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MS in USA – Key Facts, Admission requirements, Application, Costs 

by Aatif Nafees

The USA remains the most popular choice amongst Indian students seeking master’s opportunities abroad. According to the 2019 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange (IIE), there was a 3% hike in the number of Indian students in the US. The largest proportion of this cohort included graduates at 90,333 students.

In this article, you get to know why the USA remains a preferred choice for higher education, benefits of pursuing a graduate degree from the states, how to apply in a US university and some of the course suggestions.

Masters (MS) in USA Salient features

There are more than 1,500 recognised universities in the USA which offer masters-level degrees. Some of the highlights of studying in the USA are:

  1. Most of the global rankings for universities have listed American institutions at the top out of the top 50 in Times Higher Educations league, 24 are based in the US.
  2. Though education in the USA is not cheap, there are a number of ways available to help you in meeting those costs. A number of scholarships, grant and loans options are available for students.Study Abroad

What does Masters in USA offer?

  1. Education and training in the specialised field or branch
  2. Academic courses under the categories, Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MS) or professional categories like Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Fine Arts (MFA), Master of Social Work (MSW), and Master of Education (MEd)
  3. Thesis or non-thesis option may be offered.
  4. One to three years of additional study beyond a bachelors degree is required.

When to apply?

  1. Most colleges offer early application deadlines usually fall in between December to January and a regular deadline that usually falls in between March to April.
  2. Some institutions also accept applications on an ongoing basis.
  3. There is no cap on the number of applications that can be made by an applicant. However, ideally six applications are made by most of the students.
  4. An application fee usually between USD 50 and USD 100 is charged.

Masters (MS) in USA – General Admission Requirements for a Graduate Programme

  1. 16 years of education (Completion of at least 4 years of graduation or diploma after 10+2 is a must)
  2. Bachelors degree
  3. A transcript/record of your previous courses
  4. A scan of your passport
  5. Your CV
  6. Testing scores (GRE/GMAT)
  7. Evidence of scholarship or funding
  8. Statement of Purpose
  9. Letters of recommendation (between 2-3)
  10. Portfolio and/or writing samples

English-language tests scores

  1. TOEFL
  2. IELTS
  3. C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency

Note: Always check your universitys website to confirm the exact requirements for the course of your liking.

To know about college admission in US after 12th, read the blog Study in USA after 12th

Masters (MS) in USA – Steps to do Masters in the USA

Masters in the USA requires preparation and planning. It is a lengthy process and should start a year before the actual admission. Give yourself enough time to prepare and complete all the prerequisites to enhance your chance of pursuing masters in the USA. Here are the 5 comprehensive steps one can follow to achieve a place in a masters course at an American university .

Step 1: Research and explore your options

There are a great many institutes in the USA which offer a masters degree in various fields. The eligibility requirements for these institutes vary greatly. It is to be remembered that there is no one best institute for masters in the USA. The best institute for you is the one which meets your academic, financial and personal requirements.

Step 2: Finance your studies

Proof of enough financial resources to fund your masters programme and your stay in the USA is mandatory. Start planning your budget early and look for the available financial assistance in the form of scholarships, in-state tuition benefits, waived application fees and deadlines, and other similar provisions to reduce the cost.

Step 3: Complete your application

The application process for MS in the universities of the USA is time-taking. It requires collecting recommendations, writing essays and putting down results of the required examinations. Prepare all the documents at least one month before the application.

Step 4: Apply for student visa

International students are required to obtain an F-1 non-immigrant visa to pursue an education in the USA. You can apply for this after securing admission in an SEVP-approved university (Student and Exchange Visitor Program). The non-immigrant visa application fee is currently USD 160. Youll also need to provide proof of sufficient funds for the course duration and a confirmation of your intention to leave the US after completing your studies.

Step 5: Prepare for departure

Complete all the documents and reach the university premises at least a couple of days prior to the date of commencement.


Masters (MS) in USA – Popular MS Universities in US

The USA dominates the top rankings in terms of top institutes for pursuing masters. 7 out top 10 universities according to THE rankings are located in the USA. Some of these top institutes are:


Universities THE Rankings 2020 QS WorldUniversity Rankings 2020
California Institute of Technology – Caltech 2 5
Stanford University 4 2
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 5 1
Princeton University 6 13
Harvard University 7 3
Yale University 8 17
University of Chicago 9 10
University of Pennsylvania 11 15
Johns Hopkins University 12 24
University of California, Berkeley 13 28
Columbia University 16 18
University of California, Los Angeles 17 35
Cornell University 19 14
Duke University 20 25
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor 21 21
North-western University 22 31
University of Washington 26 68
Carnegie Mellon University 27 48
New York University 29 39
University of California, San Diego 31 45

Popular Universities in USA subject-wise


Program Institution Degree Awarded
Master of Business Administration – General Business Northcentral University MBA
Master of Business Administration Widener University MBA
Master of Business Administration Benedictine University N/A
Master of Business Administration The University of Scranton MBA
Master of Business Administration Queens University of Charlotte MBA
Master of Business Administration Winthrop University MBA
Master of Business Administration Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota MBA
MBA – General Utica College MBA
MBA- Executive Loyola University Chicago EMBA
Master of Business: Administration Sacred Heart University MBA
Master of Science in Global Energy Management University of Colorado Denver MS
MBA Aurora University MBA


Program Institution Degree Awarded
Computer Science Colorado State University ME and MS
Electrical Engineering Colorado Technical University MS
Civil Engineering Norwich University MS
Nuclear Engineering Pennsylvania State University ME
Engineering Management Ohio University MEM
Computer Engineering University of Southern California ME
Computer Engineering University of Tulsa ME
Material Science Engineering University of Pittsburgh MS


Program Institution Degree Awarded
Master of Social Work Northcentral University MSW
Master of Social Work Online Bilingual (MAESTRA BILINGE EN TRABAJO SOCIAL EN LNEA) Loyola University Chicago MS
Master of Social Work Advanced Standing Widener University MS
Master of Social Work – Advanced Standing Sacred Heart University N/A
Master of Social Work – Traditional Track Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota MS
MSW Aurora University MSW
Master of Social Work (MSW) – Advanced Clinical Social Practice (Standard: up to 2 courses/term) Walden University MS
Master of Social Work – Traditional Track Winthrop University MSW
Master of Social Work Our Lady of the Lake University MSW

MS in USA – Cost of Study in USA

HSBC’s 2019 report, titled as The Value of Education mentioned the US as the top choice among students considering universities abroad but has also labelled it as one of the most expensive with students spending USD 99,500 over the duration of their masters degree.


University Average tuition
Princeton University USD 44,000/year
Harvard University USD 5,500 33,000/year
University of Chicago USD 13,500 39,500/year
Yale University USD 22,000 46,000/year
Columbia University USD 23,000 59,000/year

MS in USA – Most affordable universities of USA

Mastersportal has listed the following universities as most affordable for the master studies in the USA:

  1. The City University of New York (CUNY)
  2. California State University Long Beach
  3. Western Kentucky University
  4. South Texas College


Subject Number of institutes with annual fee USD up to 20,000
Masters in Business over 1900
Masters in Engineering over 1100
Masters in Law over 180
Masters in Medicine over 1,100
Masters in IT over 600
Masters in Humanities over 1,100

*This table only provides a tentative idea. There are many courses available which cost much less or much more than the aforementioned bracket. Study Abroad


Factors Amount in USD/yr Amount in INR/yr
GRE USD 205 ?15,200
TOEFL USD 170 ?12,600
Applications USD 1100 ?81,400
Counselling (optional) USD 340 ?25,000
Other Expenses During Applications USD 162 ?12,000
VISA Fee USD 160 ?11,840
SEVIS Fee USD 200 ?14,800
Airfares (one-way) USD 675 ?50,000
Tuition Fee USD 40000 ?29,60,000
Living Expenses USD 15000 ?11,10,000
TOTAL EXPENSES USD 58000 ?42,92,000

Masters (MS) in USA – FAQs

Q. How many admission/intake seasons are there in the USA?

A. The USA has two intake seasons, namely fall and spring semesters. Fall semester starts in late August and ends in late December or early January whereas the Spring semester begins in January and ends in early May.

Q. What are popular subject choices among international students seeking higher education in the USA?

A. Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics subjects are popular among international as well as domestic students in the USA. Psychology, Business Administration, Education, Economics and Political Science are some other popular courses among applicants.

Q. What are some of the popular scholarships for Masters in the USA?

A. Some of the popular scholarships for masters in the USA are:

  1. Fulbright Scholarship Programme
  2. Aga Khan Foundation International Scholarship
  3. Inlaks Scholarship
  4. Upakar Indian Scholarship Foundation
  5. The Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program
  6. S.N. Bose Scholars Student Exchange Program for Indian Students
  7. SEED Foundation Scholarship

Q. Are there work opportunities for international students studying in the USA?

A. Yes, international students in the USA can work while pursuing their degree. The government allows students to work up to 20 hours per week at the minimum wage that falls between USD 7-8 per hour.

Q. How to get work after study visa in the US?

A. In the US, the international students holding F-1 student visa can apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) which allows them to stay back for one year after completion of the course, provided they work in their field of study. Students who hold a degree from the US governments designated list of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects can extend their OPT by another 17 months which allows them to work in the US for a total of 29 months.

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