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The United States of America is the most popular destination for international students. Indian students plan their higher education in the USA because of the following factors: 

  • Excellent academics
  • Flexibility in the course curriculum
  • Outstanding research
  • Financial assistance
  • Internships
  • Job opportunities – OPT 
  • Cultural exchange

You can consider the following factors while applying for master’s programs 

  • Ranking of the university
  • Course curriculum – Program strength 
  • Profile (aggregate percentage, test scores, etc.)
  • Tuition fees
  • Assistantships and Research opportunities
  • Financial aid
  • Professors working in your area of interest
  • Job prospects
  • Nearby big cities
  • Cost of living
  • Weather

Popular intakes for most USA Universities are Fall-intake(August/September), Spring-intake(January) and Summer-intake(June). Fall, Spring and Summer intakes are the popular admission intakes, however, a few Universities in the USA follow quarter systems and have Winter(Jan intake) and Spring in March/April.

To successfully gain admission to a US master’s degree, students must meet minimum academic and English proficiency level entry requirements. Also, a student has to meet the minimum grade point average(GPA) for entry to your chosen degree. 

Universities have different entry requirements for each of their programs. Typical application requirements include, 

  • GMAT/GRE Scores
  • English proficiency – TOEFL/IELTS/PTE 
  • Statement of Purpose 
  • Resume
  • Recommendation Letter 
  • Transcripts 
  • Financial Statement

TOEFL – Test of English as a Foreign Language. Total score 120(Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing modules)

IELTS – International English Language Testing System(RLSW)

PTE – Pearson Test of English - 90  

ITEP – International Test of English Proficiency

CAE – Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English

CPE - Cambridge English Proficiency


The TOEFL/IELTS  are both popular among Indian students and the score is valid for two years.

The average GMAT is around 570, and for a top-ranked business school, one having a 620 GMAT score would be among the most desirable applicants. This score varies by University and program.

AACSB is the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International. It is a voluntary, non-governmental accrediting agency that oversees the standardization of collegiate schools of business and accounting nationwide. There are 874 business schools in 56 Countries that have earned AACSB accreditation.

Yes, students with a 3-year degree are accepted for master’s programs in most Universities, in the USA(Expect for top-ranked Engineering Universities). It varies by University and program. The acceptance of 15-year or 3-year bachelor’s degree programs(from NAAC – A+ level) is increasing and many schools are accepting 3-years bachelors students, and students can be admitted with pre-requisites or levelling classes. 

Undergraduate degree in the US is typically 4-years long, and most technical degree programs in India have a 12+4 requirement for applying for masters. Students with 16-year education are preferred for admission into popular STEM programs in the USA.

Credential evaluation is the way in which academic and professional degrees earned in India(Home country) are compared to those earned in the USA. 

Credential evaluation(Typically, WES Evaluation or ECE Evaluation) converts educational credentials from any country in the world into their U.S equivalents. It describes each course, certificate, diploma or degree that you have earned and state its academic equivalency in the United States.

Rankings vary by program and there are many popular agencies like US News Rankings and QS Rankings which rank Universities. The following are the popular and top-ranked Universities for Engineering programs

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology 
  2. Stanford University 
  3. University of California, Berkeley 
  4. California Institute of Technology 
  5. Georgia Institute of Technology 
  6. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 
  7. University of Michigan 
  8. Carnegie Mellon University 
  9. Purdue University 
  10. Princeton University 
  11. University of California, Los Angeles
  12. Harvard University 
  13. Texas A & M University 
  14. Cornell University 
  15. Columbia University 
  16. The University of Texas at Austin 
  17. University of Southern California 
  18. John Hopkins University 
  19. Yale University 
  20. Northwestern University

The form I-20 is a University States Department of Homeland Security(ICE ) and the SEVP- Student and Exchange Visitor Program document issued by the University. It is required to appear for F1 students Visa and also to enter into the United States of America. It contains students name, date of birth, program name, start date and end date of course. Also, it has information about how a student intends to meet tuition fees and living expenses.

All international students requiring an F1 visa must provide the University with a recent financial guarantee or recommendation in the form of a letter or account statement from a financial institution(Bank) showing the specific dollar amount per year available to you and the duration of its availability. The dollar amount must be converted into US funds.


In other words, a financial declaration form is a statement by the sponsor stating that they will be sponsoring for their children/relatives and have enough financial resources for the two years of tuition fees and living expenses(for graduate programs).

There are no specific documents(listed on any official website) that prove a student is able to pay for his/her education, however, the following documents are recommended(to cover tuition fee and living expenses for the two-year duration).

  • Bank Account Statement- Savings or Fixed Deposits 
  • Educational Loan Letter
  • Sponsors Income - Income tax return statements, employment letters
  • Property – House/Open Plot or Land belonging to the sponsor

Students(F1 or M1) should travel within 30 days of the commencement of the course of study as stated on their I-20 regardless of how early their visa was issued.

Generally, graduate students wish to work as research assistants to professors in their department and area of interest. Typically, students can approach faculty members from India and write to them with their projects, paper publication summary, research ideas or thesis proposals. Getting a direct RA position from India is difficult unless a student has prior research experience. 


Research Assistantship involves a lot of work and a significant amount of responsibility, and a professor would like to see a student’s capability before offering a position. In most cases, students get research assistantship after their first semester when a professor has an opportunity to evaluate their work and abilities. Doctoral students are more likely to get research assistantship positions than masters students

In simple words, Thesis option has more research and Non-Thesis has more classes. All Masters students must conduct some sort of research or do a project, however, the students enrolled in the Thesis will have to publish their work and defend their work. Doing a Thesis is recommended for students with research interest and who have future plans for a PhD program. 


The Non-Thesis version of masters allows a student to take more courses(more flexibility) in their area and helps students to stay focused for a professional career. STEM students typically take a few additional management courses and enhance their skills for industry. 

Thesis masters involve in-depth research on a subject and would help gain more skills, and can be helpful in future, however, students with Thesis spend an additional six months to finish the program. 

Summing up both have their share of advantages and it’s up to the students to decide.

Students with a valid I-20 are eligible to work on the campus up to 20 hours per week while the semester is under progress, which will pay around $8 to $10 per hour, and some skilled jobs would pay up to $15 per hour. 

Typical On-campus jobs would be at 

  • Campus Library Assistant 
  • Book store
  • Admissions Office 
  • International Affairs 
  • Computer Lab technician
  • Web Designer 
  • Student Ambassador - Airport pickups 
  • As Proctor/Grader in other Departments

Popular options are homestay, apartment/private accommodation or student dorms or student housing.

Most graduate students live in shared apartments close to the campus. Typically, a 2-bedroom apartment is shared by 3-4 students. For undergraduate students, most schools require them to stay in the dormitory for an initial one to two years.

SEVIS – Student and Exchange Visitor Information System is a web-based system for maintaining information on International/Non-immigrant students. SEVIS is an automated system that keeps track of the status of student’s – It tracks students arrival, education, work and practical training for F1 Students.

International students have to pay US $350 SEVIS Fee(Also called I-901 fee). While studying in the United States, it is important to maintain Student Visa status.

F1 Student Visa is typically given for 5 years(for Indian students in STEM majors); however, a student has to be in a valid status after graduation. A student typically has a 60-day window after graduation to apply for OPT- Optional Practical Training. 

Optional Practical Training is a period during which undergraduate/graduate students with F-1 status who have completed their degrees are permitted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services(USCIS) to work for 12 months(one year) on a student visa without needing to acquire a work H-1B visa towards getting a practical training to complement their field of studies. 

F-1 students who receive Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) degrees, and who meet other specified requirements to apply for a 24-month extension of their post-completion OPT, giving STEM graduates a total of 36 months of OPT. Job must relate to students' major course of study.

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