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Is a British Degree Equally As Valid and Equivalent to ANY U.S. College Degree?

TheAverageNerdTheAverageNerd 43 replies28 threads Junior Member
Hi everyone!
Just a simple question:
I really want to study at any British university of my choice. However, I am worried that my degree from a British university would not be valid, or as accredited in the United States or other areas of the world as it would be in Britain. I am assuming this because in Britain, you can get a Bachelor's degree in 3 years, and a Master's degree in 1 year. While in the U.S., it takes 4 years to get a Bachelor's degree, and about two more years for a Master's.

Lastly, are there any other factors (besides the time limit of getting a degree in Britain), that would be harmful to my future if I do graduate with a Bachelor's or Master's degree from a British university as an American? Thanks a lot!
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Replies to: Is a British Degree Equally As Valid and Equivalent to ANY U.S. College Degree?

  • b@r!um[email protected]!um 10275 replies175 threads Senior Member
    edited June 2019
    British degrees are often but not always considered equivalent to US degrees with the same name. Here's a few examples:

    - Some US graduate schools (less than half, public universities more than private ones) require a 4-year Bachelor's degree for admission. They recommend that foreign students get a foreign Master's degree before applying for admission.

    - US medical school requires an undergraduate "pre-med" sequence for admission, which in the US is most commonly taken on top of a college major of your choice. If you get your undergraduate degree in Britain, you might have to do a bridge program to fill in the missing courses before you can take the MCAT and apply for admission.

    - US PhD programs care a lot about undergraduate research experience and letters of recommendation from faculty. Both may be hard to come by at a British university. You can work around that by completing a Master's degree first before you apply for the PhD, even when American students would typically start the PhD straight out of college.

    This is not a degree-equivalency thing, but there's a few reasons why it may be harder to make an entrance into the US labor market from a British university.

    - The dates of US internship programs may not be compatible with the academic calendar of your British university. Many American undergraduates end up working for an employer they did an internship with.

    - Many US employers like to hire entry-level candidates from a specific set of (American) universities. (You'd be surprised how many employers I have met at college career fairs who instructed me to email my resume to a specific person, and not to apply through their website, because applications on their website didn't get read at all...)

    - Your British university may suffer from a lack of name recognition in the US. How many US employers would know how the University of Bristol compares to the University of Washington?

    - Lastly, there's the practical challenges of interviewing for a job in a different country from the one you live in. While phone or video pre-screens are common, most employers still want at least one in-person interview before extending an offer. Round-trip airfare between the UK and the US can be quite expensive, especially on short notice, and many employers might not want to cover the full cost.
    edited June 2019
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  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan 13628 replies32 threads Senior Member
    What potential goals do you have in life besides attending a UK uni?
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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 7990 replies85 threads Senior Member
    @TheAverageNerd, based on your other threads you have a much more fundamental challenge when it comes to college in Britain: figuring out what you want to study (so far I have seen CS, though you are worried that AP CS principles would be too much for you, Business, and Aviation).

    If you want to study in Britain you still have 2 years to figure out *what* you want to study- b/c that is how that system works.

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  • LindagafLindagaf 10984 replies591 threads Super Moderator
    Degrees in the UK generally take only three years because students pretty much only take courses in their major. There are no general Ed courses. They focus on relevant course material right from the start. In fact, my British nephews and nieces say that when they had American students at their universities for study abroad, the Americans were often behind their British counterparts because as juniors, they didn’t have enough core classes in their majors yet.

    FWIW, I know a lot of British people with degrees here in America who have had no trouble finding jobs. It’s probably more important to have relevant experience.
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  • VickiSoCalVickiSoCal 3487 replies34 threads Senior Member
    My daughter has not found summer job timing to be a problem as she is home before the UC students by a good chunk, but she does have a bit of a gap at the end of the summer as most summer type jobs wrap up before her UK uni starts. This summer she will likely use that time studying for the GRE. She did obtain this summer's job via phone interviews which was a little challenging, but she persevered and loves her new job.
    She is hoping to get a placement with an international pharma company (she is studying medicinal chemistry) while in the UK that could lead to employment back in the US after graduation. Many St. A students in other fields also seek placements with consultant/accounting firms that have both UK and US operations.
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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 7990 replies85 threads Senior Member
    Scottish unis seem to finish earlier than English ones (at least the ones that I am familiar with). For example, St A's, Edi & Glasgow are all out by mid/late may, while Durham, Oxbridge, and LSE all get out in mid/late June, so being in England can limit US summer internship options that have earlier date requirements. There are also UK internship options. Fwiw, even students in the US often get summer jobs at a distance - one of my lot interviewed for and got jobs in different parts of the US every summer, all by phone or Skype. IMO, with some field-specific exceptions, internship options is not a strong metric for most students in choosing whether to go to the UK or stay in the US

    But: this is putting the cart very much before the horse: by the other posts, OP is a HS sophomore still at an early stage of exploring options.
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  • VickiSoCalVickiSoCal 3487 replies34 threads Senior Member
    Durham final exams ended June 7 this year. In California many universities wrap up around this time or a bit later. In other parts of the US summer is well under way by then.
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