Why Study in the USA
The USA offers international students with multitude of educational choices: colleges, universities, junior colleges, community colleges, English as a Second Language (ESL) programs and graduate programs.
American higher education is considered one of the best in the world, so by attending an American institution of higher education, you will benefit from a rich diversity of students and academic thought. US colleges are also highly recognized for their quality facilities, faculty, and unmatched resources. Whichever American education program you pursue, you will find it an enriching experience if you pursue it with dedication and enthusiasm.
An emphasis on leadership, broader global knowledge and passion for success are the hallmarks of U.S. universities. U.S. higher education institutions are known worldwide for the quality of their programs, faculty, and facilities. As an investment in your child's future, a U.S. degree or education experience offers excellent value.
The U.S. higher education system offers unparalleled choice to international students in the types of institutions, academic and social environments, entry requirements, degree programs, and fields of study that are available. Students can choose from a variety of academic areas, from the humanities to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). U.S. institutions continue to lead in terms of the breadth of academic specializations and research opportunities they offer. National and regional accreditation systems ensure that U.S. institutions maintain high academic standards.
U.S. institutions welcome international students because international students bring diverse perspectives and experiences to campus to share with their classmates and community. Campus international student support services help students adjust to their new academic and social environments.
A wide range of tuition, fees, and living costs make study in the United States financially possible for many international students. Additional opportunities for limited on-campus employment help students defray living costs, while internship experiences can provide practical work experience.
Students need to plan to take admissions tests at least 12 months in advance of the intended start date for studies in the United States.
One of the most attractive features of the U.S. higher education system is the flexibility it provides through the number and diversity of institution types it encompasses. One of the reasons that many international students decide to attend university in the United States is because there are a lot of scholarships available for them.
This diversity offers students options to specialize in a variety of academic disciplines and even gain employment training.
More than 4,500 accredited institutions make up U.S. higher education in the United States. Unlike many countries, U.S. higher education institutions are not centrally organized or managed, but are accredited on a national or regional level by independent accrediting bodies.
Community colleges are another option and provide two-year associate degree programs to prepare students to continue studies for an undergraduate degree or help them gain occupational skills for immediate employment. State colleges and universities, also called "public universities," were founded and subsidized by U.S. state governments to provide a low-cost education to residents of that state. Public universities generally offer access to research opportunities and classes in a wide variety of fields of study. These universities tend to be very large and generally admit a wider range of students than private universities. Each student's interests will guide his/her choice among the many possibilities.
The United States calls itself "a nation of immigrants." Immigrants (from Europe) founded this country and have been coming in large numbers (from all over the world) ever since. Therefore you will find that all ethnicities and nationalities are represented, although not to the same extent in every city. The country is vast (over 9 million square kilometers) and populous (over 275 million people). In the US, you can encounter and experience almost any climate, landscape, lifestyle, and culture imaginable. By selecting the right location, you will be able to find a living experience that is perfect for you.
Even though there is so much variety in America, there is still an "American culture" that may be quite different from your own. While much of American culture is exported through television, film, and consumer products, there are some aspects that you do not encounter until you live in the US.
The United States hosts more international students than any other country in the world, a number fast approaching 600,000. In fact, international students comprise approximately 4% of the total undergraduate US university and college population, and 10% of the population for US graduate school. These international students from every continent in the world choose to study in the US because they believe that an American education would afford them the best preparation for their future. They leave homes, families and friends in order to pursue their dreams of an excellent education. In fact, International students contribute more than $13 billion to the US economy!
US universities, colleges and schools constantly rank very high in world rankings. This is just one of the reasons to study in the US. Schools such as Harvard University, Stanford University, MIT, Julliard, Berklee School of Music, West Point, are all world famous and welcome international students. The US offers international students the most exciting, rewarding and comprehensive array of study options in the world. International students who choose to study in the US have almost unlimited choices. Furthermore, international students who successfully complete their degrees in the USA are highly sought-after by employers worldwide.
The United States is the premiere destination for international students from all over the world. The main advantages of higher education in the USA are as follows:
World class learning institutions
The United States has more institutions of higher learning than any other country in the world. More importantly than that, however, is the quality of these academic bodies. Most American colleges and universities offer top-notch education programs with highly qualified teaching staff. The research at many of these universities is cutting-edge and often published in journals worldwide. Many of the professors at these schools are leading authorities in their field. The list of world-class learning institutions in the USA is endless and include, but are not limited to: Stanford University, Harvard, Yale, Cornell, California Institute of Technology, UC Berkeley, University of Pennsylvania, MIT, John Hopkins, Northwestern University, etc.
One of the best things about studying in the USA is the vast number of academic options offered to students. Since the USA is such a large country with vast resources, almost every field of study is available in the country. One can study everything from Russian history to nuclear physics. That is why so many foreigners choose to obtain their training in the USA. If you can perceive it, you can probably find some place in America to study it.
A degree or certificate from a college or university is useless if it is not recognized by employers, other institutions or field authorities. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to ensure than the degree from the school you choose is recognized in the place you plan to use it in. Fortunately, colleges and universities in America are given professional accreditation by different governing bodies. These schools have to earn their accreditation by meeting certain criteria, helping ensure a quality education, as well as a degree or certificate that is recognized. Most schools in the USA are accredited, though we strongly suggest that you thoroughly find out what each school's accreditation is before deciding. There are thousands of US schools that offer credentials recognized in almost every corner of the world.
Supporting industries, training and research
Because of the vast wealth of resources in America, the opportunities for practical training related to your field of study are vast. Most college and universities have established affiliations with employers and researchers in different fields of study, thereby creating an avenue for students to obtain hands-on and invaluable experience. Many universities even require that students obtain practical training in order to graduate. In many cases, these opportunities are not available anywhere else in the world.
People and culture
America is a melting pot of people from all over the world. One will find most Americans to be very hospitable, friendly, kind, generous and accepting of foreigners. Of course, there are a few exceptions, as in any country, but these are not the norm. In general, the people are funny, gregarious, innovative, and eager to learn. These are traits that many international students adopt and take home with them.
Regardless of what degree a student chooses to pursue in school, he or she will have to use computers and other technologies in order to succeed. Many universities incorporate the latest technology into their curriculum, encouraging students to obtain proficiency before they go out into the workplace. Specialized technology, such as the newest medical equipment in medical schools, allows each student to maximize their true potential and gain experience that is marketable in the real world.
Since the USA school system utilizes credit units and often accommodates working students, most schools offer academic programs that are flexible in nature. This means that, very often, one can choose when to attend classes, how many classes to enroll in each semester or quarter, what elective or optional classes to take, etc. An American education is very conforming to each student's needs.
It has been said that the friends and experience obtained during campus life are worth as much as the education itself. Many make friends that last lifetimes. The lessons learned my co-existing and living with others from all over the world are priceless.
More and more often, American colleges and universities are focusing on the global aspects of each subject, better preparing students with a worldwide view of their field. No longer can students merely focus on certain geographic areas when obtaining their academic training. Most US learning institutions have recognized this and offer a more comprehensive and global curriculum to meet these new trends.
When you finish your program of study, there may be other opportunities for you in the United States.
Studying in the United States
Why study in the USA?
The USA is one of the most popular study-abroad destinations for UK students.
- More than 9,000 UK students are studying in the US, and that number is bound to grow as UK students evaluate the relative costs of obtaining a quality degree.
- The US has a large and diverse higher education sector. There are more than 3,500 higher education institutions.
- The US has more universities in the 2014–15 QS World University Rankings than any other country.
Many people are aware of the reputation of the Ivy League schools – a group of elite private universities that dominate the more numerous and often larger state universities.
- Harvardhas traditionally been cited as the world’s leading university – but Massachusetts Institute of Technology has now come 1st in the world for 3 years in a row, according to QS World University Rankings
- While the term Ivy League has overtones of academic excellence, selectivity in admissions, and social elitism, it was in fact an athletic consortium first and evolved into a synonym for academic excellence.
- While all eight Ivy League institutions are in the 2014–15 QS World University Rankings, their positions range from Harvard at number 4, down to Dartmouth College at 136th.
- The leading non-Ivy League University is Stanford, in 7th place.
The university year in the US is the same as in the UK.
- Studies start in September and go through until the following May/June.
- This means if you want to study abroad in the US, you need to start planning your application at least one year in advance.
Funding your study
Most undergraduate degrees in the US will take four year to complete, so being able to finance your way through your international study experience is paramount.
- International students at state universities pay more than local residents but the same as other out-of state students.
- Fees will start at about US$20,000 a year and can range to US$40,000 for one of the Ivy League institutions.
- This in itself need not be a deterrent. Harvard and other private universities operate a need-blind admissions process for all applicants, including foreign nationals. An applicant's ability to pay has no impact on admissions decisions.
- At Harvard University, 61.5% of full-time undergraduates receive some kind of need-based financial aid and the average need-based scholarship or grant award is $39,156.
There are other costs on top of tuition, such as textbooks, accommodation and student living.
- Loans are available for international students but need a US citizen as a co-signer – fortunately they're not the only option.
- A number of scholarships are available for UK students, offered by the universities themselves as well as external bodies. More from the Fulbright Commission.
What about part-time work?
- Students can work part-time while studying in the US and a Social Security number can be obtained from the US Social Security Administration.
Typical prices in the USA (prices in GBP, March 2015) are:
- Apartment rent, 1 bedroom: £510 - £643 per month
- Meal, inexpensive restaurant: £6.78
- Meal at McDonalds: £4.41
- Domestic beer (0.5 litre draught): £2.37
- Imported beer (0.33 litre bottle): £3.39
- Cappuccino: £2.51
- Coke/Pepsi (0.33 litre bottle): £1.11
- Water (0.33 litre bottle): £0.88
- Loaf of bread: £1.66
- Cigarettes: £4.07
- One-way ticket local transport: £1.36
- Cinema ticket: £6.78
Staying on after study
- It is possible to stay on to work in the US for one year after graduation under the Optional Practical Training (OPT) scheme.
Health and safety
Medical insurance is absolutely essential for students in the US.
- There are several insurers in the market who offer student medical insurance policies.
- Students should compare various international student medical insurance plans before buying.
Student Acceptance at a SEVP Approved School
Before you can apply at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate for an F or M student visa, you must first apply to and be accepted by a SEVP approved school. Visit the Department of State Education USA website to learn about educational opportunities for undergraduate and graduate study, opportunities for scholars, admissions, and more. You can also visit the DHS Study in the States school search page to search for SEVP-certified schools.
When you are accepted by the U.S. school you plan to attend, you will be enrolled in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). You must pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee. The U.S. school will provide you with a Form I-20 to present to the consular officer when you attend your visa interview. If your spouse and/or children intend to reside with you in the United States while you study, they must obtain individual Form I-20s, but they do not pay the SEVIS fee. Visit the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) website to learn more about SEVIS and the SEVIS I-901 Fee.
How to Apply
There are several steps to apply for a visa. The order of these steps and how you complete them may vary at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you apply. Please consult the instructions available on the embassy or consulate website where you intend to apply.
Complete the Online Visa Application
- Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application,Form DS-160 – Learn more about completing the DS-160. You must: 1) complete the online visa application and 2) print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview.
- Photo–You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. Your photo must be in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.
Schedule an Interview
While interviews are generally not required for applicants of certain ages outlined below, consular officers have the discretion to require an interview of any applicant, regardless of age.
If you are age:
Then an interview is:
13 and younger
Generally not required
Required (some exceptions for renewals)
80 and older
Generally not required
You must schedule an appointment for your visa interview, generally, at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where you live. You may schedule your interview at any U.S. Embassy or Consulate, but be aware that it may be difficult to qualify for a visa outside of your place of permanent residence.
New Students – F-1 and M-1 student visas can be issued up to 120 days in advance of your course of study start date. However, you will not be allowed to enter the United States in F-1 or M-1 status earlier than 30 days before your start date.
Continuing Students - May renew their visas at any time, as long as they have maintained student status and their SEVIS records are current. Continuing students may enter the United States at any time before their classes start.
Prepare for Your Interview
- Fees - Pay the non-refundable visa application fee, if you are required to pay it before your interview. When your visa is approved, you may also pay a visa issuance fee, if applicable to your nationality. Fee information is provided below:
Application Fee : US $ 160
Gather Required Documentation
Gather and prepare the following required documents before your visa interview:
- Passportvalid for travel to the United States - Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States (unless exempt by country-specific agreements). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person who needs a visa must submit a separate application.
- Nonimmigrant Visa Application,Form DS-160 confirmation page
- Application fee payment receipt,if you are required to pay before your interview
- Photo– You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. If the photo upload fails, you must bring one printed photo in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.
- Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status-For Academic and Language Students, Form I-20 or Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (M-1) Student Status for Vocational Students, Form I-20– Your school will send you a SEVIS-generated Form I-20 once they have entered your information in the SEVIS database. You and your school official must sign the Form I-20. All students, their spouse and minor children if they intend to reside in the United States with the student, must be registered in the Student and Exchange Visitor System (SEVIS). Each person receives an individual Form I-20.
Additional Documentation May Be Required
Review the instructions for how to apply for a visa on the website of the embassy or consulate where you will apply. Additional documents may be requested to establish that you are qualified. For example, additional requested documents may include evidence of:
- Your academic preparation, such as:
- Transcripts, diplomas, degrees, or certificates from schools you attended; and
- Standardized test scores required by your U.S. school;
- Your intent to depart the United States upon completion of the course of study; and
- How you will pay all educational, living and travel costs.
Expenses, Tuition Fee & Living Costs
US Universities fall under two major categories: public (state supported), and private (independent) institutions. International students’ tuition expenses at state schools are based on nonresident costs, which are still usually less expensive than those of private universities. It’s important to note that the cost of a program in a US school does not necessarily affect its quality. A brief idea can be got from the following table:
Average Tuition Fees
Private Institutions (High Cost)
Private Institutions (Low Cost)
State Institutions (High Cost)
State Institutions (Low Cost)
The tuition fee is different for different universities and varies widely with courses. It can vary from as low as $ 10000 a year for state universities to as much as $ 35000 per annum for some private universities. For more specific details, please contact the universities.
The approximate annual living expenses are about $10,000, which includes accommodation as well as other daily expenses. However, the expenses are different for different people depending on the lifestyles and this is just a rough idea. The main expenses can be split up as:
$ 400 per month
$ 100 per month
$ 100 per month
$ 100 per month
$ 200 per month
So, about $1000 per month is a good estimation. Most people can survive with $700-$1000 a month. The key here is to share apartments/houses so that you save on the utilities, fixed charge portion of phone and to some extent on groceries.
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