Transferring from UK to US University


I am a student in the UK studying in my second year at university. I feel the current university isn’t challenging enough, and I would like to give a shot and apply to some of the US universities.

The process with credits and transferring seems slightly complex, so I am wondering if anyone has done so or has any idea how the process works and if it’s even got the slightest chance of working?

Are you a US citizen or will you be applying as an international transfer?

What’s your budget?
International transfers rarely get aid.
If you can afford to be full pay or nearly full pay, and assuming you’re on track for a First, your odds are good at many large public universities as well as Vanderbilt or WashU.
If you need financial aid… :scream::pleading_face:
If you’re an American who tried attending a British university then things are different.
Finally, what credits transfer would also depend on what course you’re in. PPE would transfer more than a single subject degree.

1 Like

If the reason you want to leave a UK university is lack of sufficient challenge, then I struggle to see how you will get that in a US university.

US universities are more supportive generally than UK universities, and I struggle to see how the education is more challenging with such support, except variety is he challenge you seek.

The shortest answer is that you apply to the colleges/unis to which you wish to transfer. IF they decide to accept you they will decide which of your credits (both A levels and modules from your current uni) they will accept for credit. Your advisor will then work with you to figure out which, and how, many classes or modules you need in order to graduate from your new uni.

Some finer points:

  • Afaik, no college/uni will evaluate your transcript/credits to give you an estimate as to how many credits will transfer before you have been accepted;

  • Some (but not many) colleges/unis post their A-level credit policies online (usually in the section with Advanced Placements, aka APs). For an example, see the equivalence table at the bottom of this page: International Exam Policies and Procedures | The Brown Degree. It is reasonable to email colleges to ask what (if any) A-level equivalence policy they have;

  • Once you have been accepted, some colleges/unis will want the syllabus from some classes / modules in order to determine which classes from your old uni map to which classes at your new uni;

  • All colleges/unis post their general graduation requirements as well as the specific major requirements on their websites. Some colleges/unis have a lot of graduation requirements (aka general education requirements, or ‘Gen Eds’), others very few. Some are famous for their Core (notably Columbia and University of Chicago), others for theire\ ‘open curriculum’ (eg, Brown). Most are somewhere in the middle.

Re: $$- there are two types of financial aid: merit and need. Merit aid is used to encourage a particularly desirable student to pick that college/uni, and is typically most generous for incoming first years. At some colleges/unis there are smaller awards that most students get (say $5-20K off a $60K price tag). Note that pretty much all of the top private colleges/unis only give need-based aid. If you are an international student (ie, neither a US citizen nor green card holder) only a small handful of US colleges/unis are need-blind and meet full need for international students; a bigger handful are need-aware but meet full need for international students, and most are need-aware and do not promise to meet your full financial need. Thus the importance of @MYOS1634’s question.

1 Like

How is it different for an American who attends a British university?
And wouldn’t single subject degrees get you out of a lot of the pre-reqs and requirements for that degree?
Would an American have a shot at a good engineering school, coming from a UK engineering school?

Are you in England? In a 3 year program? It might make more sense to just finish that out (2023?) and then come to the US for grad school.

I’m not sure many of your UK credits will transfer and you might be knocked back to first year status and the have 4 years to go through here in the US, graduating with a Bachelors in 2025 or 2026. University is very expensive in the US too

Even if you did a year abroad at your UK uni, maybe in the US, you would graduate in 2024, right? And then if you want to apply to the US universities for grad school you still could.

Transferring just doesn’t seem like the best plan.

What is your course?

Americans are in the domestic applicant pool for financial aid, meaning different institutional budgets and access to federal aid. At meet need universities, they have to pass the academic bar but their odds at the financial stage are much better.

Engineering is a more or less fixed curriculum in order to be ABET accredited. To meet ABET criteria, foreign courses need to meet specific minimum criteria. Presumably students in the UK take Math, Physics and Engineering courses that meet these criteria but it’ll have to be demonstrated course by course. In addition, UK engineering students wouldn’t take English, Humanities, or Social Science courses which they’d need to make up for graduation from a US college.

However if you have a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering you can apply to a US Master’s program.

1 Like

Thanks! Yes, I understand having to explain course by course. Because of the narrow focus, I’ve heard UK courses move faster, so 1st year UK already gets into some stuff US courses do in 2nd year. The only reason to transfer would be to experience the social sciences / humanities, so that’s a net positive for me. If I do transfer after 2nd year, hopefully I could get straight into advanced STEM classes and labs. I thought it might be one extra year - that’s acceptable for the expanded curriculum.
Could you please tell me where I can find a list of accredited Masters engineering courses? I looked on the ABET website and couldn’t find any at the big name schools - Michigan, Caltech, etc. Only saw accredited undergrad courses.
Thanks for your help.

@HappySands are you also @johnhonai? or are you hijacking @johnhonai’s thread? If you are both, that’s a ToS violation.

No, not the same person. Hijacking, I guess…? What a lovely analogy.
It seems like we (J… & I) have similar questions.
It’s a public forum, I imagine most questions pertaining to the topic can be asked here? I can’t imagine an online forum works very differently in the US than in the UK.
Or do people usually set up separate threads for individualized answers on highly similar topics?


You should start your own thread and get the answers you need there.

Not a US citizen, so would be an an international transfer.

Yes, I am in England at a 3 year program. The main issue is the course I took was meant to be a practical computer science degree not so focussed on theory but application. Upon taking the degree it’s apparent to me the Uni and the portrayed degree are not what I signed up for and with the whole pandemic issue I have barely had more than a month of actual University in-person education and I don’t feel continuing at this Uni is best suited long term.

The course seems to be wavering and I worry that finishing this degree will have restrictions on both my grad options as well as ability to do another undergrad hence looking to transfer. My current uni also doesn’t have a year abroad scheme which makes is what I would have done otherwise.

But possibly at this point transferring may not be viable?

So budget wise I don’t have a fixed figure in mind of course a public university such as the ones you have mentioned or the UC’s would be ideal (if possible) but if it was an ivy league I would be prepared to make the fees.

My current status is studying a (practical) computing degree on track for a First currently.

But it appears the financial aspect would be the bigger issue in all this :pensive:

Thank you for the detailed response!

I think my best plan of action would be in this case to merely apply and see the universities that came back to me and then make the decision based on financial status. With the need-aware, if you were to say transfer and could meet payments initially but later on it was a challenge is the university more lenient at this stage or could you potentially be dropped?

UCs will not offer any financial aid and you’ll need to prove you can pay 65k upfront. (It’s 65k per year). There’s no “leniency”, if you can’t pay you must leave.
Colleges that offer you financial aid (mostly private universities) may adjust it as long as you applied for financial aid initially.
Colleges that offer merit aid for transfers wouldn’t change it since their offer would be based on merit at entrance.

Look into Cybersecurity or Computing programs, such as Cornell university CALS (not COE), on one side of the selectivity scale, and at UNC Charlotte for the other end of the selectivity scale.

100%. The US is brutally expensive.

“Need aware” is only relevant at the decision stage: unis that are ‘need aware’ consider your need for financial aid in deciding whether or not to admit you.

IF you are admitted with financial aid, and need more you can appeal. If the appeal is rejected, that’s it.

If you are admitted with financial aid, and later need more you can apply for more, but if the application is rejected, that’s it.

Typically you pay in advance and typically if you cannot pay your fees you will be dropped like a hot potato. Remember also that to get your student visa you have to show that you have the tuition & living funds for the year (that can include any financial aid the uni is providing).

There is no meaningful financial aid for an out of state (OOS) student at the UCs, so it’s $65K+/year.

That is unlikely in the extreme: very few transfer places. Even if you re-started as a first year, it is exceptionally unlikely-they take ~5% of applicants, and only 8-15% of those accepted are international. And fwiw, not necessarily the best CS degrees.

And if you can make the fees if you choose, do not expect much in the way of need-based aid: the way it works is that you fill out a a finance profile, including tax records, and the uni calculates how much aid they think you need. Every uni has their own formula (hence the NPC calculators on their websites).

Have you considered changing programs in the UK? Clearing is probably pretty threadbare at this point, but maybe? Have you looked at Canada? Waterloo is the big CS kahuna, along with UBC & Toronto, but there’s also McGill & Victoria.

Thank you for clarifying that query, wasn’t quite sure how it worked over there as in the UK they are very lenient with that kind of thing.

I hadn’t considered alternate computing programs but that looks very promising, I will look further into that!

If you are admitted with financial aid, and later need more you can apply for more, but if the application is rejected, that’s it.

Quite a brutal approach in comparison to the UK but makes sense.

Even if you re-started as a first year, it is exceptionally unlikely-they take ~5% of applicants, and only 8-15% of those accepted are international

I understand the Ivy’s are extremely competitive, Is this across all the ivy leagues or do some have better chances than others?

Have you considered changing programs in the UK? Clearing is probably pretty threadbare at this point, but maybe?

I considered this in the UK, but clearing is scarce and choices are minimal and transferability from my course. I will have a look at Canada, never thought about that.