United States of America

US study visits

KE study visits generally start with a visit to a university or a place of cultural interest, 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.

Study visits

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.

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

Sometimes KE is able to arrange presentations at MIT, but if this is not possible, we take a short look at MIT and visit another leading university in Boston instead.

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.

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.

– Cultural study visit: 

We generally have three university visits in Boston.  We have a really good alternative to the visit to MIT, as described below.  At Harvard, the group enjoys a lively historical tour of the campus, and actually this is really interesting for everyone, so all our students take part.  If we also go to Boston College, we have to say that there is no realistic cultural alternative in the area, so we will be asking you to join in the visit to this attractive and interesting campus.

The alternative to the MIT visit is to Bunker Hill.  When the whole group visits the city of Boston, we look into the story of American independence, as it’s reflected in the streets of the city.  Bunker Hill, which is only visited as part of our cultural study visit, is the site of the first major battle of the American War of Independence, and a museum at the site tells its story.  On top of the hill is a monument, and if you climb the 294 steps to the top, you get a great view of the city (warning: it’s very hot inside!).


New York City (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 may 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.

Study visits

Because time is limited in New York, and we wish to show you as much as possible, we generally just arrange short visits to the universities here rather than full presentations.

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!

– Cultural study visit: 

The two university visits are quite short here, and so, too, are our cultural study visits.

At Columbia, you have a quick look at the campus, which is pretty impressive.  But then you walk a few blocks to see the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.  This great building is one of the world’s largest churches.  It was built over a long period, and technically it’s still not finished!

While the other students are visiting NYU, we explore the nearby Greenwich Village.  ‘The Village’ is one of New York’s richest and trendiest areas, and a lot of famous people live there, or have lived there.  We walk around and pick up some of the atmosphere.


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.

Study visits

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.

– Cultural study visit:

Providence is the capital of Rhode Island, the smallest of the 50 states (and it’s not an island!).  But the centrepiece of the government of the state, the Rhode Island State House is deservedly our choice for today’s visit.  This imposing building could well be the centre of government for a whole nation.  Its huge dome is one of the largest in the world, and in the course of our visit you’ll not only see the building, but also find out how state government works.

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’.

– Cultural study visits:

While some of the group are having a presentation by the University of Massachusetts, those taking the cultural study visits will go into Amherst town to visit the Mead Art Museum situated in the centre of Amherst College (the campus itself is very attractive and well worth a visit).  The works of art on display cover many different cultures and periods.

Then, when the others visit Amherst College for a presentation, those taking the cultural study visits return to the College, but to see the Beneski Museum of Natural History.  The Museum has an extensive collection of exhibits, which will be of particular interest to students considering further study in the natural sciences.

We offer three study visits from Santa Clara: San Francisco city, Silicon Valley (including Stanford)Berkeley, Davis and Sacramento, and Santa Clara and San Jose.

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.

– Cultural study visit:

Not far from the campus of San Francisco University is the remarkable district known as Haight Ashbury.  In the 1960s, San Francisco was a centre for the hippy movement and alternative culture in general.  This whole area (the name reflects the two main streets which intersect there) now reflects the spirit of the 1960s.  Enjoy browsing in some of the distinctive shops!


Stanford and Silicon Valley (full-day study visit)

Silicon Valley

This study visit is really to our local area!  We take you to see at least one of the famous companies which have revolutionised our lives over the past 20 years.  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’, such as Google, Apple, Facebook and Yahoo!, or possibly at a newer company which may become very big in the future!

Another exciting place visited is the Intel Museum, focused on technological developments.

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.

– Cultural study visit:

The campus is magnificent!  The whole group can not only enjoy the stunning architecture, but also the large collection of statues by the famous sculptor Rodin, which you will see in two different locations on campus.


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

Berkeley (population: 115,000)

Berkeley is not technically part of San Francisco, but it is part of the San Francisco Bay Area, and there are good transport links by road or rail into the centre of San Francisco from Berkeley.

– University visit: University of California, Berkeley

The University of California, Berkeley is large, with 36,000 students, and it dominates the city centre. The campus is a very green and attractive place, yet the lively city centre is just on its doorstep. Berkeley is actually a branch of the University of California, and was the first of the various branches to have been established. It’s a top-ranking university, famous in particular for its strengths in science and engineering, and it has strong links with the companies of Silicon Valley. Many students go to Berkeley for postgraduate study, and the University actually produces more PhDs than any other in the USA.

– Cultural study visit: 

Actually, the really impressive campus is the main point of interest in Berkeley, so join in with the tour of one of America’s most prestigious universities.

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! Like Berkeley, the University is a branch of the University of California.  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, just outside Sacramento, and 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.

– Cultural study visit:

The visit here is to the Transmedia Art Walk.  Various works of art, in many different media, are to be found around the streets of the town centre.  Part of the appeal is actually discovering them in the most surprising places!  You can download an app to find out the background of any of the 40+ works on display.


Santa Clara (local study visit)

– University visit: Santa Clara University

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

– Cultural study visit

For today’s visit, we travel a short distance to the Triton Museum of Art in Santa Clara.  This small, but fascinating museum will introduce you to a number of artists, both local and national.   The Museum aims to help you to understand art and the creative process which produces art.


San Jose (population: just over 1 million)

San Jose is a booming city, often regarded as the capital of Silicon Valley, and it’s really on our doorstep at Santa Clara.  An extraordinary number of high-tech companies have their headquarters there, including Cisco, Adobe, PayPal, Samsung and Acer.  It’s probably the wealthiest city in the US, and indeed one of the wealthiest cities in the world, by some measures coming in third place after Zurich and Oslo.  San Jose is a largely modern city, but with some interesting districts in central parts.

– San Jose State University

California has two state-wide groupings of universities: one is the University of California (UC) – of which examples are Berkeley and Davis.  Another is the California State University (CSU) system.  This has 23 campuses, and the founding school was San Jose.  With around 32,000 students, San Jose State is clearly a large institution, and it occupies a number of blocks in the city centre.  Its most important statistic now, perhaps, is that Silicon Valley companies recruit more students from San Jose than from any other university.   It’s hardly surprising, then, to find among the subjects offered a high proportion linked directly to the high-tech industries.

– Cultural study visit:

One of the more unusual places in San Jose is Rosicrucian Park, the destination for today’s study visit.  The Park contains a number of buildings designed in the style of ancient Egypt.  These include a planetarium and a temple dedicated to the Rosicrucian Order, a sort of spiritual society.  Most interesting of all is the Egyptian Rosicrucian Museum, which we hope to visit.