Tuition Fees at the World’s Top Universities

Laura Tucker

Updated October 27, 2021 Updated October 27

For many prospective international students, the most pressing issue to consider – alongside meeting all the application requirements – is how much it will cost to study at their chosen institution. The tuition fees charged largely depend on the country in which you choose to study (visit our country guides for details). But if you really want to calculate the costs of studying at one of the world’s top universities, below is an overview of current fees for domestic and international students at the 10 top universities in the QS World University Rankings® 2020 – plus information about the chances of receiving financial aid.

For the UK universities featured here, prices are given for several different subjects, to give an idea of the range. Most of the featured US universities charge a standard rate across the majority of subjects and for students of all nationalities. The list of the world’s top 10 universities also includes Switzerland’s ETH Zurich, where fees for most programs are lower than in the UK or US – scroll down for the full details.

10. University of Chicago, US

Annual tuition fees 2019/20:

UNDERGRADUATE

DOMESTIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

All UG programs:

US$57,642 (Plus $1,656 Student Life Fee)

 

POSTGRADUATE

DOMESTIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

Most PG programs (excl. PhDs):

Average of US$58,968 (for one year)

Ranked 10th in the world, the University of Chicago is a private research university which was founded in 1890 and teaches around 16,445 students. Although it only offers need-blind admission (i.e. financial need will not impede any student’s chances of admission) to students from the US, the university does pledge to meet the full demonstrated need of admitted students, with financial aid for international students in the form of grants or scholarships – you should apply for this aid during the admissions process.

All students are automatically considered for merit-based scholarships, with no separate application required.

More information for prospective students is available on the University of Chicago’s website.

9. Imperial College London, UK

Annual tuition fees 2019/20:

UNDERGRADUATE

UK & EU STUDENTS*

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

Computer science:

£9,250 (~€10,350)

UK£30,250 (~US$37,900)

Engineering:

£9,250

UK£30,250 (~US$37,900)

 

POSTGRADUATE

UK & EU STUDENTS

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

Computer science (MSc):

£14,750 (~€16,500)

UK£32,000 (~US$40,100)

Engineering (MSc):

£13,250 (~€14,840)

UK£31,250 (~US$39,160)

Ranked ninth in the world this year, Imperial College London charges undergraduate-level UK and EU students the full £9,250 in annual tuition fees, which are likely to rise each year in line with inflation. The university has a specialized focus on medicine, STEM and FAME subjects, and this narrower subject range means less fluctuation in fees for international students, with the majority of undergraduate programs costing £28,000-31,000 (~US$35,100-38,850) per year.

For funding opportunities to study at Imperial College London, search for studentships, international scholarships and fellowships targeted at students within the STEM and FAME fields. You could also do some research into businesses that work closely with Imperial College London, as such organizations sometimes sponsor particularly high-achieving students.

Some international scholarships offered exclusively to women in male-dominated industries (including many of the subjects in which Imperial College specializes) are available here. For general scholarships to study in the UK, visit our listing here.

* EU students will continue to pay the same fees as UK students in 2019/20 and throughout their course length even after the UK leaves the EU.

More information for prospective students is available over on the school’s own website.

8. UCL (University College London), UK

Annual tuition fees 2019/20:

UNDERGRADUATE

UK & EU STUDENTS

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

Computer science:

£9,250 (~€10,350)

UK£29,220 (~US$36,620)

Engineering:

£9,250

UK£26,740 (~US$33,500)

Politics:

£9,250

UK£19,970 (~US$25,030)

History:

£9,250

UK£19,970 (~US$25,030)

 

POSTGRADUATE

UK & EU STUDENTS

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

Computer science (MSc):

£12,750 (~€14,280)

UK£28,410 (~US$35,600)

Engineering (MSc):

£12,750 (~€14,280)

UK£26,660 (~US$33,400)

Politics (MSc):

£12,750 (~€14,280)

UK£21,790 (~US$27,300)

History (MA):

£10,440 (~€11,700)

UK£21,790 (~US$27,300)

This year UCL (University College London) is ranked eighth in the world in 2020, up two spots. This prestigious institution likewise charges top UK fees to home/EU students and fees ranging from £18,820 to £25,960 for international undergraduates.

The good news? UCL offers a selection of bursaries and scholarships for international students from around the world, while there are also many international scholarships to study in the UK. It’s also implemented fixed fees for international undergraduates (excluding medical students), meaning your fees will stay the same rate every year.

UCL has more information for prospective students available on its website.

7. University of CambridgeUK

Annual tuition fees 2019/20:

UNDERGRADUATE

UK & EU STUDENTS

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

Computer science:

£9,250 (~€10,350)

UK£30,678 (~US$38,430)

Mathematics:

£9,250

UK£20,157 (~US$25,250)

Management:

£9,250

UK£30,678 (~US$38,430)

History:

£9,250

UK£19,197 (~US$24,050)

 

POSTGRADUATE

UK & EU STUDENTS

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

Computer science (MPhil):

£12,255 (~€13,700)

UK£33,342 (~US$41,770)

Engineering (MPhil):

£8,337 (~€9,330)

UK£29,343 (~US$36,760)

Politics (MPhil):

£16,320 (~€18,265)

UK£29,220 (~US$36,600)

History (MPhil):

£11,460 (~€12,825)

UK£24,960 (~US$31,270)

The UK’s University of Cambridge charges domestic and EU students the maximum fees allowed under government regulations on undergraduate-level programs: £9,250 per year. Internationally the prices fluctuate slightly more, with most undergraduate humanities subjects costing overseas students £19,197 and STEM or FAME subjects costing as much as £30,678.

Although financial support for international students to study at the UK’s top universities is limited and highly competitive, there are a number of funds and international scholarships offered via the UK government, international organizations and sometimes opportunities to gain funding from your home government, depending on your country of origin. To find out more, visit our list of international scholarships to study in the UK.

The University of Cambridge’s website also provides information about funding options for both undergraduate and graduate studies.

6. ETH Zurich - Swiss Federal Institute of TechnologySwitzerland

Annual tuition fees 2019/20:

UNDERGRADUATE AND POSTGRADUATE

SWISS & NON-SWISS STUDENTS

All programs (excl. PhDs)

From CHF 580 to CHF 730 per semester + CHF 69 compulsory semester fees* = total fees per year: CHF 1,298 – 1,598 (~US$1,300 - 1,596)

 *ETH Zurich charges these students a total of CHF 69 per semester to cover the costs of the Academic Sports Association Zurich (ASVZ), the Scholarship Fund and the Student Union fee for general services. 

Located in Switzerland, ETH Zurich specializes in engineering and the natural sciences, and is the only university in continental Europe to be ranked within the top 10 of the QS World University Rankings® 2020. It’s also by far the most affordable option among the universities on this list, with international students paying the same as home students.

PhDs students earn a salary which starts at CHF 47,040 (~US$47,700) in the first year, and pay a flat-rate tuition fee of CHF 1,200 (~US$1,200) after registering for their doctoral exam. Other than this, PhD students also pay only a mandatory fee of CHF 37 (~US$37) per semester, to cover the costs of the ASVZ and the Scholarship Fund.

Living costs in Switzerland are high, but there are a range of scholarships available, including the Swiss Government Scholarships, which awards funding for foreign postgraduate students. General scholarships to study in Switzerland (or another European country) can be found listed here.

More information for prospective students is available on ETH Zurich’s website.

5. California Institute of Technology (Caltech), US

Annual tuition fees 2019/20:

UNDERGRADUATE

DOMESTIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

All UG programs:

US$52,506 (+ $2,094 mandatory fees*)

 

POSTGRADUATE (fees are for 2018/19)

DOMESTIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

All PG programs:

US$52,233 (+ $1,746

mandatory fees*)

*As is the case at many US universities, all programs at Caltech are subject to further fees. In addition to tuition and living costs, all students will be expected to secure health insurance either through Caltech or a comparable plan. Caltech’s health insurance plan for 2019/20 costs $2,726 per year.

Relatively small in size, California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is another of the world’s top universities with a focus on subjects in the STEM group. To cover the cost of study at Caltech, students can apply internally and/or externally for grants, ‘work-study’, loans and scholarships.

Some external scholarships to study in the US are listed here. More information on the cost of studying at Caltech is available on the school’s own website.

4. University of Oxford, UK

Annual tuition fees (2019/20):

UNDERGRADUATE

UK & EU STUDENTS

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS (inc. college fees)

Computer science:

£9,250 (~€10,350)

UK£34,678 (~US$43,420)

Engineering (four years):

£9,250

UK£34,678 (~US$43,420)

Politics:

£9,250

UK£26,235 (~US$32,850)

History:

£9,250

UK£26,235 (~US$32,850)

 

POSTGRADUATE (all inc. college fees)

UK & EU STUDENTS

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

Computer science (MSc):

£11,160 (~€12,475)

UK£25,387 (~US$31,780)

Engineering (MSc/DPhil):

£7,665 (~€8,570)

UK£23,950 (~US$30,760)

Politics (MSc/MPhil):

£17,745 (~€19,840)

UK£26,960 (~US$33,750)

History (MSt):

£11,160 (~€12,475)

UK£25,387 (~US$31,780)

As the second half of the famous ‘Oxbridge’ pairing (or indeed the first half), the University of Oxford charges the full £9,250 for UK and EU students for all of its undergraduate programs. Internationally, this cap does not apply, meaning the University of Oxford is able to charge much higher rates for international students.

These sums (for international full-time undergraduates, including college fees) currently range from £25,387 in the humanities subjects up to £34,678 in most STEM and FAME subjects. To search for a specific program, visit the University of Oxford’s fees and funding information for undergraduate or graduate studies.

3. Harvard University, US

Annual tuition fees 2019/20:

UNDERGRADUATE

DOMESTIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

All UG programs:

US$47,730

 

POSTGRADUATE

DOMESTIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

Most PG programs (excl. PhDs*):

US$48,008 (for years one and two)

US$12,484 (for years three and four)

*PhD students at Harvard University receive full financial support, including cover of tuition, other fees and the cost of living (cost of living stipend currently at US$2,980).

Another of the five US universities to offer need-blind admission to domestic and international students, Harvard University offers international students the same access to financial aid as US citizens. Although federal aid and loans are often unavailable to overseas students, Harvard University provides more than 50 percent of all its students with financial aid and 55 percent of undergraduates receive the Harvard Scholarship. Aid given is based on financial need and parents earning less than US$65,000 annually are not required to make any contribution to payment.

For external scholarships to study in the US, visit this article, and for more information on admissions at Harvard University, visit the official website.

2. Stanford University, US

Annual tuition fees 2019/20:

UNDERGRADUATE

DOMESTIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

All UG programs:

US$52,857 ($17,619 per quarter)

Summer tuition fees (optional, 2018/19 fees):

US$16,901

 

POSTGRADUATE

DOMESTIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

Engineering:

US$55,905 ($18,635per quarter)

Most other PG programs:

US$52,479 ($17,493per quarter)

Summer tuition fees (optional, 2018/19 fees):

US$16,901

Charging similar fees to other leading US universities, Stanford University offers need-blind admission for US students, although not for internationals. This means overseas students must secure a certain amount of funding through personal finance, scholarships, loans or other assistance.

All international students should request financial aid consideration at the time of application or risk not being eligible for any Stanford funding throughout their undergraduate life. A selection of international scholarships to study in the US are listed here.

Stanford University has more information about student costs and funding on its website.

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)US

 Annual tuition fees 2019/20:

UNDERGRADUATE

DOMESTIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

All UG programs:

US$53,450

 

POSTGRADUATE

DOMESTIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

Most PG programs:

US$53,450

Retaining its place at the top of the QS World University Rankings for the eighth time in a row, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is one of just five US universities to offer need-blind admission to both domestic and international students.

According to the institution’s website, MIT expects to award $136.3 million in financial aid to its students in 2019/20, with 89 percent of undergraduates receiving some financial aid. The average award for MIT students stands at $51,752, with the amount received calculated based on financial need.

This article was originally published in September 2014. It was last updated in June 2019.

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This article was originally published in June 2019 . It was last updated in October 2021

Written by

Laura is a former staff writer for TopUniversities.com, providing advice and guidance for students on a range of topics helping them to choose where to study, get admitted and find funding and scholarships. A graduate of Queen Mary University of London, Laura also blogs about student life.

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