United States of America

US study visits

KE study visits generally start with a visit to a university and are then followed by an opportunity to see something of the local area, including some of the main sights.

Most study visits are full-day trips from your study centre. If you’d like to see how they work in practice, please look at the timetable for your chosen programme.


Amherst is within fairly easy reach of both New York and Boston, and all students visit both of these cities.  Because the distances are quite substantial, these will be quite long day trips.  There is also another trip which includes a visit to Yale, also Providence and Brown University.

Boston, with Harvard and MIT (full-day study visit)

Boston (population: about 4.5 million – metropolitan area)

Boston is one of the great American cities, by far the largest in New England. When you see the high-rise buildings, you’re reminded that this is definitely the USA, but almost hidden among the skyscrapers are some great historical buildings.   When you go into the city centre, you’ll follow part of the famous Freedom Trail, which joins up the main sights. You’ll hear the story of the famous Boston Tea Party, and see some of the sites associated with America’s struggle for independence.

Boston truly stands out as a centre of educational excellence.  Almost within walking distance of each other are two of the universities which are consistently ranked among the top five internationally: Harvard and MIT – and you’ll have a chance to visit both of these on your tour.  But in addition there are plenty of other universities with a fine reputation, including Boston College, which we hope to visit briefly.

- University visit: Harvard University 

Harvard, the oldest university in the US, founded in 1636, is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Cambridge is technically an independent city, but part of the Boston metropolitan area.  Harvard has a selection of impressive buildings on a campus which dominates the lively, student-oriented town centre on its doorstep, and is actually quite a major tourist attraction.  While it excels in pretty much all the subjects it offers, its Business School is claimed by many to be the best in the world, and a Harvard MBA is a pretty impressive qualification to obtain.  Some statistics for Harvard are also worth mentioning: 150 Nobel prize winners have been students, faculty or staff; 8 US presidents were educated there; it has the largest university library in the US; it includes 3 museums; and finally, with an endowment of an amazing $32 billion, Harvard is the richest university in the world!  Harvard has just over 20,000 students.

The visit to Harvard generally takes the form of a historical tour.

- University visit: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 

Located just a few kilometres from Harvard, MIT competes with its neighbour and Oxford and Cambridge in the UK for the title of the best university in the world. And it doesn’t even have ‘university’ in its name! As the name suggests, MIT does have a strong focus on technology, for which it has excellent facilities – even its own nuclear reactor. The University has five schools: science, engineering, architecture and planning, management and humanities, arts and social sciences; it doesn’t offer law or medicine. Although it has a great reputation in all of its subject areas, MIT requires all its students to study a very broad range of subjects in addition to their major. As a result, it does have the reputation of asking quite a lot of its students! Nonetheless, competition to join its 11,000 student body is very strong.

MIT is located on the banks of the Charles River, between Harvard and the centre of Boston, which is easily accessible. It’s famous for its striking modernist and post-modernist architecture, as well as its Great Dome, visible from the riverside.

KE tries to arrange presentations at MIT, but this is not always possible, in which case, we take a short look at MIT and visit another leading university in Boston instead.

New York City, with Columbia (full-day study visit)

New York City (population: around 20 million – metropolitan area)

Is there anyone in the world who would not like to see New York?  For thousands of people arriving by ship from Europe, the sight of the Statue of Liberty and the skyscrapers of Manhattan must have been an amazing experience.  And to see New York now is still an amazing experience.  Because it’s such an important destination, we schedule a pretty long day for New York, so come prepared, remembering also that New York is often very hot in the summer! We also offer a visit to the famous Columbia University, and to New York University (NYU). In most cases, we do not have formal presentations.

And what else do we see in New York?  Well, in just one day, we can’t see everything, but we make sure that you do see the highlights of Manhattan, the long, thin island which is the heart of New York.  In Midtown Manhattan you’ll take a coach tour which includes: Central Park, Times Square and Broadway, the United Nations building and the most famous skyscrapers, including the Empire State Building. Then, in Lower Manhattan, you’ll be walking around a little.  You’ll see Wall Street – which may mean something to you! You’ll also take a ferry trip to Staten Island.  This is not really to visit Staten Island (we just go there and come back again): the reason for going is to enjoy the amazing view of Manhattan from the water, together with the Statue of Liberty.  Finally, we include a visit to Ground Zero, the site of the 9/11 attacks, and the new World Trade Center.

- University visit: Columbia University

Columbia is the only Ivy League school within the city, and it’s situated in Upper Manhattan, just a short subway ride from all the main attractions.  However, students can still enjoy a calm and attractive campus, surrounded by elegant and harmonious buildings dating from the 19th century.  With 29,000 students, Columbia is one of the larger Ivies.  It was founded in 1754, and it’s the oldest university in the state of New York.  At a recent count, 29 heads of state around the world had been educated there, together with 101 Nobel prize winners.  Columbia ranks among the best in the world across its range of subjects, but those for which it is most famous would perhaps include physics, medical and pharmaceutical research, journalism and architecture.  Its Business School has a worldwide reputation, and Columbia is also well-known for hosting the World Leaders’ Forum.  But student places are of course much in demand, and only the strongest of candidates are accepted.

- University visit: New York University (NYU)

NYU is unique among major universities, as the main campus is situated in the very heart of Manhattan, just a few minutes’ walk from Broadway and Fifth Avenue.  If you want to be right in the middle of the city, this is the place to come!

With 57,000 students, NYU is a huge institution, and as such able to offer a huge range of courses.  Founded in 1831, it has a long and prestigious history, with 38 Nobel Prize winners among its alumni or faculty.  Many other alumni have gone on to become leaders in business, entertainment and the arts.  There are branches of NYU in a number of other cities around the world.

As the University is not usually open for public tours in the summer, we just have a quick look round to give you a feel for whether this would be the right place for you!

The New England seashore, with Brown and Yale (full-day study visit)

First of all, you’ll go to Providence (population: about 200,000), capital of Rhode Island, the smallest of the American states.  Providence is not a very big city, and it’s quite compact.  The highlight of the visit is Brown University.

Next, you’ll be going to New Haven, Connecticut (population: around 150,000).  New Haven is a very green and appealing town, but it’s also a centre for companies working in bioscience and high technology.  It’s most famous as the home of Yale University, which really dominates the town centre, and which we visit.

The trip ends with some time to enjoy the beach close to New Haven.

- University visit: Brown University

Brown University is a prestigious member of the Ivy League.  It has around 8,500 students, and the attractive campus spreads out to occupy some of the attractive 19th century buildings in the area.  Brown is highly selective, so it’s hard to secure a place.  While having a strong reputation across all the subjects it offers, the University has traditionally been very strong in engineering, also health-related areas.

- University visit: Yale University

Yale is one of the three most famous universities in the USA, together with Harvard and Princeton.  It was founded about 300 years ago, and is one of the Ivy League schools.  Its list of alumni includes 5 US presidents, 51 Nobel prize winners, and a long list of famous actors, writers and other celebrities.  Both Bill and Hillary Clinton are among those alumni.  It’s one of the world’s top universities, and it’s not surprising, perhaps, that it accepts fewer than 10% of applicants.  Currently, there are around 12,000 students studying at Yale.  The campus dominates the very appealing town of New Haven, and many of the buildings are built in what is called the Neo-Gothic style, designed to reflect the feel of Oxford or Cambridge.  Also a little like Oxford and Cambridge, Yale is divided into colleges, and all students belong to one or the other of these.

This visit concludes with a very relaxing and enjoyable evening on the beach!

Amherst (local study visit)

- University visit: Amherst College

Amherst College is very easy to visit from UMass, because it’s actually within walking distance, just on the other side of Amherst town.  Amherst College is one of the original ‘Little Ivies’ – a group of three prestigious universities closely resembling the 8 Ivy League universities.  It’s a private, liberal arts college, usually ranked as one of the best in the USA.  Like the other ‘Little Ivies’, it’s quite a small university, with fewer than 2,000 students, most of them taking 4-year degree programmes leading to bachelor’s degrees.  There is no postgraduate work at Amherst.  Amherst is well-known for the flexibility of its programmes and the wide choices which it offers its students.

- University visit: University of Massachusetts

The University is introduced under ‘Study Centres – US’.

The distances you travel from Berkeley are quite modest, so you spend more time seeing places, less time on the coach. The day trip to San Francisco city includes a visit to the University of San Francisco, while the trip to Silicon Valley takes in Stanford.

San Francisco (full-day study visit)

The city of San Francisco is described under ‘Study Centres – USA‘.

- University visit: the University of San Francisco (USF)

This is a private, Catholic university founded in 1855, the oldest in the city.  Although its Catholic traditions are very strong, it is open to non-Catholics.  The University enjoys a wonderful setting on the west side of the city, and the campus is really beautiful, with some very elegant buildings and a great park-like feel; the University church is so large that people sometimes assume it’s San Francisco’s cathedral!

With 10,000 students, USF is a moderately-sized university.  It has five schools reflecting its main areas of academic interest: law, arts and sciences, management, nursing and education.

The day trip to San Francisco includes plenty of time to see the most famous sights: the hills and the zigzag streets, Pier 39, downtown – and of course the Golden Gate Bridge, which you can walk onto.

Stanford and Silicon Valley (full-day study visit)

Silicon Valley

For this trip, we head to the south of the Bay area, close to the city of San Jose (pronounced: ‘San Hoe-say’).  The area from San Jose heading back towards San Francisco is known as Silicon Valley.  It’s here that you’ll find the headquarters of the famous companies which have revolutionised our lives over the past 20 years.  The companies include Google, Apple, Facebook and Yahoo!.  The companies are fascinating not just for their technological achievements, but also for the new kind of working environment which they have created.

Your visit to Silicon Valley will show you some of the famous companies. Depending on availability, we arrange a presentation, which may be at one of the ‘big names’, or possibly at a newer company which may become very big in the future!

- University visit: Stanford University 

Stanford is a private, research university with around 16,000 students.  It’s one of the most prestigious in the US, with an outstanding reputation across its seven schools.  It’s particularly well-known for its groundbreaking research in many different fields.  It also has close links with neighbouring Silicon Valley, and many of the people working in senior positions in Silicon Valley were educated at Stanford – as were a number of prominent politicians and business leaders across the US.  One word of warning: it’s not easy to get into Stanford – you have to be really good!

The campus at Stanford is really beautiful, with stunning architecture; the church feels like a cathedral. Outside, you’ll find a great collection of works by the French sculptor Rodin. If there is time, we may also visit the Cantor Center for Visual Arts.

Sacramento and Davis (full-day study visit for students spending 2 weeks in Berkeley) 

Sacramento (population: 500,000)

Sacramento has a well-preserved, historic city centre which is really interesting to walk around and explore.  You will see the imposing Capitol, the centre of government for the state of California, and built to resemble the US Capitol in Washington DC.  The city is also famous for its hot and exceptionally sunny summers. As part of this trip, you visit Davis, just outside Sacramento.

- University visit: University of California, Davis

Davis is a large public university with around 35,000 students – it’s so large, in fact, that it even has its own fire department and its own airport!    The University is a branch of the University of California, which also includes Berkeley and UCLA in Los Angeles.  Davis occupies a number of large, park-like campuses, and it’s famous for its sustainable, green policies.   It dominates the small town of Davis, which has a very pleasant, relaxed atmosphere.  Davis is particularly famous for its medicine and related subjects, and is generally regarded as one of the national leaders in these fields.  It also has particularly strong reputations in biology and agricultural research.

Berkeley (local study visit)

- University visit: UC Berkeley

The University is introduced under ‘Study Centres – US’.