Differences between American and European Universities

For many, studying abroad is an important part of their university/college experience. Some study abroad in the United States, others might go to European universities. So here we explore the differences between them and why students chose one over the other. Let’s take a look!

Time to Complete

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

General Education Classes

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In most US programs, no matter your major, you take electives or general education classes. Taking these classes builds your critical thinking and writing and exposes you to a variety of subjects that differ from your major classes. 

At European universities, there are fewer general education classes. They expect you to have learned those skills in high school and have a clear understanding of what you want to pursue in college.

The Opportunity to Decide



Students at American universities don’t generally declare a major until their second year. This gives them time to try all manner of classes until they find the path they want to pursue. 

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 dive quickly into their major disciplines.




Many American universities pride themselves on campus culture created by sports, clubs, teams, and extracurricular activities. Many students are a part of the sports teams and clubs that build relationships. 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, which elevates 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, 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. 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.