Master of Science Degrees in the US: A Guide for International Students
If you’re a STEM graduate planning to pursue a Master of Science degree in the United States, you know it’s a huge commitment and getting into a program can be challenging. This guide will help you navigate your choices, the application process and everything else you need to know to pursue your M.S. in the U.S.
Why earn a Master of Science degree in the US?
If you are on the fence about whether to pursue a Master of Science degree in the United States, here are a few reasons why it is a good decision:
Top-notch schools – The U.S. has some of the best schools in the world, including Yale, Harvard, Stanford and MIT.
State-of-the-art technology – American universities have leading edge technology and resources.
Superior faculty – Many of the teaching faculty at U.S. universities are highly qualified experts and industry professionals who produce top research in their fields.
Opportunity to network – There are plenty of opportunities to network within your field at professional events, such as seminars, conferences and employment fairs.
Ability to conduct research – Graduate programs in the U.S. emphasize research, making it possible for you to connect in-depth research to a theory or idea you are passionate about.
Assistantships – Most universities and M.S. programs provide students with assistantships, which provide students with financial support and allow them to assist their professors.
Internships – M.S. students in the U.S. are encouraged to participate in internships that will help them gain the experience they need to enter the workforce.
Post-graduation opportunities – Once you have graduated with your master’s degree in the U.S., you may have additional opportunities for teaching or research assistantships in your field.
In addition to these tangible benefits, you will also be able to enjoy life in the U.S. This includes engaging life on campus and the ability to take in U.S. culture and explore the diversity that the U.S. offers.
What you need to apply to a Master of Science program in the US
As long as you have an undergraduate degree, from anywhere in the world, you can submit an application for a Master of Science in the U.S. To apply, you will need the following:
A bachelor’s degree certificate in the same field in which you want to earn your M.S. (some universities may allow you to enroll in an M.S. without a related bachelor’s degree).
A minimum GPA of 3.0 (typically) for your undergraduate studies.
At least one letter of recommendation.
Your graduate admission test results (if required), such as the GRE for liberal arts programs, GMAT for business programs, LSAT for law school or MCAT for medical school.
A research proposal.
Proof of English proficiency if English is not your first language.
Proof you can pay for your program.
Resume and relevant work experience.
Proof of relevant extracurricular activities.
Statement of purpose that showcases your goals, future aspirations and suitability for the program.
How to choose a university for a Master of Science program in the US
Choosing the right school for your Master of Science degree in the U.S. is not to be taken lightly. You need to research what schools and programs are right for you. After all, there are a lot of things to take into account. Here’s what to consider when selecting the right university
Determine the type of program you are interested in.
Check the academic reputation of the schools you are considering.
Look into the qualifications and reputations of the professors supervising graduate students and determine if you want to work with them.
Check the school’s ranking within the U.S. and on the international stage.
Learn the detailed requirements of the school and your program of choice to ensure you are eligible to apply.
Research the tuition fees at your schools of choice.
Consider where the school is located. Is it in a part of the country you would enjoy living in, and can you afford to live there?
Check to see what type of support the school offers to international students.
Find out what campus culture and student life are like.
Application process for earning a Master of Science degree in the US
In general, the U.S. offers two-year Master of Science programs. Research each program to determine what the admissions requirements are, whether it is right for you and whether you are eligible.
Most U.S. universities have an early deadline for application submissions that tends to fall within December or January and a regular deadline in March or April. In addition, some universities will accept applications throughout the year. When you submit your application, there will be an application fee, typically between $50 and $100. While you can apply to as many master’s programs as you wish, it is common for students to shortlist their preferred universities to a maximum of six.
Once you know which schools you want to apply to, you must go through the application process for each one. While each school may have unique requirements, the general application process requires that you:
Check the specific requirements for your university.
Fill out the application form.
Send in all required documentation along with the application form.
Pay the application fee.
Attend an interview – this is a requirement of some universities and programs to determine whether you are a good fit.
Once you have received your acceptance letter, it’s time to take the next steps to study in the U.S. These include:
Applying for your student visa (requires a copy of your acceptance letter).
Applying for scholarships, grants and other funding.
Paying your enrollment fee if required.
Arranging your living accommodations, whether on-campus or off-campus.
How to finance your Master of Science degree in the US
Going to school in the U.S. as an international student is expensive. Tuition ranges from around $30,000 to $120,000 annually, with law, medicine and business degrees at the more expensive end. Each university will post the fees for its M.S. programs on its website, along with a financial aid calculator.
Despite the cost of a Master of Science degree, you can make your dream of studying in the U.S. come true. When it comes to financing your education in the U.S., you need to consider the following:
Travel to the U.S.
Fortunately, there are several ways to fund your M.S. in the US. These include the following:
You may have some savings set aside, particularly if you have been working in your field. If so, you are well on your way to financing your M.S. in the U.S.
You may be fortunate enough to have family members who can help you pay for your education. Again, this is a great step toward paying for your expenses.
As a graduate student, you will likely be eligible for a stipend that will help cover your tuition and living expenses in exchange for being an assistant to your professor. This may include assisting with undergraduate labs and marking undergraduate assignments.
Scholarships and grants
There are many sources for scholarships and grants, and that may include your university and private organizations. The best place to start your search for scholarships and grants is the financial aid department at your university.
Stipends, scholarships and grants can help you fund your master’s program in the U.S. However, as an international student, you can also get an international student loan to make up the remainder of the money you need.
When getting a student loan, you may apply with a private lender. They will typically require you to have the following:
A completed loan application.
A good credit history in the U.S., or a cosigner who is an American citizen or permanent resident with a good credit history.
Proof of identity.
Proof of identity.
Proof of acceptance into your program of study.
Your student visa.
Copies of documentation for qualifying exams.
Educational transcripts and your degree certificate.
Estimation of the costs of studying and living in the U.S.
Some private lenders offer no-cosigner loans if you don’t have a credit history in the U.S. or a cosigner.
Lenders with no-cosigner options will consider your:
Past academic performance.
M.S. degree program.
Employment prospects after graduation.
Top universities with Master of Science programs in the US
There are hundreds of good universities in the U.S. for international students seeking a master’s degree. However, some schools stand out as the very best. These include:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
California Institute of Technology (Caltech).
University of Chicago.
University of Pennsylvania.
Carnegie Mellon University.
University of California at Berkeley.
University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).
New York University (NYU).
John Hopkins University.
University of Michigan – Ann Arbor.
University of Texas.
University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign.
University of Washington.
Georgia Institute of Technology.
University of Wisconsin at Madison.
Top types of Master of Science programs in the US
There are over two million types of Master of Science programs in the U.S. and dozens of potential M.S.programs. The top programs in the U.S. include:
M.S. in Finance
M.S. in Data Science.
M.S. in Computer Science.
M.S. in Marketing.
M.S. in Business Analytics.
M.S. in Biomedical Engineering.
M.S. in Artificial Intelligence.
Final word on Master of Science programs in the US
Taking the next step in your education with a Master of Science degree in the U.S. will open many doors for you in your field of interest. From there, you can move on to a promising career or go back to school to obtain your doctoral degree in your field. The experience and skills you gain by getting a master’s degree cannot be overstated.
The key to getting the best M.S. education in the U.S. is to find the right school for you and ensure you have all the funding you need. This way, when you arrive in the U.S. ready to begin your studies, you won’t have to worry about your program or finances. Instead, you can focus on your studies and enjoy the experience of studying abroad.
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