The United States is truly the land of liberty, opportunity and cultural diversity. There are countless things to do, see and explore in the US and for many years, students and parents have recognized the benefits of obtaining a US education across the world. The best accredited US programs at every level offer an approach to education that encourages students to develop their own capacity and passion for learning with the support of cutting-edge instructional resources and facilities.
Most preferred destination: The U.S. is the preferred destination for students because U.S. higher educational institutions offer academic excellence, cutting-edge technology, extensive support services, generous funding opportunities, wide variety of educational options, flexible curricula and hands-on training (OPT and CPT) for international students. The policy that allow STEM students to remain in the United States on Optional Practical Training (OPT) opportunities for 36 months after the completion of their studies likely continue to drive the increase in students on OPT programs, which is increased by 9.6 percent to 223,085.
According to the latest Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, the number of international students in the United States was an all-time high in the 2018/19 academic year, the fourth consecutive year with more than one million international students.
About Economy: In the last 100 years, the U.S. has grown to a huge, integrated, and industrialized economy that has made up around one-fifth of the world economy. The per capita GDP is more than $62000 in the U.S. The expansion in GDP and the continuous fall in unemployment have made it the wealthiest nation in the world. Although Americans make up less than 5% of the world’s population, they generate and earn more than 20% of the world’s total income.
Innovation: With a strong focus on growth, innovation and development, you’ll find numerous opportunities across a diverse range of fields. The US is at the forefront of technology, and you’ll learn in an innovative research environment.
Education: Over 40% of American citizens between the ages of 25 and 64 have a post-secondary education. The US is also ranked among the top 25 countries in the world when it comes to the science, reading, and mathematics abilities of its secondary school students. American industries have been judged to have the second-best collaboration with universities in the world.
Word-famous Academics: Colleges and Universities in the U.S. constantly dominate the top-ranking list, making them the most prestigious and reputable Engineering schools, law schools, medical schools, and business schools in the world. It is a home of Ivy-Leagues like Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, etc. Many of the institutes of the USA have secured their position in top 100 of the World University Rankings 2020 by Times Higher Education and for the fifth year in row one of the 10 American Universities found in the QS top 20.
Academic Flexibility: For international students, the US education system offers world-renowned educational opportunities of all shapes and sizes. One big advantage of going to colleges in the United States is that in the first two years of study you do not have to declare a ‘major ‘and the students who are undecided can take their general education classes, sometimes called “gen eds”.You can earn more than 12 credits in a year and plan your study for 4 years or extend till 6 years.
Cultural Diversity: Being a culturally diverse country, Americans define themselves in many ways – through the arts, identity, ethnicity, faith, work and play, food, home life, and community. The US has a multicultural society that has sometimes been referred to as a “melting pot.”
Entertainment: The US has witnessed blooming arts, thriving culture scenes, and one of the best artists and creators – such as Cartoonist Benjamin Franklin, the Pop Artist Andy Warhol, the Realist Edward Hopper, and the Director Steven Spielberg – are known worldwide. While students may be most familiar with American TV shows and Hollywood movies, the contemporary arts scene in the US also includes modern dance, avant-garde visual art, independent theatre, literature, and other artistic practices. The popular music also has long expressed what it means to be American, from folk songs to jazz, hip-hop, and rock and roll.
Sports: Sports in the United States are an important part of American culture. American football is the most popular sport in the U.S. followed by basketball, ice hockey, and car racing and all have millions of fans in the US. NCAA, NAIA (4-year schools), and NJCAA (2-year schools) regulate athletic scholarships for international student-athletes who want to study in The United States.
Food: Many traditional American foods originate from a specific region. American cuisine reflects the history of the United States. Early Native Americans utilized a number of cooking methods in early American cuisine that have been blended with early European cooking methods to form the basis of what is now American cuisine.
Lifestyle: Americans lead a variety of lifestyles which can vary greatly from region to region. The US has one of the world’s highest standards of living. In 2015, the United States was ranked in the top ten on the UN Human Development Index. The US also ranks highly regarding overall quality of life among industrialized democracies, according to the OECD’s Better Life Index.
The US Education system
There are over 4,000 accredited colleges and universities in the US, ranging from large research universities to small private colleges, state universities, community colleges, and specialized and technical institutions. Many US universities are ranked among the world’s best, consistently dominating the top tier of global rankings.
Type of Institutions:
There are several choices when it comes to choosing a college or university in the U.S. The following types of colleges and universities in U.S. providing higher education most of these are operated by the states and territories.
Community Colleges: These are public institutions that generally offer two-year associate degrees or diplomas or certificates, but an increasing number are also offering four-year degrees as well. More than 45% of American students start their college journey from Community Colleges. They earn Associate degree after completing two-years at these colleges and then transfer to a four-year college/university to complete a bachelor’s degree. Most community colleges are publicly supported by the state and local communities, although some are private. There are currently over 1,000 community colleges in the US, of which the great majority are public and state-funded.
Public or State Universities: Public universities may also be known as State universities. Some include the words ‘state university’ or include a regional element such as ‘Northern’ or ‘Eastern’ in their name. Public universities are often larger in numbers of enrolments of 20000 or more. They are often less expensive than private universities for international students. The most common degree programs offered by public universities are ESL, Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, Doctoral Degrees, Post-Doctoral Degrees.
Private Universities: Private universities are small universities funded or supported by tuition fees, alumni and other private donations, research contracts and grants. Tuition fees is higher than the public institutions and in-state and out-state students are charged the same fees. International students enjoy studying in private institutions in the USA for their technological resources, research facilities, and small class sizes. Along with the most commonly degree programs like Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctoral, Post-Doctoral, some private colleges offer Pathways programs, 2+2 deferred programs and Co-op programs also to international students.
Technical Colleges: These colleges provide training programs in the field of Engineering, technology, and the physical sciences. They are often known as Institutes of Technology or Polytechnic Institutes and their degree programs are for four years for completion. Some examples of these institutions are MIT, Virginia Polytechnic College, Fox Valley Technical College, Stevens Institute of Technology etc.
Liberal Arts Colleges: These offer four-year programs that emphasizes a broad undergraduate degree. They offer programs in humanities, natural sciences, music, mathematics, languages, and social sciences. Most liberal arts institutions are private. Some examples Swarthmore, Amherst, Williams, Wellesley College etc. There are around less than 200 Liberal Arts Colleges in U.S.
Type of Qualifications:
Certificates and Diploma: Diplomas are typically offered through community or technical schools. Diploma programs take a shorter time to complete than bachelors or associate degree programs, making them an ideal option for people looking to jumpstart their career. A certificate is an academic achievement indicating that an individual has effectively completed training or received specific instruction in a particular area or field. These are offered as title of undergraduate certificates, graduate certificates or advanced certificates.
A certificate program may award undergraduate credit, graduate credit, or no academic credit at all.
Associate Degree: A student can enrol for an Associate degree in the U.S. upon successful completion of twelve years of schooling. This degree is offered by Community Colleges upon completion of 2 years and can be used to complete another 2 years Bachelor’s degree from the same college if offered or to transfer their credits to attend another college or university.
Bachelors or Undergraduate Degree: This degree can be earned at a four-year college or at a university. Each year has a specific academic standing like freshman – year 1, sophomore – year 2, Junior – year 3 and Senior – year 4. The two types of bachelor’s degrees typically offered by these institutions are BA (Bachelor of Arts) or BS (Bachelor of Science). Students pick ‘minors’ and a ‘major’ towards such degree completion as per their interest.
Master’s or Graduate Degree: After completing Bachelor’s degree, students enrol for Master’s program. Such a degree usually requires 1–3 years of coursework, and may also include a research component. Some require students to complete a thesis, and some do not. Some are academically oriented, and some are professionally focused. The most common titles of Master’s degrees are MBA, MS, MA in different fields of interest.
Doctoral Degree: More than 35,000 doctorate degrees are awarded in the US every year by more than 500 institutions. It usually takes 4 to 6 years to complete. 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. Most doctoral programs are fully funded. Funding is awarded in the form of Graduate, Teaching or Research Assistantships and usually includes tuition wavier. Examples include: Doctor of Science (DSc), Doctor of Letters (DLitt), Doctor of Laws (LLD), Doctor of Music (Deus), Doctor of Engineering (DEng), Doctor of Economics (Dec) and Doctor of Business (DBus).
Professional Degree: A professional degree program is available at graduate level that lead to licensure in specialized fields such as law, density or medicine.
|Certificates and Diploma||6 months to 2 years||Vocational and job-oriented programs, mainly technical|
|Associate degree||2 years||Equivalent to first two years of a 4-year bachelor’s degree|
|Bachelor’s degree||3 to 4 years||And undergraduate degree which requires successful completion of secondary school. The duration of your course depends on the province and type of program although most courses last for 4 years. Certain provinces like Quebec have bachelor’s degree of 3 years.|
|Bachelor’s Honours degree||4 years||This will require getting a specific GPA or credits, a major or a specialist program|
|Postgraduate diploma||1 to 2 years||A post bachelor degree qualification|
|Master’s degree (by thesis)||1 to 2 years||Often referred to as research masters, this requires mandatory submission of thesis for assessment and course completion|
|Master’s degree (by non-thesis)||1 to 2 years||This is a taught master’s degree, not requiring thesis submission|
|Doctorate or PhD||4 to 7 years||Ph.D. is awarded when students complete dissertation and successfully defend their work before a panel of faculty members|
|Post-Doctoral Programs||No time limit||Specialised research-oriented programs|
There are mainly two intakes in U.S. institutions – Fall and Spring, however, few offers programs in Summer intake also.
Fall– Starts from August to September
Spring – Starts in January
Summer – Starts in Mayor June
Some programs may offer multiple intakes and some may offer only a single intake, mostly in fall.
What are the study costs in USA?
|S.no.||Study program||Average annual fee (in USD*)|
|1||Undergraduate program||$10,000 to $50,000 per year|
|2||Postgraduate master’s degree||$15,000 to $45,000 per year|
|3||Doctoral degree||$25,000 to $60,000 per year|
|4||MBA||$30,000 to $80,000 per year|
*Please note all fee figures are indicative
Scholarships and Grants
Scholarships are awarded by a number of funding sources. These can include businesses, religious groups, individuals, community organizations, college departments or alumni.
Grants are different in that they usually come from state or federal financial aid that is given to the college or university itself.
Here’s an overview of the kinds of funds you can avail based on your study level.
For undergraduates (UG)
- Merit-based scholarship
- Need-based grants by college
- Tuition waiver
- Government Funded Scholarships – Fulbright Foreign Student Program, Hubert Humphrey Fellowship Program
- Privately Funded Scholarship
For Postgraduates (PG)
- Merit-based scholarship
- Research Associate ship
- Teaching assistantship
- Privately Funded Scholarship
Types of U.S. Visas for Student
Here are the types of visa that may be applied including study and work parameters:
F-1 Student Visa: The F-1 Visa is for international students engaging in a full course of academic study in an accredited educational program that has been designated by DHS (Department of Homeland Security).
F-2 Dependent of an F-1 Student: F-2 visa holders are individuals in the US who are dependents on an F-1 student. F-2 spouses may not engage in full-time study;
M-1 Vocational Student Visa: M-1 Visa holders are students enrolled in a vocational program or school in the US. They must maintain a full course of study; part-time study is only permitted if authorized by the DSO.
M-2 Dependent of M-1 Student: An M-2 visa holder is an individual in the US who is a dependent on an M-1 student. M-2 spouses may not engage in full-time study.
J-1 Exchange Student Visa: J-1 visa holders are individuals in the US who are exchange visitors for the primary purpose of studying at an academic institution under the auspices of the United States Information Agency and a designated program sponsor.J-1 visa holders are eligible for up to 18 months of Practical Academic Training (up to 36 months for post-doctoral training).
Employment opportunities in USA
In the USA, work rights are available to international students while studying and also upon finishing a degree or diploma.
International students on F-1 status can work on campus 20 hours a week while school is in session, and full-time during scheduled breaks, such as winter and summer breaks. This work can occur on the school’s campus or at an off-campus location “educationally affiliated with the school.” In the latter case, the work must be “associated with the school’s established curriculum or related to contractually funded research projects at the post-graduate level.”
Practical training is available to F-1 students who have been attending a college, university, or conservatory full-time for at least one academic year. High school and English language program students are not eligible for practical training even if the program is part of a college or university.
Practical training is divided into two types, “curricular” and “optional:”
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) describes work that is an “integral” (essential) part of the established curriculum and is usually required or for credit. CPT is designed to provide students with an opportunity to gain actual employment experience in their area of study.
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
OPT is an opportunity for F-1 students to gain work experience to complement their academic program; as such, the work must be directly related to the student’s major area of study.
All F-1 students are entitled to one year of Optional Practical Training for each higher education degree they receive. Students must have completed one academic year of their degree to be eligible for OPT.
Students who complete a degree on the STEM Designated Degree Program List may be entitled to a 24-month extension of OPT (36 months total). STEM refers to degrees in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics.
In addition to practical training, F-1 students may be authorized to work off-campus, but only after having been in F-1 status for one academic year, and only if they meet certain criteria. Students who are experiencing unforeseen economic hardship and students who have a job offer from an international organization may apply for work authorization from the DHS.
What are the student visa requirements for U.S.?
Applying for a U.S. student visa?
To apply for student’s visa (F-1 / M-1 / J-1) a valid passport copy (valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the US) is required. You have to make SEVIS application fees payment and fill the DS-160 form. You have to apply for Visa application with your passport-sized photographs, academics documents, proofs of sufficient funds – Bank statements, score sheets of exams like SAT / ACT, GRE/GMAT, TOEFL / IELTS / PTE etc. along with the Form I-20 Letter issued by approved University or College to you with the admission letter. Graduates students may also have to submit the work experience certificates and pay-slips of last 6 months, if working.