Tuition fees in the USA

Find out everything you need to know about university tuition fees for international students in the USA with our guide on the costs of studying in America.

The US university system, while revered across the globe, is incredibly unique, and can be difficult to get your head around. Not to mention the fact that American tuition fees are notoriously high.

There is no government standard for fees in the US, and so they are uniquely set by an institution. Fees are also subject to change based on departments within a university, demand, specific subject costs and expected salary levels once students have graduated. 

There are a number of different tertiary institutions in America: public sector, two-year institutes called community, technical or city colleges, public ‘state’ universities and private universities. Whilst tuition fees vary based on a multitude of different factors, this is the main distinction students can draw between cost brackets. Private universities are typically the most expensive, followed by state universities and then community colleges.

The fees below are a guide; we always recommend checking with the institution or department for the exact fee for the course you’re interested in.


Unlike many educational models in the UK and Europe, disciplines such as law and medicine are not offered at the undergraduate level in America. Students instead complete a general degree in a study area, for example, a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science, and then a major in the relevant area.

Costs of undergraduate degrees in America vary widely between institutions and can be quite high for international students. The fees below reflect the average cost of tuition fees per year for undergraduate international students studying in the USA.

At some universities, the figures can even soar above USD 50,000 per year.

For a cheaper alternative, average tuition costs at a community college are calculated at around USD 2,527 per year. Or you can also apply for scholarships to keep costs low.

At a community college, you will receive an associate’s degree instead of a bachelor’s, but you can use this qualification as the first half of a bachelor’s and then transfer to another university for another two or three years. Many universities have ‘need-blind’ application options, meaning that students are considered based solely on their academic ability as opposed to their financial means. Details should be pursued on specific university websites.

Learn more about associate’s degrees and transferring


Again, estimated tuition costs vary immensely based on a number of different factors. Professional programmes such as the MBA, JD or MD will however typically be more expensive than a master’s or a PhD programme. The figures below reflect the average cost of postgraduate fees per year for international students at both public and private universities.

Of course, besides tuition fees, you’ll also need to consider the costs of living and accommodation fees in the USA which again does vary according to each state, city and your budget for spending.

Once more, we always recommend you confirm the fees for a specific course with the institution or department themselves. This information is available on our site or you can contact the institution directly through our search tool.

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