How to get into St Andrews University as an American

The University of St Andrews was ranked the top university in the UK by the Guardian (2023) as well as the Scottish University of the Year by the Sunday Times (2023) and it is also Scotland’s first university. If you’re looking to attend one of the best British universities, St Andrews is up there. 

The UK follows a specific university application process. So, if you’re applying from the US or another country, it’s worth taking some time to understand what’s expected from you. 

Whether you’re a US applicant or another international applicant, this article will guide you through how to apply to St Andrews University, and better yet, how to get an offer! 

You can also check out our previous articles:

Here at The Profs, we have an experienced and talented team of admissions experts who can guide you through college or university admissions. Over 95% of our students get into their first and second-choice universities! So, if you want to maximise your chances of getting into St Andrews, we’re who to call.

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St Andrews’s acceptance rate for international students

Today, according to St Andrews, they are the most international Scottish university and one of the most in the UK. In the 2021-2022 student population, over 130 countries were represented, and applications came from 179 countries. 

Interested in St Andrews’s admission statistics for local versus international applicants? Check out the table below, based on 2018-2019:

SchoolFee statusApplications OffersAcceptances
General Arts Programme
Scotland/EU1226145
RUK400
Overseas811
General Science Programme
Scotland/EU542822
RUK100
Overseas100
School of Art History
Scotland/EU1052817
RUK1219244
Overseas977832
School of Biology
Scotland/EU63518480
RUK28518295
Overseas33518961
School of Chemistry
Scotland/EU32115671
RUK18917273
Overseas18512433
School of Classics
Scotland/EU2043015
RUK30121779
Overseas755117
School of Computer Science
Scotland/EU61010449
RUK24310749
Overseas38812645
School of Divinity
Scotland/EU49157
RUK715115
Overseas18125
School of Earth & Environmental Sciences
Scotland/EU1156421
RUK766418
Overseas624713
School of Economics & Finance
Scotland/EU7039144
RUK38914579
Overseas601376133
School of English
Scotland/EU3678233
RUK445211100
Overseas19815051
School of Geography & Sustainable Development
Scotland/EU29115279
RUK18715150
Overseas17114851
School of History
Scotland/EU4749149
RUK494204102
Overseas24219674
School of International Relations
Scotland/EU7687750
RUK2708652
Overseas544374141
School of Management
Scotland/EU5445016
RUK1027333
Overseas438288105
School of Mathematics & Statistics
Scotland/EU60814956
RUK44216672
Overseas29316757
School of Medicine
Scotland/EU770241154
RUK309153122
Overseas3368364
School of Modern Languages
Scotland/EU57012356
RUK370252102
Overseas18213143
School of Physics & Astronomy
Scotland/EU63215085
RUK44916999
Overseas25014346
School of Psychology & Neuroscience
Scotland/EU88018979
RUK34412361
Overseas55127998
Department of Philosophy
Scotland/EU2894630
RUK30412576
Overseas17611940
Department of Social Anthropology
Scotland/EU1762913
RUK1056924
Overseas15612444
Department of Film Studies
Scotland/EU1283413
RUK33177
Overseas594014
Total2031082463592

You can find more information on this here.

Intimidated by St Andrews’s acceptance rates? Don’t be. Our expert admissions team specialises in Oxbridge as well as US to UK admissions. If you’re looking for someone with the know-how to guide you to success, it’s us!

Understanding St Andrews’s requirements for US applicants

St Andrews sets high academic standards for its applicants, usually ranging from ABB-A*A*A. These grades are similar to a GPA of 3-4.30. To boost your chances, it’s best to aim for the highest grades possible. 

St Andrews states that US applicants need grades of A or B in honours level courses on their high school record or three AP subjects with scores of 4+ or HL/SL within the context of their high school diploma. Competitive applicants will have taken a rigorous curriculum at high school, which should include a college preparatory curriculum. 

Please note that your grades will be considered in the context of your school’s performance. So, if your peers have high grades, try to achieve even higher

Even though the UK considers the grades in your final two years of high school with far more weight than the rest of your high school grades, you should still ensure that your previous high school grades are as high as possible (in the UK this would mean scoring 8s and 9s in your GCSEs, which is equivalent to As and A*s). This is because top UK schools might evaluate your whole academic history. 

Remember to check your chosen course’s page on St Andrews because it might have stricter grade requirements than the average entry requirements or stipulate subject-specific requirements. 

Many of the courses at St Andrews require you to have a particular background in this discipline, which St Andrews refers to as ‘pre-requisite’ knowledge. Generally, St Andrews prefers candidates who have strong subject-specific qualifications. They look for grades of A or B in honours level courses on your high school record, or three AP subjects with scores of 4+ within the context of the rigour offered at your high school.

It’s important to note that in the UK, 5 subject-specific scores are more important than SAT or ACT scores. The SAT and ACT are still important, but less than in the US. Standardised tests will be discussed in more detail further down. 

You should also note that it could also boost your application to highlight any exceptional academic achievements or awards. 

You can find further information on St Andrews’s US entry requirements and the rest of their international entry requirements here.

If you are worried that your grades aren’t high enough to get into St Andrews, reach out to our team. We have excellent tutors in the US and UK curriculum, as well as the SAT and ACT, and much more. We also have skilled subject-specific tutors in every topic! Just let us know what you need or the result you’re seeking, and we’ll take care of you.

Please note: St Andrews states that their entry requirements are general guidelines and they consider each application on its own merits, as outlined in their admissions policy.

Also note: Typically, UK students are given ‘conditional’ offers, meaning that they must achieve their predicted grades or a set of grades specified by St Andrews in order to attend St Andrews. However, US applicants need not worry about this as they are only given ‘unconditional’ offers. So, once you get your offer, you’re in as long as you accept it!

Scholarships and financial aid for international students

St Andrews offers scholarships and financial awards based on academic merit and/or financial need. 

This support is available for home and overseas students.

You might also be eligible for US federal aid.

Read this page for further information.

8 tips for St Andrews’s application process: US applicants edition 

To get started, familiarise yourself with St Andrews’s application process. 

For undergraduate studies, US students must apply through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (the UCAS application form). This is an online application for five UK universities of your choosing. 

The UCAS deadline for St Andrews, as well as the majority of UK universities, is in January. Try to start early and be organised. Pay attention to the course code and college choice within the UCAS form. 

Unlike most other UK universities, St Andrews also allows applications through the Common App, providing that you’re able to pay your tuition fees at an overseas rate and you are not applying through UCAS as well, or making a direct application. 

However, if you’re applying for the BA International Honours programmes through the Common Application, it doesn’t matter if you’ve applied for other programmes through UCAS. 

On the Common App you can apply to 20 US and/or UK universities (and/or universities in other countries too, like China).

Please note that postgraduate applications can only be made directly to the university via e-Vision. Again, unlike most other UK universities, St Andrews accepts undergraduate applications made directly so long as you are not applying to any other universities at all, including through UCAS or the Common app. So, apply directly if you’re dead set on St Andrews and don’t mind a year out if you’re rejected. Applying directly is a wonderful opportunity to address St Andrews and tell them precisely why you’ve chosen them.

More information on undergraduate application routes for St Andrews can be found here.

There could also be further deadlines for extra requirements, so always check your course page carefully.

Don’t forget that The Profs are here to help you every step of the way. If all of this is overwhelming or confusing, just contact our admissions team and we can support you through the whole process. 

Ensure that you:

1. Start early:

Give yourself ample time to research, prepare, and complete your application. You might struggle to meet certain requirements or be surprised by some expectations. So, it’s best to allow yourself lots of room to complete everything to the best of your ability as St Andrews hosts a competitive admissions process.

It’s a good idea to notify your high school in America that you intend to apply to a UK university so that they can offer you some support and guidance with your application. 

Begin at least one year in advance to ensure you have enough time to study for any standardised tests/admission tests, write a compelling personal statement, and gather supporting documents.

Note: St Andrews has rolling admissions, hence they’re constantly open. Their official deadline is in January, which is like the rest of UK universities (except Oxbridge). However, you should aim for St Andrews’ earlier Medicine deadline in October for your best chance. This is because applications are read in flights, and the earlier you hand your application in, the more likely it will be passed through more rounds and hence read more times.

Also note: Even though St Andrews aims to get back to you within 5 and 6 weeks, there is no specific date to expect your verdict. Some US applicants have heard back in November, and some have heard back as late as April. So, if you’re waiting for months, don’t panic or assume the worst.

Starting early can also allow you to consider options like taking an international foundation programme or completing the Summer Academic Experience course, both offered by St Andrews. Courses like this could boost your chances of getting an offer by proving that you’re committed to St Andrews and that you’ve already got some experience with university-level study and St Andrews’s teaching style.

Another great thing about starting early is you can explore St Andrews’ campus, whether that’s online or in person. You can also browse through the 150 student societies that St Andrews offers, in all kinds of different niches. St Andrews also has over 50 sports clubs and 100 competitive sports teams to choose from. All of this can be a good way for you to decide if St Andrews appeals to you. 

If you see a cultural or musical society that you would want to get involved in, or you swim competitively and you’d like to join the swim team, it could be good to mention this in your application as it will tell St Andrews that you’re a good fit and would contribute to their community.

2. Choose the right course:

UK undergraduate courses work differently from the US. You cannot minor in a mix of subjects and choose your major later down the line. Usually, you choose one subject as a BA (Bachelor of Arts) or BSc (Bachelor of Science) course, unless you select a double-subject course (a joint honours degree). 

Hence, you need to be certain about your desired discipline as there is often little room to venture outside of this discipline within your degree (excluding interdisciplinary options). 

St Andrews offers a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses across various disciplines. Begin by exploring their official website and familiarise yourself with the different programmes available. Reflect on your academic interests and career goals to select the course that aligns with your aspirations. Consider the subject and grade requirements as well as any additional admission tests or interviews that may be required for your chosen course (these are different for each course).

You might also want to consider taking an undergraduate course at an American university that offers a year-abroad programme at British universities, including St Andrews. You would still need to apply to St Andrews and meet entry requirements, but it could be a little less competitive. For instance, St Andrews partners with the USA, as well as Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Canada and the USA to offer exchange programmes and study abroad opportunities. Check out this page for more information. 

St Andrews also offers a BA International Honours programme, where you can study jointly at both St Andrews in Fife, Scotland (UK) as well as William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia (USA).

Unsure about what the right course is for you? Our knowledgeable team offers friendly and dedicated support.

3. Meet the academic requirements

As previously mentioned in the table, you must meet St Andrews’s academic requirements which range from ABB-A*A*A. Check out this page to see St Andrews’s entry requirements per country.

Aim for the highest grades possible, especially in your two final academic years of high school. Also, try to study subjects related to your chosen discipline. Unlike the US, the UK expects your grades to be in subjects related to your discipline. 

St Andrews does not typically interview applicants so its main criterion is grades and personal statements, so your academic performance is of utmost importance.

Ensure that you know the grade and subject requirements for your specific course at your favourite college.

If you are worried that your grades aren’t high enough to get into St Andrews, reach out to our team. We have excellent tutors in the US and UK curriculum, as well as skilled subject-specific tutors in every topic! Just let us know what you need or the result you’re seeking, and we’ll take care of you.

4. Prepare for your admission tests:

The ACT or SAT

St Andrews is currently test-optional for the ACT and SAT 2023-2024 application cycle. 

This means that you are not required to take a standardised test and St Andrews claims that you will not be penalised if you do not. But you should keep an eye out for changes to the requirements, as standardised tests could become mandatory for the next application cycle.

It’s also important to note that St Andrews claims that most of their applicants have taken at least one type of standardised test (AP, SAT, or ACT) but that they will consider applicants without testing. 

You might choose to take the ACT or SAT if you’re applying from the US or another country outside the UK. St Andrews states that applicants expect ACT scores of 28+ and SAT scores of 1320+. The writing/essay section in both is optional. 

It’s important to note that in the UK, 5 subject-specific scores are more important than SAT or ACT scores. The SAT and ACT are still important, but less than in the US. That said, taking a standardised test and exceeding the required scores could make your application much more competitive. Achieving a high standardised test score could help prove your academic aptitude and boost your chances of success. 

To get into St Andrews, you must smash the ACT or SAT. If you need help with this, reach out to our talented team of tutors who have plenty of experience helping students ace these standardised tests.

Please note that St Andrews asks Medicine applicants to refer directly to the Medicine course pages for their entry requirements. 

The English language proficiency test

International students may need to demonstrate English language proficiency through exams like the IELTS depending on their educational background. The criteria regarding your eligibility can be found here

If you are an American applicant, it’s unlikely you’ll need to take an English language test as you’re a citizen of an English-speaking country and have most likely attended an English-speaking high school. 

For the IELTS, try to aim for a 7 or higher. St Andrews also accepts a few other English language proficiency tests which can be found here.

Need support smashing your English language proficiency test? We’ve got you covered.

Other admission tests

A few courses at St Andrews require applicants to take admission tests, such as the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) which is required from Medicine applicants. 

St Andrews might also ask applicants for examples of written work, for example, if you’re applying to a postgraduate course in English Literature. 

Familiarise yourself with the specific requirements for your course and check if you are expected to complete an admissions test or hand in any supplementary material. If you are, start preparing with ample time so that you can apply all your efforts. 

Here at The Profs, we can guide you through smashing any admission test as we have expert tutors for each niche. 

5. Craft an impressive personal statement:

In the US, you write a statement of purpose. However, in the UK, we write a personal statement. This is much more specific and academically focused than a statement of purpose. 

In the US, the discussion is quite broad and you can usually choose from a set of prompts/titles to guide you. The statement of purpose works as an introduction, where the university meets you, the real you. 

However, in the UK, there are no prompts/titles and our statements are supposed to demonstrate why we are an excellent student for our chosen course at our desired university. Hence, our statements stay on one constant topic: our discipline. Our statements should be subject-specific and remain focussed on our degree throughout. 

Personal statements differ from the US style in that they are far less personal and much more academic. The UK doesn’t care so much about all your activities and extracurriculars or even your family and home life, they just want to hear why you’re the right person to enrol on this course. So, only mention extracurriculars that prove academic aptitude or your suitability and genuine passion for your course.

That said, St Andrews does claim to value students with active lives outside of class. However, they prefer the bulk of your statement (about 70% of it) to be academic-focused. St Andrews values your commitment to your subject area and profession the most. They want to see academic passion.

Similarly, unlike US applications, strong UK applications seldom mention experiences, awards, activities and achievements that are completely irrelevant to your subject or academia. However, in some cases, you might be able to demonstrate your link.

The University’s motto is ‘Ever to Excel’, which is taken from a speech in Homer’s Iliad. The sentiment behind this line and this poem champions constantly pushing oneself for greater achievement. So, it’s great if you can nod to this quote and demonstrate alignment with it. 

For example, talk about how you have pushed yourself and pull from examples. In what circumstance have you achieved highly and then improved on this, or met a challenge and pushed through it?

Show that you complement the St Andrews values, ethos and community. For example, St Andrews has a tradition of academic families where third and fourth-year students can adopt first-year students as their ‘children’ to act as mentors and introduce them to student life at St Andrews. It could be worthwhile to include a sentence that demonstrates alignment with this.

As an American student, it’s a good idea to mention why you want to study at a UK university, especially if the reason is related to your chosen course! 

For example, you might say that you want to study History in the UK because the UK is home to far older buildings than the US, and is closer to European countries like Greece which have fascinating ancient ruins. Or you might say that you’re eager to study for an undergraduate degree in the UK rather than the US as your course will be far more focussed on your subject of interest from the start.

Please note: You should only mention St Andrews by name if you’re applying there directly (in which case you should make your choice of university specific to St Andrews, rather than the UK, to strengthen your application). If you choose to upload a personal statement to UCAS (up to 5 universities) or Common App (up to 20 universities) it will be sent to all your chosen universities. Hence, it’s best not to specifically name St Andrews or write directly to St Andrews as you will alienate your other choices. However, you can allude to St Andrews.

St Andrews offers American students the chance to meet St Andrews in their area, as they have many representatives in the US. You can find out about this here. It could be an idea to arrange a meet-up with a St Andrews representative so that you can learn more about the university and build a connection with it. 

If you choose to apply to St Andrews directly you can talk about this experience and prove your commitment to St Andrews and proactive nature. If you choose to apply through UCAS or the Common app, you might include a short sentence on this experience and speak more generally about your excitement to study in the UK. St Andrews will interpret that they are your number one choice from this and it could strengthen your application. If you can complete an experience like this with multiple of your chosen universities, you should certainly include a sentence on this. 

Another difference in the UK style of writing is that it avoids humour and cliches e.g. a pet peeve of many UK admissions officers is reading the word “passion” in applicants’ personal statements. UK personal statements are much more “straightforward” and less about crafting something literary. 

So, don’t submit your statement of purpose to St Andrews, if you’ve written one. Write a personal statement, especially for this objective. As you’re writing, try to tick off these points:

  • What is your mission statement?
  • Why have you chosen this course?
  • How do you align with St Andrews as a university?
  • What’s special about your department at St Andrews?
  • Does any of your department’s research at St Andrews stand out to you?
  • Are you in cohesion with St Andrews’s ethos?
  • What is your precise career plan?
  • Why do you need this degree to reach your goals?
  • What awards and achievements etc prove your academic aptitude and transferable skills?
  • What experience and research prove your passion for this subject?

Whatever you do, don’t underestimate this step. The personal statement is a vital component of your St Andrews application. It is largely this essay and the quality of your grades that will determine your application success.

St Andrews stresses the importance of writing with a clear structure and using correct grammar and spelling. Hence, you mustn’t slip up on these easily avoidable mistakes.

Worried about your writing skills, or fretting over what to say? We know how to help! Here, at The Profs, we have excellent personal statement and writing tutors with plenty of experience who can help you craft a compelling body of work. If you need any assistance, just reach out.

You can also check out our previous article on UK personal statements which can offer some helpful tips for this step.

Note that all students applying to university for 2023, 2024 or 2025 will still be required to submit a UCAS personal statement as normal. However, from January 2025 onwards (October 2024, for Oxbridge applicants), there will be changes to the UCAS application process and students will no longer be required to write a personal statement. Instead, all applicants will answer a series of shorter, more tailored questions provided by UCAS.

6. Obtain outstanding letters of recommendation:

To be considered, you must submit a recommendation from a teacher or someone else who is qualified to comment on your academic ability (not a family member). 

There will be 3 main sections:

  • A section for the referee to enter a general statement about your school/college/centre.
  • A section for the referee to enter any information on extenuating circumstances (if applicable) e.g. reason for underperformance.
  • A section for the referee to enter any supportive information specific to the applicant and relevant to the course/s applied for that the institution should be aware of.

UCAS provides specific information relevant to 2024 entry changes here.

St Andrews stresses that they solely want academic references like your school/college, tutor, teacher or principal. Submitting a reference from a family member or friend could even get your application cancelled! So, ensure that you choose an appropriate candidate. If you’d like to include more than one reference you must make a direct request to St Andrews for this.

Remember to choose individuals who know you well and can provide specific examples of your achievements and potential. Also, if there are things you’d like them to mention for you, ask them!

7. Prepare for the interview:

St Andrews does not interview for most undergraduate programmes. However, applicants for Medicine, Supported Pathways programmes, BA International Honours and some part-time courses may be invited to an interview.

If you think you might be interviewed, be sure that you’re prepared. You can check out our previous article on preparing for an online interview and our video on how to smash a university interview. 

If you’re a medical student, the likelihood of an interview is higher and there is a specific protocol you should practise for. St Andrews breaks down what to expect from their Medicine interviews here. You can also read our article on Medicine interviews or contact one of our expert Medicine tutors for guidance. 

Worried about your St Andrews interview, or any university interview for that matter? You don’t want to fall at the last hurdle. Your interview performance is crucial! Reach out to our experienced interview coaches for expert guidance.

8. Seek guidance:

Consider working with one of our experienced admissions tutors who can provide personalised guidance, review your application, and help you polish your essays. 

We have a track record of success in applying to top-tier universities like St Andrews, Oxford, Cambridge and Russell Group universities. If St Andrews is your dream, take every step to make it happen and reach out to our expert team.

Remember to check the official St Andrews University website and relevant scholarship pages for the most up-to-date information on requirements, deadlines, and available scholarships.

Get your UK student visa!

Well done if you gain admission to St Andrews! It is only now that you can apply for a student visa as you’ll need evidence of your agreement to attend St Andrews.

If you’re going to study for a full degree, you must apply for a Tier 4 Student Visa. However, if your degree programme is 6 months or less, you need a Student Visitor Visa.

You can apply online, via the visa application centre in your home country.

Remember: apply at least three months before your course in the United Kingdom begins!

St Andrews offers information on the student visa process here

How we can help

Gaining admission to St Andrews University as a US student requires dedication, hard work, and careful preparation. By seeking guidance from our experienced and accomplished Oxbridge admissions team, you can maximise your chances of achieving your dream of studying at St Andrews. 

We have special expertise in US to UK admissions and our success rate for getting students into their first and second-choice universities is over 95%! If you’re serious about having a future that involves St Andrews, do all you can to secure this!

We offer a talented team of tutors, including specialists in:

We are here for every step of the process. Call us for a St Andrews application review and a bespoke plan of action. There’s no reason you shouldn’t succeed! Just reach out to join our winning team.

FAQs

What are the admission requirements for St Andrews University?

Admission requirements vary by programme but generally include strong academic performance (ABB-A*A*A depending on your chosen course) and a compelling personal statement. St Andrews values well-rounded individuals, so showcasing extracurricular activities and achievements is beneficial as long as it only makes up a small amount of your personal statement. Read this article for more information. If you need to improve your grades, get support from our talented team of tutors.

Is standardised testing required for St Andrews admissions?

St Andrews is test-optional when it comes to the SAT or ACT. However, high standardised test scores could give your application a competitive edge. You should definitely consider taking the SAT or ACT if your A level, IB or AP scores barely meet the requirements for your course.

How important is the personal statement in the application process?

The personal statement is a crucial part of the application, providing insight into your academic interests, goals, experience, career aspirations and why St Andrews is the right fit for you. Tailor it to showcase your unique qualities and enthusiasm for your chosen field. Read this article for more information, and if you need help with your personal statement, reach out to our expert personal statement tutors!

Are there specific scholarships available for international students at St Andrews?

Yes, St Andrews offers scholarships for international students, including the United States. Their financial aid often considers factors such as academic merit and financial need. Read this page for further information.

What support services are available for international students at St Andrews?

St Andrews provides comprehensive support services for international students, including orientation programmes, academic guidance, and assistance with visas. The University is committed to ensuring a smooth transition and positive academic experience for all students.