More than 1,000,000 students from around the world choose to study in the United States. China and India together accounted for 67% of the increase in international students and they now constitute nearly 45% of the total number of international students in US higher education. The growing numbers of Indian students in the US have now also begun to influence other broad trends in international enrolment. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Indian students are enrolled in graduate programs and this is contributing to a shift in the undergraduate-graduate mix in US institutions.
There are multiple reasons why one should choose US as the study destination. Few are as mentioned below.
- Worldwide recognition of U.S. degrees, where 6 of the top 10 universities of the world are in US as per the recent World University Ranking.
- Employers favor U.S. degrees, all the global companies are hiring talent from well-known institutions of US
- Diverse range of educational courses/programs& extended scope for research
- As per 2013 OECD data, U.S. universities spend $27,924 per year on each student as compared to $25,744 in Britain, $18,337 in Australia, $14,585 in New Zealand on higher education.
- Outstanding facilities, libraries, laboratories& superior quality faculty
- Diverse student body and cultural enhancement
- Opportunity to spend additional year in the U.S. getting valuable, relevant work experience
The education system in US very flexible, students may choose to study a specialization as per their area of interest. Each institution determines its program and admission standards. Top-notch higher education institutions in the US come in all shapes, sizes, and types. Successful alumni graduate from community colleges, liberal arts colleges, research-oriented universities, public and private institutions – not just the most elite, Ivy-League schools. Excellent programs are found across the country.
The US education system are very different from the Indian system. Reflected in a chart, it looks like as drawn below.
The U.S. uses a rigorous and complex system of monitored self-study by regional accrediting bodies to determine whether an institution is "accredited." This is the word used in the U.S. to connote "recognized" or "approved." There are few benefits listed below when an institution is accredited
- Credits are more transferable between accredited institutions,
- Financial aid is available only from accredited institutions,
- Degrees and diplomas from accredited institutions will be recognized not only in the US but also internationally.
College and University: In the United States, colleges and universities are ALWAYS postsecondary (past high school) institutions. Americans use the terms "college" and "university" interchangeably, and a degree from a college is equivalent to a degree from a university. In fact, some of the most selective institutions in the U.S. are colleges. The major differences are that colleges tend to have smaller student bodies, focus on undergraduate education, and hire professors for their teaching abilities. Universities tend to be larger, offer undergraduate and graduate programs and hire faculty to teach and conduct research.
Public and Private Universities: The U.S. has a great variety of strong public and private universities. The oldest universities (Harvard, Yale, Princeton) were and still are private. Funding comes from tuition, grants for research, and voluntary contributions. Public institutions are state-controlled and give preference to in-state students. They tend to be less expensive, but usually assess added out-of-state fees to students from other states and countries.
Whether U.S. institutions are public or private does not tell anything about their quality - excellent colleges and universities are common in both categories.
Credit System: Progress toward graduation in the U.S. is measured through the accumulation of credits, rather than in years as in many other countries. Each course/class you successfully complete is worth a certain number of credits and a determined number of credits is required for graduation.
Ability to transfer from one university to another: The credit system allows students to "take their credits" from one undergraduate program to another, or from a two-year college to a four-year college, and not have to begin over again at the beginning. However, each university determines how much credit they will grant for previous work and how much of that credit will fulfil their requirements.
Ability to change major fields of study: "Changing majors" after enrolment is a common practice among undergraduate students. Changing a major may mean more time is needed to complete the requirements of the new field before being eligible to graduate, but it does give students the opportunity to move into the program best suited to their needs and abilities.
While there are many universities that will be able to give you a degree, it is well worth your time and effort to find ones that truly match your ability, personality, budget, and goals.
TYPE OF DEGREES
Bachelor's degree: Most bachelor’s degree programs can be completed in four years of full-time study. Each year, over one million bachelor’s degrees are granted at almost 3,500 colleges and universities across the United States, in many different fields of study. The two types of bachelor’s degrees typically offered by these institutions are BA (Bachelor of Arts) or BS (Bachelor of Science). Students always pick a “major” at a certain point as they are working toward such degrees.
Master's degrees: More than 1,000 universities in the US offer master’s degrees; some are offered at universities that also offer undergraduate degrees and some are offered at graduate-only universities. A Master’s degree requires 1–3 years of coursework and may also include a research component. Some institutions require students to complete a thesis, and some do not. Some are academically oriented, and some are professionally focused.
Doctoral degrees: More than 35,000 doctorate degrees are awarded in the US every year by more than 500 institutions. Like master’s degrees, doctoral degrees can be academic or professional in nature. To receive their degrees, students need to pass an examination and complete an original piece of research and submit a dissertation. Doctoral degrees may require a master’s degree for admission and take from 5–8 years to complete. They are the highest degrees awarded.
Professional degrees: Medicine, dentistry and veterinary studies are 4-year programs following the 4-year bachelor’s degree course. Professional degrees in engineering, pharmacy or architecture can be earned through undergraduate study (though degrees in these challenging fields often require five or six years to complete rather than the typical four years). It is also possible to enter these professions through graduate study.
Associate's Degrees: Associate's degrees mainly offered by community colleges, junior colleges, business colleges, usually of two years (60 credits). The demand for these shorter programs has increased substantially.
The U.S. academic year begins in late August or early September, and many universities will also accept applications for January admission. The following is the preferred timetable for applying to U.S. universities, beginning the year before an August entry. Though US universities have four intakes (Fall, Winter, Spring & Summer) but the major intake happens in Fall. So, it is advisable for a student to plan early and start the application process 8-10 months in advance.
- University application –each university has its own application form.
- Application fee – these range from about US$25-$150 and are non-refundable.
- Official transcripts – grades must be provided as original copies from the schools/universities you have attended (otherwise provide a certified true copy of the originals), with a translation in English.
- Statement of financial resources – proof that the student has the financial resources to attend the institution.
- Proof of English proficiency – this condition is usually met by the results of the IELTS/TOEFL/PTE exam with test results sent to the college or university directly from the testing agency.
- Personal essay – this is the opportunity for the student to express himself/herself in English (specifically personal goals, background, etc) in a way that goes beyond the test scores and transcripts that the student submits. Essays and personal statements MUST be written by the student, though s/he can ask others to read the drafts and provide comments to help in revising.
- Additional standardized test scores – undergraduate students are often asked to submit test scores from the SAT; graduate students are often asked to submit scores from the GRE; MBA candidates are usually required to take the GMAT test.
- Letters of recommendation – universities generally provide forms to give to teachers, professors, or counsellors. Business schools, especially, may also be interested in letters from employers focusing on the professional skills and accomplishments of the student.
While it is expensive to study in the United States, please remember that
- The value of your U.S. degree is worth the investment
- There is no correlation between the level of tuition and the quality of an institution
- Costs vary widely from university to university and place to place
- Planning for financing your study should be done before you submit your applications to the university
Pay attention to deadlines for admission as well as university-sponsored scholarships.
Tuition Fee: The cost of instruction is generally charged as a single amount for the term (semester/quarter). Some universities, and many graduate programs, based their fees on the number of credits students take.
Depending upon in which university you are studying at, average tuition fees or cost ranges as mentioned below:
Private Universities: USD 15,000 - USD 30,000 approximately per year
Public Universities: USD 10,000 - USD 20,000 approximately per year
Community Colleges: USD 8,000 - USD 12,000 approximately per year
Hence, the average cost of studying in US varies from USD 8,000 to USD 50,000 approximately per year depending upon the course. The cost of education in US is high for MBA and Medicine courses in comparison to Engineering courses.
Costs: Room and
board (normally ranges from $3000-$8000 per year), transportation, books, and
supplies. The living expenditure would add up to another 8,000-10,000 $ per
year, depends on the student’s lifestyle and the location.
Most campuses need students to pay for the medical insurance to allow them to use on-campus medical facilities for check-ups, basic testing, and prescriptions for common illnesses (for example, head cold, fever, etc). This insurance typically ranges from $500 to $1,000 per year.
Financial Assistance from U.S. Colleges and Universities
Many students may also be eligible for scholarships, which must be earned, whether through academic merit, athletic talent, or civic performance. While the terms "scholarships" and "financial aid" are often used interchangeably, there is a technical difference.
A scholarship is a financial award based on merit, special talent and/or leadership qualities. Financial aid is based on financial need that must be documented. In most instances, colleges and universities only offer scholarships to outstanding students.
Only the most prestigious, competitive, and wealthy U.S. universities are able to offer significant funding for outstanding students.
Most public universities do not offer scholarships to international students. You must submit all documents (application, test scores, etc.) BEFORE the deadline.
Graduate awards come directly from the departments rather than the university and they fall into three categories:
- Merit Awards - for students with exceptional academic ability
- Research Assistantships – for students who will conduct research during their stay
- Teaching Assistantships – for students who will teach sections of undergraduate courses. For these awards, the ability to speak and teach American students in English is essential.
Reduce Your Educational Costs:
- Look for "best buys"; i.e., colleges and universities that offer a quality education at a reasonable cost.
- Consider public universities
- Earn transfer credit locally and shorten your stay in the U.S.
- Study in the Midwest and/or in a rural part of the country where the living costs are significantly lower than urban areas and the east and west coast.
Citizens of other countries who are willing to study in the United States are required to obtain a student visa. This visa will be issued by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. To obtain a student visa, the student must demonstrate that, the student:
- Has the ability and intention to pursue a course of full-time study. This can be demonstrated by official acceptance from the college or university that the student wishes to attend. Visa officers will also want to see transcripts and test scores or discuss your plans further. The student should be prepared to tell the visa officer what s/he wants to study, where to study, how s/he is going to finance the stay in the United States, and what the student intends to do with the degree upon returning to the home country. The student should be prepared to do this clearly and quickly.
- Should possess adequate funds to cover all the costs listed by the university on the I-20 form that the university sends upon acceptance. These costs include tuition, fees, living expenses, and incidental expenses. As a rule, the visa officer would like to see the documentation for first year’s expenses and documentation showing how the money will be funded for future years.
- Has sufficiently strong social, economic, and other reasons to leave the United States upon completion of the projected program of studies. Such reasons can be shown during the visa interview
- can articulate the reason for studying at a specific institution.
Documents Required (original)
- Original Passport
- Visa Application Form
- I-20 issued by the University
- Non-immigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation
- SEVIS I-901 Fee receipt
- Interview appointment letter
- All academic records including IELTS, TOEFL, GRE, GMAT etc. Score sheet
- Transcripts, diplomas, degrees, or certificates from schools/colleges/universities attended
- Evidence of financial resources
Applicants for U.S. student visas must apply for their visas no earlier than 120 days before the date when they must report to the school in the United States. You will, however, want to apply as early as possible to allow time for processing your application.
A listing of US Consulates and their web sites can be found at https://www.usembassy.gov/india/. Information regarding visa rules and processes for international students coming to the US may change; for the most up-to-date information please check the official website of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) at https://www.uscis.gov/
Q. How good must my English be to study for a degree in the U.S.A.?
A. Very good! Particularly for a four-year bachelor’s or undergraduate degree, Business and Management students must have exceptionally good English skills to succeed in an American university. Even in an Engineering, Computer Science or technical field, students must be able to analytically read and write English, do laboratory reports, and speak clearly because students are expected to participate in all classes actively and orally. Many of the non-major courses required to graduate from an American university are courses like Sociology, Philosophy, College Composition and Political Science which expect the student to write library research papers.
Q. What English test scores must I have to be admitted?
A. All schools have different admission requirements. Minimum scores differ from school to school. Most schools require a minimum score in IELTS/TOEFL/PTE. Remember, a minimum score is never a good score, it is a minimum score, which means many other international students will have scores much higher than the minimum requirement when admitted. The student will be competing with them as well as native English speakers.
Q. How long does the admissions process take? Are there admission deadlines?
A. This varies from college to college. At large schools, it may take six months to a year to complete the entire admissions process from application to acceptance and start of classes. At smaller schools, it may take six months. In any case, start early. Deadlines at large schools sometimes occur in November for admission the following September. In many other places, deadlines occur in March and acceptances are sent in April for September enrolment.
Q. When should I begin to apply to schools?
A. Start early! Start now! Because the complete admissions process is long, begin the application process soon. Do not wait until the required IELTS/TOEFL/PTE score is obtained. The student can apply and be admitted as a "conditional admit" at many schools. This means that the school has admitted the student on the student's past academic record from the student's home country and is waiting for the student to obtain the minimum test score.
Q. Can I enter the college/university program only in September?
A. No. Most schools will accept students at the beginning of every semester (fifteen-week session) or term (ten-week session). Semesters begin at most schools in the U.S.A. in early September and in late January. Schools on term systems also have a session beginning in mid-March. Most schools also have sessions during the summer months of June, July and August.
Q. Who can help me complete the application process?
A. ACHIVIA can help the student from A to Z of the admission process. Remember, there are over 3,100 accredited colleges and universities across the U.S.A. and the student will need professional advice and guidance to decide where and what the student should study.
Q. What tests do I need to take to be admitted to a degree program in the U.S.A.?
A. Each school has different requirements, but most require the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System) to determine the student's English ability. Undergraduate degree programs may require the math portion of the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test). Graduate degree programs may require the GRE (Graduate Record Exam), the GMAT (Graduate Management Aptitude Test) or other standardized tests given by the Educational Testing Service (ETS).