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Universities & Colleges in USA for International Students

District Of Columbia

Associate Degree

An Associate Degree is a highly practical oriented, 2-year program offered in Community Colleges and at some universities. These include Associate of Arts (AA) or Associate of Science (AS) degrees and students may enroll on completion of 12th grade. On obtaining an Associate Degree, a student may transfer to a 4-year undergraduate program at the 3rd year level or lower depending on the college and courses taken. Some community colleges also have automatic enrollment agreements with a local 4-year university and these programs are often called 2+2 programs.

Undergraduate Degree

An Undergraduate or a Bachelors Degree is a 4-year program for which, students generally enroll on completion of 12th grade. The undergraduate program is divided into two divisions, the lower division and the upper division, each lasting two years. General education classes and basic classes in the major are taken in the lower division and more specialized classes in the major are taken in the upper division. A student is required to pick a major by the end of the second year at the latest. The list of majors available for a student to choose from is extremely vast. The program is highly flexible in terms of the courses one can opt for. The university specifies the total number of units or credit hours a student must complete as well as the number pertaining to the selected major and minor, in order to graduate.

Professional degrees such as law, medicine and dentistry are usually not offered at the undergraduate level. A student with any undergraduatemajor may apply as long as the pre-requisite courses for the degree have been completed.

Starting early in one’s career, US universities give undergraduate students the flexibility to gear the program to match their goals. In addition, the experience of being part of a multitude of extracurricular opportunities on campus is unmatched.

Graduate Degree

A Graduate Degree tends to be a 2-year program depending on the university and field of study. Students generally enroll after completion of a 4-year undergraduate degree. Common graduate degrees are Master of Science (MS), Master of Engineering (MEng) or an Master of Business Administration (MBA). In general, MS degrees require a student to write a thesis while an MEng degree may require project work but no thesis. These requirements however, may vary based on the program of choice. Other graduate level programs at US universities include Law, Master in Public Health (MPH), Master in Health Administration (MHA), Master in Education (MEd), Master of Arts (MA), Master of Architecture (MArch), Master in Exercise Science (MES), Master in Kinesiology (MK) among others.

Graduate students are required to complete a certain number of units or credit hours highly focused on the selected major, in order to graduate. A large number of courses include project work for a hands-on learning experience.

Professors teaching graduate level courses are usually pioneering researches in their field of study. Students may have opportunities to work, either part time or full time, on cutting edge technology at a research lab on campus. Teaching assistantships may also be offered, usually after the first year of coursework, based on the student’s grasp of the subject and perceived ability to teach.


Students may enroll in the Doctorate or Doctor of Philosophy program in their area of interest. PhD programs are available only in select universities based on the field of study. Students may enroll after a graduate degree or for some majors, even immediately after an undergraduate degree. Unlike in most other countries, a PhD from a US university requires the student to complete required coursework in addition to research work. In the path to obtaining a PhD, a student must pass qualifying exams which may be focused on the general research area or concentrated on the student’s research topic.

PhD programs tend to be funded, however a student must ensure top research and academic performance in order for funding to continue till the degree is obtained.

Working On Campus

During the normal course of the semester, a student is allowed to work for 20 hrs a week within the university. This job may not necessarily be related to the student’s program of study and can include part time work in research labs, administrative roles, library positions and grading jobs among others.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

A student is allowed to work outside the university during semester breaks for a total number of 364 days, if required as part of the program curriculum. Employment on CPT must be related to the student’s program of study and may not commence prior to completion of 9 months of full-time study.

Optional Pratical Training (OPT)

Upon completion of their education, international students are allowed to work outside the university, in a position related to the area of study on obtaining the Optional Practical Training (OPT) authorization.

For students graduating from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programs, 29 months of OPT work is permitted if the employer is enrolled in the E-Verify program operated by USCIS. Programs that qualify as STEM are listed below, however, it is important that you check for updates as this list keeps changing.

Stem Programs :
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Mathematics and Statistics
  • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
  • Engineering
  • Actuarial Science
  • Military Technologies
  • Engineering Technologies
  • Science Technologies
  • Physical Sciences
  • Medical Scientist

For all other programs, the duration of OPT work is limited to 12 months.

Tuition Cost

Tuition fees or tuition is the largest component of the cost of a US education. The amount is highly dependent on the university and also the degree a student is enrolled for. As a general rule, tuition at Private Institutions is higher than at Public Institutions. Tuition at Community Colleges is usually the lowest, primarily because they do not have high research expenses as compared to 4-year institutions. There may always be exceptions to this rule.

Also, students with residential status in a state qualify for in-state tuition at the Public Institutions in the state. This is significantly lower than the out-of-state tuition charged to non-residents and international students. A student who gets offered a scholarship (even a partial scholarship) may also be eligible for in-state tuition.

Living Expenses

Living expenses include all the other expenses a student will incur while pursuing a US education, such as rent, food, books and other personal expenses. These expenses, specially rent, are extremely location sensitive. The university usually provides an estimate for living expenses in the I-20 sent along with the admission package. However, costs can be much lower too.

Health Insurance

Healthcare in the US can become a major expense in the case of sickness or medical emergency and it is highly advisable that students purchase medical insurance to cover for the possible burden. Several health insurance plans are available in the US for international students and premiums vary based on the plan selected. A few things to consider while selecting insurance include the coverage, both in terms of the ailments covered and the amount covered for, the deductible and the geographical coverage area, among others. The international students’ center at a university will usually be able to help guide foreign students on obtaining medical coverage. Several universities also allow students to carry overseas insurance.

Financing a US Education

Several Indian banks and financial institutions offer loans to Indian students going abroad for higher education. The amount may be used for paying tuition or expenses or a combination of both. Approval of loan applications is contingent on a review of financial documents, provision of collateral on the loan and sometimes also dependent on the University of attendance. These requirements are extremely specific to the company providing the loans.

Student Loan In US

Several banks as well as financial institutions provide loans to international students to fund their education. However, they may need a US citizen or permanent resident of good financial standing to be a co-signer or guarantor on the loan. The student will need to submit documents which may include the admission letter, I-20, proof of identity and documents from the cosigner. The loan amount approved is usually capped by the total expenses listed in the I-20 and may be paid directly to the university, depending on the policies of the loan provider.


Scholarships pay towards a student’s tuition and are offered either for the entire course of the program or on a semester by semester basis. Scholarships are generally offered based on past academic records, the student’s educational goals and the university’s goals. Partial scholarships are also possible. Scholarships pay towards the student’s tuition and may also make the student eligible for in-state tuition for the remaining amount.

Financial Support

Research Assistantships may be offered to students who wish to conduct research in specific areas that the university excels in. Selection is made based on past academic and professional record as well as future research goals. RAships usually qualify a student for tuition waivers and/or pay an additional stipend. Students who get offered RAships are most often PhD students, but it is not uncommon for Graduate students to be offered the same.

Teaching Assistantships are offered to students with the potential to teach, based on academic performance for the related course. Teaching assistants help the professor conduct lectures and labs, grade exams and homework and answer student queries. TAships may qualify for full or partial tuition waivers and/or an additional stipend.

Graduate Assistantships are mostly administrative positions at the University. GAships may be in the form of tuition waivers, stipends or a combination of both.

Students should be advised to:
  • Always complete the application carefully
  • Always give their name in exactly the same way on the application form and on the supporting documents
  • List the major as stated in the materials received from the institution
Application Fee
  • If an application fee is required, it should be submitted with the completed application
  • The application fee is a processing fee, and few institutions will process an application without it
  • The fee should be in US$ and drawn on a US bank for quicker processing
Offical Academic Records
  • Both in English and in the native language
  • Official academic records include:
    • Certified copies of official degrees or diplomas
    • List of courses and grades for all post-secondary education
  • Records should be sent in a sealed envelope with the application; alternatively, the issuing institution should send the records directly. Students should never send originals!
  • Photocopies should be certified by the university or other appropriate official
Test Scores
  • GRE - required by many, but not all
  • GMAT - virtually all business programs
  • English Proficiency (TOEFL) - all
  • At test center, indicate to which schools you want the scores sent
  • Include photocopy of scores with application, if possible

Letters Of Recommendation

  • The best letters comment on academic achievements or professional potential
  • Some universities provide a special form for the letters, in other cases the recommender can use his/her own letter-head paper
  • As a courtesy, the student should provide the referee with a stamped envelope addressed to the institution marked “Re: Application of [student’s name]” when asking for a recommendation
  • Applicants should allow plenty of time for the referees to write the letter, and follow up to ensure that they are sent in time
Information To Be Included
  • How long has the writer known the applicant?
  • SomeWhat is their relationship (teacher/student, employer/employee, etc.)?
  • A ranking of the student in comparison with his or her classmates
Points To Be Discussed
  • Intellectual ability
  • Knowledge of field
  • Work habits
  • Motivation to pursue study
  • Seriousness of purpose
  • Emotional maturity
  • Resourcefulness and initiative
  • Adaptability to new situations
  • Leadership qualities
  • Potential for future contribution in the field
Personal Statement
  • The personal statement can mean the difference between admission and denial.
Goal: Clear, Concise And Persuasive
  • academic or research interests
  • reasons for wanting to pursue graduate study
  • reasons for choosing a certain institution
  • career goals
  • Personal background/extracurricular activities
  • Tailor to each institution - answer the questions asked!
What Do Avoid
  • Do not be overly informal
  • Do not include irrelevant information
  • Do not write your life story – be brief, yet complete
What To Avoid , Admission Committees, What Do They Want?
  • Outstanding students
  • Committed and motivated students
  • Diversity of backgrounds
General Admission Criteria
  • Previous degree(s)
  • Outstanding test scores and GPA
  • Strong Letters of Recommendation
  • Convincing and memorable Statement of Purpose
Specific Admission Criteria
  • Knowledge/results in the department’s fields of research)
  • Experience in/potential for research or teaching
  • Difficulty of classes taken as an undergraduate
  • Prestige of undergraduate institution
The USA Student Application Process

Planning ahead will give you sufficient time to make successful applications to the colleges o f your choice. 12 TO 18 MONTHS PRIOR to the academic year, in which you hope to enroll, begin to consider, research, and do the following:

  • What are your reasons for wanting to study in the United States?
  • Which universities will meet your needs?
  • Will you need financial assistance?
  • Find out application and financial aid deadlines. This will affect when you take the standardized tests required for admission since test results must reach admissions offices no later than these deadlines. The tests should be taken in advance of submitting university application forms
  • Register to take standardized tests if required by the universities to which you are applying.
  • Begin narrowing down your choices of schools to approximately 10 to 20 institutions.

12 MONTHS PRIOR to enrollment, complete the following (months indicated are estimates, based on fall enrollment):AUGUST

  • Contact universities for application and financial aid forms and catalogs.
  • Obtain test registration forms or register on the web to take the TOEFL, the ACT, and SAT I and SAT II, if necessary.
  • Continue narrowing down your choice of schools. While some students apply to more, 5 to 10 well-researched choices are sufficient.
  • Request an official transcript from your school.
  • Request letters of recommendation from your teachers.
  • Submit completed application forms (for admission as well as financial aid).
  • Double check that transcripts and references have been sent.
  • Take the necessary admissions tests.
  • University application deadlines must be met; note that these are for regular admission — early admission deadlines will be sooner.
  • Letters of acceptance or rejection arrive. Decide which university to attend, notify the admissions office of your decision, complete and return any forms they require.
  • Send letters of regret to those universities you turn down.
  • Organize finances: arrange to transfer funds to a U.S. bank; make sure you have funds for travel and expenses on arrival.
  • Finalize arrangements for housing and medical insurance with your university.
  • Use information from your Form I-20 or DS-2019 to fill out the SEVIS Form I-901 and pay the $200 required SEVIS fee (see SEVIS information for description of SEVIS form and fee) i.e. Visit .
  • Upon receipt of your I-20 and SEVIS I-901 payment receipt, apply to your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for a visa. This should be as far in advance of your departure date as possible (see "Visas") i.e. Visit .
  • Make travel arrangements.
  • Contact the International Student Office at your university with details of your arrival plans, and confirm details of any orientation for new students held by the university.
Getting Ready to GoGetting Ready to Go

Once you know that you are going to study in the United States, you will probably have many questions about visas, accommodation, health insurance, banking, how to study, and other "pre-departure" information. See 'Pre-Departure Information' for further information.

Minimum Expenses Sheet For USA Students

Exams Fee
  • GRE : USD 195=Rs. 12,870(Approximately)
  • TOEFL : USD 170=Rs. 11,220(Approximately)
  • IELTS : Rs.10,900/-
  • PTE : Rs.10,900/-
Application Processing

Approximately for One University:

  • Application Fee: USD 50=Rs. 3,500 (Approximately per one University)
Score Reporting:
  • GRE : USD 27=Rs. 1,782/- (Approximately)
  • TOEFL : USD 19=Rs. 1,330/- (Approximately)
  • IELTS : Rs.1,250/- ) Per University & Rs.200/- for Electronic Score Reporting
  • Student Visa Fee : USD 160=Rs.11,200/- (Approximately)
  • SEVIS Fee : USD 200=Rs.14,000/- (Approximately)

Note: The above mentioned expenses are common to all the students those who are applying to USA by on their own. There is a lot of scope to reduce the cost in addition with admissions from very good Universities through abroadcampus.

Following timeline and checklist will give you a guideline for admission to US for Fall and Spring semester. Months listed are for best case scenario. Many students for Fall semester take GRE in Feb/March and still able to get admission for Fall semester.

Following checklist will undergo changes, so check back periodically and don’t forget the check the comments. I plan to add links to all the sections below.

Exams(Fall -Aug, Spring - May)
  • Get Passport (Surname(or last Name) is Mandatory
  • Register for GRE Test
  • Register for TOEFL
  • Prepare for GRE Exam
  • Browse Universities
  • Take GRE (or GMAT)
  • Report Scores to 4 Universities (at end of the exam)
  • Take TOEFL
  • Report TOEFL Scores to Universities
University Selection (Fall - Oct/Nov, Spring -June)
  • Browse Universities
  • Research – University Deadlines, Fees, funding, cost of living, safety, etc
  • Finalize programs
  • Finalize Universities
Application Documents( Fall - Oct/Nov, Spring - Jun/July)
  • Collect Required List of Documents (per school)
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Recommendation Letter
  • Resume
  • Transcripts
  • Bank Statement
  • Affidavit of Support
  • Certificates and other supporting documents
  • Copy of front and last pages of passport
  • Copy of online application submission conformation
Application (Fail - Nov/Dec , Spring - Jul/Aug)
  • Fill out online Graduate School Application
  • Fill Department application (if any)
  • Pay Application Fee (online or send dd)
  • Confirmation number or application id
  • Submit Application (online)
  • Mail Application documents – Express Mail (courier)
Admission (Fall - Feb/Mar/Apr, Spring - Oct/Nov/Dec)
  • Check Application Status (Takes 2 to 4 months)
  • Plan for Visa Bank balance and expenses
  • Receive Admission Decision ( Admission Letter + I-20 form)
F1 Visa (Fall - Jun/July/Aug, Spring - Dec/Jan)
  • Learn about F1 Visa Interview Process
  • Pay SEVIS Fees
  • Bank Statement
  • Affidavit from Sponsors
  • Other Required Documents
  • F1 Visa Questions and Answers
Travel To Us(Fail - Aug, Spring - Dec/Jan)
  • Find friends to travel together
  • Book flight ticket
  • Arrange for Pickup and Accommodation
  • Buy stuffs
  • Buy Suitcase
  • Find Health Insurance Requirements
  • Carrying Money to US (DD, TC or Wire Transfer)
  • Leave a copy of documents at home
After Reaching Us
  • First few days
  • Attend orientation
  • Open Bank Account
  • Shopping
Best Time To Take GRE/TOEL
Low profile ((60%/ 950/ 70+)) Moderate profile (65%‐70%/ 1050‐1150+/ 80‐90+)() High profile
Fall semester Jan‐March (GRE/ TOEFL) November (GRE/ TOEFL) August (GRE/ TOEFL)
Fall semester September/ October (GRE/ TOEFL) June/ July (GRE/ TOEFL) May/ June (GRE/ TOEFL)
Best Time To Take GRE/TOEFL
Low profile ((60%/ 950/ 70+)) Moderate profile (65%‐70%/ 1050‐1150+/ 80‐90+)() High profile (80%/ 1300+/ 100+)
Fall semester February to April December/ January September/ October
Fall semester September‐November July/ August June/ July

FAQ - Study In USA

What is a Major?

A major is the student’s main field of specialization. For undergraduate students, majors are broad areas such as Chemical Engineering or Physics or Marine Biology, and must be decided at the end of the second year of undergraduate studies at the latest. For graduate students, majors would further concentrate on the specific field of study and are usually decided at the time of admission application.

The department will usually specify the required courses for each major as well as the total number of credits a student must complete, related to the major, in order to graduate.

What is a Minor?

A minor is a secondary subject that the student is interested in pursuing along with the major. The number of courses a student is required to take for the minor is usually smaller than the same for the major.

What is the Unit or Credit System?

In the US, students receive credits or units for a course based on the number of hours of lectures or lab work in a week pertaining to that course. In addition to just attending lectures and labs, the student is also required to put in some hours of homework. The overall work expectation for a course is what drives the number of credits assigned.

A student is required to complete a specific number of credits in order to graduate. The requirements may, more specifically, state the number of credits pertaining to the student’s major and minor.

What is a Transfer of Credits?

It is not uncommon that a student switches universities after completing a few semesters of study. In this case, credits earned at the first university may be transferred to the second, i.e. applied towards requirements at the second university. Each university has criteria that specify how credits can be transferred, based on the courses taken, accreditation of the original university and others.

What is GPA?

GPA (Grade Point Average) is a measure of academic performance in most US institutions. It usually ranges from 0-4 but may also lie within any other range set by the university.

For each class taken, a student is assigned a grade such as A+, A, A-, B+ all the way to F, based on performance on homeworks, tests and exams. On a 4 point GPA scale, each letter grade is assigned a score between 0 and 4. To calculate GPA, the score for each class is first multiplied by the number of credits/units for the class and these products are then summed for all classes. The GPA is this sum of products divided by the total number of credits/units completed by the student.