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Study in United States

Overview

According to the 2019 Open Doors Report on the International Educational Exchange, there were about 1,095,299 international students in the U.S. 5 universities among the top 10 universities abroad are from the United States according to QS World Rankings, 2020. Around one-third of universities among the top 75 are US universities in the list.

Be it interactive classroom experience or vibrant campus life, Universities in the USA provide the best to their students. U.S. masters and bachelor degrees are not just globally recognized but have an excellent reputation. The educational institutions are well funded and invest profoundly in research areas. The staff at U.S. universities are understanding of international students’ needs and queries. International students in the USA flourish in a multicultural environment instilling an important trait of cultural sensitivity among them.

Commonly, the top courses in the US pursued by students are Computer Science, Architecture & Medicine. Also, housing some of the top universities in the country such as the University of California and the University of Southern California, has made California the most preferred state for international students in the USA.

Education System

After graduating from high school (12th standard), students studying in the USA go to universities and colleges.
There is tremendous diversity among the institutions that are found in the U.S. Studying in USA for Indian students is
something most applicants dream about but one has to be careful about choosing the right institution.
There are about 4500 accredited higher education institutions in the US.

1. Undergraduate Degrees: A full-time four-year undergraduate degree is referred to as a Bachelor's degree in USA.

2. Associate Degree: An equivalent of a diploma is provided by community colleges in the U.S., and the degree is called an associate degree in US, which lasts for two years.

3. Graduate Degrees: Students typically spend between two and three years studying to earn a master's degree, though it is possible to earn some degrees in just one year. Most ME or MBA degrees in the USA are for two years. Another type of graduate degree is the doctorate, which can have a duration of five to eight years.

Let us go through a list of higher education institutions in the U.S. in the table below.

Types of institutions Key points
State college or university Subsidized by the government- local or state
Private college or university Not supported by government Run privately Can be religiously affiliated
Community College 2-year colleges Award associate degrees and certifications Transferable courses can be used for 4-year university programs
Institute of Technology Provides both graduate programs and short term courses 4 years program in Science & Technology

 

Types of courses Key points
Core Must-to-do courses that make the foundation of any program stronger for the students
Major Taken for specializing in a particular subject or field of study
Elective Can be explored to add courses other than mainstream subject to enhance the resume

 

Credit system in the U.S.

  • A common ground for both the public and the private universities in the credits systems.
  • Students earn credits for courses they take and these credits count towards the completion of a program. Typically, a student requires 3-5 credits per course for an undergraduate degree/Bachelor’s
    Degree. For a masters course, it is 3-4 credits per course. Typically, around 120-130 credit hours are required to complete a bachelors degree and 30-64 for Masters in US.
  • The U.S. education system uses the GPA or the grade point average, which is a scale from 0.0 to 4.0 to grade students. For a semester, these are calculated based on marks obtained in each course and credits earned for that semester. 4.0 represents A grade and 0.0 is equivalent to F grade. Each program will have different minimum GPA requirements.

Top Courses

Popular courses to study in the U.S.

  • Technology & Engineering: Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Telecommunications, Mechanical, etc.
  • Journalism
  • Medicine
  • Psychology
  • Business and Management
  • Maths
  • Marine Biology and other Life Sciences
  • Fine arts (music, painting, poetry, acting, etc.)
  • Social Sciences
  • Physical and Life Sciences
Anthropology
bachelors
Course Duration - 48 Months
Political Science
bachelors
Course Duration - 48 Months
Architecture
bachelors
Course Duration - 48 Months

Admission Process

Admission Requirements for courses in the U.S.

Degrees Requirements Key Points
Associate degree Lower TOEFL score than 4-year degree programs English second language program can be taken  These can be transferable e.g., associate of arts,science.Others prepare for entering the associate of job market e.g., associate of applied science degree Offered by community college,junior or technical college
Bachelor’s degree 12th Standard Minimum GPA – 2.50 to 3. 60 
TOEFL- 61 to 100 SAT
Mostly offered by universities
Master’s degree Bachelor’s degree Minimum GPA – 2.50 to 3.50 
TOEFL -78 to 100
Offered by Universities

Cost of Attendance

Cost of Studying in USA.

  • Tuition fees in US depend on the level of the study and an educational institution.
  • Generally, $20,000-40,000 is the average tuition fee for a bachelor's degree per year.
  • Professional programs such as medicine, law, dentistry, design, MBA cost higher.
  • If a student chooses to study at community college, the fees can be lesser.
  • Private universities generally cost more than public universities in US.
  • According to the College Board, the average tuition fees and other charges for undergraduate students studying in US in 2019-2020 based on the type of college is mentioned as follows.

Type of Institution Tuition fees (USD) Room and board charges (USD) Books and supplies (USD) Transportation (USD) Other

  • Public two-year colleges 3,730 8,990 1460 1840 2400
  • Public four-year colleges (in-state fees) On-campus 10,440 11,510 1240 1230 2170
  • Public four-year colleges (out-of-state fees) On-campus 26,820 11,510 1240 1230 2170
  • Private non-profit four-year colleges On Campus 36,880 12,990 1240 1060 1810

Best student cities

Popular Cities in the U.S

Although the USA is like a dream for most. But the country is huge and there are certain cities in the USA,
known best for their education and exposure. Whether it is MS in US or Bachelor degree or MBA or Phd ,
these are some of the most popular cities among international students:

  • New York
  • San Francisco
  • Los Angeles
  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Washington DC
  • Seattle
  • Austin

These are some of the well-known cities but a lot of times, you also have to prefer a university over its location when it
comes to your study in the USA. Students may choose to study in a great university based in a small town
versus an average university based in the city.

Visa

Steps to apply for USA Student Visa.

The steps to obtain an F1 Visa are simple and straight. Follow this link to know about the same.
Before starting applying for a Visa, you should know what an I-20 form is and why it is required.

Some points you must remember while filling your DS-160 form are as follows.

1. Go through our comprehensive guide for filling the DS-160 form.
2. You must submit your DS-160 application online before making an appointment for an interview at the Embassy or Consulate.
3. The interview post you select at the beginning of the Form DS-160 must be the same post where you schedule your interview appointment.
4. All questions must be answered in English using English-language characters only, except when you are asked to provide your full name in your native alphabet.
5. If you stop working on this application for more than 20 minutes, your session will expire. You will have to start over, unless you have recorded your Application ID Number or have saved your application to a file on your computer.
6. Once you have printed the barcode confirmation page, hit the ""Back"" button on your web browser and then email yourself a backup copy of the DS-160. The emailed file will be in PDF format, which requires Adobe Acrobat to view or print.

You would need to be prepared to show proof of sufficient funds to support your education. It is advised to explore the funding options to be involved before the visa interview.

Few points to remember before scheduling your Visa appointment are mentioned below.

1. Most applicants will be required to have an appointment at a Visa Application Centre (VAC) before their appointment at the Consular Sections. Biometric information including fingerprints and digital photographs will be collected at the VAC.
2. You must schedule the VAC appointment at least one day before the interview appointment date. You can schedule both appointments, either online using the website or through the call center.

There is a set of documents a student would need during the visa application. A student can read about how to prepare for Visa interviews. A student may also know about general rejection reasons for the visa application to prepare better.

Top Scholarships

Given below is a set of universities, third parties and government institutions that offer scholarship opportunities to international students wanting to pursue their studies abroad.

List of scholarships for Study Abroad for Fall/Spring 2021.

  • Lela Winegarner Scholarship
  • Laurette Kirstein Scholarship
  • GyanDhan Scholarship
  • American University Merit Scholarship
  • The AU Emerging Global Leader Scholarship
  • Charter Scholarship
  • Heritage Scholarship
  • Auburn University: Presidential Scholarship
  • True Blue Scholarships
  • Global Scholars Program
  • Center for Women's Entrepreneurial Leadership Scholarship
  • Babson College: Presidential Scholarship
  • Barnard College: Need Blind
  • New American University Scholarship
  • Academic Scholarships
  • Binghamton University SUNY: President’s Scholarship
  • Binghamton University SUNY: Provost’s Scholarship
  • Binghamton University SUNY: Dean’s Scholarship
  • Boston University: Trustee Scholarship
  • Boston University: Presidential Scholarship
  • Wien International Scholarship
  • Dean, Trustee, Presidential, Justice Brandeis Scholarship
  • Brown University: Need Blind
  • Bryn Mawr College: Need Blind
  • Presidential Fellowships
  • Bucknell Women in Science and Engineering Scholarships
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers Scholarships
  • Bucknell University: Dean’s Scholarships
  • Mathematics Scholarships
  • Community Engagement Scholarships
  • California Institute of Technology: Need Blind

Work Opportunities

Most international students in the United States hold an F-1 visa, which is the U.S. non-immigrant student visa. F-1 students are allowed to work in the United States, but only under certain conditions and in accordance with complex guidelines and restrictions issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

Generally, all employment is contingent on remaining within the terms and restrictions of your F-1 visa. There are several categories of employment during the term of your stay as an F-1 student in the United States. On-campus employment is the most freely available, and then there are four categories of off-campus employment: optional practical training (OPT), curricular practical training (CPT), severe economic hardship, and approved international organizations.

  • On-campus employment
  • OPT
  • CPT
  • Economic Hardship
  • International Institutions

On-campus employment:

On-campus employment is the category most freely permitted by the USCIS regulations, and it does not require USCIS approval. However, although F-1 status includes an on-campus employment privilege, on-campus employment opportunities at most schools are limited. Even if you can obtain a job on campus, you may not rely on it to prove financial resources for the year, and often these jobs are not related to your studies. Many schools do require that you obtain permission from the International Student Office prior to accepting any on-campus employment, and may not permit such employment in a student's first semester or year.

Optional Practical Training (OPT):

International students in the U.S. in valid F-1 immigration status are permitted to work off-campus in optional practical training (OPT) status both during and after completion of their degree. Rules established by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) govern the implementation of OPT, and all OPT employment requires prior authorization from USCIS and from your school’s International Student Office.

You can apply for OPT after being enrolled for at least 9 months, but you cannot begin employment until you receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS and you have been enrolled for at least a year. You do not need to have a job offer to apply for your OPT EAD, and your OPT employment can occur anywhere in the US. Start early—USCIS takes up to 90 days to process your application—and make sure you work closely with your school’s International Student Office. As with everything you will do while in the U.S., permission is based on maintaining lawful F-1 status, and your International Student Office is there to help you maintain that status throughout your stay.

General OPT Requirements:

Employment must be “directly related” to the student’s major
Student must maintain lawful F-1 status
Student must apply for OPT before completion of all work towards a degree
Students who have engaged in 12 months or more of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT) are not eligible for OPT
OPT is permitted for up to 12 months full-time in total – part-time OPT (while still in school) reduces available full-time OPT by half of the amount of part-time work (for instance, if you work part time for 6 months, you can work full-time for up to 9 months)
Students can be authorized for 12 months of OPT for each successive level of degree achieved – for instance, you can do 12 months of OPT after receiving your undergraduate degree, go back to graduate school, and then do 12 months of OPT after receiving your graduate degree. Pre-completion OPT (students are still in school) and post-completion OPT (students have completed their degree) each have different rules.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT):

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an off-campus employment option for F-1 students when the practical training is an integral part of the established curriculum or academic program. CPT employment is defined as “alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school.” To qualify, the work experience must be required for your degree, or academic credit must awarded. And yes, you can get paid for CPT employment. Prior authorization by your school’s international student office and notification to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is required.

To be eligible for CPT employment:

You must have been enrolled in school full-time for one year on valid F-1 status (except for graduate students where the program requires immediate CPT)
The CPT employment must be an integral part of your degree program or requirement for a course for which you receive academic credit
You must have received a job offer that qualifies before you submit your CPT authorization request
Your job offer must be in your major or field of study
Your International Student Office must authorize you for CPT. Once you receive CPT authorization, you can only work for the specific employer and for the specific dates authorized (unlike with OPT or severe economic hardship off-campus employment, where you can work anywhere in the US). Your CPT authorization will also specify whether you are approved for part-time (20 hours per week or less) or full-time (more than 20 hours per week) CPT employment. While in school, you can only be approved for part-time CPT.

To be eligible under ""sever economic hardship"", a student must:

Be in valid F-1 status for at least one academic year (9 months)
Be in good academic standing
Provide evidence of economic hardship based on unforeseen circumstances beyond the student's control
Show that on-campus employment is neither available nor sufficient
Make a good faith effort to locate employment on campus before applying
The rule gives examples of the types of things that could be considered ""severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student’s control."" These circumstances may include:

Loss of financial aid or on-campus employment without fault on the part of the student
substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or exchange rate
inordinate increases in tuition and/or living costs
unexpected changes in the financial condition of the student's source of support
medical bills or other substantial and unexpected expenses.
You must apply for an ""employment authorization document"" (EAD) with the help and guidance of your International Student Office -- you do not need a job offer before you apply for the EAD. But several forms and documents are required, together with fees and photos, etc., and processing can take up to 12 weeks or longer -- and you cannot start work until you receive the EAD. Once you receive the EAD, you may work for an employer at any job, anywhere in the United States. Employment authorization is automatically terminated when a student fails to maintain valid F-1 status.

Employment with an International Les TWINS Organization OfficialThe final category of employment for international students in the U.S. on F-1 visas is employment with a “recognized international organization.” To qualify, an organization must be on the official State Department list, and listed organizations include the Red Cross, African and Asian Development Banks, the World Health Organization, the World Trade Organization, and many other similar but less well-known organizations. Because it does not have the universal application of OPT or CPT, this category of employment is often overlooked. Only students with a job offer and sponsorship from one of the listed organizations are eligible. However, for those lucky students who do have such sponsorship, there are clear benefits of this employment category.

Requirements to work for an international organization:

The student must have an internship/employment with a “recognized international organization.” Click here to see a recent listing of all ""recognized international organizations""
The employment must be within the scope of the organization’s sponsorship, and within the student’s field of study.
The student must have been in valid F-1 status for at least one full academic year.
The student must be in good academic standing.
If you meet these requirements, you can apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). You can start to work only after you receive your EAD, which can take up to 3 months.

FAQs

1. When does the academic season in the US begin?

The academic year usually runs from August through May. Most universities run with the semester system (two terms) but some also go with a trimester system (three terms).

2. There are so many universities in the US, how do I navigate through them?

There are 4500 accredited universities in the US. Navigating through them can be a difficult task. You can try the Grad School Finder tool here. You can then discuss the results of the Grad School Finder with seniors or other peers on Yocket discussions or read reviews of universities on Yocket. You should also check the accreditation of the universities on the official government website.

3. Is it possible to apply for Masters with a three-year Bachelors?

This is a tricky question for US universities. Most top universities seek for a 4-year under-graduate study but still there are individual universities (even good ones) that may accept three-year. The best option is to check within the eligibility criteria of your shortlisted university.

4. Which English language test should I choose?

US universities generally accept both TOEFL and IELTS.

5. Which term?Fall or spring has better internship opportunities?

Fall has more internship opportunities. Students who enroll in the spring season face a problem of fulfilling 9-month enrolment criteria for companies.

6. While applying to on-campus jobs, what should I avoid mentioning in my resume?

Your date of birth, religious preference, nationality, passport number, or home address should not be mentioned in the resume.

7. How to get on-campus jobs in the U.S?

You should be proactive in terms of networking and volunteering. Reach out the university's career center for a job. Getting hand-on tips from seniors also helps.

8. Do I need to take care of the duration I work for CPT?

Yes, you should. If you work part-time for a CPT for less than 12 months, you can still apply for OPT. However, if you have been working full time for CPT for 12 months or more, you lose your eligibility for an OPT.

9. Can I get my OPT after coming back to the U.S from my home country?

No, if you had not received an Employment authorization document before leaving, you will not be readmitted after coming back.

10. What documents do I need to come back to the U.S. after receiving my EAD for OPT?

A valid passport, valid F-1 visa, valid EAD card, letter of employment including dates and salary, and all I-20s with page 3 endorsed to travel by the student's international student advisor in the last 6 months.

11. Can I work for more than 12 months through OPT?

Students employed by companies under the E-Verify program and studying any of the following subjects can apply for a special extension of the OPT program for an additional 24 months. Subjects include Actuarial Science, Computer Science Applications, Engineering, Engineering Technologies, Life Sciences, Mathematics, Military Technologies, Physical Sciences, and other STEM Designated Degree Programs

12. Why is a labor condition attestation (LCA) required for an H-1B visa?

It ensures that you get salaries and benefits at par with other American counterparts and you are not exploited by U.S. companies.

13. Will I be able to fit the U.S. culture as an international student?

U.S. universities welcome international students with open arms. They provide lots of support with clubs for students from each country as well as offices for international students. There are so many ways to enjoy life on campus. With universities being bigger than some actual cities, the activities and student clubs can be really interesting to take part in. Also, students are exposed to so many cultures and different types of people. It helps them grow individually as well.

14. Is the U.S. education system flexible?

As a student, you have the flexibility of working and pursuing extra-curricular activities while studying the course. Also, you can take up classes at night if it isn't feasible for you to take classes during the day (like if you have a job or child that you need to care for).

15. Where is the end date of CPT mentioned?

It is mentioned in the I-20 form. CPt needs to be a part of studies.