Brief Background: American Universities Abroad (AUA)
is a group of private American universities located outside of the US
that offer English-taught degree programs modeled on American curricula
and quality oversight practices. AUA universities meet the following
AUA universities are located in different regions of the world, and
encourage international perspectives and cross-cultural education within
the context of their degree programs. Each AUA university enrolls a
significant number of international applicants, leading to a diverse and
multinational population of students on campus. American students make
up the largest percentage of students at most AUA universities, but
there is typically less than 50 percent of any one nationality.
Good to Know: Many AUA institutions specialize in
the humanities. AUA universities offer a liberal arts style of
education, including general education as well as major requirements,
and grant US degrees. Some AUA universities also offer a nationally
recognized degree from the local host country.
For institutions that have a US-based campus and a campus abroad—such
as Webster University (MO) or Saint Louis University (MO)—degrees can
be completed in their entirety at the campus abroad, or students can
spend time completing academic requirements in both countries. Some AUA
universities, such as John Cabot University, have direct exchange
partnerships with US universities, allowing students to complete part of
their undergraduate experience in the United States.
Fundamental to the student experience in AUA programs is engagement
with global issues, experiential learning, travel and cross-cultural
exchange, and an emphasis on global citizenship. AUA universities
instill a cosmopolitan outlook and teach students how to adapt to
change. Students have the opportunity to experience not only a US-style
education, but are also uniquely situated to immerse themselves in the
culture of the university’s host country as well.
Academic Calendar: AUA universities follow a
traditional American academic calendar, generally beginning in August or
September and continuing until May, with summer course options.
Search: Many AUA universities are members of The
Common Application and can be found using the Common App search
function. Many AUA university admission representatives are also active
in events and fairs in the United States throughout the fall and spring,
and some AUA institutions have admission representatives based in the
Apply: AUA universities follow a traditional US
timeline, with applications accepted beginning in the late summer or
fall. Institutions that are members of The Common Application require
students to use the portal to apply, sometimes asking applicants to
complete a supplementary essay. As in the US, other requirements vary,
and sometimes include an interview, meeting, or phone conversation in
addition to the application. Those schools not on The Common Application
use a similar approach to admission, but requirements differ among
Deadlines: AUA admission decisions are often
rolling, though there are deadlines for confirmation of acceptance. For
US students the May 1 deadline is generally observed.
Application Fee: Fees vary by institution, even those that accept The Common Application.
Academic Requirements: Most AUA institutions opt to
review applications holistically. Counselors and students should check
with each school for the required minimum GPA, as they vary by
institution. The universities award academic credit demonstrated by AP
test scores, IB diplomas, and A-level exams. While test scores are not
always required, the institutions will accept and may assess them as a
part of the application review when submitted.
Upon Acceptance: US students should confirm enrollment by May 1.
There are associated deposit fees for confirmation and in some cases
for housing. AUA universities generally have an extensive pre-arrival
process. Admission counselors and student life officials help students
with each step they need to complete to arrive promptly and
safely—including visa acquisition, as well as travel, housing, and
banking arrangements. Some AUA universities direct students to websites
that offer discounted student airfare.
Tuition and Fees: Tuition varies among institutions.
Counselors and students should check each school for estimates
regarding tuition and living costs.
Some AUA universities bill tuition in the currency of the country
where they are located. Some schools list the dates when the exchange
rate will be set—typically early July for the fall semester, and early
November for the spring semester—so students and families can better
understand what they will pay in US dollars, and budget accordingly.
Financial aid, both institutional and federal, is available at all
AUA institutions. Institutional financial aid is determined by each
university. US citizens can also access federal student loan
opportunities by filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid
(FAFSA). Note that current US government legislation prohibits US
citizens enrolled in colleges or universities outside the United States
from receiving Pell Grants, SEOG, Perkins Loans, or Federal Work Study
funds, even though they may be eligible for such assistance.
Additionally, all AUA universities offer merit-based scholarships. Some
award need-based scholarships and have programs similar to American work
Housing: Each university strives to provide
affordable housing options for their students. Accommodations vary among
institutions and can include on-campus housing (some with residential
advisors) and off-campus accommodations, such as apartment-style living,
host families, or residence halls managed by local universities. Meal
plan options also exist at many AUA universities. Most AUA institutions
have a housing department and/or housing partner that will help students
secure housing for their first year and beyond. Some AUA universities
require that students use university-approved housing—on-campus or
provided by a partner—during their first year of studies.
Visas and Other Permits: In most cases students will
need a student visa to study in their AUA host country. The visa
acquisition process varies in length, but students begin it once they
have confirmed their attendance. Fees to obtain the student visa vary
depending on the destination country. AUA institutions offer admitted
students help with the required paperwork and process. However, students
must follow the host country’s policies for visa application.
Students may be able to work part-time with their student visa while
studying at an AUA institution, however, availability varies by country.
For the most part, students are not guaranteed any type of visa or
permit to remain in-country after they complete their education, unless
sponsored by another organization or employer.
Advice from the Field: Communications and the
assistance provided by an AUA university are similar to that of US-based
institutions. One possible difference is that many of the AUA
universities are smaller in size compared to many universities in the
US, so the support that students and counselors receive tends to be very
personalized. Students can expect one-on-one attention starting with
the admission process and extending on to academic advising and on
Because student visas are required in most cases, it is important
that counselors encourage students to be in constant contact with their
admission representative for help with each step of the process.
US regional accreditation is one way to assess institutional quality.
In the US there are seven regional accrediting bodies that oversee
postsecondary education at public and private institutions. While
national accreditation seems like it would be more important, regional
accreditation is older and generally more prestigious. American
accrediting agencies are increasingly evaluating foreign institutions as
they believe they have a role to play in promoting the mobility of
students and faculty.
The following agencies keep an updated directory of accredited institutions, including non-US institutions: