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Tuition Fees at the World’s Top Universities

Tuition Fees at the World’s Top Universities main image

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® 2015/16 – 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. This year’s 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.

 

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), US

 Annual tuition fees 2015/16:

UNDERGRADUATE

DOMESTIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

All UG programs:

US$46,704

 

POSTGRADUATE

DOMESTIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

Most PG programs:

US$38,660

 

Retaining its place at the top of the QS World University Rankings for the fourth 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. This means financial need will not impede any student’s chances of admission. According to the institution’s website, MIT awarded over US$91 million in financial aid to its 4,500 undergraduate students in 2014, with 91% of MIT students receiving some financial aid. The average award for MIT students stands at US$36,726, with the amount received calculated based on financial need.

 

2. Harvard University, US

Annual tuition fees 2015/16:

UNDERGRADUATE

DOMESTIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

All UG programs:

US$45,278

 

POSTGRADUATE

DOMESTIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

Most PG programs (excl. PhDs*):

US$41,832 (for years one and two)

US$10,876 (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$2,850).

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 70% of all its students with financial aid and 60% 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.

 

=3. University of Cambridge, UK

Annual tuition fees 2016/17:

UNDERGRADUATE

UK & EU STUDENTS

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

Computer science:

£9,000 (€12,258)

UK£24,069 (US$35,310)

Mathematics:

£9,000

UK£17,640 (US$25,888)

Management:

£9,000

UK£24,069 (US$35,310)

History:

£9,000

UK£15,816 (US$23,198)

 

POSTGRADUATE

UK & EU STUDENTS

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

Computer science (MPhil):

£11,175 (€15,235)

UK£28,308 (US$41,544)

Engineering (MPhil):

£7,176 (€9,785)

UK£24,309 (US$35,671)

Politics (MPhil):

£15,000 (€20,453)

UK£24,000 (US$35,215)

History (MPhil):

£10,500 (€14,321)

UK£20,535 (US$30,136)

 

The UK’s highest-ranked institution (joint third in the world with Stanford University) the University of Cambridge charges domestic and EU students the maximum fees allowed under government regulations on undergraduate-level programs: UK£9,000 per year. Internationally the prices fluctuate slightly more, with most undergraduate humanities subjects costing overseas students £15,816 and STEM or FAME subjects costing as much as £24,069.

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.

 

=3. Stanford University, US

Annual tuition fees 2015/16:

UNDERGRADUATE

DOMESTIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

All UG programs:

US$45,729 ($15,243 per quarter)

Summer tuition fees (optional):

US$8,525

 

POSTGRADUATE

DOMESTIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

Engineering:

US$48,720 ($16,240 per quarter)

Most other PG programs:

US$45,729 ($15,243 per quarter)

Summer tuition fees (optional):

US$10,307

 

Charging similar fees to other leading US universities such as MIT and Harvard University, 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 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.

 

5. California Institute of Technology (Caltech), US

Annual tuition fees 2015/16:

UNDERGRADUATE

DOMESTIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

All UG programs:

US$43,710 (+$1,680 mandatory fees*)

 

POSTGRADUATE

DOMESTIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

All PG programs:

US$43,710 (+$1,554 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 2015/16 costs $2,646.

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.

 

6. University of Oxford, UK

Annual tuition fees 2016/17:

UNDERGRADUATE

UK & EU STUDENTS

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

Computer science:

£9000 (€12,258)

UK£22,515 (US$33,049)

Engineering (four years):

£9000

UK£22,515 (US$33,049)

Politics:

£9000

UK£15,295 (US$22,456)

History:

£9000

UK£15,295 (US$22,456)

 

POSTGRADUATE

UK & EU STUDENTS

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

Computer science (MSc):

£7,185 (€9,809)

UK£18,770 (US$27,564)

Engineering (MSc/DPhil):

£4,200 (€5,734)

UK£18,770 (US$27,564)

Politics (MSc/MPhil):

£11,940 (€16,300)

UK£18,770 (US$27,564)

History (MSt):

£6,550 (€8,944)

UK£17,555 (US$25,780)

 

As the second half of the famous ‘Oxbridge’ pairing (or indeed the first half), the University of Oxford charges the full UK£9,000 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) currently range from UK£15,295 in the humanities subjects up to UK£22,515 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.

 

7. UCL (University College London), UK

Annual tuition fees 2015/16:

UNDERGRADUATE

UK & EU STUDENTS

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

Computer science:

£9,000 (€12,258)

UK£20,700 (US$30,410)

Engineering:

£9,000

UK£20,700 (US$30,410)

Politics:

£9,000

UK£15,660 (US$23,006)

History:

£9,000

UK£15,660 (US$23,006)

 

POSTGRADUATE

UK & EU STUDENTS

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

Computer science (MSc):

£10,765 (€14,710)

UK£22,350(US$32,823)

Engineering (MSc):

£10,765 (€14,710)

UK£22,350(US$32,823)

Politics:

£9,835 (€13,435)

UK£17,250 (US$25,334)

History (MA):

£8,755 (€11,959)

UK£17,250 (US$25,334)

 

This year UCL (University College London) is ranked seventh in the world, one place ahead of city-mate Imperial College London. The prestigious institution charges top UK fees to home/EU students and fees ranging from UK£15,660 to UK£20,700 for international undergraduates. The good news? UCL offers a selection bursaries and scholarships for international students from around the world, while there are also many international scholarships to study in the UK.

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

 

8. Imperial College London, UK

Annual tuition fees 2016/17:

UNDERGRADUATE

UK & EU STUDENTS

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

Computer science:

£9,000 (€12,258)

UK£26,750 (US$39,265)

Engineering:

£9,000

UK£26,750 (US$39,265)

 

POSTGRADUATE

UK & EU STUDENTS

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

Computer science (MSc):

£12,500 (€17,068)

UK£28,200 (US$41,367)

Engineering (MSc):

£11,000 (€15,018)

UK£27,900 (US$40,923)

 

Ranked eighth this year, Imperial College London likewise charges undergraduate-level UK and EU students the full £9,000 in annual tuition fees. 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 programs costing UK£26,750 (US$39,265) 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.

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

 

9. ETH Zurich - Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Switzerland

Annual tuition fees 2015/16:

UNDERGRADUATE AND POSTGRADUATE

SWISS & NON-SWISS STUDENTS

All programs (excl. PhDs)

CHF 580 per semester + CHF 64 compulsory semester fees* = total fees per year: CHF 1,288 (US$1,274).

 

*ETH Zurich charges these students a total of CHF 64 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® 2015/16. 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$46,832) in the first year, and pay a flat-rate tuition fee of CHF 1200 (US$1,186) after registering for their doctoral exam. Other than this, PhD students also pay only a mandatory fee of 32 CHF 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.

 

10. University of Chicago, US

Annual tuition fees 2015/16:

UNDERGRADUATE

DOMESTIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

All UG programs:

US$49,026

 

POSTGRADUATE

DOMESTIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

Most PG programs (excl. PhDs):

US$44,178 (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 15,300 students. Although it is only need-blind 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.

This article was originally published in September 2014. It was updated in January 2016.

Laura Tucker's profile image
Written by Laura Tucker

Laura is a 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. View her past articles and blog posts here.

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14 Comments
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There is a slight oversight about ETH Zurich here.. You forgot to mention that, in addition to ridiculously low fees, PhD students are paid a minimum of 47000$ a year (and maximum 80000$) by the university.. So it is by far the utmost affordable university in this top 10, if not in the world. (source : ethz.ch/en/the-eth-zurich/welcome-center/employment-contract-and-salary/salary.html).
I'm really amused by people being in debt for 15-20 year just to get a degree from a top university they think they value (when it's just about marketing really), but if ETHZ was a bit more advertized, people could actually make money off their studies and get a "top 10" university degree (which is regarded as one of the most pretigious in europe along with Oxbridge, Imperial, TUM, Polytechnique, TU Delft..), which in my opinion is quite a big achievement when you're 25.
I hope that wasn't intentional in order to favour US/UK universities, which we know tend to be the new black these years. And that the fact that ETHZ broke into the top 10 is throwing discredit on them, since the pricetag of an US/UK education cannot be justified in any way anymore. You don't have to charge a lot to give a high quality education is what ETHZ is proving here. And about the swiss living costs, theey're high, but you could live with 9000£ a year = tuition fees in britain..
But for a journalistic related job, I truly hope you can be as honest as possible and correct this slight oversight.

Hi Guillaume. Thanks for your comments, and for sharing all of this information, which will certainly be useful for others! The list here is based on the QS World University Rankings, which considers a range of factors ( you can see the methodology here), but which doesn't assess universities based on cost. As you say, ETH Zurich certainly proves that it's possible to attend one of the very best universities in the world without building up a huge debt, and we hope this list will help raise awareness about that. We had unfortunately ommitted to mention the PhD salary, which we'll amend now.

Hi friends i wanna study software engineering in University of waterloo and need some guide about financial aid and student jobs

Thanks Laura for useful information. Please guide me about Top US Universities (Ranked among Top 50-60 Universities in world) charging less than 30,000 US $ Tuition fees). Thanks !

Hi Rupesh, take a look at our article How Much Does it Cost to Study in the US? at it gives a better look at average tuition fees across the country - not just the top-tier schools. The expense of study in the US means that financial aid is way more common than you might think - take a look at this article for some examples. There are also six top US universities offering need-blind admission (meaning that they admit you regardless of your financial situation) whith might be of interest to you.

To find out exact fees, you'll have to visit each school's official website, but it's likely that fees drop slightly the further down the QS World University Rankings you go.

Good luck! :) L

i'm from Egypt and i want to study aeronautical engineering in Germany but i can't speak german .... is there is any german university that offer this program in English with a low tuition fees ??

Hi Ahmed, although English-speaking programs at undergraduate level in Germany are hard to come by, they do exist and with a bit of persistence can be found. For more information, please see our article Study in Germany in English. Laura

I want go to italy to universitá di bologna, but i dont understand how can i apply for this university. I need help.

Hi Beatriz. We have a guide to studying abroad in Italy here: http://www.topuniversities.com/where-to-study/europe/italy/guide
This includes information about how to apply - hope it's helpful.

I am studying in BTech now. I am preparing for MS research. After completing
B Tech i want to get admission in the Harvard University. I don't know how to get there, what are the criteria to get admission. Do they provide scholarships to foreign students? This is my ambition. please give me details in brief. Thank you.

I have completed my graduation in electrical and electronic engineering now i want to get post graduation from US university how can i do??.....what are the criteria to get admission??.....how much it cost per annum??....and any scholarship??

I am studying in class 11th now. I am preparing for medical. After completing 12th, i want to get admission in the Harvard University. I don't know how to get there, what are the criterias to get admission. Do they provide scholarships to foreign students? please give me details in brief. Thankyou.

I have an ambition to study in Nation University of Singapore. But I have no sufficient money to study there. I will be highly interested if there lies an opportunity of study and working facility together. can anybody ensure me the facts above
............

Please can I still get admission into any university in october

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