Study in USA: An Introduction
It would hardly surprise anyone that there are more international students who study in USA than in any other country around the world. Over 1 million international students are studying in the universities of the United States, making it the world’s leading study destination for international students. And there is good reason for why international students choose to study in USA.
The US is home to over 150 of the world’s top universities, including over 30 in the top 100, and 5 in the top 10. Apart from the world-class education and high standard of US universities, what attracts students from far and wide to study in USA is the promise of the country as the land of dreams where immigrants can make a life for themselves. US offers plenty of opportunities for students to pursue work in the country post-studies. The purchasing power of the dollar, and the status of residence in one of the most powerful countries in the world is more than enough reason for international students to choose to study in USA.
Study in USA: Top Universities
US universities dominate the QS World University Rankings, with 157 institutions ranked in total (QS Rankings, 2019), including 11 in the top 20. The top 4 universities in the world, in fact, are in the US. Here are the top universities in the USA:
Top 10 Universities to study in USA
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
One of the world’s most reputed institutions in the sphere of science, engineering, and technology, is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT. For the seventh-year in a row, the institution has stood at the top of QS World Rankings for Universities. Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the University has over 11000 undergraduate and postgraduate students, including an impressive ration of international student, studying at its sprawling campus comprising five schools (architecture and planning; engineering; humanities, arts, and social sciences; management; science).
- Stanford University
Based in the start-up hub of the world – Silicon Valley in California – it is no surprise that alumni from the Stanford University have gone on to be founders of some of the world’s biggest companies like Netflix, YouTube, WhatsApp and Google. Stanford is renowned for its entrepreneurial spirit and business courses and has been nicknamed the “billionaire factory” for its credentials. It has been rated as the second-best university in the United States, as well as the world.
- Harvard University
One of the oldest universities in the world, as well as one of the most prestigious, Harvard University is renowned for its world-class courses in a range of subjects – from law and medicine, to business and social sciences. Over 21000 students, including over 2000 international students, study at Harvard, one of the three top universities in the world.
- California Institute of Technology (CalTech)
California Institute of Technology, or CalTech, is a leading tech school, located in the city of Pasadena, California. The university offers excellent research facilities and produces very high research output each year. Devoted entirely to the technical arts and applied sciences, the University has a very competitive admission process, ensuring that only the brightest candidates get to study here.
- University of Chicago
Established in 1890, the University of Chicago is well-known for its strong focus on research, and its reputed professional schools for medicine (Pritzker), business (Booth), and public policy studies (Harris). It is one of the most reputed universities in the USA, outside the Ivy league schools.
- Princeton University
Founded in 1746, Princeton is one of the oldest universities in the US. It is well-renowned for its arts and humanities faculties. Spread across 500 acres, Princeton’s main campus in New Jersey is home to over 10000 students, with over 12% international students, and is considered one of the most beautiful college campuses in the United States.
- Cornell University
Based in Ithaca, New York, Cornell University is a co-educational, non-sectarian institution where admission is not restricted by religion or race – one of the principles it has stood by since being set up in 1865. It has an excellent program in veterinary medicine, ranked the second-best in the world, and was, in fact, the first university in the US to award a veterinary medicine degree.
- Yale University
An Ivy League University, situated in New Haven, Connecticut, Yale University was founded in 1701. It is a private research university and awarded the first PhD in the US in 1861. It is also renowned for its prestigious law school, one of the toughest law courses to get admission to.
- Columbia University
Columbia was established in 1754 and has produced many notable alumni, including the former American President, Barrack Obama. A private Ivy League research university, Columbia is situated in Upper Manhattan, New York City, and has one of the lowest acceptance rates in the world for its undergraduate programs.
- University of Pennsylvania
One of the top 20 universities in the world, the University of Pennsylvania also belongs to the Ivy League. The university was founded by one of the founding fathers of the USA, Benjamin Franklin. The school is known for its focus on diversity, as can be seen in its student population, 46% of which is Black, Hispanic, Asian, or Native American, and an unprecedented 54% of which are women.
|List of Top Universities in the USA|
|University||US Rank||Global Rank|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)||1||1|
|California Institute of Technology (CalTech)||4||4|
|University of Chicago||5||9|
|University of Pennsylvania||10||19|
|University of Michigan||11||20|
|Johns Hopkins University||12||21|
|University of California, Berkeley (UCB)||14||27|
|University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)||15||32|
|University of California, San Diego (UCSD)||17||41|
|New York University (NYU)||18||43|
|Carnegie Mellon University||19||46|
|University of Wisconsin-Madison||20||53|
|University of Texas at Austin||22||63|
|University of Washington||23||66|
|Georgia Institute of Technology||24||69|
|University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign||25||71|
|University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill||26||83|
|Ohio State University||28||89|
|Pennsylvania State University||30||95|
Study in USA: Top Courses
Whether you wish to be a top-notch lawyer, or a high flying insurance banker, a specialist doctor, or a scientific researcher, whatever be your chosen field of study, you are bound to find an educational institution in the USA which supports your ambitions. Here we look at the top US universities in different subjects and disciplines, most of which rank among the very best in the world.
List of Top Business Schools to study in USA
QS World Ranking
|Harvard Business School||Harvard University||2|
|Stanford Graduate School of Business||Stanford University||4|
|The Wharton School||University of Pennsylvania||5|
|MIT Sloan School of Management||Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)||6|
|Haas School of Business||University of California, Berkeley (UCB)||12|
List of Top Engineering Colleges to study in USA
QS World Ranking
|MIT School of Engineering||Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)||1|
|Stanford School of Engineering||Stanford University||2|
|UC Berkeley College of Engineering||University of California, Berkeley (UCB)||11|
|John A. Paulson School Of Engineering And Applied Sciences||Harvard University||13|
|College of Engineering||Georgia Institute of Technology||24|
List of Top Computer Science Colleges to study in USA
QS World Ranking
|MIT School of Engineering||Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)||1|
|Stanford School of Engineering||Stanford University||2|
|School of Computer Science||Carnegie Mellon University||3|
|UC Berkeley College of Engineering||University of California, Berkeley (UCB)||4|
|John A. Paulson School Of Engineering And Applied Sciences||Harvard University||6|
List of Top Law Schools to study in USA
QS World Ranking
|Harvard Law School||Harvard University||1|
|Yale Law School||Yale University||4|
|Stanford Law School||Stanford University||5|
|NYU School of Law||New York University (NYU)||6|
|Berkeley Law||University of California, Berkeley (UCB)||7|
Study in USA: Application Timeline
The curriculum in US universities is divided into semesters and US universities have 4 periods of admission when students can join the university. These are spring (January/February), fall (August/September), summer (April/May), and winter (December). Most universities have their intake in the Fall Semester, while many are also open for spring. A few universities take in students during winter and summer sessions too.
Considering the stringent eligibility criteria, the tomes of documentation and applications to be filed, competitive exams to be taken, and the time required to gather your finances, it is usually advisable to start the application process at least a year in advance.
Below is a snapshot of the application timeline Indian students can follow for admissions to study in USA. The timeline has been created for admissions in the fall semester, but you can customize it according to your admission requirements.
Application Timeline to Study in USA
|April to June||· Shortlist Universities and courses, and download brochures from the University website
· Shortlist financing options (loans, scholarships, bursaries)
· Research options for accommodation
|June to August||· Start preparation for competitive tests (SAT, GMAT, GRE, TOEFL, IELTS) depending on course requirements
· Take the tests by September to give yourself time in case you need to retake them
|August to October||· Begin the application process and collect all required documents, academic transcripts
· Work on your SOP (Statement of Purpose) for at least a month
· Ask for recommendation letters
|November to April||· Respond to college emails and appear for interviews (personal/video)
· Choose from acceptances and select your university of choice
· Send in your acceptance to the University you choose
|May to July||· Once you’ve received an acceptance letter, you can apply for scholarships and study visa
· Apply for study loan and an international credit card
|July to August||· Book your flight tickets and finalize your accommodation
· Make sure you carry all documents in the prescribed format
· All the best for your studies abroad!
Study in USA: Cost of studies
As a feature of it being the most popular destination for studies, the US is also the most expensive in terms of an education, especially for international students. Here’s what you can expect to spend on your studies in USA:
Tuition is usually quite steep for the top universities and courses, and can go upwards of USD 50,000 for a year. There is a lot of variation, obviously, depending upon the university, state, city, and course. Be prepared to shell out an average tuition of USD 30000 per year though. The good news? Many universities offer bursaries or financial aid depending on the need of international students, reducing the tuition as per the financial capabilities of the students.
Expenses can vary depending on your city and location. In general, states in the US Midwest region are less expensive to live in than those in the East and North East. Off-campus accommodation can range from USD 500 a month for an apartment in a rural area, to up to USD 3000 a month for an apartment in the cities. On-campus accommodation is typically in dormitories with shared bathrooms and sleeping arrangements. On average, university accommodation can cost you around USD 10000 for a year.
Apart from accommodation, also be prepared to foot the bill for utilities (if you’re living off-campus). Electricity can be about USD 50-100 per month, while depending on the area you are staying in, you may also require central heating (USD 100-200 per month). The cost of groceries can vary depending on your diet, but generally stand at around USD 20-60 per week. A meal at a restaurant can be from USD 10 (at a McDonald’s) up to USD 50. Do not forget to tip, either, if you eat at a restaurant. You would also be expected to spend up to USD 1500 per year on college supplies and textbooks.
Study in USA: Scholarships
With such high costs for studying in USA, it is extremely important for students to receive funding from other sources such as scholarships. Thankfully, the admission department at the university you get into can help with scholarships available at the university, including need-based financial aid. There are many other scholarship opportunities that Indian students can apply for. Below is a snapshot of top scholarships for Indian students to study in USA.
List of Top Scholarships to study in USA
Name of the Scholarship
|Fulbright-Nehru Master’s Fellowships||For highly motivated graduates and post-graduates from India who wish to pursue their post-graduate studies in the United States – must demonstrate leadership skills and a track record of community service, along with a good command over the English language||Graduation||Tuition, visa, airfare, living costs, insurance|
|Inlaks Scholarships||especially for Indian citizens seeking to study abroad in the US or Europe – must have secured an admission at a US university and be less than 30 years of age at the time of applying||Good first degree||full US Scholarship and covers the entire tuition fees, travelling and living expenses (up to USD 100000)|
|Narotam Sekhsaria Scholarship||especially for Indian students looking to pursue a postgraduate degree from a reputable and prestigious institution in India or abroad – must be below 30 years of age – be pursuing their postgraduate studies in the fields of Pure Sciences, Applied Sciences, Social Sciences and Humanities, Law, Architecture or Management||Graduates||INR 20 Lakhs|
|KC Mahindra Scholarships for Post-Graduate Studies Abroad||to students in India who wish to pursue their post-graduation overseas in any field||Graduates with admission in a US University||interest free loans of up to INR 8 lakh to the top 3 selected scholars, and up to INR 4 Lakh for the remaining scholars|
|JN Tata Endowment Fund||Indian students who are below the age of 45 – willing to pursue full-time Postgraduate/Ph.D./Postdoctoral studies abroad in any field||Graduates||loan of INR 10 Lakhs at a nominal interest rate of 2%, which can also be waived off if the student repays the loan timely|
|Tata Scholarship-Cornell University||offered by the Tata Education and Development Trust to Indian class 12 passed students – admitted to Cornell University||Admitted to Cornell undergrad program||Full Scholarship for the undergraduate program|
|Stanford Reliance Dhirubhai Fellowship||for Indian nationals residing in India who have been admitted to the MBA program at the Stanford Graduate School of Business||Admitted to Stanford MBA||80 per cent of tuition and associated fees|
|Chicago Booth MBA Scholarships||3 scholarships especially for Indians (Akhtarali H. Tobaccowala Fellowship, Ramakrishnan Family Scholarship, Indian Trust Fellowship) that offer tuition fee support to Indians for the full-time MBA course||Admitted to Chicago Booth Full-Time MBA Program||Variable – From USD 10000 to full tuition|
|National Overseas Scholarship||Set up by Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment – caters exclusively to SC/ST students -Meritorious graduate and post graduate students from India belonging to the scheduled castes or tribes – pursuing a post graduate or Ph.D. degree in the United States||Graduates and Post Graduates, belonging to SC/ST||Tuition Fee, Insurance Premium, Visa, Maintenance Allowance|
|AAUW International Fellowship||The American Association of University Women (AAUW) – international fellowship exclusively for women studying in the US who are non-citizens or permanent residents||Indian women graduates||Master’s course or a first professional degree = USD 18000,
doctoral studies = USD 20000,
post-doctoral studies = USD 30000
|Lady Meherbai D Tata Education Scholarship||Tata Education Trust – exclusively for Indian women pursuing higher education in the US, UK, or Europe – must be admitted to a course in one of the fields of study included under the program, namely, social work, social sciences, education, gender studies, child health, public health, rural development work, communication of development||Financial Support|
Study in USA: Student Visa
For all international students who wish to study in USA, obtaining a student is compulsory. Applying for a US student visa can be quite complicated, as it is with most immigration processes, and requires you to prepare well in advance – at least three to five months before your course is due to start.
Types of US Student Visas
- F1 Visa
The most common student visa for International students is the F1 Visa, which is mandatory for all full-time students for an academic course. Students with F-1 visas can work on-campus for 20 hours a week or less.
- J1 Visa
This visa is applicable for international exchange visitors participating in programs in the US. Exchange students, research fellows, and working professionals visiting the US for short courses or programs fall under this category.
- M1 Visa
The M1 visa is a type of student visa reserved for vocational and technical schools. M-1 students are admitted to the US for a fixed time period – the length of their training program plus any Optional Practical Training. They must not stay in the US for longer than one year except in the case of extensions due to medical reasons, and are not allowed to work in the US.
Once you have received an acceptance letter from a US University, you can begin collecting documents for your visa application. By now you should also have a good idea of your finances and must have made arrangements for the same through education loans or scholarships. This is important since for the visa application, you must show an amount equivalent to one year’s cost in the form of Bank deposit, and the source to fund the second year’s cost. Below are the steps you need to follow for a successful student visa application:
Steps for a US Student Visa Application
|Step 1||Deposit an amount equal to your first-year study costs in the bank|
|Step 2||Receive an I-20 form from your US University and pay the SEVIS fees|
|Step 3||Fill up a DS-160 form for US visa|
|Step 4||Pay the visa fees|
|Step 5||Take an appointment at the US Embassy or consulate near you|
|Step 6||Bring all your documents and attend the interview|