USA vs Canada vs UK: Best country to Study Abroad

The USA, UK, and Canada are three popular study destinations for students looking to study internationally. They are home to a number of the world’s best universities and offer an enormous range of choices, from small liberal arts colleges to the hallowed halls of the Ivy League. Of course, when you consider studying abroad, there are a number of factors to select best country like cost, work opportunities, etc. that you worry about. It can be overwhelming and many students have no idea where to begin with this life-changing decision. As we explore the pros and cons of undergraduate and post graduate level study in USA, UK, and Canada, this article will help you select a country that is right for you and your budget.

Although these countries are a symbol of prestigious high-quality education, several aspects factor in when choosing the best country to study abroad.

This article compares university education in the US, UK, and Canada in terms of –

World University Rankings:

#1. US – MIT, Harvard, and Stanford apart from the other Ivy League Universities have an outstanding reputation globally and they have been topping the charts for higher education forever. The number of schools providing high-quality education in the States remains the highest all over the world.

#2. UK – The University of Oxford has perennially been the No.1 educational institution in the world rankings. The University of Cambridge and Imperial College London are the other two universities that inspire the world with their exceptional education. However, the rest of the universities that occupy the top 10 positions are from the USA.

#3. Canada – The University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia are the most celebrated names in Canada when it comes to university education. Despite being highly ranked in the country, the top universities of the US and UK are much better ranked than these two.

Degree Programs:

Degree programs are generally one year shorter in the United Kingdom than the ones in Canada or the United States. This is best for students who want to get their degree faster. GRE and TOEFL scores play a significant role in getting admission to universities in the United States. A higher score on these tests can land you in a better-ranked university. In the UK, students follow a set curriculum purely focused on their major and they also go through something called a browsing period. During this period, students take various classes and choose the professor they would like to get their instructions from for a particular subject. They apply to that instructor and can join their classes upon getting accepted. Interestingly, D is the highest grade received in UK universities which stands for Distinction. The grading system looks like this: D-Distinction, M-Merit, P-Pass, and F-Fail. In the USA and Canada, the degree program is not so much focussed and students take a number of classes in diverse subject areas. Here, students are required to submit plenty of assignments that count for the final grade as opposed to university education in the UK. GPA is used as the system of evaluation for assessing student performance.

Tuition Fee:

The cost to study varies depending on the university you choose. Based on our survey, it is the cheapest in Canada and the most expensive in the US. Your tuition cost can also be covered with the scholarships that you receive. More scholarships are offered in USA and UK as compared to Canada but the overall study expenses are the cheapest in Canada. The tuition and fees in the UK are fairly high compared to Canada. The costs are still affordable though while looking at equivalent degrees in the USA. Taking a university education in the US is notoriously the most expensive, even for domestic students. As you can see below, comparing the figures with the ones mentioned above can show you the stark difference in tuition and fees.

Living Expenses:

Living expenses vary depending on the location you choose to stay in. Below, we have presented the average living costs for each of the countries. Country Estimated Monthly Living Costs UK £989 US $2000 Canada CAD 1327


The pay scale varies depending on your location, potential, and skills. In general, the USA is known to offer plenty of high-paying job opportunities which helps students save money to a great extent and pay back their loans easily.

#1. US – The USA is famous for offering the most high-paying jobs coupled with a spectacular quality of life. After graduation, you will get 3 years of work permit if you have a STEM major. For non-STEM majors, chances are lesser to get an H1B visa. Earning per annum: $60,000 – $120,000

#2. Canada – The pay scale in the USA is considerably high but that doesn’t mean it is minimal in Canada. You might even save more in Canada given that the overall tuition and living expenses are cheaper in the country. Earning per annum: $60,000 – $90,000

#3. UK – The UK also offers a big paycheque but you cannot save as much money as you can save in the US staying in an expensive city like London. Earning per annum: £50,000 –  £75,000

Part-time Jobs:

Canada has a sparse population and has formulated policies to welcome skilled immigrants who can contribute to their economy. Therefore, it is the best country to earn an extra grand while studying.

#1. Canada – If you are enrolled in a designated university in Canada and have a study permit, you can work up to 20 hours per week on/off campus without a work permit. You can even be self-employed in Canada, unlike the US and UK. Earning: $11.5 – $16/hour

#2. US – International students holding an F-1 visa can work for up to 20 hours per week during the school year and 40 hours during vacations. Students work part-time under restrictions laid down by the US Citizenship and Immigration Service. Earning: $8 – $15/hour

#3. UK – If you study at a university or college that is listed on the official UK VI SPONSOR LIST (UK VISA & IMMIGRATION SPONSOR LIST) or the list of other recognized bodies, you can work for up to 20 hours a week during term and full-time during holidays. Earning: $7.5 – $8/hour

Student Visa:

The Student Visa is called differently in all of these countries –

#1. UK – Tier 4 (General) Student Visa is processed in 2 to 15 days and it might take up to 90 days in the worst-case scenario. You have to pay £335 as a visa fee and £150 per year as a health surcharge. Only 1 visa appointment is required in the case of the UK. Your visa will remain valid for a month after your program completion.

#2. US – F-1 visa processing takes somewhere between 2 days to 3 weeks and you must apply for it 3 months in advance. The visa fee is about $360 and student visas are prioritized over any other visas in the country. Although no medical exam is needed in the case of USA, the F-1 visa interview can be tricky. Your visa will remain valid for 2 more months apart from your course duration.

#3. Canada – It is recommended that you apply for a Study Permit 4 to 6 months in advance. You can also apply through Student Direct Stream to get the visa approval in 4 to 6 weeks. The visa fee is the cheapest in the case of Canada – 150 CAD. Some students might even have to travel abroad for medical exams and biometrics. Your visa will remain valid for 3 more months apart from your course duration which is the highest among the three countries.]

Scope of PR:

#1. Canada – It is the easiest to get a PR in Canada. You only have to work for a year after your program completion. Applying for the PR after working for a year will get your application approved and you can even get citizenship in about 3 years followed by that.

#2. UK – To get a PR in the UK, you will need to stay there for 6.5-9 years or even more. During this period, you shouldn’t be self-employed and earn a minimum salary of £20,800.

#3. US – It can take 10-20 years in the best-case scenario and even 50 years for certain people to get a PR in the US. Also, you are not allowed to be self-employed in the US either. The enrolment trends suggest that the US houses the largest number of international student immigrants and the country is taking measures to control the immigration rate. The United States has seen a meagre drop in the intake rate so, students willing to pursue higher education from the country should not be afraid of it. On the contrary, Canada has a limited population so they are eager to welcome skilled immigrants to their country. Interestingly, the UK hosts the largest number of studies abroad students from the United States. These lines are based on the latest report presented by the Institute of International Education. To make a wise choice on overseas education, you need to take care of these aspects and have a general idea about the distinctive factors of education in various countries to help you make the right decision.    

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