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Masters in USA – Process, Cost & intakes • AdmitAbroad

Masters in USA – Process, Cost & intakes

Admit Abroad - Masters in USA – Process, Cost & intakes

Table of contents:

  1. Educational Framework
  2. Popular fields of study
  3. Top and popular universities 
  4. Application Intakes in USA
  5. Average Cost of Education
  6. Application Process
  7. Pathway to immigration in USA
  8. Student Visa Process
  9. Scholarships to Study in USA

Educational Framework:

USA has the Associate – Bachelors – Masters – Doctorate framework to define the years of education required to for students to earn a diploma, bachelor’s degree, masters degrees and doctorate respectively. In the American system, students can take upto 30 credits worth of courses in each semester. For bachelor’s degree, students must take courses worth at least 120 credits i.e. they must study for 4 years for Master’s students require 60 credits i.e. masters programs are 2 years in length.

There are two major types of universities:

Public Universities: These are also called state universities and are funded by state government. Most universities in USA are public. They are therefore funded by the government and are relatively in-expensive. Some examples are the University of Texas, the University of California and Arizona State University.

Private Universities: These are not funded by the state government but are funded by private trusts. For example, Rice University is not funded by the state of Texas, but is partially funded by endowments which are given by private donors. Every state in the USA has private universities or colleges. The Ivy League of Universities is one of the most well-known groups of private universities in the USA. It consists of a group of eight historic universities – all located in the northeast region of the US. The Ivy League was originally formed in the 1950s as an athletic association. The eight Ivy League Universities include: Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth University, Harvard University, Princeton University, The University of Pennsylvania, Yale University

Popular Fields of Study:

The United States is known for Engineering, Business and Computer Science Programs. These programs are popular because most job opportunities in the USA are in these domains and international students who graduate in these domains are allowed to stay back in the USA for three years after their graduation before having to apply for a work visa. For other programs (i.e. non STEM programs), students are allowed to stay back for only one year after their graduation. The USA has the most number of fortune 500 companies in the world and business education was in fact invented in the USA. The five most popular areas to study in the United States based on the number of international students is below:

Field of Study Total International Students
Engineering 2,32,710
Business and Management 1,96,054
Math and Computer Science 1,86,003
Social Sciences 83,708
Physical and Life Sciences 78,700

Top and Popular Universities:

Five of the top ten, and more than twenty-five of the top hundred universities in the world are in the United States. These are the top five universities to study at in the United States:

University World Rank Location
Massachusetts Institute of Technology 1 Boston
Stanford University 3 San Francisco
Harvard University 5 Boston
California Institute of Technology 6 Pasadena
University of Chicago 10 Chicago

However, the top universities are expensive (average MS tuition fee of Rs 70 lakhs) and are very selective. On average, these universities select only 9% of the applicants.

The United States also has several cheaper, easier to get into but well-respected universities like:

  1. Arizona State University

  2. University of Illinois, Chicago

  3. Illinois Institute of Technology

  4. California State University

  5. Pace University

Intake Information:

USA has three intakes. The main intake is the fall intake and the secondary intake is the spring intake. Indian students usually prefer the winter intake as this enables them to complete their undergraduate degree by June / July and fly to USA in the subsequent months.

Intake Start Preparing By Applications Close By Apply For Visa By
Fall (September) August/ September Dec/ Jan June
Spring (January) Jan/ Feb June/July October
Summer (June) May/ June Feb/ March April

Cost of Education

The USA is one of the most expensive countries to study in. In part – this is because of the high quality of education provided. Students can expect to pay the following annually:

Program Type Typical Number of Years Education Average Annual Tuition Fee (In Indian Rupees)
Undergraduate Education 4 Rs 20 Lacs to Rs 35 Lacs
Postgraduate Education (Except MBA) 2 Rs 20 Lacs to Rs 40 Lacs
MBA 2 Rs 30 lakhs to Rs 50 lakhs
PhD 3 to 6 years Rs 20 Lacs to Rs 50 lakhs

Apart from this, students will spend approximately Rs 8 – Rs 15 lakhs per year on their living expenses. However, this can easily be funded by working part time while studying.

Application Process:

Students can apply to universities in USA through the university website. Students should apply latest February for the Fall intake and by July for the Spring intake. The following documents are needed to apply to universities in the USA:

  •  IELTS /TOEFL test scores

  • Statement of Purpose / Letter of Motivation

  • 2-3 Letters of Recommendation 

  • One to Two Page Resume in Block Format

  • Undergraduate Marksheets, Transcripts and Certificate

  • A valid passport

Pathway to Immigration after Education:

The pathway to immigration in the USA is as follows:

  1. Optional Practical Training: After completing their Masters’ students can apply for an OPT during which they can work part time (at least 20 hours) or full time in the area of their graduation. Students who graduate from STEM (Science – Technology – Engineering – Mathematics) fields can extend their OPT for two additional years for a total of three years of OPT.

  2. H1- B Work Visa:After completion of the OPT period, students must have an H1-B visa to stay and work in the USA. H1-B visas are applied for by the company in which the student works i.e. they are “sponsored” by the employer. Because H1-B visas are allotted on a “lottery” system – students are advised to apply in the first year of their OPT itself so they get multiple chances (one each year on OPT) to get the H1-B visa. The validity of the OPT is for three years and can be extended for another three years. If students are unable to get an OPT, they are encouraged to apply for a PhD program. This will allow them to stay in the country for the duration of their PhD. Further, students get additional OPT on completion of their PhD

  3. Green Card: After completion of the H1-B period, students must have a Green Card (Permanent Residency) to stay and work in the USA. The wait times to get a Green Card are long and so students are encouraged to apply as soon as they are eligible to. Students who do not get a Green Card can work at an educational institution and continue working in the USA on their H1-B.

Student Visa Documents and Process

The USA Student visa takes up to 30 to 45 days to process in most cases, but students should apply as soon as they get their admit, or at least 2 months before the semester begins – whichever is earlier.

The following documents are required to apply for the US Student (F1) visa:

  • A valid passport with a validity date at least six months beyond your period of stay.

  • There is an online application, known as the Online Non-immigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160. Complete this and print it out when you go to the interview. You will also have to pay a fee and upload a photo.

  • Form I -20. Name and contact information for your Designated School Official (DSO), including a 24-hour emergency contact number at your chosen institution

  • Payment of application fees for SEVIS.

  • Application as a non-immigrants

  • Proof of your academic progress academic transcripts, diplomas, degrees, or certificates.

  • Test scores such as the TOEFL, IELTS, GRE, GMAT, SAT or ACT as applicable.

  • Your intent to depart the U.S. upon completion of the course of study. This is usually paperwork that you need to sign that states you will leave the country after you have finished schoolwork. This is only necessary if you live in a country that has an excess of immigrants in the United States currently.

  • Proof of your financial stability.

Your university will make you aware of additional requirements if any prior to your application.

The steps to apply for the F1 visa are as below:

Step 1: Get your school’s Form I-20

After being formally accepted to a school in the USA, you will receive a form called Form I20. This is confirmation from the university that you have been accepted to their program without any conditions.

Step 2: Pay the SEVIS I-901 fee

Go online and pay the I-901 SEVIS fee once you receive your I-20 form from your school. The price is 350 USD (Rs.28,996/-) for F-1 students. Click this link for SEVIS fee payment. SEVIS is a web-based system for maintaining information on non-immigrant students and exchange visitors in the United States.

Step 3: Locate a US Embassy or Consulate in Your Area

You must apply for an international student visa at the US embassy or consulate nearest to you (ideally, in the city or region in which you live). The US Department of State offers an online search for US embassies and consulates. Please know that depending on which embassy you apply through, the process for obtaining a student visa in the United States may fluctuate slightly.

Step 4: Fill out the DS-160 form online

After that, fill out the Online Non-immigrant Visa Application (Form DS-160) here. You will also need to select the US embassy where you will interview for your visa on this application.

Step 5: Make an appointment for your visa interview

Contact your nearest US embassy or consulate (preferably, the one you listed on your online application) to organize your visa interview after you’ve filed Form DS-160.

Step 6: Make payment for your visa application fee

After that, pay the application fee of 160 USD (Rs 13,255/-). This charge is the same regardless of where you apply or where you are from. It’s important to note that the exact date you pay this charge will differ based on your embassy.

Step 7: Attend your visa interview

The interview is the final major step in the visa application process. This interview will determine whether you are granted a student visa in the United States. Students are asked questions to ascertain whether they can pay for university and living in the USA and whether they will leave the USA after completing their education. Common reasons applications are denied are as followed:

  • Applicant failed to provide the necessary information or supporting documents

  • Fraud or misrepresentation

  • Unlawful presence in the United States

  • Health-related grounds

  • Criminal-related grounds

  • Security-related grounds

Step 9: Get Your Visa

Your embassy will return your passport to you with your new visa in it if you’ve completed all of the requirements above and gained approval for an international student visa to the United States. It’s worth noting that certain embassies will ask you to pick it up in person, while others will simply ship it back to you.

Scholarships to Study:

There are two types of scholarships:

1.Need-based scholarship are the financial aids that are provided to students who are facing financial constraints or difficulties. Basically, a need-based scholarship is aimed for students with weak financial backgrounds, who are not able to meet the high tuition fees and living expenses in foreign countries.

2.merit-based scholarship is awarded to those students who demonstrate great academic and / or extra-curricular records like achievements in academics, leadership activity, sports, community service, or any other special interests. The amount of money offered in a scholarship varies between organizations and institutions. Some universities offer a 100% tuition fee waiver while some institutions offer a partial waiver.

Document requirement for applying Scholarship:

  • Academic scores copy (GPA)

  • Standardized test scores (SAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT score)

  • Photo ID/Passport (Aadhar card in certain cases)

  • Language proficiency proof (IELTS, or TOEFL exam score)

  • Motivation letter/Statement of Purpose

  • Recommendation letter

  • Financial documents

Some of the popular scholarships when applying to universities in the United States are:

Scholarship Name Amount Selection Criteria
(Government-funded) Full Amount

Type: Merit-Based

1.Complete an equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree from a recognized Indian university with at least 55% marks. Either possess a four-year bachelor’s degree or a completed master’s degree; or a full-time postgraduate diploma from a recognized Indian institution, if the bachelor’s degree is of less than four years’ duration

2.must not have another degree from a U.S. university or be enrolled in a U.S. degree program

3.A least three years’ full-time (paid) professional work experience relevant to the proposed field of study by the application deadline

AAUW International Fellowships
(Non-Government scholarship)
Master’s/first professional degree: $20,000
Doctoral: $25,000
Postdoctoral: $50,000
1 Master’s/first professional degree and doctoral applicants must be enrolled in a U.S. accredited institution located in the U.S. during the fellowship year.

2. provides support for women pursuing full-time graduate or postdoctoral study in the United States to women who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents, and who intend to return to their home country to pursue a professional career.

Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program Full amount

Type: Merit-Based

1.Citizenship: National of any of the 131 participating countries including India, Peru, Bangladesh, Pakistan.

2.Academic Qualification: Must hold an undergraduate degree from an accredited university.

3.Professional Experience: Minimum 5 years of full-time work experience, preferably in a relevant field. Part-time work experience is not considered.

4.Must have a public service record in the community and minimal to no prior experience in the USA.

For more scholarships in Germany click here.

We hope this article was useful for you to apply to American universities. If you have any questions about pursuing masters in Germany, or about the study abroad process in general – do contact us; our counsellors would be happy to help.