Differences Between American and European Universities

With so many options for study abroad locations, it can be hard to choose a program. To help you narrow down your many options - here are 4 differences between American and European universities.

21 July 2020

For many studying abroad can be a goal they want to achieve while attending university/college. Besides studying abroad in the United States, many students end up going to European universities too. So what exactly are the differences between them? What helps students decide where to go? Let’s take a look!  

Time to Complete

university graduate

Normally, university programs in the US take four years to complete whereas most undergraduate programs in Europe can be completed in three years. So depending on your schedule and how long you want to be in school, you have a choice when it comes to deciding where to go based on the amount of time you want to be in school.  

General Education Classes


In most US programs, no matter what your major is, it is recommended that students take electives or general education classes. The belief behind these classes is that it builds upon skills such as critical thinking, writing and exposes students to a variety of different subjects that differ from their major classes. This differs to the programs at European universities as fewer general education classes are offered. This is because they expect students to learn those skills in high school and have a clear understanding of what they want to pursue in college.  

The Opportunity To Decide


Many students at American universities don’t have to declare a major right away - they can wait until their second year. This gives students time to take different classes in business, medicine, communication and more - allowing them to find the path they want to pursue. Since students have many options and more time (four years), they have the opportunity to find out what they like. In European universities, students usually know what they want to pursue when they start or as early as when they are filling out their college application. This proves beneficial for many students as they know what their focus is right from the start so they are able to go really in-depth and learn about that specific major and those areas.  


students in paris

Many American universities pride themselves on campus culture. This includes sports, clubs, teams and extracurricular activities that are offered on campus. Many students are apart of the sports teams and clubs that help to build relationships between one another. For a lot of state schools in the US, sports teams are a huge part of the college’s culture. Many students come together on game days to cheer on their school and this helps to elevate school spirit.  

As for European universities, campuses are usually in the heart of the city. This means students are more integrated with city life as opposed to campus life. So if you are someone who likes to explore and learn through real-life experiences, then studying in the heart of a European city would be a great fit for you!  

No matter where you decide to study abroad, it will be a fulfilling experience for you. Whether you indulge in campus or city life, you will make tons of memories, come across many opportunities and learn something new while being in a new country! 

students in paris
students in paris

Differences Between American

and European Universities
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