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Study in Alabama, United States

State overview

Alabama is known for its wide open skies, red forests and southern hospitality. Sandwiched between Tennessee, Mississippi and Georgia in the US’s Deep South the state is also famous for its eponymous fudge cake – southern dining at its best!

In terms of university education Alabama has a number of institutions in which you can study for a postgraduate course. The majority of them are private, but there are a small amount of publically funded universities that are popular with international students.

The state’s capital is Montgomery, which has a large number of universities, is also home to a large military base and a strong manufacturing sector. 

Education profile

Alabama has 14 public and 17 private universities, many of them with a strong historical presence, so if you choose Alabama for your postgraduate course you will have a wide variety of options. Graduate schools in the state include those focused on medicine, veterinary sciences, law, dentistry and optometry.

The main universities in Alabama that offer graduate programs are:

Professional, or ‘terminal’, masters are designed to lead to employment rather than further study, whilst academic masters are generally designed to lead the way into doctorate/PhD study. Both last between one and three years, depending on the subject.

Doctoral degrees are the most advanced level of higher education, and usually take between four and eight years to complete, which includes the time it takes to write and present a dissertation. 

Immigration and visas

Before travelling to the USA to study in Alabama, you will need to apply for a non-immigrant visa.

The most common kind of student visa is the F-1 visa, which entitles the holder to study at any US accredited college or university.
To apply for a student visa for a graduate program in Alabama, you will need to fill out an application form (found on the US Embassy website) and send appropriate documentation, such as evidence of financial standing and proof of university acceptance and academic qualifications, as well as possibly attending a visa interview at the US Embassy in your home country.

Life in Alabama

Alabama was an important centre during the Civil Rights movement in the mid-20th Century; today the population is still predominantly white. The state also lies at the heart of the US Bible Belt, meaning it is extremely religious – it has in fact been identified as the most religious state in the nation.

Major cities in Alabama include Montgomery, the state capital, Birmingham, its largest city. The performing arts scene in Montgomery is strong, with a large number of theatres providing evening entertainment. There are also numerous festivals, including the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and Jubilee CityFest.

Sports are another popular pastime in the region. Baseball and golf tournaments are held in Montgomery, and many of the university sports teams hold their competitions in the city.

Working in Alabama

Alabama has a large number of varied industries – agriculture, tourism, healthcare, banking, electronics and construction being the main ones. The largest employers in the state are in defence, education and legislature: Redstone Arsenal (a garrison), Maxwell Airforce Base, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Mobile County Public School System and the State of Alabama.

The state is also an important centre for space science, with the U.S. Space & Rocket Center being located in Huntsville and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center also in the city.

Whatever your specialism, if you decide to stay here after the completion of your graduate program there will be many opportunities for you to choose from.


Whilst studying abroad on postgraduate courses many students choose to live on their university campus in halls of residence. Living in halls allows you to meet fellow students and settle into campus life. Many halls include gym facilities and recreational areas - you should check with your university whether they offer this type of accommodation for those on postgraduate courses.

In order to keep their independence, some students on postgraduate courses choose to live in private accommodation – where paying for utilities and bills will be your own responsibility. Your chosen university should be able to advise you on how to rent a private flat.

Weather and climate

Alabama has a humid subtropical climate, meaning it has very hot summers (amongst the hottest in the whole country), cool winters and frequent rainfall throughout the year. There is also the possibility of tropical storms and hurricanes.

What to do next

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