united kingdom

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Note: This article is intended only for students who wish to pursue their graduate studies in the UK and not undergraduation. This article explains everything you need to know about studying in the UK and covers the following topics in-depth

  • Overview of higher education in the UK
  • US vs UK
  • Degrees offered at the graduate level in the UK
  • Application essentials
  • Scholarships
  • Work visa restrictions during and after graduate studies
  • How much does graduate studies in the UK cost?
  • List of universities in the UK and rankings
  • Useful links

UK has long been favored by Indian students for higher studies and is home to some of the oldest and best institutions in the world. UK is at the forefront of research and development in many fields of study ranging from Engineering to English Literature. Countries in the United Kingdom includes England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. If you take a look at the world rankings, you will notice that majority of universities in the top 100 are from the US and UK.

Students who intend to study in the UK must thoroughly research all aspects of higher education such as work visa restrictions, scholarships, job opportunities etc. in the UK before taking the final plunge. Please read on to discover everything you need to know about studying in the UK.

Difference between US and UK:

Length of study: An MS degree in USA takes 2 years to complete and a PhD anywhere from 4-7 years. In the UK, an MS degree takes only 1 year to complete, while a PhD takes only 3-4 years to complete.

Work visa restrictions: Work visa restrictions are very lenient in the US when compared with the UK. In the US, Indian students can work for 12 months on Optional Practical Training (OPT), a type of visa that allows you to stay and work in the US without the need for employer visa sponsorship, upon completion of their studies. Also, the OPT period can be extended for another 17 months if the student’s choice of major falls within Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). For this reason, many students prefer to study in the US instead of UK as it gives them the opportunity to stay back, work, pay off student loans and build one’s career. As of 2014, the demand for STEM graduates is quite high in the US.

Degrees offered at the graduate level in the UK:

Many degrees such as MSc, MPhil, MA, MRes and PhD are offered in the United Kingdom and they are explained as follows:

MSc: Master of Science is a 1-year program and covers both coursework and research. Some MSc programs are only coursework based or only research based. For more details, please email the graduate coordinator or take a look at the specific programs website for the course description. MSc is perfect for students who are interested in entering the industry post completion of their graduate studies. MSc is the same term given for engineering degrees as well in the UK.

MA: Master of Arts is a 1-year program for Humanities, Arts and Languages related programs. Most programs include coursework and a dissertation.

MRes/MPhil: This is a research based 2-year degree and can be pursued by students interested in doing their PhD further down the line. MRes can be considered to be a precursor for PhD studies. MPhil is similar to MRes in that it is also research based and a precursor to further PhD studies. Some of these MRes/MPhil programs are standalone and students have to clear them in order to pursue their doctoral degree. In some other universities, MRes/MPhil is combined with the PhD and if students are unable to perform well, they will be expected to leave with just an MRes or MPhil degree instead of PhD.

PhD: A doctoral degree in the UK takes 3-4 years of completion and all PhD students are usually fully funded with living expenses, monthly stipend, insurance and tuition fees covered. Requirements for PhD varies from university to university. Some universities admit students with just a BTech degree from India while some expect students to have a master’s degree prior to the start of PhD.

MBA: An MBA in UK is either 1 or 2-years depending on the university you are applying to. All applicants must submit GMAT scores and must have at least 3 years of work experience for accredited MBA programs in the UK.

Application Essentials:

IELTS: IELTS, an english language proficiency test, is a must for all Indian students applying for graduate studies in the UK. For more details about this test, please refer to this article. Some universities also accept TOEFL scores instead of IELTS.

CV: Every student must submit a resume/CV as part of their application package. There are plenty of resources online that will show you how to create the perfect resume for graduate studies, such as this.

Personal Statement: A personal statement is where you communicate to the admissions committee as to why you are applying to a their program and how your background and experience deems you fit for the program. The format of the personal statement varies from university to university. Some universities may expect you to answer a series of questions in 200 words or less while some may expect you to write an essay detailing your interests and academic experience. For more details, please look at the university’s graduate admissions website for clear instructions.

Academic References: Most universities expect students to submit at least 2 reference letters from their undergraduate professors. If it has been a long time since you have graduated from college, then you may be allowed to submit a letter from an employer such as your manager.

GRE: Now, GRE is usually required only for US universities and not UK. However, there are a few competitive programs such that do expect students to submit GRE scores. Having said that, most universities do not ask for the GRE scores but a few do. For more details, look at the admission requirements in university websites.

Others: Apart from test scores, students are expected to submit exam transcripts from all semesters, bank details, application forms etc.

Work visa restriction during and after graduate studies:

As of 2014, Indian students, upon graduation of MS courses, will have four months to find a graduate level job. The job must be with an accredited and registered company and salary must be more than £ 20,300. Failure to do so means you will have to leave the UK. Due to this reason, it is extremely important that you have backup plans in case you are not able to find a job. Regarding part-time jobs while studying, Indian students can work only for 20 hours/week during semesters and full time during holidays.

Bridge course: Apart from the strict work visa restrictions, the Indian Government does not recognize MS degrees from the UK, since they are only for a year. Therefore, students who are seeking jobs in India after MS in UK must attend a 6-month bridge course in order to be eligible for PhD studies in India and government jobs. As of now, the bridge course is only for humanities graduates. For management graduates, 6 months internship in an Indian company is a must if you want your MBA degree to be recognized in India. However, many private employers in India do recognize degrees from the UK and UK returned graduates can try their luck in the private sector. For more details, please contact British Council or any other professional source regarding employability in India for UK graduates.

Scholarships: Most PhD students get fully funded for the entire duration of their studies, along with stipend for living expenses. Full scholarships are difficult to come by for MSc and MA courses, but a few universities offer nominal concessions such as £ 2000 per year. For a detailed list of available scholarships, please refer to this page.

How much does graduate studies in the UK cost?

Tuition fees and living expenses is highly variable and depends on many factors such as the university, location and program. For a detailed explanation of the expenses, please read this article.

List of universities in the UK:

Useful Links:

Note: The information on this article is only for informational purposes and should not be construed as professional advice.