One of the world’s most renowned study destinations in the world, the United States of America attracts thousands of international students every year who aims to embark on a worthwhile and dignified education. And you could be one of them! You could end in one of the finest education providers in the world which has one of the largest education systems globally. At least five of the institutions in the country make up the top 10 universities in the world according to the QS world ranking 2022.  

It is no mystery as to why international students flock towards the country every year. Apart from its international reputation, the country also provides an insight into the various culture it holds. And who wouldn’t want to be in the middle of the storm?  

The American campus life is a once in a lifetime experience and this would be an excellent opportunity for you to boost your CV by taking part in the various clubs and organizations they offer. Spanning six time zones, the country is home to 50 states and holds beautiful destinations for travel and fun.  

If you have not set your heart on that one university, use this guide, prepared just for you to understand why and what universities you need to apply to. 

Why study in America? 

Studying in the US is indeed a once in a lifetime opportunity. Apart from the fact that thousands of students migrate to the country just to receive the excellent education that they deserve, it is also one of the safest countries to live in.  

It is home to many respected and world-renowned institutions like NYU, Brown, Yale, Stanford etc. Although a lot of things factor while choosing a study destination, keep in mind that there are many other universities and colleges that are not that well known but still offer great opportunities and good education. So don’t worry if you don’t get in one of the big leagues! Education is knowledge wherever you learn it from. 

With an estimated 4000 institutions, the United States of America has become one of the largest education systems. But every country follows different types of academic systems. If you are still confused about how exactly the American academic calendar works, read on! 

The academic calendar in the country is split into two; the first semester is in the fall which runs from mid-August to December and the spring semester which runs from January to May. Although the country’s main language is English, there are various terminologies that you may need to get familiar with.  

For example, universities are generally known as colleges and there are two main types: 

Public colleges: These are large state funded institutions that have a large number of students who pay lower fees. But international students will pay higher fees. 

Private colleges: These are the exact opposite of public colleges. Although overseas students pay the same fees as those who are state residents, they have higher fees. They are a set of smaller institutions that are funded by tuition fees, private donations and other grants.  

The most popular universities in the country are an elite set of eight prestigious colleges which make up the American Ivy League. Many of you may be targeting the big leagues. If you are a high achiever and wants to experience the best of America, choose one of the Ivy Leagues: 

  • Brown University (Rhode Island) 
  • Columbia University (New York) 
  • Cornell University (New York) 
  • Dartmouth College (New Hampshire) 
  • Harvard University (Massachusetts) 
  • University of Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania) 
  • Princeton University (New Jersey) 
  • Yale University (Connecticut) 

There are other amazing universities that you can choose too. Like I mentioned before, five of the top ten universities in the world are in the US according to the QS World rankings 2022 which includes: 

  • 1st – Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 
  • 3rd – Stanford University 
  • 5th – Harvard University 
  • 6th – California Institute of Technology (Caltech) 
  • 10th – University of Chicago 

What are the degree courses they offer? 

Undergraduate Degree 

There are two types of undergraduate degrees the country offers – Associate and Bachelor degrees. If you are still confused about what exactly they are, read on and choose what fits you! 

Associate degrees: These degrees are usually studied at technical, junior or community colleges and can take around two years to complete. Those who wish to gain a bachelors degree can study for an associate qualification on a range of subjects and then transfer to a bachelor’s program and complete an additional two years.  

Bachelors’ degree: They differ a lot from the mainstream degree. It takes a total of four years to receive a bachelors degree. Student study a variety of subjects in the first two years and then ‘major’ in the last two years in the subjects that they choose. Students can also gain a ‘minor’ qualification by completing classes in an additional subject while pursuing their ‘majors’.  

First, ensure that the university you choose recognizes your qualifications by contacting their admissions office. Unlike other countries, subjects such as medicine and law are not offered at the undergraduate level. You can study preparatory qualifications like pre-med and pre-law but to qualify as lawyer or a doctor, you need to study at a graduate level. 

If you want to search for undergraduate degrees in the US by field of study and location, do so at International Student School Search

Master’s Degree 

In the US, masters degree is popularly known as ‘graduate degrees. Like the UK and Canada, US also offers one-year options while pursuing a graduate degree but most of the courses here takes two to three years to complete. They do not offer any pure research graduate programmes. Instead, students learn through a combination of taught and research components.  

When it comes to applying for a master’s degree in the USA, you are asked a minimum of 2:2 undergraduate degree from a recognised institution. But don’t worry, different universities have different policies, get in touch with them before you apply.  


Like other countries, a doctoral degree in the US also takes typically four to six years to complete. Naturally, you will be awarded a PhD once you pass your examinations and produce a dissertation. 

Course Fees 

The most important decision you have to consider before applying to the US is the finance part. Do not take this lightly as studying here is expensive.  

Undergraduate fees can range from $5000 to $50,000 while graduate degrees depend on the kind of subject you choose to study. On top of that, you have to take into account the living cost. At major universities like the ivy leagues, it could cost an estimated $70,000 including fees and living cost.  

But there is always financial help available. There are numerous scholarships and aids that will help you fund your studies. You could also go for public universities which costs less than private institutions.  

But despite all its priciness, the annual cost of living in the US is generally far much lower when compared to countries like the UK. 


There are a lot of scholarships that provide coverage for the entire cost of study while others contribute to other sections of the study. There are needs based financial aid which will fund you if your family income is below a certain amount. Merit Scholarships will help you fund your studies if you are outstanding student with excellent grades. And then there is the sports scholarships for sportsmen and women with talent.  

If you want to know more about funding and scholarships in the US, visit our blog.

Application Process 

There are various stages you have to cross when applying to a US institution. So, make sure you apply at least 12 to 18 months in advance. All students are required to sit a multiple-choice admission exam the institution they applied to provides. Most universities ask you to sit in exams like SAT or ACT. 

You will also be asked to provide an application form which includes a  

  • personal statement  
  • transcripts of academic records  
  • two to three recommendation letters  
  • admission exam scores 

For those of you who are applying for graduate programmes, you will have to provide a research statement, and a CV and also attend an interview. 

Language requirements 

Like the UK, courses here are taught in English. If English is not your first language you might have to sit an English language proficiency test like the TOEFL or IELTS. 

If you are thinking of studying in the US and have any questions, feel free to contact us here

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