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Study abroad : Subject Guides

The top 5 undergraduate degrees for 2022

Do you want to study abroad, but find yourself distracted by the wide variety of options? We’re here to help with a summary of the five most popular undergraduate degrees for international students in 2022.

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If you’ve been considering your study abroad options and are still deciding on what degree you want to study, we’ve got you covered. We know it’s a big decision and that having some insight into what fellow international students are doing can plant a seed for your journey. We’ve looked at the data and trends for 2022 to give you the most popular undergraduate degrees and subjects for international students. We’ll tell you more about the qualifications, what you will study, and your potential career options. Let’s get started. 




Studying for an undergraduate engineering degree tops the list of qualifications most searched for by international students. In addition, two engineering specialisations attract the most attention. These are aerospace engineering and mechanical engineering. 


Aerospace engineering


Aerospace engineering is all about developing innovative, efficient, and practical design solutions for technology used in the aerospace industry and the military. You’ll also have to come up with system and process solutions, as well as maintenance strategies. As an aerospace engineer, you could work on:


  • Satellites 
  • Rockets 
  • Propulsion systems 
  • Planes
  • Military hardware


Aerospace engineering is a highly technical discipline, and some sub-specialisations include avionics, propulsion, aerodynamics, and materials development. A degree in aerospace engineering is considered a professional degree and will usually take four years to complete. Once you have qualified, you can expect to earn between GBP 30,000 and GBP 35,000. This salary will increase with work experience. 


Find out where you could study aerospace engineering


Mechanical engineering 


Mechanical engineering focuses on developing the most effective system and process solutions for mechanical systems. It is also a specialisation that overlaps with many other engineering disciplines and requires a wide knowledge of engineering principles, from fluid mechanics to nanotechnology. 


Some of the subjects that you could study throughout a mechanical engineering degree include:


  • Control systems 
  • Robotics 
  • Materials engineering 
  • Machine learning 
  • Sustainable energy
  • Solid mechanics 


The good news is that the career outcomes for mechanical engineering graduates are good to excellent. With an employment rate of 96 per cent and a top ten ‘ jobs to have’ rating by the U.S. News & World Report, it’s not a surprise that it remains a popular choice. 


The type of salary you can earn as a mechanical engineer will vary depending on the country you work in, but starting salaries average between GBP 25,000 and GBP 30,000 per year, with progression to senior roles of over GBP 60,000 per year. Industries that you could work in include information technology, finance, manufacturing, construction, energy and government agencies or departments, and even Formula One racing.  


Explore your options for studying for a degree in mechanical engineering




Studying medicine is sometimes described as a calling rather than just a degree. It’s a qualification that takes time, dedication, and many hours of hard work. However, it also gives you a unique opportunity to impact people’s lives. Studying for a degree in medicine abroad remains close to the top on many international student lists. 


Studying for a medical degree will differ depending on the destination you choose. Remember that in Canada and the USA, it is only offered a part of graduate education, and you must complete a related undergraduate qualification in subjects such as biology, chemistry, or life sciences. However, it is possible to study towards a professional qualification in medicine at the undergraduate level in the UKAustraliaIreland, and New Zealand. 


Medicine is a varied discipline with many medical specialisations available. This often requires additional study over and above an undergraduate degree, however, you will become familiar with these specific areas and identify a specialisation during your studies. Some medical fields you could pursue, include:


  • Paediatrics 
  • Emergency medicine 
  • Pathology 
  • Anaesthesiology 
  • Neurology 
  • Oncology


There are many benefits of becoming a doctor, from being able to help patients to have a dynamic and engaging career. If you qualify as a medical doctor, you will have dedicated between six and eight years of your life to the pursuit, so it’s good to know that medical professionals have a high employment rate and excellent career progression opportunities.

Salaries will vary by country, specialisation, and experience. However, starting in the UK you could earn between GBP 30,000 and GBP 34,000, while as a specialist, you can earn between GBP 50,000 and GBP 80,000 per year. 


Discover the top medical schools in the UK.




Studying for a degree in psychology remains a popular choice for international students. Psychology is known for its interdisciplinary nature drawing on medicine, linguistics, anthropology, and sociology. Psychology is also a field where you can see the direct impact of your work on helping people through their challenges and problems. It can be a rewarding choice as a study option and career.


Psychology is a much more diverse field than you may imagine, with specialisations including:


  • Clinical psychology
  • Forensic psychology
  • Occupational psychology
  • Evolutionary psychology
  • Educational psychology


Generally, you will only specialise in your area of interest at a postgraduate level. However, an undergraduate degree in psychology gives you the ideal foundation. A typical psychology degree will cover topics including:


  • Neuroscience 
  • Research methodology 
  • Human behaviour
  • Psychology of mental health 
  • Language, perception, and memory
  • Social psychology
  • Criminology 
  • Quantitative research analysis


Qualifying as a psychologist can mean being accredited by a professional association or body. This will depend on which country you wish to work in and may involve additional testing or examination. Don’t forget that to work as a psychologist, you will also need an advanced postgraduate degree, normally a PhD.  


When you start working professionally, you can expect to earn approximately GBP 30,000 as a trainee, which will rise to between GBP 50,000 and GBP 60,000 with experience. Certain specialisations will earn you slightly more, for example, clinical psychologists generally earn more than occupational psychologists. 


Read more about the best universities for psychology in the world. 




If you have a love of numbers, an eye for detail and excellent analytical skills, then studying accounting could be perfect for you. Accountants are sought after across many sectors, with skills that are highly valued by employers. This is especially true for accountants with professional certification. 


Studying for a degree in accounting will take you between three and four years to complete. You can expect to cover a lot of information during your degree. Some of the topics you’ll learn about include:


  • Statistics 
  • Corporate finance 
  • Investment banking 
  • Financial markets 
  • Tax law 
  • Risk management 
  • Data science
  • Data modelling 


Accounting is sometimes considered the ideal qualification for introverts. However, working as an accountant will still require great interpersonal and communication skills, plus critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. 


Once you have qualified, you can work as an accountant, but also in other professions or roles that include:


  • Economist 
  • Risk analyst 
  • Tax advisor 
  • Data analyst
  • Investment manager
  • Financial advisor 


In addition, graduates with a degree in accounting have good employment prospects, with less than six per cent unemployment. 


There you have it. The five most popular undergraduate degrees for international students. To continue your research, you can read our guide to the top 10 reasons to study abroaddealing with study abroad option overload, and what types of bachelor’s degrees there are. 


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