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Student Population

15 million
1.1 million international

4 years

Standard Degree Length
Tuition Fees

$10,000 - 80,000 (domestic)
$25,000 - 82,000 (international)

Academic Year

September - June

Education Model

Major/Minor Model
Double Degrees
Liberal Arts & Sciences


Need & merit-based aid (domestic)
Grants & scholarships (international)

Good to Know

The USA has both public / state universities and private universities. They are one of the few countries to still have single sex institutions, there are also institutions with strong religious affiliations

Bachelor Degrees are taught at both Liberal Arts Colleges, where the majority, if not all students are undergraduates and at Universities which vary in size but which all have graduate students studying there as well.

For most applications you will be applying to the institution and giving an indication of the range majors you are interested in, rather than applying to a specific major or school. Although there are some notable exceptions to this including NYU. There are also some honours programs which require you to apply to them specifically, there are others that you can't apply to until year 1 or 2 of your degree.

American schools do not have an equivalent end of high school qualification to the IB. For this reason, entry to university is more holistic and includes both GPA, which is your average grades on your transcripts for the 4 years prior to starting university, and may include admissions tests such as SAT and ACT. The global pandemic has pushed many institutions to suspend or remove their admissions tests requirements.

Degrees are taught in English and if this is not your native language you will need to meet the language proficiency requirements.

Degree Length

Standard Degrees are 4 years

You may be able to complete your degree earlier if you score highly in the IB and your university awards you advanced credits for your IB grades

There are some options to combine your undergraduate and professional degree into an accelerated degree e.g. 3+2 or 3+3

Education Model

Undergraduate Degrees are almost all Liberal Arts and Science models but within that there is a huge range of structures, particularly in what 'core' or 'General Education' Requirements there are.

It is possible to study both 2 year and 4 year degrees. The 2 year is known as an associate degree and is normally taught at a Junior or Community College. The 4 year degree is the Bachelors degree, equivalent to undergraduate degrees around the rest of the globe.

Gap Years

Gap Years are very common in the USA. You can either apply during IB 2 and then once you have been made your offers request deferral, or apply during your Gap Year. You will need to have a plan for what you intend to use your gap year for, but it doesn't need to be directly relevant to the major you are considering pursuing.


Co-op is the term most often used for placement options within degrees in the USA. They are usually 3-6 months in length and institutions that offer them generally allow you to complete more than one during your degree for academic credit.

Institution Types

State/Public Uni


Private Uni


Undergraduate Only

Lots of options

Junior College

Lots of Options

Arts Schools

Lots of Options

Business Schools

Very Few who teach undergraduates

American Schools


Research Focused

Lots of options

Teaching Focused

Lots of Options


The cost of University tuition in the USA is dependent on your citizenship, residency and the state the university is in. Universities are then free to set their own fee rates, so they do vary by tens of thousands of dollars a year.

You should check universities own tuition and finance pages for exact figures.
In-State fees are normally the lowest fee rate and are for USA citizens resident in the same state as the institution
Out of state fees are more and this is for USA Citizens who live in a different state. These are often the same level as International fees and if there isn't a separate international fee rate listed, you might find the institution classes out of state and international at the same fee rate.

Private institutions tend to be more expensive than State universities and the more desirable locations where land is more expensive, also tend to have higher tuition fees.

Fee rates vary a lot, as do the finance awarded to support students, which means that on search and comparison sites you will often see the 'average' tuition fee after financial awards, this is NOT a good guide as to what you are likely to pay as an international student.

USA institutions often roll living costs in with the tuition costs on the finance pages and living costs can also vary a lot by location and institution.

The USA government offers Federal Student Financial Aid to all US citizens through completion of the FAFSA. You can find more information at This is need based aid and requires your parents to complete financial information.

Some universities consider international students for need based aid and most require you to submit either the CSS or Idoc to be considered

Some universities offer merit based scholarships for international students and you should check their individual websites for this information when you are researching options. Many of these will require additional applications, although some have automatic consideration.

Institutions take a different approach to the role financial need plays in the admissions process:

Need Blind = the financial situation of an applicant is not considered in the admissions decision. Most then expect to cover the full financial need of any applicant they accept
Need Aware = the financial situation of the applicant is considered as part of the admissions process and generally a student will not be admitted unless the institution can afford to cover all or most of the financial need

There are only 5 institutions that offer need-blind admission and full need financial aid to international students: Yale, MIT, Harvard, Princeton and Amherst College

There are also some need aware institutions that pledge to meet full demonstrated need for the international students they accept. Equally, some institutions will publish that they are only able to offer X% of their tuition as aid for internationals.





The majority of St. Clare's students submit most of their applications via Common App. The second most common system being the University of California Application system.

For Common App, Coalition and most state systems, you complete 1 application form with 1 or more central essays that go to each institution you apply to. Individual institutions or specific honours courses, may then require you to submit supplemental writing or essays alongside this. It may also be required, or advisable to complete an alumni interview as part of your process. You should not underestimate how important the writing is in USA applications, especially for competitive courses.

Applications to 2-year colleges are most likely to be direct.

It is important to be aware that all USA applications require the submission of financial documentation from your parents regardless of whether you want to apply for aid/scholarships.

Application complexity 3.png

Application Process

Application Process

Applications can be made via Common App, Coalition, State Systems, Direct application forms and Concourse. Some universities accept more than one of these application routes.

Most applications require multiple pieces of writing with the exception of those via Concourse. These are likely to cover who you are as a person, your values, your experiences, your activities, why you've chosen the institution and possibly why you want to study the subjects you have indicated

100-180 hours for 6 applications depending on how many different systems you use and the amount of writing for each one (excluding research time)

Application complexity 3.png

When to Apply

IB students start working on their first essay in March of IB 1 and students register on Common App and the UCal system in April of IB1.

Early Decision/Application deadlines are in November and we advise students to submit at least their top choices by 1 Nov and aim to submit all applications before the start of the winter break.

Any International College students interested in applying to the USA would need to speak to us for support as soon as they arrive in college.

Graade Conversion

Grade Conversion

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Explore the university profiles for this country on the CareersExplore Platform.

Clark University


Lafayette College


Bowdoin College


Research Reources

Research Resources

Global Scholarships
Global Scholarships is a database holding lots of scholarships which are available to students who would like to study at university. This is a global database so holds scholarship information for a wide range of different countries.
Campus Reel
Campus Reel is a student led website which features video content filmed by students on-campus at their college. This is the next best thing to visiting to get a feel for what campus life is like.
CollegeXpress: Scholarships, College Search, Lists and Rankings
CollegeXpress allows you to get matched with the best colleges for you, compare different colleges to help narrow down your shortlist, search and apply for scholarships, explore and find colleges you may have never heard of before, and receive expert advice on admissions, finance, test prep, careers, students life, and much more!
New York Times Build Your Own College Rankings
Enter your own criteria and build your own rankings. You have to subscribe to the NYT for this but you can get it £3/month for a year
ABET Name Search
ABET name search is a search function for engineering programs accredited by ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology)
BigJEducational Consulting Resources
Spreadsheets of data covering acceptance rates, need-based and merit-based aid, for international and domestic students that are updated annually.
This site is run by a company that supports university applications and whilst its university database is not exhaustive, within the application requirements tab on each university profile they have the average IB scores accepted and where available the application success rate. They also have average living costs for the area, rankings overviews and some scholarship information. Be aware that they list programs in all languages, not just English and the IB scores and success rate percentages are averages across the whole institution. However, they are a good indicator if the university does not publish more detailed information.
Khan Academy SAT practice
Khan Academy has created free SAT preparation resources in collaboration with Collegeboard
Making Sense of College Rankings
As you build your college list, you may notice where schools fall on various ranking list (U.S. News & World Report, for example). But how are these rankings calculated, and how can they help you determine which school is right for you?
The benefits of following your favourite colleges on Social Media | Advice from NYU's Blog
Following your top schools on social media can give you important information about a school's culture, and what daily life as a student is really like. Read this advice from NYU.
Is Early Decision Right for Me? A Blog from NYU
Applying to college is daunting enough, but having multiple application options can be thought-provoking. This summary from NYU about the different types of early decisions is well worth a read!
Six Colleges.Org
The prestigious Liberal Arts Colleges of Amherst, Bowdoin, Carleton, Pomona, Swarthmore and Williams have teamed up to develop virtual events and on-demand content to support students and their families through the college search and application process
Concourse Global Clearing
Concourse is a platform where universities search for candidates they want, rather than you completing lots of complex, time consuming and expensive applications. You complete one profile, which institutions view an anonymised version of. If they feel you are a fit for them, they will make you an offer and if you're interested, you can connect with them, share your full details and speak to them about what they can offer you.
This site has a list of all the USA Colleges and Universities that are Test Optional or Test Flexible
EducationUSA: Financial Aid Search
Education USA is the USA government's education arm. They have a database of financial aid opportunities.
A global resource for students wanting to study internationally to find scholarships and grant opportunities
A search engine for scholarships and colleges in the USA with accessible financial information. Be aware that international fees are often higher than out of state fees and you should always check on the universities own website.
View College Tour Video's for USA Institutions, or browse through them by category for inspiration
CollegeBoard: SAT's & CSS profile
SAT Book your SAT, access practice questions, get your results and manage sending them to universities CSS profile Complete and submit the CSS profile for those institutions that require it
The Common Application
The most widely used application platform in the USA. There are also advice articles and a link to the college boards university search engine 'Big Future'
College Covered Quiz
A quiz to help you think about which types of institutions in the USA would be a good fit for you
Niche is a comparison site for USA institutions that lets you search on a variety of factors and has their own rankings by major of top institutions. It includes both quantitative data points and also qualitative from student reviews resulting in a report card for each institution. You can put your own information in and then see the chances of you being accepted into a particular school, although keep in mind this is based on USA student data not international student data largely. Be aware that the Net Price given assumes that you are a USA citizen receiving the average financial aid award. It is likely to be substantially higher if you are an international student.
Big Future is a search and comparison site from CollegeBoard and reliably has all courses and institution on it.  You can search by a very large number of factors and order the results on an equally large range of priorities.  You can search by those institutions that offer need based financial aid.  This will not bring up those institutions that only offer scholarships based on merit to international students.
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