The USA has always been and still remains a favorite destination of students. Its education is unparalleled in the world with students being exposed to the latest technology and research in any field that they opt for.
It offers a wide variety of subjects and specializations in various fields, probably not available in their own home countries. It has around 3000 colleges offering secondary and post secondary education for all kinds of students. It incorporates a curriculum that is a combination of theory and practical training which brings out the best in every student and helps to realize the student’s potential.
The universities also offer scholarships and assistantships to worthy students, which is another factor that makes it attractive to students who are looking at cutting costs.
The undergraduate or the bachelors program is of four years duration. In the first two years the students do a wide variety of subjects following a liberal arts course curriculum. In the final two years the students will specialize in their chosen fields.
The graduate or the masters program is of two years duration. Here the students will specialize in all aspects of their chosen field of study.
The doctoral program is about three to four years duration. It involves extensive research on the subject and a presentation or thesis, which the student has to present based on a topic that he/ she has researched extensively. The admission is extremely competitive and is open for students who have completed their master’s degree and have done some research work in the concerned areas. The student would also need to submit a thesis option to the university during the admission process.
Terms and expressions:
There are certain expressions and terms that one needs to be familiar with while dealing with American universities.
- Accreditation: each college and university needs to have accreditation for its degree to be recognized internationally. The process involves a rigorous screening of the university campus, laboratories, libraries, facilities that it offers to the student and its constant efforts to keep ahead of the latest ongoing research.
Each college or university gets its accreditation from the AASCB (American Association of Schools and College Board) or from the regions in which they operate. This is an important factor and care must be taken to check if the college is accredited or not.
- Credits: points or grades given to a student based on tests/exams, assignments and participation in class. A student must have a minimum of 9 credits to maintain his student visa status.
- GPA: the GPA is the Grade Point Average or the percentage a student has acquired during the course of his study. It is rated on a scale of 1 to 4. Most colleges require a minimum of 3 which roughly translates to 61-65%.
Each semester comprises of four and a half months. There are two intakes in a year with a break of three months in the middle.
- Intakes: there are two intakes in a year.
Fall: August/ September
Spring: January / February
Though there is summer term, international students are not encouraged to apply. For applying for either the fall or spring semester, the process has to start seven to eight months in advance of the semester.
January intake: June/July
August intake: October/November.
Most universities and colleges in the USA offer financial aid in some form or the other to help students and ease their financial burden. The aid offered to the students is of three types:
Scholarships: this is money given to the student based on academic excellence, test scores and his references from his teachers. The student need not work for this money; it is given to him for his previous academic excellence.
Teaching Assistantships: students who have excellent academic scores are given this TA as it is popularly called. It involves teaching an undergraduate class and is paid for the same.
Research Assistantships: since most professors in universities is involved in some kind of research most of them require assistants to help in their research activities. Students who get RA have to help their professors in their research and get paid for their efforts. These are usually offered to students who have had previous experience or to those students who are doing their PHD.
Financial aid is not guaranteed and is given solely on merit and also on a first come first serve basis. Financial aid deadlines close much ahead of the general deadline and students who want aid must adhere to the same.
There is no cut off point either in academics or in the test scores that will determine whether you get a scholarship or not. It depends on a host of factors and also on the time your application reaching the university.
A scholarship can start at $500 and go up to a full tuition waiver. No one can predict how much of scholarship a student can get.