Eligible applicants must:

  • Currently be in Year 12 in England and Wales, S5 in Scotland or Year 13 in Northern Ireland
  • Attend, and have always attended, a state-funded school or college i.e. non-fee paying
  • Not hold US citizenship
  • Be from a low or middle income family (generally, this will mean a household earning £45,000 or less)
  • Be interested in US culture and higher education

Additional criteria:

In addition we are looking for students who:

  • Would be the first generation of their family to attend university
  • Have been eligible for Free School Meals
  • Attend a school or college with a below-average A Level or Higher point score and/or a low rate of progression into higher education
  • Have attended schools with a lower than average progression to higher education, or a higher than average proportion of students who qualify for Free School Meals
  • Live in a neighbourhood with a low rate of progression into higher education and/or a high level of socio-economic deprivation
  • Have excellent GCSEs or S4 qualifications. This means you have achieved at or close to the grades below. In England and Northern Ireland: at least eight GCSEs at grade A or 7 or above, or near this level. In Wales: at least eight GCSEs at grade A or above, or near this level. In Scotland: at least six B passes at National 5 or above, or near this level.

The more of these you meet, the more likely you are to get a place on the programme.

Alumni story

The best thing I’ve learned from the Sutton Trust US Programme is that there is no limit to what you can achieve. Being part of a network of students - all from working class backgrounds - and seeing all the things they’ve achieved is a truly amazing feeling.

Trae James | Babson College class of 2023

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Selection criteria

Students will complete an online application modelled on the US Common Application and Financial Aid forms. This will help us to conduct a holistic review of your application, and will get students in the mindset of the US admissions process.

Academic performance and potential

Extracurricular involvement

Extracurricular involvement

What does this mean? Extracurricular involvement includes school and community activities, work experience, paid work, sports and music performance, volunteering, caring responsibilities and other interests.



This includes: leadership, service, work ethic, enthusiasm, drive to succeed.

Demonstrated interest in US higher education


We consider each student’s achievements in context. If your community, school or background has somehow limited your opportunities, we will take this into account. In the same way, if you have gone to a good school with many opportunities, we want to ensure you have taken advantage of these.

Interested in medicine or law?

In the US, medicine, dentistry, pharmacy and veterinary medicine are only offered at the postgraduate level. If you are confident you want to study one of these subjects, the Sutton Trust US Programme may not be the best choice for you. For these subjects, most British students find courses in the UK to be shorter and more affordable, and if they are interested in the US they tend to choose to study in the US short-term as part of a UK course or for their postgraduate studies/research.

Law is also only offered at the postgraduate level in the US. If you are interested in law you may study a related field at the undergraduate level in the US and then return to the UK to complete a law conversion course, so you’ll want to consider this before applying to the programme.

The Sutton Trust UK Summer Schools offer free subject-specific residentials in these areas – and many more – at leading UK universities.

Not eligible but still interested in studying in the US?

Visit the EducationUSA guide on Fulbright’s website to learn more about applying for US study.


Ready to start your application?