'm just getting started. What steps should I follow to apply to American universities?

Begin by reading through the detailed information in the undergraduate study in the USA section of this website, which includes information on the top reasons why British students study in the US, how to choose a university, funding and the application timeline. As you apply to American universities, consider taking advantage of our advising resources. We offer various events throughout the year including USA College Dayseminars and webinars on undergraduate study in the USA.

Q: Is studying in the USA a good fit for me? Why do British students study in the USA?

There are many benefits to USA Study. Last year, over 4,500 UK students chose the USA for undergraduate study.  Some students may have been looking for the opportunity to choose from the over 4,000 universities on offer or experience American college life. Others may have been attracted to the flexibility to explore their academic interests before specialising or the chance to internationalise their CVs. No matter the reason, our advising team is here to help as you follow their footsteps and apply to study in the USA!

Q: What qualifications do I need to apply to an American university?

Each American university is free to set its own academic requirements and policies for admission. Some universities will have very strict criteria for admittance while others will accept anyone with the most basic academic qualifications. Read our webpage on admissions criteria and check with the international admissions office of your university(s) to get a better idea of what US universities may require of you when applying.

Q: When should I begin the application process?

Ideally, the process of applying for undergraduate study in the USA will begin 1-1½ years before enrolment. For most students, this is during the spring/summer at the end of lower sixth. Do not panic if you are in the autumn of upper sixth and are just now getting started in this process. You will simply need to work at a faster pace! Read more about the application timeline and what tasks you will need to complete when applying to American universities.

Q: I want to begin university in January/Spring semester. When do I start applying?

You should begin looking at/choosing universities the Spring prior to enrolling in university for January admissions. Most application deadlines for January admission will fall in mid to late autumn. Be aware that applying for Spring Semester entry will sometimes mean you will need to work at a faster pace than autumn admission students as key points in the application process fall closer together for January applicants. More information about Spring Semester/January admissions can be found on our January Admissions timeline.

Q: Is it possible to study law or medicine at the undergraduate level in the USA?

No. Although some universities offer pre-law or pre-med undergraduate degrees, they are not sufficient to qualify to practise law or medicine. In the USA, there are two postgraduate degrees in law: the three-year JD degree for training to practice law in the USA and the one-year LLM. Medicine is also a four-year postgraduate degree. Though not required, American students typically complete a degree in a related field at the undergraduate level before applying for these degrees. For more information on studying law or medicine, please see the hand-outs on the subject-specific information page.

Q: At what point is it too late to apply to an American university?

It is never too late! For autumn entry, most American universities will have undergraduate admission deadlines in November for early action or early decision and a deadline in January-March for regular admissions. Most community colleges will want students to apply by late spring or early summer. If you missed the autumn deadline or are taking a gap year and wish admitted for January/Spring Semester, most universities will require you to apply by early autumn. For more information on the American university application process, please visit our application timeline webpage.

Q: What is the difference between an associate's and a bachelor’s degree?

Two-year colleges in the US offer an alternative to the more traditional four-year bachelor’s degree programmes. Known as community, technical or junior colleges, these institutions offer study in a wide range of subjects to post-secondary students of all ages and academic levels. Students studying at a community college may either receive a stand-alone two-year qualification, the associate's degree, or transfer to a four-year bachelor’s programme in a 2 + 2 format. In addition to educational flexibility, two-year colleges are also known for their affordability with relatively low tuition rates in comparison to four-year institutions. For more information, please visit our associate’s degree page.

Q: Do American universities offer January admissions?

Many American universities will admit new students for January admission (the spring semester). Contact the university/universities that you are interested in applying to make certain they admit students in January. The typical deadline for January admission will be in early autumn. Be aware that applying for January/Spring semester admission may mean you will miss some financial aid deadlines and that you may to apply for financial aid in the autumn of your second year. For more information on the American university application process, please visit our January admissions page.

Q: Can I take a gap year before studying in the USA?

Certainly. It is not as common for American students to take a gap year so you will need to ring or email the university’s admissions office to see what their policy is for students wishing to defer admission for a full year. American universities will value the experience and maturity that you will gain on a gap year, especially if you are doing something purposeful with your year such as voluntary service, learning a language, saving up for your studies or travelling to a new part of the world.

Some students taking a gap year will apply in upper sixth and then ask for permission to defer their admission (note that you may not automatically be able to defer scholarship offers).  Others complete their application in the summer / early autumn after their A-levels and find they have more time to focus on their applications and can write about their gap year plans in their admissions essay.

When planning your application timeline, bear in mind that you will need internet access to submit applications and that most universities do not open their applications until August the year before enrolment. You will also need to be contactable via email in December if you apply for early deadlines or in March / April if you apply by the regular deadlines. Further, you will likely need to return to the UK or your home country to apply for your visa the summer before you go to the USA. For more information on the American university application process, please visit our application timeline webpage.

Q: I am a mature student. Can I still apply to universities in the USA?

Yes! The process of applying to US universities as a mature student will not be all that different than the application process of students fresh out of secondary school. Most universities will appreciate the diversity and knowledge that you will bring to campus as a mature student. You will be able to address your previous work experience/education in your application essay and state why you are choosing to pursue university in the USA at this stage in your life. 

If you have attended university before, you will most likely apply to your American university as a transfer student. In addition, as a mature student, some universities will not require you to sit an admissions test. Please contact your university’s international admissions office to see what their requirements are for non-traditional/mature students.

Please Note: Some highly competitive universities in the USA do not consider applications from students who are not coming straight out of secondary school or who are transferring from another university. Please check with the university’s international admissions page to make sure they will consider your application.

Q: How will a degree from an American university be perceived by a UK employer or postgraduate programme when I return home?

Like the UK, the USA is known around the world for its high quality of universities. Each year thousands of American students come to the UK to pursue postgraduate study or work. What’s more, British employers value job applicants who have study and/or work abroad experience. According to a Council for Industry and Higher Education (CIHE) survey of 230 UK companies, one in three employers valued job applicants with international study experience, while 65% of employers favoured applicants with overseas work experience. For more information on the benefits of studying in the USA please visit our Why Study in the USA webpage.

Q: Is it possible to transfer between American universities or from a UK university to an American university?

It is possible to transfer from a UK university to a US university, as well as between US institutions, without losing credit or starting over as in the UK. The flexibility of the credit system at US universities allows coursework completed at one institution to be recognised by another, provided certain criteria are met. Due to this fact, over one million students every year, including international students enrolled at a non-US institution, transfer to a new US university each autumn.  Please visit our webpage on transfer admissions for more information.

Additional Questions

Q: Where can I find additional or one-to-one support on my application(s)?

There are many organisations and individuals in the UK who can help you prepare applications to American universities. Many of our partner organisations offer one-on-one support to students who are searching for and applying to universities in the USA. You can also search for educational consultants online.

Q: I have questions beyond what is on the Fulbright website. Where can I get further information?

After reviewing the information provided on our website, feel free to contact our advising team. You can reach us via phone 0845 894 9524 (Tuesdays 1:30 - 5 pm and Thursdays 1:30 - 5 pm); via email – advising@fulbright.org.uk; or in-person at events.

If you need additional assistance as you apply for US study beyond what our staff is able to provide, you may wish to consider contacting one of the organisations on our Resources page. These test tutors and educational consultants offer a higher level of personalised, additional support and services to help you prepare for admission exams and complete a competitive application.

Q: I'm thinking of hiring an educational consultant. What information should I find out first?

See our list of questions you should ask before hiring an educational consultant.