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The basics
THE USA: Destination Guides

The ultimate student guide to Mid-Atlantic USA

The Mid-Atlantic region of the USA is home to some world-famous cities. Who hasn’t heard of New York City and Philadelphia? But there’s also so much that makes it an ideal destination for international students.

New York City Skyline on the East River with Brooklyn Bridge at sunset.


The Mid-Atlantic region on the East coast of the US borders the Atlantic Ocean. This is the most populated corner of the country, but its cities, beaches, mountains, forests, and lakes make it the ideal region for international students to explore. Let’s first look at the states that make up the Mid-Atlantic:

  • New York state has a population of over 20 million. The state is shares a border with Canada to the north and the Northwest states of the USA.
  • New Jersey, although the fifth smallest state in terms of land, has a population of over nine million and is well-known for its beaches and nature.
  • Pennsylvania, PA or ‘The Keystone State’ has an entire mountain range running through its centre. The Appalachian Mountain range is over 2,400 kilometres long.   

The region is located alongside the states of the Western USA and the South eastern states.


What is Mid-Atlantic USA like?


Location and demographics

As mentioned above, this region is in the north-eastern part of the country bordering Canada and other regions of the USA. The Mid-Atlantic is the orange section in the map below. 


Map of US census regions and divisions


With a combined population of over 41 million, the region is very culturally diverse. New York and New Jersey are the most ethnically diverse, with 18 per cent of the population of New Jersey identifying as Hispanic. Over 15 per cent of the population in New York are of Black origin, with a slightly lower percentage for New Jersey. In Pennsylvania, the Black community makes up 11 per cent of the population, with people of Hispanic or Asian origin making up six per cent or less.   


Culture and history

The first known native settlers on the lands of the region were the people of the Iroquois and Leni Lenape tribes. These indigenous people were displaced and forced from their homelands by subsequent European colonisers. First came the Dutch, with New York originally called New Amsterdam. Then arrived the Germans and later the British, who were challenged by the French. 


The three regional states were incredibly important during the American Revolution, also known as the American War of Independence (1775-1783). Over half the battles were fought in the region. 


This region also saw mass migration from Ireland in the early to mid-1800s, with over four million Irish people making the USA their home. In the 19th and 20th centuries, thousands of Yiddish-speaking Ashkenazi Jewish people arrived in the USA, escaping persecution and the holocaust of the Second World War. 


The impact of this history is felt today. Although the region has fewer people of Hispanic and Latinx origin than the West and Southwestern USA, Spanish is still the second most spoken language in the country, with more than 41.8 million people speaking Spanish at home. You will also hear Yiddish spoken in the region, as well as Pennsylvania Dutch or Pennsylvania German, spoken by the Amish people who moved to Pennsylvania in the 18th century to avoid religious persecution. 


The richness of the people of the Mid-Atlantic is reflected in its culture, art and food. New York City was the first city in the USA to have a pizzeria, and New Jersey has over 500 diners and is known as the ‘Diner Capital of the World’.


What cities are in Mid-Atlantic USA?

This region is one of the most populated in the country. Here are just a few of the major cities in this region of the country:

  • New York City, NYC or the Big Apple, has a population of over eight million who speak 800 languages between them. 
  • Buffalo is the second largest city in New York state. It sits across the water from Canada and is close to Niagara Falls. 
  • Newark is the most populated city in New Jersey, and its airport is one of the busiest in the world. 
  • Atlantic City, New Jersey, is on the Atlantic coast and known for its casinos and beaches. 
  • Pittsburgh, the ‘City of Bridges’, of which there are 446, is the second most populated city in Pennsylvania.
  • Philadelphia, or ‘Philly’, is the largest city in Pennsylvania and was the birthplace of the United States.


How much does it cost to live in Mid-Atlantic USA?

As you can imagine, living in a place like New York City or Philadelphia isn’t cheap. However, depending on where you live, the cost of living can still vary quite a bit in this part of the USA. International students should budget between USD 19,000 and USD 22,300 per year (USD 1,580 and USD 1,860 per month).  


Find out more about student living costs in the USA.


What services are there in Mid-Atlantic USA?

Much like the cost of living, the services available will depend on where you live. In more populated areas you will find great bus and public transport services. New York City has an excellent subway, rail and bus service run by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). 


Travelling around the region by car is the easiest option, but you can still explore the different states by train and bus. Amtrak has various train routes with connections throughout the region.  


For a cheaper option, you could try intercity buses. For example, the Greyhound bus company can take you from Philadelphia to New York City in just under two hours and for as little as USD 20. If you have Student Advantage Card, you can get a 20 per cent discount on the bus ticket, as well as other benefits in stores and travel companies.  


What are the post-study options?

To stay in the USA after graduation, you must follow the strict visa rules. There are exceptions, but usually, international students have just over a year to find a relevant role or continue their studies.  


Graduates from universities in the region have excellent career opportunities open to them, with more than five universities featuring in the top 50 QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2022. 


The Mid-Atlantic is also home to major multinational companies such as Amazon, Deloitte, IBM, JPMorgan, Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo and PwC, to name only a few.  


Find out the top 5 graduate careers in the USA.


What universities are in Mid-Atlantic USA?

Universities in this region may be more expensive because of their location. They also rank highly, so you could argue you are getting quality for your money. Here are just a few:



  • Princeton University in New Jersey have over 635 international undergraduate students from all over the world. They also have over four hundred internship opportunities. 
  • New Jersey Institute of Technology is in downtown Newark and only 20 minutes away from Manhattan. 
  • Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, ranks in 28th place in THE Rankings 2023. International students from over 118 countries make up 14 per cent of the 15,818 student community.


What are the main attractions?

It’s obvious that New York City, with its world-known landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State building, and Central Park, should be at the top of your list when visiting the region. There are other places that you shouldn’t miss, like walking along Atlantic City Boardwalk in New Jersey or running up the ‘Rocky Steps’ in Philadelphia to get a view of the city. 

Philadelphia: Rocky Steps monument in Philadelphia. The monument commemorates acclaimed movie Rocky from 1976.


What must you see in Mid-Atlantic USA?

  • New York City. As already mentioned, you can’t go to NYC and not see the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty, which was a gift from the French. Did you know that the torch measures 14 metres and the nose nearly 1.5 meters?

close up of statue of liberty head with torch on left hand side


  • Niagara Falls is a group of three waterfalls which begin in Ontario Canada, and end 27 kilometres northwest of Buffalo in New York state, USA. You can experience the power of the 28 million litres of water falling per second from the Cave of the Winds (it’s no longer a cave, but the name has stuck) or on a Maid of the Mist boat tour.

Aerial view of Horseshoe Falls including Maid of the Mist sailing on Niagara River, Canada, and USA natural border



  • Atlantic City in New Jersey has 10 kilometres of walkway with beaches and the Atlantic Ocean on one side and shopping, casinos, and entertainment on the other.

Atlantic city waterline aerial view, New Jersey USA


  • The 1000 Islands or Thousand Islands is on the border between Canada and New York State. With 1,864 islands to explore it’s the ideal place for anyone wanting to have a holiday outdoors.

The Thousand Islands Bridge. An international bridge system constructed in 1937 over the Saint Lawrence River connecting northern New York in the United States with south-eastern Ontario in Canada.


If this information has made you want to know more about living and studying in this part of the USA, why not use our course matcher tool to find your ideal study path.



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