How to Choose the Program to Study in the USA

3 minute read

Hello, study abroad aspirant! In our blog series, we discuss topics to help you make smarter choices about your dream education overseas. Today I am discussing study abroad opportunities in the United States – which remains the world’s leading host destination for international students, accepting 15% of the global total students studying outside their home countries. To make the right choice of program and subject, it is important to understand the key features of what is available in the US higher education system. This will help you to make an informed choice. 

Why is the US a Top Destination for Studying Abroad?

The reputation of the US as a top study-abroad destination rests on the fact that the maximum number of top ‘Ivy League universities exist in the US. MIT, Stanford and Harvard universities are the top three in the world!  Other premier universities are Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Berkeley, and many others. The US also boasts of having the world’s best study programs whether in Liberal Arts, Social Sciences or STEM. Hundreds of research centres in the US produce cutting-edge research in science, data, medicine, engineering etc. 

How to Choose the Subject Area for Studying in the US?

This is a matter of personal choice. If you plan to study further within your subject domain, then your searches for university options will be simpler. If you wish to diversify, then discussing with an expert education counsellor is wise. They can advise based on your aptitude assessments.

What are the Most Distinguishing Features of US Higher Education?

First, we should note that higher education in the US is not as highly state subsidized as in the UK, EU or Canada. Therefore, it is more expensive. However, because US universities are well-funded there are many more paid fellowships and teaching assistantships available, especially at post-grad and PhD. levels. Given the global reputation of US universities, ROI may be higher because starting salaries after degree completion in the US are globally competitive.

Secondly, the US is huge. It consists of 50 states and the District of Columbia which includes Washington DC.  From Boston on the East Coast to Chicago in the mid-west and Los Angles and Seattle in the West, the US has huge variations in climate, landscape and connectivity. Unlike in the UK, public transport connectivity is limited to only a few cities like New York and San Francisco. To go from East to West Coast is a flying time of 6 hours! US campuses are huge spaces with libraries and labs taking up several floors. Many campuses are several miles away from the nearest city.

Tip: When choosing a program check the location. If you like living near a big city, then a suburban campus which is a 20 or 40-km drive may feel isolated and challenging.

Also Read: How to Choose Universities for Studying Abroad in Canada?

What are the Different Kinds of Universities and Colleges Offering Degrees Across the US?

There are private and public universities offering 4-year undergrad degree programs. The master’s is 2 years, although many students take extra credits and complete them in 18 months. Public universities are less expensive. There are also highly rated Liberal Arts colleges (which also offer science courses!) for undergraduate students. These are autonomous and award their degrees. Liberal Arts colleges welcome international students and offer possibilities for scholarships or discounted fees.  Community Colleges are much cheaper. Their programs focus on employable skills and vocational training. Degrees from Community Colleges draw lower salaries than those from public and private universities or Liberal Arts Colleges.

 When choosing a program in the US university system consider the following:

  • The reputation of the university and the placement reviews of the program you are applying for.
  • Location: Are there internships or job opportunities in the region?
  • Cost: check the availability of reduced fees or other financial support for international students and decide if it suits your budget.

We hope these tips will help you to think more deeply about the study abroad options available in the US. Remember that your best choice is a program that suits YOUR needs, and not the ratings given by a ranking agency!

We will be back next Friday with another amazing blog from Dr Maina Chawla Singh. Till then, if you have any questions or suggestions, just drop us a comment and we will get back to you.

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