Study In USA
The USA has consistently been the most popular international student destination for studying abroad. Students from India, China, and South Korea constitute a large part of the international student population in USA. High education standards, excellent post-study work opportunities, high standards of living, and diversity are some reasons that attract students to this country.
Important Facts About USA
- The USA hosts more than 4500 accredited institutes and universities.
- Every year, the country welcomes more than a million international students.
- English is the medium of instruction across universities and schools in the USA.
- The visa acceptance rate for USA universities is 86%.
- The USA has the maximum number of tech start-ups and entrepreneurs in the world.
- International students can work 20 hours every week during the academic term.
- The country assures academic flexibility allowing students to combine various minors or majors and graduate with a double major.
- The course programs are developed to train students to acquire skill sets needed to excel and thrive in the competitive environment.
- The USA universities assure high employability. More than 50 USA universities appear in the Global University Employability Rankings. These universities conduct annual fairs, networking events, and have career development centers that help students to develop their employability prospects.
- There are several opportunities for Teaching, Research, and Graduate Assistanceships in the USA.
In the USA, students attend universities and colleges to pursue higher studies after high school. They can enroll for the following programs:
- Undergraduate: Most bachelor degree programs span over four years and students are trained to enter a particular field. Many institutes such as Columbia University offer 3-2 programs, which are a combination of a career focused discipline and liberal arts course. These 3-2 programs are usually five year programs, where the student learns liberal arts for the first three years and undertake professional study in the last two years.
- Associate Degree: This degree course is equivalent to a diploma and is taken at an undergraduate level. The program duration is usually two years.
- Postgraduate: The master’s or MBA program duration generally lasts one to two years in the USA. If Indian students wish to seek admission to postgraduate programs, they must submit their latest GRE / GMAT score, letter of recommendation, work experience letter, statement of purpose, proof of financial stability, and immigration details.
- Doctorate and Research Programs: They last for a minimum 3-4 years and sometimes up to 8 years. Many universities offer direct admissions to PhD courses after postgraduate degree.
Grading System in USA
As you prepare for your studies in the USA, it is important to understand the grading system followed in the country. The students are awarded grades based on letter and number scale. Most USA universities use four-point scale or the grade point average.
In the USA, the students get certain number of credit hours or semester hours. These semester hours are decided by the faculty and is often mentioned in the course schedule. The students can earn a credit by attending the classes. The credit is decided based on the amount of information shared in the class and time spent on weekly assignments and classes by a student. These credit hours and credits are used to calculate their overall grade, which is also known as Grade Point Average or GPA. The GPA shows a student’s grades across semesters.
The GPA is indicated in alphabetical grading scale from A to F. The A is the highest grade and the F is the failing grade. The grades are averaged by the semester or year-end in numerical equivalent or grade point ranging from 0 to 4.
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Types of Educational Institutes
In USA, there are four types of educational institutes, characterized based on their infrastructure, curriculum, funding, & teaching. They are:
- Public institutes – public colleges or universities
- Private institutes – private colleges or universities
- Community colleges
Popular Universities to Study in USA
USA is home to some of the most world-renowned universities. Below is the list of the top universities as per QS Top University Rankings.
|Universities Name||QS Top University Rankings|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology||1|
|California Institute of Technology||6|
|University of Chicago||10|
|University of Pennsylvania||13|
|University of Michigan-Ann Arbor||23|
|John Hopkins University||25|
|University of California, Berkeley||32|
|University of California, Los Angeles||40|
|New York University||42|
|University of California, San Diego||48|
Popular Cost-Effective Universities in USA
Although popular, the USA is one of the most expensive countries to study. The good news is that students can still dream of studying in the country at affordable prices! How? The answer is by seeking admission to public universities for higher studies like MS. These universities are state-funded and follow two tuition fee rates – one for state residents and one for international students. These universities may charge anything between $10,000 and $22,000 annually to international students for two semesters. However, private universities are expensive and charge equal to USA citizens and international students. Some private universities may have average annual tuition fees as high as $50,000, whereas some also charge average yearly tuition fees between $20,000 and $25,000. It is always best to check the university website to know the exact tuition fees before applying to them. The following list comprises some public and private universities that assure cost-effective education in the USA.
|Universities Name||Type of University|
|California State University, San Bernardino||Public University|
|Arkansas State University||Public Research University|
|University of Wisconsin||Public University|
|Southeast Missouri State University||Public University|
|Brooklyn College||Public University|
|University of Louisiana–Monroe||Public University|
|Southwest Minnesota State University||Public University|
|Northwest Missouri State University||Public University|
|Dakota State University||Public University|
|Brigham Young University||Private University|
|National Louis University||Private University|
|Wilmington University||Private University|
|National University (CA)||Private University|
|Allen University||Private University|
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Application Process to Apply in USA Universities
The process of admission involves several steps. The students must complete steps below meticulously to secure admission.
1. Choose your course wisely and make a list of 8-10 colleges offering the course.
2. Check the course and curriculum.
3. If you meet the criteria, you can apply online with all requisite documents.
4. Some universities may require you to undertake a WES evaluation. This evaluation is provided by World Education Services and the credential evaluation of the student is performed. This evaluation may take 2 months.
5. When you submit your documents, the university may inform and instruct you to pay the fee.
6. Next, you will receive an I-20 form, and acceptance letter, which are required to apply for a student visa.
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Eligibility Criteria and Application Requirements
Indian students wishing to pursue their higher education in the USA must satisfy eligibility requirements to be admitted to courses of their choice.
- For Undergraduate Courses: The student must have completed class 12 from any recognized university or college in their home country. They must submit the results of the English proficiency tests like TOEFL or IELTS.
- For Postgraduate Courses: The student must have completed 16 years of education from any recognized university in the home country. Some universities may accept 15 years of education. Many courses require students to submit their experience certificates. If applying for liberal arts, mathematics, and science-related subjects, the students need to submit their GRE scores. However, if applying to business schools, they may be asked to submit their GMAT scores.
In addition to the above, the students need to submit additional documents such as:
- Letter of Recommendation: This should be from a faculty member or your manager from a previous institute.
- Resume / CV: Most colleges and universities would require a professional resume.
- Statement of Purpose: The students must provide their statement of purpose describing their learning or achievement.
University Intakes and Timeline
The universities in the US follow three semester-wise admission cycles – spring, fall, and summer. Students must begin their preparation for intake season at least a year before the start of their semester.
Fall Intake: This semester starts in August and lasts till December. If you are eyeing this semester, let’s look at this timeline.
- April – July: Shortlist the colleges and courses.
- May – September: Take standardized exams like IELTS, ACT, TOEFL, GRE, and GMAT.
- October – February: Start applying at the shortlisted universities.
- January – July: Await your admission offer or letter of acceptance.
- April – July: Make your finance arrangements by finalizing your loans, scholarships, etc.
- August: Get ready to start your new semester in the USA!
Spring Intake: This semester starts in January and lasts till May. If you are eyeing this semester, let’s look at this timeline.
- February – March: Shortlist the colleges and courses.
- April – June: Take standardized exams like IELTS, ACT, TOEFL, GRE, and GMAT.
- July – August: Submit your scores and documents to the university.
- September – October: You will receive acceptance letters from the university.
- November – December: Make your finance arrangements by finalizing your loans, scholarships, etc.
- January: Get ready to start your new semester in the USA!
Summer Intake: This semester lasts for two months, starting in June and ending in July. Many summer programs are conducted during this semester. If you are eyeing this semester, let’s look at this timeline.
- April- August: Shortlist the colleges and courses
- September – November: Take standardized exams like IELTS, ACT, TOEFL, GRE, and GMAT
- November- January: Submit your scores and documents to the university
- February – March: You will receive acceptance letters from the university
- April-May: Make your finance arrangements by finalizing your loans, scholarships, etc.
- May: Get ready to start your new semester in the US!
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Cost of Education in USA
Here we have included the average annual cost of education in USD ($). Actual values may differ across cities and universities in the USA.
|Types of Expenses (Annual)||Expenses in USD|
|Tuition Fees||$25,000-$40,000 annually for undergraduate programs at public universities; $35,000-$55,000 at private universities | $20,000-$35,000 annually for graduate degree at public universities and $30,000-$55,000 at private colleges | $50,000-$80,000 annually for MBA courses|
|Living expenses including accommodation||$15000-$21000|
Types of Student Visa to Study in USA
There are three types of student visas to study in USA. They are:
- F Student Visa: This visa is essential for students seeking admission to accredited USA colleges or universities.
- F-1 Visa: This is required for full-time students.
- F-2 Visa: This is required for dependents of F-1 visa, including their spouses and unmarried children below 21 years.
- F-3 Visa: This is required for students living in Canada and Mexico who may be staying in their home countries, while pursuing their full-time or part-time program in the USA.
- J Exchange Visa: This visa is for students participating in educational exchange programs. During this program, the student may remain enrolled in their university, college, or school, while attending a study program in any accredited USA study institution.
- J-1 Visa: This visa is for exchange students attending a particular exchange program.
- J-2 Visa: This visa is offered to dependents of J-1 visa holders.
- M Student Visa: This visa is for students applying for non-academic, vocational training in the country.
- M1 Visa: This visa is for students wishing to pursue non-academic or vocational studies in the USA.
- M2 Visa: This visa is for the dependents of M-1 visa holders.
- M3 Visa: It is awarded to students living in Mexico and Canada who may be pursuing non-academic or vocational studies in USA universities.
How to Apply for a USA Student Visa
If you are an Indian student wishing to study in USA, you may require a student visa. Applying for a student visa is a long and tedious process, which may last 4-6 months before your course starts. The following are the stages of applying for a student visa.
- Check if the school or university you wish to join is approved under the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).
- Next, apply to the SEVP-approved institution at least 6 to 12 months before the course starts.
- Once you receive an admit and finalize the university, you will receive a DS160 or i20 form. This form is important to apply for a student visa.
- Pay the SEVIS fee online 4-5 days prior the USA visa application. You can check the information through the USA Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) SEVP official website.
- Fill the CGI Federal form and book an appointment at the embassy.
- Pay the MRV fee or visa application fee.
- Schedule and attend the visa interview. Check the consulate or embassy website to check all documents to be carried to the interview.
Most Student Friendly Cities in USA
The USA boasts of one of the highest numbers of world-class universities. These universities are located in some student-friendly cities, enriched with natural and architectural wonders, and assure quality of life for students. The following are some of the best student cities to live in the USA.
Exams to Study in USA
Most undergraduate and graduate programs in the US require the results of English proficiency tests and standardized tests. This section offer insights on some of the popular language proficiency and standardized tests undertaken by international students every year.
1. American College Test (ACT): This is the standardized test conducted by universities and colleges in the United States to admit students to undergraduate courses.
2. Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT): This test is taken by school juniors and /or seniors applying to universities and colleges in the USA. The test is conducted internationally six times in a year.
3. Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL): This English language proficiency test is conducted by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and offered as computer-initiated test. This test helps understand the language abilities of non-English speakers in listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
4. Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT): The GMAT score is required to secure admission to MBA (Master’s in Business Administration) programs in the USA.
5. Graduate Record Examinations (GRE): GRE is an official prerequisite for technical master’s degrees in the USA like MS, MCA, MTech, MSC, MBA, etc.
6. Medical College Admission Test (MCAT): This is the primary admission test for medical schools in the USA.
7. Optometry Admission Testing Program (OAT): This is the standardized test conducted by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry to test the proficiency of students applying for optometry-related courses.
8. Law School Admission Testing Program (LSAT): This test is conducted by the Law School Admissions Council in the USA and is the primary admission test for law schools.
9. Dental Admission Testing Program (DAT): This is the primary admission test for dental schools in the USA.
10. Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT): Clearing this admission test is mandatory for Indian students seeking admission to pharmacy courses in the USA.
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Government and Non-Government Scholarships
The USA is one of the most expensive countries to study. Indian students with good academic records can apply for the following scholarships to cover the tuition fees and living costs fully and partially.
|Name of Scholarship||Description and Eligibility||Amount in USD|
|Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation Scholarships||It covers one-way travel, tuition fees, and living expenses. Students can use the scholarships to pursue all courses except business, computer science, medicine, engineering, music and film animation, and public health.||USD 100,000|
|Fulbright Nehru Research Scholarship||These are master’s fellowships awarded to Indian students with three years of work experience.||Amount is variable|
|Stanford Reliance Dhirubhai Fellowships for Indian Students||Funded by Reliance Industries, this scholarship is awarded to five students wishing to pursue 2-year MBA at Stanford.||USD 94,915|
|The Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program||This scholarship is awarded to students pursuing non-graduate courses in few disciplines.||Amount is variable|
|Akhtarali H. Tobaccowala Fellowship||Awarded by the Tobaccowala Foundation of India, the students wishing to pursue an MBA at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business can apply for this scholarship.||USD 25,000|
|Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholarship:||Funded by the Rotary Foundation, this scholarship is awarded to students wishing to pursue studies in six areas with high impact and sustainable outcomes.||USD 30,000|
|The Indian Trust Fellowship||This scholarship is awarded to full-time MBA students of the Booth School of Business.||USD 10,000|
|Tata Scholarships for Cornell University||This scholarship is mainly awarded to undergraduate students wishing to pursue graduate programs at the Cornell University.||The amount varies|
|AAUW International Fellowship Program||These fellowships are awarded to women wishing to pursue graduate and post-graduate programs across the US universities.||USD 18000-30000|
Post Study Work Visa
- Students with F-1 visa who have completed a bachelor’s or master’s program can apply for 12-month stay extension for Optional Practical Training (OPT).
- Students pursuing STEM courses can extend the visa for additional 17 months via STEM OPT extension.
- Students on M-1 or J-1 Visa can apply for a work visa within a month of their course completion.
On-campus and Off-campus Jobs
In the US, the students can work on-campus for 20 hours during a semester and 40 hours during session breaks. The following are a few popular on-campus jobs available for students.
- Teaching assistant
- Peer mentor or tutor
- Academic department assistant
- Library assistant
- Administrative office assistant
- Campus tech support
- Research study assistant
- Catering assistant
Any type of employment, which is not recognized by the university is known as an off-campus job. Students on an F-1 visa cannot take up off-campus jobs. Even if the student wishes to take up any such job, then the university’s permission must be sought. The university or study institutions will give some waiver if a student offers valid reasons to take up off-campus employment. Some popular job roles taken by students are:
- Tourist guide
- Language translator
- Store associate
Popular Career Prospects for International Students
This section features the highest paying careers in the USA along with their annual average salaries.
1. Computer Science: Software engineer, application developer, technology support specialist, software quality assurance (SQA) engineer, software developer (USD $ 71,866 – $131,497)
2. Engineering: Chemical engineer, civil engineer, electrical engineer, materials science and engineer, construction engineer (USD $68,562 – $95,000)
3. Mathematics and Statistics: Data analyst, data scientist, actuarial analyst, data engineer (USD $65,000 – $119,000)
4. Business and Marketing: Digital marketer, social media marketer, content marketer, channel development executive (USD $64,651 – $282,100)
5. Finance: Investment banker, finance analyst, insurance and financial advisor, actuary (USD $70,677- $114,832)
Your income would depend on your knowledge, skills, and the type of organization you work for.
Frequently Asked Questions on Studying in USA
If you have been planning your higher studies in USA, you may have several questions in mind on studying and living there. This section answers some common questions that students may have in mind.
Most universities may not accept 10+2+3 education, but some do. The best option would be to check the eligibility criteria of the shortlisted university.
There are 4500 accredited universities in the USA. Choosing the best university for your undergraduate and postgraduate study will depend entirely on your interests and budget.
You can learn about different on-campus accommodation options offered by the universities. Many universities offer residence halls for students. You can check their availability and secure your slot ahead of your travel.
Many universities offer accommodation for the first year only. You can opt for off-campus accommodation like shared apartments, homestay, and luxury apartments. The residence halls cost $800-900 per month; residence halls – self-catered cost $600-$800; shared apartment in sharing by four people costs $400-$600; homestay may cost $300-$500; and luxury accommodation costs $2000. These rates may differ across cities.
Yes, you can. However, you need to check with the university. If you have applied for a course in Fall, there are many internship opportunities because you meet the 9-month enrollment criteria set by companies.
You must complete your first academic year in the USA to find an on-campus job. You can check the university announcement boards or reach out to the university’s career center to find a job.
CPT stands for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and OPT for Optional Practical Training. The CPT is designed for students who are currently studying at universities. This allows the students to seek employment training, do paid internships, co-ops, and practicums. Students can work part-time for 20 hours per week during the semester and 40 hours per week during the semester breaks. CPT is usually employer-specific and if you work for 12 months, you cannot apply for OPT.
OPT is related to your major area of study. Students can apply for OPT before or after completing their studies. It is generally awarded for 12 months. But students who have graduated in STEM subjects can seek an extension of 17 months, or work for 29 months.
Students with F-1 visa status can apply for CPT and OPT. A student needs consent from the academic department and ISS to pursue CPT. However, the consent of the USA government is required to pursue OPT.
The student doesn’t receive employment authorization document (EAD) from USCIS for CPT but for OPT, the EAD is provided.
The CPT application requires no application fee, whereas OPT requires an application fee.
You can find the end date of the CPT on the I-20 form.
Ivy League universities comprise eight universities, which came into existence in 1954. This group was formed based on their interest of sports. Although the league was formed to create sports and athletics, they are known for social prestige and academic privilege. The following are Ivy League schools in the USA.
The University of Pennsylvania
Ivy League universities are not expensive as many may think. The average annual tuition fees at Ivy League starts at $59,985 and with living expenses it may reach up to $83,046.
The acceptance rate of Ivy League universities for the class of 2026 ranges between 3.19% to 8%.
Cornell University has the highest acceptance rate of 8%, and Harvard and Columbia University has the lowest acceptance rate of 3.19 %. and 3.73% for the class of 2026.
The best Ivy League universities for STEM are Harvard University, Princeton University, Yale University, and Columbia University.
Graduates from Ivy League universities can pursue a career in teaching, business, research, entrepreneurship, finance, and media communication. They work with Goldman Sachs, Google, McKinsey, IBM, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft.