Study In USA

Study in US – Guide for International Students

study in usa

This guide is designed for international students who are looking for study options in USA.  This is a comprehensive guide explaining various types of study programs available , terminology used by US universities and how to find the right university based on what you wish to study

Study in US : Types of programs

 Study in US – Undergraduate
 Study in US – Graduate/Masters
 Study in US – MBA
 Study in US – Medical
 Study in US – Phd

What is the difference between Public University vs Private university?

Choosing a course to study in US

Types of Visa needed for study in US

Applying to US Universities

Cost of Study in US

Scholarships For International Students

Financing your US study

Living in US

Working in US after completing your US education

Advantages of studying in USA

Study in US – Undergraduate

If you dream to study in US, SAT is needed for doing Bachelors/ undergraduate course, although instead of SAT scores some colleges accept ACT. You would require a SAT depending on the programs and colleges you are applying to for undergraduate programs in US.


For the college admission in US, SAT is a standardized test. The math section, critical reading section and writing section are the three different sections of the test. On a scale of 200 to 800 points, each section is scored and the requirement of the minimum score varies from college to college.

It is a standardized test for college admission in US. This test has 3 different section: Critical reading section, math section and writing section. Each section is scored on a scale of 200 to 800 points. The minimum score requirement varies from college to college. Here are some college requirements of SAT score:

According to 2012-13 student profile, in University of California (Berkeley), the requirement of SAT score was:

  • SAT Reading ( 530-740)
  • SAT Math ( 660-770 )
  • SAT Writing (540-760)

The minimum SAT score requirement is 1500 (reading + maths + writing) in University of Houston out of 2400 in total.

Find Undergraduate Colleges in US

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Study in US – Graduate/Masters

To study Graduate Programs Or Master’s degree, GMAT is required and it’s also needed for an MBA program in the US, although instead of GMAT scores some colleges accept the GRE. You would need a GMAT or GRE depending on the college you are applying to for an MBA program.

GMAT score requirements:

For MBA admission, GMAT score is required, but some colleges accept GRE scores nowadays in lieu of GMAT scores. However, the score is not fixed and it varies college to college. All the the colleges have their own set of GMAT and GRE score requirements. For example:

In University of Illinois, there is no minimum score requirement. They look at the entire application. They accept GRE scores in place of GMAT scores but the candidate who submits GMAT score, carries more weight than the GRE for scholarship decisions.

In University of Pittsburg every applicant is required to submit GMAT scores for MBA admission and it cannot be waived.The minimum score requirement is 600.

In Yale University, there is no minimum score required to apply. They accept GRE scores in place of GMAT scores for MBA admission.

GMAT scores are valid for five years after the testing year.

Find Masters Degree program in US

GRE score requirements:

GRE test is required for those applicants, who are planning to pursue graduate course, Masters programs in US, MBA or Doctoral degree.The GRE revised General Test is accepted at thousands of graduate and business schools.GRE scores are valid for five years after the testing year. Minimum GRE score requirement varies from college to college. For example:

In University at Albany, GRE scores vary from department to department and year to year with the competitiveness of each class. Therefore, the Admissions Office does not issue average or minimum scores.

In Iowa State University ,  there is no cut-off score for the GRE Test. But the recommended guidelines for GRE score is a minimum of 700 (quantitative) and 3.5 or 700 (analytical).This information is based on admission requirement for engineering department.

One of the unique features of is ability to shortlist US universities based on your GRE score.

Find Masters Universities based on GRE Score

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Study in US – MBA

Many international students who are not too sure of what they would like to study will end up doing an MBA in US. An MBA is also a very popular choice for professionals who are looking to switch careers or to boost their resumes. Unless you have very clear goals, it can be quite challenging to decide whether to go with an MBA or a Masters degree.

An MBA will give you many options as the skills will be relevant across industries. However, there is no guarantee that an MBA will net high pay. So if money is your only goal in picking an MBA, take some time to research specialized Master’s degrees as well.

Find Universities for MBA in USA

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Study in US – Medical

Medical school in the US can take anywhere from ten to fifteen years. The degree itself takes only 3 to 4 years, but there is a compulsory 3 to 7 year residency after you acquire your degree. Post residency, there is an option to further your education with a fellowship program.

Because medicine takes so long to study, it is also one of the more expensive paths to study in US. So it’s not a great fit for everyone. However, there is no better way to secure your future than a medical degree in US.

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Study in US – PhD

A PhD is a Doctorate in Philosophy. This is the highest degree you can acquire in the US, right after a Masters degree. There are PhD programs in USA in all subjects, but it’s a serious commitment and requires much more work and effort than any other degree, which is why only the keenest students will pursue it.

You can begin with a PhD right after your undergraduate degree, or you can take the longer road and pursue it only after your Masters. Different universities have different requirements so you’ll need to first decide on the school, see if they have a PhD program you’re interested in, and then research the requirements.

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Choosing between a Public University vs Private university

For newbies it is important to understand the difference between public universities and private universities. It can make a lot of difference to your finances by choosing between either of two. For eg Boston University ( is a private university. University of Massachusetts  (   is a public university. MIT and Harvard universities, both are private universities.

Here’s a quick overview of some of the major differences-

Public University Private University
Funding The major difference between public universities and private colleges lies in how they are funded. Public colleges are those that are largely supported by state funds. Private colleges do not receive funds from state legislatures. They rely on tuition, endowments and private contributions.
Tuition & application cost Public Universities have lower tuition fees than private because they are subsidized by the state government. Tuition and fees vary from college to college but in general, tuition rates are higher in private universities and colleges. Also the application fee is higher.
Courses and degree offerings A public university usually offers a larger selection of courses and degrees and even extra curricular activities. More course choices means you can get a chance to change your course without having to transfer college. Generally, they have smaller selection of courses. They have their specialized programs and that can help the can you find your focus in the subject you care about.
Size From classroom size to campus area, public universities generally have bigger area than private universities Private universities often possess smaller classrooms and usually a more compact campus.

No matter what type of university you are thinking to join either public or private, but the best way to decide is go and visit the university.

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Can I switch universities in USA ?

switch-collegeSome colleges and universities allow you to move to some other college or university. This is called transfer of credit and not every university allows it. You will have to check your college/university to find out if that is allowed. Almost one in every three students though end up to transferring college in US.

The reason to change the university or college could be funding issues like financial aid and scholarship, tuition fees or housing situation or on campus job or to move to a  better college/university than the present one. The general process of transfer is, you have to take the consent of International Admission Advisor of both the university/college, and after doing all the required verification process if they are ready  for the transfer then there is no problem.

Every university is different and so their transfer policies. So the best way to know about  transfer is, pick up the phone and talk to International Admission Advisor about your needs and concern.This is very important because your transfer college search needs more attention then your initial college search. For example,you can see the whole transfer process of University of Washington on its website

General policies and conditions for transfer of university /college

The following conditions are mandatory for transferring college in US:

  • You should be admitted to the university with a valid form I-20
  • You should have an F-1 Visa in your passport.
  • The university/college, in which you intend to go, should be interested to accept your transfer.
  • You should not have any pending financial issues like tuition fees etc to the university/college you are transferring from.

 Steps to transfer

  • You should meet the conditions and policies of the university to which you intend to transfer. If you do not meet the conditions specified by the university /college, it will cancel your admission.
  • You should submit the required documents like a copy of acceptance letter, and  fully completed transfer out request form to International Student Office of your present college.
  • Once you submit the required documents, the International Admission Advisor will review and verify the documents. Normally this review process takes 1-2 weeks. It varies from university to university.
  • If your request get approved, then the International Admission Advisor will enter the release date and the name of college/ university in which you want to transfer to  into SEVIS.
  • When this information is submitted to SEVIS, both, The department of homeland security and the new college will be automatically notified that you are a pending transfer to the new college/university.
  • And when you go to the new transfer university/college, the International Admission Advisor of that university/college will update the information again into new SEVIS I-20 .

That’s how the whole transfer process complete.

California and Texas colleges have largest number of transfer students in the list of Top 10 US Colleges with the most transfer students.

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Choosing a course and specialization to study in US

Ideally you should be clear of what you would want to do in USA. But it is recommended that you have a look at this link from Education USA and answer the questions.This will help to prioritize what is most important to you. If you have any doubts, once you answer the questions , it would help in identifying the right program and university for you.

Choosing a subject or course which pays well but you do not have much interest in, is not going to help you in long run. I guess following your passion does not always makes an economical sense.

Education USA has put up a few steps to identify your priorities and students do find it helpful

  • Why do you want to study in USA : Define your short term and Long term Goals
  • How will you pay for your education in USA: Cost of the education is very high in US so this could be very critical to your decisions
  • Which type of US institution is best for you : You would be clear about the program type you want to do i.e  Graduate or Post Graduate but selecting an institution to match tour needs and financial ability is critical. Public University, Private  University or Community college, you have to figure out what fits you best.

We think the other critical factors would be :

  • What has been your GRE & GMAT score clubbed with your GPA: Aiming for IVY league with poor score and low GPA is not gonna happen. So keep your feet on the ground , have a reality check and then decode on the college and courses
  •  Are you getting any scholarships or grants :Very important considering that if you manage to earn $400 a week, it could be $1600 per month which can cover your living expenses and part of tuition.
  • Can you work part time :If you are doing classes for 30 hours a week and your course allows you to do a part time work, it could help you to afford the higher education. Most of the MBA courses are so rigorous that you have hardly any hours left to do .

This is your 5 steps to US study from Education USA

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What kind of Visa is needed for study in US

There are three types of visas or international students to study in US. The F1 visa, the M1 visa, and the J1 visa.

F1 Visa M1 Visa
Issued For Full time Masters Program or undergraduate courses. It is mandatory to attend any US University or College, High School, Private Elementary School Vocational or Non-Academic Courses like any technical study course or mechanical study or some kind of cooking classes or cosmetology program
Validity It is valid till you complete your academic program and after completion you will have 60 days to leave the U.S. It is valid for the period of training program plus 30 days grace period at the end of training. You can not stay more than a year unless you are granted an extension for some medical reasons.
Job Prospects A student on F1 visa, can work on the campus of the same college at which he/she study for up to 20 hours a week. A student on M1 visa can not work on or off campus during the training.

The M1 and F1 visa to study in US are the most popular as most international students will come in for longer courses and degrees. For more flexible study/research programs, the J1 visa for study in USA is more suitable. The latter covers exchange students as well as international students coming in for short-term courses, research, and internships.

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Applying to US Universities

New sessions start in October each year. So most colleges have a September deadline for all admissions. However, since you are an international student, your planning will start way in advance and many universities now allow early admissions right from October/November of the year prior to the one you’re applying for.applying-to-us

Universities have a November 1 or November 15 deadline for their early admissions. Some colleges may also have a second deadline for those who miss the first – this usually falls around January 1. All schools will have their own deadlines so make sure you find out the exact deadline for your college.

Figuring out Where to Study in USA

You can’t apply to every single college. You have to narrow it down to your favorite ten or fifteen.

  • Use your social network. Know family or friends who are studying in the same universities you’re interested in? Don’t hesitate to get their opinion. They are a lot closer to the action and can give you perspective that no amount of online research can.
  • Refer to both university ranking and department ranking. University ranking will tell you how the university ranks overall while the department ranking will tell you how a particular department in a university ranks.
  • There are dozens of entrance exams and tests for study in USA. You can’t take every single test. So check if the universities you’re applying to will accept the test scores you currently have.
  • Your health will play an important role in the years you spend studying abroad. If the climate doesn’t agree with you, you’re going to be miserable and this can affect your grades. So eliminate universities that are located in climates you don’t enjoy.
  • Living in the USA is very expensive for international students. The yearly fee is exorbitant as is the rate of living. For some, financial aid may be the only way they can live and study in the USA for the duration of their education. If you fall into this category, then you need to look at universities that provide scholarships, loans, grants or internships which will help to offset the cost of education.
  • Once your 12-month OPT work permit ends, you need an H1-B visa which only a company can sponsor for you. This can be quite the challenge for an international student. So it makes sense to opt for colleges that already have very many international students as this means they will have existing resources to help with job placements, which in turn will help with the visa.
  • You may also want to consider more personal preferences such as campus housing, the duration of your study program, the available seats for that program, the size of the campus, etc.

Applying to Universities in USA

Every college will have its own application process with its own set of requirements and qualification criteria. It is crucial that you thoroughly understand exactly what is required of you from the college you are interested in. The process may vary, but some things will be standard.

You’ll need to apply to colleges at least a year, but better yet a year and a half, before you begin the admissions process. Submitting the same application to every university is out of the question.  Your application must be unique each time to reflect your achievements, whether personal or academic, and set you apart from the thousands of other students who will be applying. Make sure that you have everything the university asks for like your test scores, recommendation letters or transcripts. Researching the application process of each university you’re interested in is paramount. The application process can be long and require a lot of documentation. If you don’t know what you need beforehand you could waste a lot of time getting them together and miss the deadline. Or worse, you could spend a lot of time and effort putting your application together and submitting it just to be rejected because you missed something really simple.

Once you submit your application, it will be 4 to 6 weeks before you hear back. In case of online applications, you will hear back sooner, generally after 3 weeks. You will also receive email notifications as the status of your application changes.

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Cost of Studying in US

The cost of study in US can vary greatly – anywhere from $25,000 to $100,000 and up – depending on a variety of factors. Your tuition will be your most considerable expense while completing your program, but there are several other unavoidable costs you have to consider when planning your finances.

  • accommodation
  • text books, stationery, laptop
  • transport, whether it’s a monthly pass on public transportation or fuel and maintenance on a private vehicle
  • living expenses including food, eating out, clothes, social life
  • medical insurance

You will get a much better idea of how much it costs after you have decided on a few things:

  • what degree will you be pursuing, what is the tuition
  • how many years will your program take, including study supplies, so you can break down the cost for each year
  • where will you live for the duration of your program – in rented accommodation alone or with roommates, or in campus lodgings
  • will you need to commute regularly to your school
  • what is the cost of living in the location of your chosen school
  • will you be eating out more or staying in and doing your own cooking
  • how much does it cost to sustain your lifestyle

Study in US is not easy on the wallet for students coming in from countries that have a lower currency value. So be very realistic and grounded when you’re calculating the overall cost as it’s horrifying to be stuck in a foreign country with little to no money.

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Scholarships For international Students

The cost of education in the US doesn’t come cheap. It can easily run into hundreds of thousands of dollars over the duration of your program. Even residents of the US find the cost high. For international students, it can seem downright prohibitive. But lack of funds doesn’t have to stand in the way of your dream to study in USA.

If you are a bright, serious student looking to pursue a graduate program or higher in the US, you may be able to qualify for financial aid in the form of a scholarship or grant for international students. One of the most well-known and keenly-competitive is the Fulbright scholarship. This is awarded to approximately 4000 international students from around the world each year. Then there are GRE scholarships for Masters degree that you can qualify for if your GRE scores are exceptional.

Some scholarships will cover almost all costs of your education. However, in most cases it will cover only part of the tuition.

So you can supplement this by getting student employment or applying for a loan. As a student, you have the opportunity to earn money by being a research assistant or a teaching assistant. Both have their challenges and rewards but you learn a lot while making enough money working part time to pay for your education. Like all forms of financial aid, research and teaching assistance-ships are granted on merit, not need.

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Financing Your US study

Studying in the US can be expensive. You can apply for financial aid but what if you’re not lucky enough to be approved? It’s not the end of your dreams.

There are several ways in which international students finance their US education. Most students will just put together funds with their own money and with help from their families. Then there are several private sponsorship programs that specifically want to help students study abroad. And finally, there is part-time employment. Of course, as a student in the US you will have limited work options but it’s still worth looking into.

If you’re looking to finance an MBA education in the US, you would do well to do some thorough research in the schools you are interested in as several programs are not well-known and you might miss out on an opportunity to save hundreds and thousands of dollars simply because you didn’t ask.

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Living in US

living-in-usaWhen you are planning for your education and are close to securing admission, start thinking and planning about living in the USA.

Housing / apartments

Very few colleges provide housing. You would have to arrange for your own stay. This is generally done once you land in the US or you can start talking to potential roommates, e.g. you know who they are. You would to rent an apartment which could cost anywhere from $800 – $1600, depending upon your own, city and proximity to college. For e.g. Cambridge, Massachusetts is the most convenient location for the students but is very expensive on rent.

So students chose to stay a little far in nearby towns and commute through commuter rail.

You also have to sign a lease (rental agreement) with the landlord.

The closer you are to city or downtown, the expensive the apartment is. If you are willing to commute for 20-40 minutes every day, you would be able to find something cheaper. Find more details on Living in the US as an international student

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Work in the US after completing your US education

Students from Asian countries, especially India are used to campus interviews. It does not work like that in USA. Towards the end of your course, you should start finding the employers who are looking for your skill set.

First and foremost, consult your international advisor on OPT application process. In general, you have to apply for your OPT no more than 90 days before your graduation date, no more than 60 days after your graduation date, and after your advisor recommends a date for your OPT, you have to submit hard copies of supplement documents within 30 days. USCIS has been very strict with deadlines and other logistics please pay close attention to avoid being denied.

Normally, a considerate and well-thought job search process takes 5-6 months. It is significantly harder for international students to land a job because you have to be able to find an employer who is open to sponsoring you for a H1B visa after your OPT expires. Therefore, start your job search earlier, and much earlier than the rest of your classmates, if you want to be on top of your game. Plan accordingly, and pick what kind of job you want as soon as you can because it will narrow down your focus. At the same time, keep an open mind in searching for a job, especially you’re a fresh college graduate. If you’re a graduate student, you should have an idea of what you want to specialize on very early on when you choose to go to graduate school. If you’re a PhD candidate, you’re already only going with on specialization.

Don’t shy away from internships during school or after graduation. Internship gives you good US work experience and good opportunities to network. It’s also a way to test the company and the kind of job you want to be doing.   A lot of times, internships open the door for you to a full-time position if you perform and prove yourself.

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Advantages of Studying in USA

The United States needs no introduction. The country is synonymous with technology, freedom, big dreams, Hollywood, music, pop culture, big business. But apart from all the glamour and fun, the US is also a melting pot where you have the opportunity to meet other students from almost every country in the world. The US is also home to some of the most prestigious Ivy League schools on the planet from Harvard to MIT. More patents and research comes out of the US than any other country. It’s no surprise then that so many students choose to study in US each year.

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