How to study in USA for international students

A guide on how to study in USA for international students

Last Updated on May 10, 2021 by iSchoolConnect

From the perks of studying in the US, to top universities, costs, and admission requirements, this guide on how to study in USA for international students has got you covered.

The US has always ranked amongst the top 3 most popular destinations for studying abroad. America is home to the highest number of top-ranked universities, world-class international organizations, and some of the best minds in the world. Thanks to these and several other factors, more and more international students are applying to study in the US. And while the process of applying is pretty easy to understand, it’s not as easy to execute. This guide on how to study in USA for international students will help you a long way.

Why study in USA?

aerial Las Vegas at night
Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

A lot of students wonder and ask ‘Why study in USA?’

Well, there are several reasons behind the fact that the US invites close to 1 million international students every year for their higher education.

We’ve stated and explained them in detail, one by one-

Quality of education

33 of the world’s top 100 universities are based out of the US. This speaks volumes about the country’s education system.

The colleges in the US have a hands-on practical approach and provide the latest technologies to their students for the same.

Not only that, but the students also have access to some of the brightest minds in the world – their stellar faculty.

Flexible curriculum

One of the benefits of studying in the US is that you get to design your own curriculum. 

You can choose which subjects you wish to study, if you would rather do an internship, or focus on a project!

It’s up to you how many courses you would like to pick in any semester.

Networking opportunities

Students from all over the world come to study in the US.

This means that you will find yourself amongst bright minds, learning about diverse cultures and sharing your own social experiences.

This is a great opportunity. Building rapport with your classmates will not only help you make friends who will be there for you through thick and thin but also surround you with people who will help you grow professionally.

Student helping others and networking
Networking in college helps you build lasting connections in life. Sometimes, it’s not what you know, but who you know

Job opportunities

Given the length and breadth of the US and the startup trend, there are a multitude of international and local organizations willing to hire recent graduates.

Your university will help you easily find internships and job opportunities at such organizations through their career support services.

Friendly immigration policies

After graduating from a US university, you can stay back and work for 12 months if you are a non-STEM student, and an additional 24 months if you are a STEM graduate.

This is enough time for you to earn and pay back your loans and also gives you the opportunity to apply for an H1B visa.

Travel and explore

If there’s one thing you should NOT miss out on while studying in the US, it’s the travel experience.

The country is filled with lush forests, tall mountain ranges, and rad beaches. 

So go ahead, grab a friend, go for a long drive, and explore!

Top universities in the US

There are several factors you need to consider when choosing a university.

Like the course requirements, curriculum, faculty, career opportunities, etc.

You also need to consider the subject you’re interested in. Because one university might rank well for Computer Science, another might be better known for its MBA program.

However, you’ll find that the topmost universities in the US are famous for most of their courses and are some of the best institutions in the world.

princeton-university-main-building-at-front-gate-geraldine-scull
Princeton University

Let’s take a look at them here-

  1. Harvard University
  2. Stanford University
  3. MIT
  4. University of California, Berkeley
  5. University of California, Los Angeles
  6. Yale University
  7. Columbia University
  8. Princeton University
  9. New York University
  10. University of Pennsylvania
  11. University of Chicago
  12. Cornell University
  13. Duke University
  14. Johns Hopkins University
  15. University of Southern California, and more

Now that we have an idea of what institutions you can consider for your studies in the US, let’s take a look at how much your education will cost.

Cost of studying in the US

The cost of studying in the USA for Indian students and other international students will vary depending on which university and course you choose to pursue. For example, doing an MBA at Princeton would cost you more than studying Computer Science at the University of Arizona.

But to give you a general idea, the average cost of studying in the USA for Indian students is-

  • For bachelors: $26,290 to $35,830
  • For masters: $15,000 to $40,000

But that’s not all. As an international student studying in the US, you also have to consider the cost of living, transportation, food, and other miscellaneous expenses.

Again, these charges will depend on which location and university you study in.

But to give you a rough idea, the cost of living in the US amounts to-

  • $8000 to $12,000 per annum

Fortunately, there are several ways to offset these expenses.

Like taking up a Graduate or a Teaching Assistantship, doing a part-time job, and applying for fellowships and scholarships.

US scholarships for international students

If there’s one more benefit worth stating, it’s that universities in the US offer financial assistance in many forms to international students.

These include fellowships, grants, and scholarships.

While each university has its own funding set aside for scholarships, there are several organizations that also offer financial aid to students planning to study specifically in the US.

You will find a list of 40 such US scholarships for international students here-

How to study in USA for international students

Once you’ve shortlisted the universities you want to apply to, you will have to go through their websites and find out the admission requirements. However, a few requirements are common across programs and universities.

For an undergraduate course, you will need to provide-

  1. A high school diploma
  2. Proof of English language proficiency (TOEFL or IELTS)
  3. Aptitude test scores (SAT or ACT)
  4. College essay

For students pursuing a postgraduate degree, the universities will ask for-

  1. Transcripts
  2. Statement of Purpose
  3. Resume
  4. Proof of English language proficiency (TOEFL or IELTS)
  5. Aptitude test scores (GRE or GMAT)
  6. Portfolio (for subjects like Fine Arts, Architecture, etc.)

Start preparing these documents 6 months before you have to apply.

After you submit your application, it is time to wait. If shortlisted, you will receive a letter of acceptance, which you can then use to apply for a student visa!

US student visa process

F1 student visa for USA
Be sure to double check the status of documents such as your bank statement for US student visa, marksheets, receipts, etc.

This guide on ‘How to study in USA for international students’ would be incomplete without some information about the US student visa process.

The process of applying for a US student visa begins when you receive an admit from a university of your choice in the US.

With this acceptance letter, the university will also provide you with your I-20 form.

This form is an application requirement for your visa application and you can only start the process once you have it.

Here’s what you need to do-

  1. Apply and get admission into a SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program) approved institution.
  2. Pay the SEVIS I-901 fee ($350) for enrollment into the SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System). After this payment, your school provides you with an I-20 form which you will need to present to the consular officer at your F-1 visa interview.
  3. Pay the non-refundable visa application fee and fulfill the application requirements of your specific embassy or consulate. Visa application is available online through which you could complete your application before printing the DS-160 form which you will take to your F-1 visa interview.
  4. Schedule and make preparations for your interview. Your interview is key to whether you will be awarded an F-1 student visa or not. You can schedule the date but be aware of the variations in waiting periods for interview appointments which differ with regards to the visa category, season or location.

It’s advisable to make your visa application early enough as US F-1 student visas can be awarded up to 120 days before the starting date of your study program.

Coming to the documents you’ll be needing during your visa interview-

  1. Non-immigrant visa application form (Form DS-160)
  2. Standardized digital color passport photo taken recently
  3. A valid passport
  4. Receipt of visa application fee payment ($160)
  5. Certificate of Eligibility for Non-immigrant (F-1) Student Status (Form I-20)
  6. Documents proving adequate financial support during your stay in the US (Bank Statement)
  7. Diplomas, Transcripts, Certificates, and Degrees from your attended schools. Along with that, Scores from Standardized tests such as TOEFL, GMAT, SAT, GRE, etc.
  8. Documents that serve as proof of your intent to return upon completing your program

Additional documents may be requested depending on your location or the specific program you have been admitted into.

Note: Remember, once you receive the visa, you can only use it to travel to the United States 30 days before the start date of your course.

Should I study in the US?

The first thing you need to do is figure out if you’re eligible to apply to a US university.

Choose a course, shortlist a few universities, and head to their website to find out about the same.

If you’re eligible, then go ahead and apply!

The country offers great quality education and an incredible international experience to its students.

And, the US has made things much easier for STEM, Medicine, and Business students.

So if you’re opting for a different kind of course, make sure you have your finances sorted.

Once these things are taken care of, the US is one of the best destination choices you can make.

We hope you found our guide on ‘How to study in USA for international students’ helpful.And if you need any more information, feel free to drop a comment or reach out to us. We’d be very happy to help!

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