US has long been one of the favoured destinations for international students. Many international students, scholars and visitors are surprised to learn that the United States has no national education system. The Federal government can influence education only by the funding it offers, but this is limited. Unlike CBSE board examinations in India, there is no national high school graduation examination.
US is home to the highest number of international students as compared to any other country. Universities in US, many of them top ranking in the world, place a great deal of significance on diversity. The education system has people from various religions, countries as well as age groups.
US boasts of a well-established, high-quality tertiary education system that offers a wide range of associate degrees, undergraduate and post graduate programs, PhD’s and doctorates from over 4500 accredited colleges and universities across 50 states. US universities are also well known for scientific research and development. In fact, most of the world’s research is conducted by top US Universities. The university campuses in US offer a very active social life that helps cultivate further career opportunities.
The vast size of the USA means that the climate varies considerably from region to region. In general the climate is temperate. In winter (December – April) the northern states are the coldest, experiencing bitter, freezing temperatures. Low temperatures in January and February are made slightly warmer by the Chinook winds originating from the Rocky Mountains. The southern states, known as the ‘sunbelt’ are quite the opposite, with temperatures rarely falling below freezing.
Summers (June – September) are hot in the US but for New England, Oregon and Washington which tend to be rainier and less predictable. The Pacific Northwest states are generally temperate while the south, east coast and Midwest are more humid. Heat waves are common in the Southwest.
Spring and autumn are generally mild, warm and sunny with the exception of some wet areas, the Pacific Northwest in particular.
Tornado season arrives in the Midwest between April and June, and hurricanes are common in early summer along the southern East Coast and Gulf of Mexico coast – TV and radio will broadcast warnings for both, but the chances of encountering one on a short visit are remote.
The term “United States“, when used in the geographical sense, is the contiguous United States, the state of Alaska, the island state of Hawaii, the five insular territories of Puerto Rico, Northern Mariana Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa, and minor outlying possessions. The United States shares land borders with Canada and Mexico and maritime (water) borders withRussia, Cuba, and the Bahamas in addition to Canada and Mexico.
The United States has a total resident population of 321,729,000, making it the third most populous country in the world. It is very urbanised, with 81% residing in cities and suburbs as of 2014 (the worldwide urban rate is 54%). California and Texas are the most populous states, as the mean center of U.S. population has consistently shifted westward and southward. New York City is the most populous city in the United States.
|Density||84.54 people/sq mi (180th)
|Growth rate||0.77% (143rd)|
|Birth rate||13.42 births/1,000 population (147th)|
|Death rate||8.15/1,000 population (100th)|
|Life expectancy||79.56 years (36th)|
|• male||77.11 years|
|• female||81.94 years|
|Fertility rate||1.86 children/woman (123rd)|
|Infant mortality rate||6.17 deaths/1,000 live births|
|Net migration rate||2.45 migrants/1,000 population|
|65 and over||14.5%|
|Official||None at the federal level|
|Spoken||English 80%, Spanish 12.4%, other Indo-European 3.7%, Asian and Pacific island languages 3%, other languages 0.9%|
In general, degree programs in the US take about one year longer than programs in the UK, although this varies depending upon whether you receive a Master’s degree prior to a PhD.
Most universities in the US begin their terms in mid to late August, although smaller liberal arts colleges may start later. Most take a rather lengthy break beginning in mid-December and begin the second semester in early to mid-January. However, universities that are on different calendars, such as a trimester or quarter-based system, may begin their winter break at the Thanksgiving holiday, which falls at the end of November.
in the US, you apply to the larger university and for the first year or more, you take courses from a variety of fields and only declare a major at the end of the first year or perhaps even during the second year. American universities have different “schools,” or departments, such as the School of Arts and Sciences, which houses a number of related majors. However, even after you declare a major at an American university, you are still expected to take classes outside of that field, known as “electives.” For this reason, we can say that the general emphasis of higher education in the US is breadth, or getting a range of knowledge from a variety of different subjects.
the government has very little control over what universities charge in the United States. The US differentiates between in-state tuition fees and out-of-state tuition fees, as well as between private and public universities. These distinctions determine the tuition fee. The average tuition fee for public two-year institutions is around $3000 per year, while the average fee for private four-year institutions is around $29,000 per year. Finally, some private four-year institutions can cost up to $50,000 per year. In order to help students cover the cost of tuition in both countries,
A student who is attending a college or university and has not earned a bachelor’s degree, is studying at the undergraduate level. It typically takes about four years to earn a bachelor’s degree. You can either begin your studies in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree at a community college or a four-year university or college.
Your first two years of study you will generally be required to take a wide variety of classes in different subjects, commonly known as prerequisite courses: literature, science, the social sciences, the arts, history, and so forth. This is so you achieve a general knowledge, a foundation, of a variety of subjects prior to focusing on a specific field of study.
Many students choose to study at a community college in order to complete the first two years of prerequisite courses. They will earn an Associate of Arts (AA) transfer degree and then transfer to a four-year university or college.
A “major” is the specific field of study in which your degree is focused. For example, if someone’s major is journalism, they will earn a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. You will be required to take a certain number of courses in this field in order to meet the degree requirements of your major. You must choose your major at the beginning of your third year of school.
A very unique characteristic of the American higher education system is that you can change your major multiple times if you choose. It is extremely common for American students to switch majors at some point in their undergraduate studies. Often, students discover a different field that they excel in or enjoy. The American education system is very flexible. Keep in mind though that switching majors may result in more courses, which means more time and money.
- Second Level: Graduate in Pursuit of a Master’s Degree
Presently, a college or university graduate with a bachelor’s degree may want to seriously think about graduate study in order to enter certain professions or advance their career. This degree is usually mandatory for higher-level positions in library science, engineering, behavioral health and education.
Furthermore, international students from some countries are only permitted to study abroad at a graduate level. You should inquire about the credentials needed to get a job in your country before you apply to a postgraduate university in the USA.
A graduate program is usually a division of a university or college. To gain admission, you will need to take the GRE (graduate record examination). Certain master’s programs require specific tests, such as the LSAT for law school, the GRE or GMAT for business school, and the MCAT for medical school.
Graduate programs in pursuit of a master’s degree typically take one to two years to complete. For example, the MBA (master of business administration) is an extremely popular degree program that takes about two years. Other master’s programs, such as journalism, only take one year.
The majority of a master’s program is spent in classroom study and a graduate student must prepare a long research paper called a “master’s thesis” or complete a “master’s project.”
- Third Level: Graduate in Pursuit of a Doctorate Degree
Many graduate schools consider the attainment of a master’s degree the first step towards earning a PhD (doctorate). But at other schools, students may prepare directly for a doctorate without also earning a master’s degree. It may take three years or more to earn a PhD degree. For international students, it may take as long as five or six years.
For the first two years of the program most doctoral candidates enroll in classes and seminars. At least another year is spent conducting firsthand research and writing a thesis or dissertation. This paper must contain views, designs, or research that have not been previously published.
A doctoral dissertation is a discussion and summary of the current scholarship on a given topic. Most U.S. universities awarding doctorates also require their candidates to have a reading knowledge of two foreign languages, to spend a required length of time “in residence,” to pass a qualifying examination that officially admits candidates to the PhD program, and to pass an oral examination on the same topic as the dissertation.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE U.S. HIGHER EDUCATION SYSTEM
Classes range from large lectures with several hundred students to smaller classes and seminars (discussion classes) with only a few students. The American university classroom atmosphere is very dynamic. You will be expected to share your opinion, argue your point, participate in class discussions and give presentations. International students find this one of the most surprising aspects of the American education system.
Each week professors usually assign textbook and other readings. You will be expected to keep up-to-date with the required readings and homework so you can participate in class discussions and understand the lectures. Certain degree programs also require students to spend time in the laboratory.
Professors issue grades for each student enrolled in the course. Grades are usually based upon:
- Each professor will have a unique set ofclass participation requirements, but students are expected to participate in class discussions, especially in seminar classes. This is often a very important factor in determining a student’s grade.
- Amidterm examination is usually given during class time.
- One or moreresearch or term papers, or laboratory reports must be submitted for evaluation.
- Possible short exams or quizzesare given. Sometimes professors will give an unannounced “pop quiz.” This doesn’t count heavily toward the grade, but is intended to inspire students to keep up with their assignments and attendance.
- A final examinationwill be held after the final class meeting.
Each course is worth a certain number of credits or credit hours. This number is roughly the same as the number of hours a student spends in class for that course each week. A course is typically worth three to five credits.
A full-time program at most schools is 12 or 15 credit hours (four or five courses per term) and a certain number of credits must be fulfilled in order to graduate. International students are expected to enroll in a full-time program during each term.
If a student enrolls at a new university before finishing a degree, generally most credits earned at the first school can be used to complete a degree at the new university. This means a student can transfer to another university and still graduate within a reasonable time.
Types of U.S. higher education
1. STATE COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY
A state school is supported and run by a state or local government. Each of the 50 U.S. states operates at least one state university and possibly several state colleges. Many of these public universities schools have the name of the state, or the actual word “State” in their names: for example, Washington State University and the University of Michigan.
2. PRIVATE COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY
These schools are privately run as opposed to being run by a branch of the government. Tuition will usually be higher than state schools. Often, private U.S. universities and colleges are smaller in size than state schools.
Religiously affiliated universities and colleges are private schools. Nearly all these schools welcome students of all religions and beliefs. Yet, there are a percentage of schools that prefer to admit students who hold similar religious beliefs as those in which the school was founded.
3. COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Community colleges are two-year colleges that award an associate’s degrees (transferable), as well as certifications. There are many types of associate degrees, but the most important distinguishing factor is whether or not the degree is transferable. Usually, there will be two primary degree tracks: one for academic transfer and the other prepares students to enter the workforce straightaway. University transfer degrees are generally associate of arts or associate of science. Not likely to be transferrable are the associate of applied science degrees and certificates of completion.
Community college graduates most commonly transfer to four-year colleges or universities to complete their degree. Because they can transfer the credits they earned while attending community college, they can complete their bachelor’s degree program in two or more additional years. Many also offer ESL or intensive English language programs, which will prepare students for university-level courses.
If you do not plan to earn a higher degree than the associate’s, you should find out if an associate’s degree will qualify you for a job in your home country.
4. INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
An institute of technology is a school that provides at least four years of study in science and technology. Some have graduate programs, while others offer short-term courses.
There are many benefits to studying in the US, but don’t just take our word for it! Each summer we survey UK students before they go over. Here are the top reasons they tell us they’ve chosen to study in the US.
1. Choose from the wide range of universities on offer: There are over 4,500 US universities offering undergraduate degrees. With such a wide range of universities and degrees on offer, there is bound to be one that is a great fit for you!
2. Experience American college life: US universities are known for their vibrant campus life. Cheer your university’s football (American that is) team to victory or play intramural sports yourself. Join a club – there are hundreds to choose from. Become a leader in student government, or write for the university newspaper. Act or sing in the campus arts programme or volunteer in the community. There are so many ways to get involved in American college life.
3. Have the flexibility to explore your academic interests before choosing your major:Undergraduate degrees in the US are quite flexible. You can apply to US universities as “undecided” about your major (field of study). Under the “liberal arts philosophy”, you will take classes from a variety of subjects during the first 1 – 2 years before specialising in your major field. Students who already know what they want to study can complete a “double major”, degrees in two academic fields often completed within the normal four years of study. Students may also earn a minor qualification for completing 3-5 classes in one field.
4. Take advantage of funding opportunities: Many students are able to fund their studies through scholarships from US universities and external funding bodies. In fact, about 10% of international undergraduate students report US universities as their primary source of funding. Scholarships are often offered to students based on merit, extracurricular achievement, financial need, talent and/or personal characteristics, such as country of origin, field, gender or ethnicity. If you look hard enough, there is a scholarship out there for you!
5. Internationalise and strengthen your CV: Studying and working abroad can make you stand out in the job market when you return to the UK. According to a Council for Industry and Higher Education (CIHE) survey of 230 UK companies, one in three employers valued job applicants with international study experience, while 65% of employers favoured applicants with overseas work experience. International students in the US have the opportunity to gain work experience during their studies and to work in the US for up to one year after graduation on the Optional Practical Training scheme. Students in the sciences and engineering stay on for up to two years.
6. Travel in the US and learn about another culture: The US spans six time zones and has a great diversity in geography and culture. Long university summer holidays and programmes organised by the international students office, such as holiday trips and host family schemes, offer students a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the US and immerse themselves in another culture.
F1 visa is issued to international students who are attending an academic program or English Language Program at a US college or university. F-1 students must maintain the minimum course load for full-time student status. They can remain in the US up to 60 days beyond the length of time it takes to complete their academic program, unless they have applied and been approved to stay and work for a period of time under the OPT Program.
Documents required for F1 Visa Interview
Visa Appointment Letter which you can get by getting visa appointment on the web ustraveldocs.com. Read articles on How to Book a visa slot? . It explain everything about booking visa slot
Unique Identification number or Visa Fee Receipt
Valid visa fee receipt with Unique idetification number. This number will be given to you when you are registering at ustraveldocs.com).
Signed DS-160. This can be found at https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/
CEAC Barcode printout – Code on the Confirmation page of DS-160
SEVIS fee Proof
Proof of payment of SEVIS Fee Receipt I-901, if applicable. (You can carry the print out taken of I-901 form. In case if you receive the original I901 form, you can carry that.).
No need of any photograph since Photo will be taken in OFC appointment.
Original Valid passport. You are recommended to have passport valid for at least six months beyond your interview date.
I20 and Letter of admission (sign on your I20 on the specified place)
Evidence of financial resources: proof of liquid assets sufficient to pay for the entire first year of education and living expenses as well as proof of readily available funds to cover the remaining years of studies. To know more information about financial documentation go through the website.
Original Bachelor degree (B.tech / BE/ or other) transcripts or high school diploma (SSC / 10thstandard, Intermediate/+2 level) along with mark sheets from previous institutions attended.
GRE / TOEFL / IELTS / GMAT score sheets
Work Ex. certificate
Work Experience certificate of you are an employee of a company
J1 Student Visa
The J-1 visa in the United States is for people who wish to take part in work-and-study-based exchange and visitor programs in the U.S. These programs are sponsored by an educational or other nonprofit institution, which must be accredited through the Exchange Visitor Program designated by the U.S. State Department. J-1 exchange visitors come to the United States to teach, study, receive training, or demonstrate special skills. The J1 visa is meant for students who need practical training that is not available to them in their home country, and the training must be directly related to their academic program.
M1 Student Visa
The “M” visa is for nonacademic or vocational studies. M-1 visa holders for technical and vocational programs are not permitted to work during the course of their studies. The M-1 student visa applicants must have evidence that sufficient funds are immediately available to pay all tuition and living costs for the entire period of intended stay.
Q: I’m just getting started. What steps should I follow to apply to American universities?
Begin by reading through the detailed information in the undergraduate study in the USA section of this website which includes information on the top reasons why British students study in the US, how to choose a university, funding and the application timeline. As you apply to American universities, consider taking advantage of our advising resources. We offer various events throughout the year including USA College Day, seminars and webinars on undergraduate study in the USA.
Q: What qualifications do I need to apply to an American university?
Each American university is free to set its own academic requirements and polices for admission. Some universities will have very strict criteria for admittance while others will accept anyone with the most basic academic qualifications. Read our webpage on admissions criteria and check with the international admissions office of your university(s) to get a better idea of what US universities may require of you when applying.
Q: When should I begin the application process?
Ideally, the process of applying for undergraduate study in the USA will begin 1-1½ years before enrolment. For most students, this is during the spring/summer at the end of lower sixth. Do not panic if you are in the autumn of upper sixth and are just now getting started in this process. You will simply need to work at a faster pace! Read more about the application timeline and what tasks you will need to complete when applying to American universities.
Q: I want to begin university in January/Spring semester. When do I start applying?
You should begin looking at/choosing universities the Spring prior to enrolling in university for January admissions. Most application deadlines for January admission will fall in mid to late Autumn. Be aware that applying for Spring Semester entry will sometimes mean you will need to work at a faster pace than Autumn admission students as key points in the application process fall closer together for January applicants. More information about Spring Semester/January admissions can be found on our January Admissions timeline.
Q: Is it possible to study law or medicine at the undergraduate level in the USA?
No. Although some universities offer pre-law or pre-med undergraduate degrees, they are not sufficient to qualify to practise law or medicine. In the USA, there are two postgraduate degrees in law: the three-year JD degree for training to practice law in the USA and the one-year LLM. Medicine is also afour-year postgraduate degree. Though not required, American students typically complete a degree in a related field at the undergraduate level before applying for these degrees. For more information on studying law or medicine, please see the hand-outs on the subject-specific information page.
Q: At what point is it too late to apply to an American university?
It is never too late! For autumn entry, most American universities will have undergraduate admission deadlines in November for early action or early decision and a deadline in January-March for regular admissions. Most community colleges will want students to apply by late spring or early summer. If you missed the autumn deadline or are taking a gap year and wish admitted for January/spring semester, most universities will require you to apply by early autumn. For more information on the American university application process, please visit our application timeline webpage.
Q: What is the difference between an associates and a bachelor’s degree?
Two-year colleges in the US offer an alternative to the more traditional four-year bachelor’s degree programmes. Known as community, technical or junior colleges, these institutions offer study in a wide range of subjects to post-secondary students of all ages and academic levels. Students studying at a community college may either receive a stand-alone two-year qualification, the associates degree, or transfer to a four-year bachelor’s programme in a 2 + 2 format. In addition to educational flexibility,two-year colleges are also known for their affordability with relatively low tuition rates in comparison to four-year institutions. For more information, please visit our associate’s Degree page.
Q: Do American universities offer January admissions?
Many American universities will admit new students for January admission (the spring semester). Contact the university/universities that you are interested in applying to make certain they admit students in January. The typical deadline for January admission will be in early autumn. Be aware that applying for January/Spring semester admission may mean you will miss some financial aid deadlines and that you may to apply for financial aid in the autumn of your second year. For more information on the American university application process, please visit our January admissions page.
Q: Can I take a gap year before studying in the USA?
Certainly. It is not as common for American students to take a gap year so you will need to ring or email the university’s admissions office to see what their policy is for students wishing to defer admission for a full year. American universities will value the experience and maturity that you will gain on a gap year, especially if you are doing something purposeful with your year such as voluntary service, learning a language, saving up for your studies or travelling to a new part of the world.
Some students taking a gap year will apply in upper sixth and then ask for permission to defer their admission (note that you may not automatically be able to defer scholarship offers). Others complete their application in the summer / early autumn after their A-levels and find they have more time to focus on their applications and can write about their gap year plans in their admissions essay.
When planning your application timeline, bear in mind that you will need internet access to submit applications and that most universities do not open their applications until August the year before enrolment. You will also need to be contactable via email in December if you apply for early deadlines or in March / April if you apply by the regular deadlines. Further, you will likely need to return to the UK or your home country to apply for your visa the summer before you go to the USA. For more information on the American university application process, please visit our application timeline webpage.
Q: I am a mature student. Can I still apply to universities in the USA?
Yes! The process of applying to US universities as a mature student will not be all that different than theapplication process of students fresh out of secondary school. Most universities will appreciate the diversity and knowledge that you will bring to campus as a mature student. You will be able to address your previous work experience/education in your application essay and state why you are choosing to pursue university in the USA at this stage in your life.
If you have attended university before, you will most likely apply to your American university as atransfer student. In addition, as a mature student, some universities will not require you to sit anadmissions test. Please contact your university’s international admissions office to see what their requirements are for non-traditional/mature students.
Please Note: Some highly competitive universities in the USA do not consider applications from students who are not coming straight out of secondary school or who are transferring from another university.Please check with the university’s international admissions page to make sure they will consider your application.
Q: Is it possible to transfer between American universities or from a UK university to an American university?
Is there a deadline for applying?
Most schools have start dates from five weeks to three months. Applications will be accepted and processed at all times of the year and the school will make special efforts to notify the applicants quickly of the status of their applications.
I cannot get my bank statement until I have an acceptance letter. Can I send my application packet in now (without a financial document) and send the bank statement in after I receive acceptance?
Yes, your application can be processed with most schools without the financial documents. As soon as you do receive your financial documentation you will need to submit it, because the school cannot issue your I-20 without having the required financial documents. If you need the acceptance letter before you can get the financial documents, then please write a note to the school stating this fact and include it with your application packet. This way the school can go ahead and process your application without the financial information.
Does the bank statement have to be in a sponsor’s name or is it ok if it is in my name?
The bank statement can be either from your bank account or that of a “sponsor”, or a combination of the two bank statements. If you use a sponsor’s bank statement you will also need to have the sponsor write a letter to the school stating the following: “I am the sponsor for _______ and I intend to provide him/her with financial assistance during his/her first year at the (name of school) up to the amount of $_____.
What should I do if my bank statement does not reflect US dollars?
If you cannot obtain a bank statement reflecting the equivalent value of your money in U.S. dollars, you may get the conversion from the internet. Just print the page showing the conversion and include it with your bank statement. http://www.currency-exchange.co.uk/Currency-Converter.htm
Can I have more than one sponsor?
You can have as many sponsors as you need. However, you and the sponsors need to make it clear to the visa officials why they are willing to provide money to you for your education in the U.S.
I am from a country where all the schools are taught in English. Why do I need to submit English Proficiency Documents?
In order to not be in violation of the accreditation association, the schools need to have physical documentation in the student’s file. Unless the country is considered to have English as the first language, (i.e. Canada, U.S., Australia, UK) all applicant’s need to submit physical proof of proficiency.
Is the GRE or GMAT score required for admission?
No. For admission, it is not required that you have taken either the GMAT or the GRE exams. However, we recommend you take the GMAT or GRE exam. We suggest this because, having taken the test, you are more likely to be viewed as a more serious student by the U.S. visa officer when you go to apply for your visa.
What if I am in my last semester of undergraduate study. Can I apply to the program now?
Some schools will process your application even if you have not yet graduated. You can send the transcripts that you now have along with the other required application materials. Also, include a letter indicating that your final transcripts will be sent as soon as you have received them from the school. In the meantime, the school can work on “conditional” acceptance for you–that is, you can be accepted for admission subject only to presenting those final documents of graduation. Please contact us to find a list of schools that will process your file in this manner.