US style schools in Europe

US education generally enjoys very high reputation around the world. In addition, many Americans want to be able to spend a semester abroad but still be able to transfer their credits back home.

This has led to many schools being set up in Europe that are based on the US model. Or, in some cases, schools that try to combine the best of US and European-style education.

Jacobs University (Bremen, Germany)

This is probably the most prestigious private university in Europe. Admission is difficult. On the other hand, in contrast to many other private institutions, Jacobs University offers very generous financial aid. Unlike many private schools in Europe, it is a real university, with an extensive research programme. It is also highly international, only about 25 % of students come from Germany. Jacobs University has good contacts with top universities in the US, and so it is easy for its students to transfer for a semester or longer to one of the Ivy League schools, for example.

The university was founded in 2001 as a joint venture between the city-state of Bremen and the Texas-based Rice University. In 2005 it hit media headlines with the most generous single financial gift ever to a European university. It received 200 million euro from Jacobs Foundation. This is the Swiss foundation of the well-known business family originally based in Bremen, where they controlled one of the best known coffee brands in Europe. This led to university changing the name to its present form (before, it was known as International University Bremen). It has full German university accreditation.

The university campus is located in a quiet, leafy suburb of Bremen. The surroundings feature numerous parks and offer many opportunities for sports and leisure. Undergraduate students must live on campus, graduate students can find private accommodation.

The American University of Paris

Founded in 1962, this is the oldest US-style higher education institution in Europe. It is located in Paris’ beautiful and historic 7th district (7e arrondissement), near the Eiffel Tower. Over the years, it has built a strong academic reputation. At 13,000 euro a semester, it is also one of the most expensive private universities in Europe. In addition, living costs are high, since Paris is one of the most expensive cities on the continent. However, AUP offers a number of scholarships that cover part of the tuition fee. There is no campus, the university functions in several buildings located a walking distance from each other. Students can live with host families, making it easier for them to get immersed in the French culture.

Thanks to its relatively long history and the diversity of its student body (15,000 graduates in 141 countries), the school has a strong alumni network. Its graduates can be found in high managerial positions in many corners of the world. AUP is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

Franklin College (Lugano, Switzerland)

Franklin College Switzerland is located on a hillside above Lugano, the principal city of the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino, and one of the country's smaller banking centres. The main building is a converted palatial villa with breathtaking views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. At the moment this is the most expensive higher education school in Europe. The annual tuition fee is 38,000 USD.

Franklin is fully accredited in the United States by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. It is also accredited by the Swiss University Conference and the Swiss Organization for Quality Assurance, which means that its degree programs are deemed equivalent to those from a Swiss national university. Franklin is the only institution of higher learning in Switzerland to have this dual US/Swiss accreditation.

Approximately 60 percent of the students come from the United States; 40 percent are from Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, and the Middle East. Bringing a variety of experiences and perspectives to college life from more than 65 different countries, they live together in dormitories and apartment residences on and near the campus.

St Louis University Madrid (Madrid, Spain)

This is the Madrid-based branch of a well-known Jesuit-affiliated US university. It has one of the best reputations out of US university branches in Europe. Like North American universities, it is organized as a campus, located in a North West suburb of Madrid. It is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. The student body is diverse, about half of the students come from the US, a fifth from Spain and the rest from many other nations around the world.

Anglo-American University (Prague, Czech Republic)

Prague is one of the most popular European destinations for international students. It is not difficult to understand why. Due to its heritage as well as vibrant present, the city is a tourist hotspot. Thanks to its flexible labour market, many investment opportunities, good infrastructure and relatively low living costs, it is also home to large expat communities of Americans, Russians, Brits and many others. It is no wonder, then, that many choose to also study here.

Founded in 1990, Anglo-American University (AAUni) is the oldest private university in the Czech Republic. Is is housed in a beautiful palace a few steps away from the Charles Bridge, one of the city’s best known landmarks.

Compared to the public universities in the country, this is a relatively small school. As such, it does not have student dorms or sports grounds. The library, while pretty, can also hardly be compared to the facilities of big universities. On the other hand, the school offers highly individualized tuition, with a very favourable student-to-faculty ratio. Faculty is very international, and classes are often complemented by guest lectures given by local top politicians or ambassadors. Tuition fees are favourable by international standards. The entire three-year undergraduate course costs around 14,000 euro (18,000 USD).

The university is fully accredited by the Czech ministry of education. Recently, it also became a candidate at Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), one step away from full accreditation.

The student body is diverse. The biggest groups are Americans, Czechs, Slovaks and various nationalities from the former Soviet Union, but in all there are representatives from over 40 other nations.

University of New York in Prague (UNYP)

UNYP has a slightly odd history. It is financed by Greek investors who already own higher education institutions in Athens, Thessaloniki, Skopje and Tirana. The know-how, however, is partly American, via the involvement of Empire State College, one of the smaller schools in the State University of New York (SUNY) system.

The school is strongly focused on undergraduate courses, but graduate programmes also exist. Students can choose between a fully Prague-based programme and a US degree programme, in which they will spend some time at St. Paltz college (also part of SUNY).

UNYP was founded in 1998 and since then has acquired a strong reputation in the local labour market, translating into very high local employability of its graduates. On the other hand, this is a clearly profit-driven venture, which shows in cost control. The school is housed in a fully functional but relatively drab building next to one of Prague’s busiest thoroughfares. The library is symbolic and classrooms tend to be full to capacity.

John Cabot University (Rome, Italy)

The "Eternal City" has long been a popular destination especially for American students. John Cabot University (JCU) is stunningly located at the edge of Trastevere, one of Rome’s most picturesque quarters, popular with tourists and packed with family cafés and restaurants. Students can read and relax in a calm and colourful environment, steeped in the history of Europe's most ancient city (see image). Current enrolment is about 1000 students from over 60 countries. JCU offers a range of degrees in business administration, social sciences and humanities. It is fully accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

The American University of Rome (Rome, Italy)

Also this small university is located in a picturesque part of Rome. It is fully accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

American University in Bulgaria (Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria)

This university, founded after the fall of the Iron Curtain and originally sponsored by the Open Society Fund of the financier George Soros has enjoyed a good reputation. For many years, SAT scores of its entrants were as high as those of students at top US universities. In the meantime, talented Bulgarians and Romanians (both nationalities are traditionally strongly represented) who used to use AUBG as a springboard to Western universities, have found ways of getting directly into Western undergraduate programmes. Consequently, standards are not as high as they used to be but the school still enjoys a solid reputation. It is fully accredited in Bulgaria as well as in the US, by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

It is housed in a palace built at the end of 1980s for the purpose of hosting an international festival of Communist parties. The palace has a surprisingly airy, modern feel and is well-maintained. Blagoevgrad is a small, peaceful town with a tiny historic centre at the edge of Pirin and Rila mountains. The country’s vibrant capital Sofia is an hour’s drive away.

Richmond University London

The main campus is located in Richmond-Upon-Thames, a well-to-do suburb of London. The university also has facilities in Kensington, one of central London’s districts. The university was founded in 1972. It is accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. In addition, most of the courses also have UK accreditation, so the students will receive a dual US and UK degree.

Regent’s University London

Until recently it was known as Regent's College. It is a fairly large private institution which in the past had close links to Webster University, through which it conferred most of its degrees. Since 2012 the school has a partial UK acreditation. It is located at the edge of Regent's Park in central London. The drama school has a scholarship endowed by the Hollywood star Kevin Spacey.

Webster University (Leiden, Geneva, Vienna)

Webster University has many branches around the world, including three cities in Europe. It is aimed at well-situated, often mature students, its buildings are small but well-equipped.

Gradutate schools

Other universities which are to some extent modelled on US institutions include two graduate schools, both of high reputation. One is the Central European University (CEU) in Budapest. The other is CERGE-EI, the joint research and teaching centre of Prague’s Charles University and the Czech Academy of Sciences. This is an economics school founded with the help of the Czech-American economist Jan Svejnar. Its board features well-known personalities such as the Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz.

There are many, many other institutions which offer “US style education” in Europe. Often, these are just small branches of big US universities, specializing, for example, in business studies. Also, there are many such “universities” without proper accreditation. It is always advisable to check both for school’s accreditation and general reputation.