The United States is vast—its size, culture, and global influence are immense. Alaska alone matches the expanse of Western Europe. As the largest English-speaking country, the U.S. stands as an ideal destination for studying abroad.
Comprising fifty states plus the District of Columbia, each state possesses its distinct character, traits, and experiences. Spanning from the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico, the U.S. offers a continent's worth of adventure within one country, influenced by cultures worldwide.
Consistently ranking in the top 10 places for studying abroad, the U.S. excels, particularly in providing access to high-quality education. Its higher education system enables you to explore your interests by earning qualifications through standalone courses or structured programs. Renowned institutions like MIT, Harvard, Yale, UCLA, and Columbia are just a few examples.
Specialized technical schools further enhance the educational landscape. Whether studying arctic science in Alaska, seed agriculture in Wyoming, or astronautical engineering in Florida, the U.S. caters to diverse academic interests.
Whatever you seek during your time studying abroad, the U.S. is certain to offer opportunities that align with your needs and pique your curiosity.
In contrast to many other global higher education systems, higher education in the United States operates with a significant degree of independence from government oversight and is widely decentralized. This offers students a broad range of choices. Opt for public or private institutions, small or large student bodies, or schools with religious affiliations. Geographically, the diversity extends to preferences for urban, suburban, or rural settings, ensuring there's an ideal location for every taste.
American higher education stands out for its emphasis on independent research, quality, diversity, and accessibility. Over 16 million students enroll in university programs annually, pursuing associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degrees. Here's an overview of the different programs available:
Considering studying business in the world's largest economic engine? Pursuing an MBA in the U.S. exposes you to real-world case studies, challenges your limits, encourages collaboration in diverse groups, and hones interpersonal and business communication skills, making it an excellent choice for aspiring leaders.
Regardless of location or field of study, degrees in the U.S. are predominantly taught in English. Strong English language skills are recommended, and non-native speakers may need to demonstrate proficiency through a standardized test like the TOEFL. Studying in the U.S. is a valuable opportunity to enhance English skills, beneficial both during studies and in the job search after graduation.
Regarding the study process, it follows a familiar structure found in many countries—a combination of lectures, readings, and independent study. Practical subjects like engineering or microbiology may involve additional time spent in labs or workshops.
One significant expense for international students to keep in mind is healthcare. Unlike some other popular study destinations such as the UK and Germany, the United States lacks state healthcare. The entire healthcare system operates on a private basis and functions as a free market.
This means you'll need health insurance. Since healthcare is a business, the market is quite active. It's essential to carefully examine what plans cover and do not cover. If you have any pre-existing conditions, you'll need to disclose them. Additionally, check for any excess fees on the plans. It's advisable to obtain health insurance before arriving in the United States to ensure coverage from the moment you step foot there.
There are several compelling reasons; here are the key ones:
Variety of Educational Opportunities:
Opportunity for Research, Teaching, and Training:
Support Services for International Students:
Global Education and Long-Term Career Prospects:
Campus Life Experience:
By pursuing your studies in the U.S., you not only expand your educational horizons but also enrich your cultural experiences, opening doors to a diverse and dynamic future.
To start, check the entry requirements for schools you're interested in. American schools might not always accept international qualifications, so you might have to take the SAT exam or an equivalent. Fortunately, there are test centers worldwide if needed. You might also need to demonstrate your English-language proficiency, which can be done through the TOEFL test.
Once you have a recognized qualification, you can apply. Unlike many European countries, there's no national application portal in the U.S. You apply directly to individual schools, regardless of whether you're American or international. Typically, this is done through the school's website.
While the application process may vary, here are the general steps for applying to American schools:
If you receive an admission offer:
Schools open for applications at various times during the fall semester, with most requiring your application by December or January at the latest.
If you're planning to study in the United States, you'll need a visa. The U.S. visa system is stringent, so it's crucial to ensure you obtain the right visa for your specific needs; otherwise, entry into the country won't be permitted.
There are three main types of study visas: F visa, M visa, and B visa.
All three visas share common requirements. Your school must be registered with the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and issue you an I-20 form. The information on this form must match your ID documents precisely. Pay the I-20 fee, and bring the receipt when applying. With the I-20 form, receipt, proof of enrollment, passport, and two passport-sized photos, fill out the DS-160 application form online and print the confirmation of completion. Schedule an interview at your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate capable of processing visa applications. Keep in mind that appointment wait times can exceed a week.
During the interview, pay the visa processing fee, typically around $160, depending on your citizenship. Regardless of visa issuance, you're responsible for arranging the return of your passport. Additional documentation, like academic transcripts, may be needed, and you'll be informed before your interview if that's the case.
Remember, you cannot study in the U.S. on a visitor visa or under the Visa Waiver Program.
The reality is, that tuition fees in the United States can be on the higher side. Each school sets its own fees, and these can vary widely. Before applying, it's crucial to check the costs associated with your chosen program. Additionally, there's a notable difference in fees between public and private schools.
The U.S. government offers loans to cover tuition and living expenses. Typically, repayment starts six months post-graduation. It's worth noting that some loans, including federal ones, accrue interest. Some countries might also offer funding with comparatively lower interest rates.
However, the quality of education in the U.S. makes the investment worthwhile. Despite the hefty fees, numerous scholarship opportunities exist for those aspiring to study in the United States. There are countless options, ranging from stipends to fully-funded scholarships. Some are contingent on your chosen subject, school, or state. A comprehensive list can be found here, and in certain cases, scholarships might even support your visa application.
Living costs vary across the United States. For instance, living expenses are generally lower in Idaho compared to neighbouring Washington. Similarly, if you choose to study in Kansas City, Missouri, your cost of living will be less than in Oakland, California.
International students have housing options ranging from private apartments to shared dormitory rooms in university halls. The type of room you can choose depends on your course, room availability, and budget. Many international students prefer sharing apartments, whether it's a room or private living. Booking directly through your university for on-campus accommodation is the easiest way.
On your university's website, you can explore options for mixed or single-sex dorms, catered or self-catered facilities, shared or en-suite bathrooms, and shared or private bedrooms. If communal living is your preference, a shared apartment is ideal. On the other hand, opting for a private student apartment offers the comfort and privacy of your bathroom, living space, and kitchen. These apartments are usually located off-campus, especially in student-friendly university suburbs. Some universities even provide a liaison officer to guide you on the best housing options.
While schools offer accommodation choices, if you prefer not to stay in a hostel, we've outlined some practical ways to rent an apartment without a strong financial background. Students should weigh the pros and cons of various options, including homestays, private houses on campus, hotels, apartments, and studios.
Wondering where to find a place to stay as a student in the USA?