The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country mostly located in central North America, between Canada and Mexico. It is the world's 3rd largest country by total area. The USA consists of 50 states (48 continental plus Alaska and Hawaii), a federal district, Washington D.C. five major self-governing territories, and various possessions.
The United States of America has been a global leader in the field of education ranking 1st as the most preferred abroad study destination. Nearly, 50 of the top 200 universities in the world are based in USA. Universities in USA are also credited for innumerable patents and ground-breaking innovations, offering a chance to study and compete with some of the finest minds in the respective fields. Studying in the USA provides exposure to quality education along with the presence of new-edge technology, flexible curriculum and work opportunities. This is one of the reasons why US degree is very highly regarded among employers all over the world. In addition, given the fact that USA has a reputation of being the center stage of research-technology, culture and new age resources, studying in the USA is a dream for many.
American Dollar ($)
GMT -4 to -10
New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston
9.83 million km²
Boston is the capital and most populous city of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the United States. It is one of the top student city in the USA and is without doubt one of the world’s best-known academic hubs. This city houses Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University – ranked first and third respectively in the QS World University Rankings 2020. In addition Boston is home to six more internationally ranked universities and has high employability ranking.
New York City, often called simply New York is the most populous city in the United States. From architecture and arts to finance and innovation, New York City is one of the world’s leaders in almost every field imaginable including higher education. With a large selection of prestigious universities located in and around the city, it’s long been a magnet for international students seeking the finest education. New York is one of the highest scoring cities in the QS World University Rankings 2020, with world famous Columbia University and New York University (NYU).
Los Angeles often known by its initials L.A., is the largest city in California. The city is home to three universities ranked within the world’s top 150 that includes University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and University of Southern California. In addition to its large comprehensive state universities, the city also has numerous private universities and colleges, many specializing in fields relating to the creative arts.
Chicago is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Illinois, and the third-most-populous city in the United States. It is a fast-paced, high-rise economic hub and home to two of the nation's most prestigious universities, the University of Chicago and Northwestern University. In the QS Best Student Cities ranking Chicago scores strongly across several indicators, including employer activity, reflecting the robust reputation of its institutions among graduate employers. The student mixture, academic facilities and socio-cultural opportunities make the city one of the most chosen study destination.
USA has the world’s largest international student population, with over 800,000 students choosing to broaden their education and life experience. Nearly 4% of all students enrolled in higher-level education in the USA are international students, and the number is growing. The benefits of studying in the USA are:
The United States has one of the world’s finest university systems, with outstanding programs in virtually all fields. At the undergraduate level, excellent programs exist in traditional disciplines, as well as in professional fields. At the graduate level, students have the opportunity to work directly with some of the finest minds in their field of study, with the chance to become involved with exclusive research and educational opportunities.
Variety of Educational Opportunities
The United States is home to several thousand colleges and universities, boasting at least ten times as many campuses as in any other country. As a result, the higher education system in the U.S. has something for everyone. Some U.S. colleges and universities stress broad educational principles; others emphasize practical, employment-related skills; and still others specialize in the arts, social sciences or technical fields. This means that no matter what you plan on studying, you will have a wide variety of programs in your particular field from which to choose.
Although many programs are highly structured in that specific coursework requirements must be met, you will generally be able to find a wide variety of course choices to meet those requirements and the freedom to decide which classes best match your interests. At the advanced stages of a degree, or if you are pursuing a graduate degree, you will be able to tailor your coursework to fit your specific academic goals, needs and interests. When you choose topics for independent study for a graduate thesis or dissertation, you can emphasize ideas that are important to you, your field and your country.
Support Services for International Students
Studying in the United States is a rewarding experience, but navigating your way through day-to-day issues can be a challenge. Many international students find that the college and university international student office is a great resource when it comes to adapting to a culturally and academically different environment. The mission of the international student office is to assist students like you, and there is often a wide range of student services that they provide.
Global Education and Long-Term Career Prospects
Experience in an international setting is a marketable commodity. Many employers seek the wide range of knowledge, adaptability and experience that international students acquire by studying in the United States. Companies in the U.S. are increasingly seeking to become a strong presence in the global marketplace. They often look to hire employees who not only have multi-cultural language skills, but those who can also help communicate, negotiate and conduct business across different cultures.
The United States is not the only country seeking strong candidates when hiring; international students are in high demand elsewhere, as well. In recent years, international companies have become much more proactive in recruiting from the pool of strong international student graduates. Your long-term career prospects can be enhanced by your experiences through the development of self-confidence, independence and cross-cultural skills - attributes which are in high demand with employers worldwide.
Campus Life Experience
When you continue your studies in the U.S., you are making a choice to broaden not only your educational opportunities, but your cultural experience, as well. Whether you attend a small, private college in a small town or a university situated in the middle of a large urban area, most universities offer a variety of student clubs and organizations to match the wide array of student interests. You can have the opportunity to immerse yourself in American culture, meeting new people and making new friends, through different organizations and associations.
The education system of the USA include:
COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES
There are more than 600 public and 1,700 private, four-year colleges and universities in the United States. The academic titles awarded by these institutions include undergraduate degrees such as bachelor’s degrees and graduate degrees such as the master’s degree and the doctorate. Undergraduate Degrees: The basic undergraduate degree in the United States is the Bachelor’s degree. It generally requires four or more years of full-time study. The associate degree, which is offered at community colleges, typically requires two years of full-time study. Most universities offer undergraduate students a liberal education, which means students are required to take courses across several disciplines before choosing one major field of study in which to specialize. Most undergraduate or Bachelor's degrees in the US require completion of 120 credits, amounting to 15 hours of credit each term for full-time students. Graduate Degrees: The basic graduate degree is the master’s degree, which usually requires one to two years of full-time study beyond the bachelor's degree. The research doctorate (Ph.D. or equivalent) usually requires a minimum of five to seven years beyond the bachelor’s. However, the total time required can vary significantly depending on the institution, student and field of study.
The Community Colleges (sometimes called junior colleges) generally offer two-year degree programs leading to the associate degree, as well as short certificate and diploma programs in a variety of academic and vocational fields. There are approximately 1,100 public and 700 private two-year colleges in the United States. Many students enroll in community colleges to acquire or update specific job skills, attain basic skills and pursue personal interests, while others complete one or two years of study at a community college before transferring to a four-year college or university to complete the remainder of a bachelor’s degree program. Most community colleges also offer GED programs and adult literacy programs.
In addition to public institutions and private nonprofit institutions, the U.S. higher education sector also includes private for-profit institutions often referred to as “proprietary schools.” Proprietary schools are especially prevalent at the non-degree level, where they comprise about 70 percent of such institutions. They offer practical training in specific fields, such as business administration and computer technology, and degrees in several subject areas. A growing number of proprietary institutions are accredited by recognized accrediting associations.
LIBERAL ARTS COLLEGES
These are the four-year institutions emphasizing the liberal arts. They traditionally emphasize interactive instruction and offer courses in the arts, humanities, languages, and social and physical sciences. The majority of liberal arts institutions are private. They are known for being residential and for having smaller enrollment and lower student-to-faculty ratios than universities. Most are private, although there are public liberal arts colleges.
US universities have 3 intakes:
The major intake is the Fall intake, but most of the universities are open for Spring and a few of them for Summer intake too.
The U.S. academic calendar typically runs from September to May and can be divided into two academic terms of 16-18 weeks known as semesters. Alternatively, some schools may operate on a quarter or trimester system of multiple terms of 10-12 weeks.
Cost of Education
The universities in the USA are broadly classified as Public and Private:
These are state-affiliated institutions that are financially supported by public taxes and are usually large in size. They offer various degrees and certifications at an affordable tuition. The Bachelor courses range from $15,000-$20,000 per year while the Masters course are at $15,500 to $25,000 per year.
A private university runs without the control of any government entity. Tuition fees at private universities tend to be much higher than at public universities where the Bachelor course range from $20,000 and $30,000 per year. The tuition for Master level course is $20,000-$35,000 per year.
Similarly, the approximate living expenditure would add up to another 14,000 – 19,000 $ per year, according to the student's lifestyle. It is also depended on the area of stay whether the accommodation is in the city or suburbs.
Most U.S. colleges and universities will require international undergraduate and graduate students to demonstrate their knowledge and English language proficiency as part of the admissions process through standardized tests. These tests are valuable as a common measure of the skills and abilities of people from different educational backgrounds. Most U.S. colleges and universities require that you take one or more standardized admissions tests in order to gain entrance into their programs: SAT, ACT, GRE, MCAT, LSAT, TOEFL, IELTS depending on the academic level and course of study. The scores on these tests will play a role in determining whether or not you are admitted to your schools of choice.
Undergraduate - 6.0 IELTS / 80 TOEFL IBT and SAT above 1200
Post Graduate – 6.0 to 6.5 in IELTS/ 90 TOEFL IBT/ GRE 290 to 300 or GMAT 450 to 500
In the United States, application requirements can vary greatly from one institution to another. It is important to check the specific requirements on the website of each institution’s international admissions office. The general admission requirements are:
Online application form (including personal information, education history, etc.)
Standardized test scores (TOEFL, ACT/SAT, GRE/GMAT)
A copy of Passport
Recommendation letters (At least 2)
An international student applying to study at an accredited U.S. college or university, one must apply for an F Student visa. For that, they must first apply and be accepted by a U.S. institution of higher education that is certified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). After the SEVP-approved school accepts the enrollment, the student will be registered for the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and must pay the SEVIS I-901 fee. The SEVP-approved school will then issue Form I-20. After receiving the Form I-20 and registering in SEVIS, then they can apply at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate for an F student visa. The Form I-20 must be presented to the consular officer while attending a visa interview.
To apply for an F student visa, the following documents must be submitted:
A Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) Form
A passport valid for travel to the United States
One (1) 2"x2" (5cmx5cm) photograph taken within the last six months
A receipt showing payment of US$160 non-refundable nonimmigrant visa application processing fee paid in local currency.
An approved Form I-20 from U.S. school or program.
There are numerous scholarships and funding programs that covers tuition fees in the United States:
Fulbright Foreign Student Program: It enables graduate students, young professionals and artists from abroad to study and conduct research.
Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program: This scholarship provides ten months of non-degree academic study and related professional experiences.
The Tortuga Study Abroad Scholarship: It is awarded biannually to passionate students who want to study abroad.
Aga Khan Foundation International Scholarship Program: The scholarship is for outstanding postgraduate students from selected developing countries who have no other means of financing their studies.
Provider Scholarships: The providers in the USA have various scholarships ranging from full tuition waiver to few dollars scholarship. It is usually merit based and a good SAT score is equally important.
For accommodation in the USA, as an International student, one can choose accommodation options which are:
On-campus dormitories (Hall of residence/ Students Hostels): On-campus, students usually live in residence halls or dormitories, which are student apartment buildings that are often called "dorms." Among the options are dorms for men- or women-only, freshman-only, and academic-, language-, or theme-focused housing to support diverse student interests. Students usually share rooms, and the environment can be a great place to meet new friends quickly. Campus housing has on-site staff who are usually upperclassmen who know the campus well and serve as an information resource for all dorm residents. It can range from USD 5,000 to 8,000 including all utilities and housing-related costs.
Off-campus apartments (Home Stay/ Apartments/ Flats): Off-campus accommodation is a great option for international students as it gives them the chance to make the space of own, become part of a wider community, but also get some personal space as required. Students can choose the option of homestay or apartments and flats. They can either rent it individually or share it with other students. The costs range from USD 500- 3500 per month depending on the place (rural or city).
WORKING WHILE STUDYING
With F1 student visa, students can work on-campus up to 20 hours per week when school is in session and full-time during school break periods (up to 40 hours per week). On-campus employment is defined as work that takes place on campus, or at an off-campus location that is affiliated with the school. That could mean working in a university bookstore, cafeteria or other facilities where students can help.
After the first academic year, F-1 students may engage in different types of off-campus employment:
Curricular Practical Training (CPT): It is an off-campus employment option when practical training is an integral part of the established curriculum or academic program. It provides real-world experience in the field of study like an internship or practicum with a partnering employer.
Optional Practical Training (OPT): It is the temporary employment relating to the field of study. There are two types: Pre-completion OPT (work up to 20 hrs a week when school is in session for full time during breaks) & Post-completion OPT (Work after the completion of studies). The employment duration is 12 months.
WORKING AFTER GRADUATION
After graduation, OPT provides students with chances to look for job opportunities in the USA. During their tenure, they can gain work experience and learn skills. Also, they can transition to other favorable visas.
The USA is one of the most desired destinations for people looking for career opportunities after education. Permanent Residents (often called green card holders) are authorized to live and work permanently in the U.S whereas most nonimmigrants must document their intent to depart the U.S. after a period in the country. There are several ways to obtain permanent residency in the U.S, that includes Green Card: