Cost of studying MS in USA
Updated on Nov 7, 2015 - 2:48 p.m. IST by Manashjyoti
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Cost of studying MS in USA-
After completing undergraduation, the next and obvious step that a student takes is to go for higher studies. Many students bypass the opportunity to get an MS degree in the country only to go abroad, mostly to the USA, to earn the degree. These students are mainly driven by the exposure offered to them at the top universities of the USA and a plethora of opportunities that await them post their master’s degree in the country. 

And why not, MS degrees from US are in high demand and if a student manages to get into a top university and pass out with decent marks, his life is all but settled.       

But while students do know that an MS degree from an institute like Harvard will land them a dream job, many have difficulty figuring out which are the best fit for them from a monetary point of view; also since there is big money involved, they don’t want to leave any room for mistakes. They want to know the actual rather than the advertised cost of studying MS in USA. So, in a bid to make life easier for the students, we bring you various costs involved in studying MS in USA.

MS tuition fee at top US universities:


World Rank (2015)

Yearly Fees

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)


44,000 USD - 46,000 USD

Harvard University


38,000 USD - 40,000 USD

Stanford University


40,000 USD - 42,000 USD

California Institute of Technology (Caltech)


38,000 USD - 40,000 USD

University of Chicago


44,000 USD - 46,000 USD

Johns Hopkins University


42,000 USD - 44,000 USD

University of California, Berkeley (UCB)


26,000 USD - 28,000 USD

*Source: QS

Students must take into account that tuition fees across the United States vary considerably, even while the average fees is among the highest in the world. So if you are targeting a top private university, you have to be ready with the finances. The good thing is there are universities that extend international scholarship schemes to subsidize your cost of studying MS in USA, and can help you pursue your American dream. Also, for an accurate picture of the fee breakdown and to figure out whether installment options are available, there is no alternative to visiting the official website of that university. Here are a few glimpses of scholarship and financial aid offered by some universities which can bring down the cost of studying MS in USA.


Scholarships offered by US universities:


Type of Scholarship and Financial Aid

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

  • Eligible for student loans sponsored by private sources

Harvard University

  • Need-based fellowships available for students

  • 65% of students get financial aid in some form

Stanford University

  • Funding options include loan and outside funding

Johns Hopkins University

  • Students receive tuition support in addition to monthly stipends offered by respective departments

MS Cost overview of Berkeley University: A Case Study

To get an idea of the cost of studying MS in USA, let us pick Berkeley University of California and get an overview of the tuition fees and living expenses for attending the university (the figures included in the chart are only anticipated values as they keep fluctuating and are dependent on multiple factors, including inflation).

Students are expected to bear the following individual cost for the academic year 2015-16 (As per the official website of the university):   

Table 1:

Tuition and fees (2 semesters)


Total Resident fees


Non-Resident Supplemental Tuition


Combined Resident fees and Tuition


Table 2:

Minimum Living Expenses

Includes variables like housing, book and supplies, and personal expenses


$25,200/calendar year

Total Annual Budget (Tuition and fees + Living expenses)


The above charts show approximate individual expenses. Those with families can add an additional $4,000 per child and $7,000 for the spouse to the total expenses.

These above figures give aspiring students a fair idea regarding the expenses involved and they can make the preparations accordingly. However, tuition fees are just part of the cost of studying MS in USA. If you take the tuition fee out of the equation, other expenses like phone bills, travel costs,and electricity look like something as shown in the following table:

General Cost of Living (Monthly):







Groceries and shopping




Phone bills




Calling Cards






If the student is smart, he can save some important dollars through the year, like instead of going for single quarters he can choose shared ones. So, some of these expenses are flexible and might go up and down depending on your spending pattern.

Expenses related to tests like TOEFL/IELTS and GRE

Before students can apply to an American university and consider the cost of studying MS in USA, they need to appear for tests such as TOEFL/IELTS which are used by the universities to judge the students’ proficiency in the English language. If the student registers for TOEFL, the going rate is $170-220, both for the internet-based test (iBT) and the paper-based test (PBT). Meanwhile, the fee for IELTS, which is conducted by the British Council, is around $170.

Apart from the English language proficiency test, there is another test students need to take: the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). This standardized test is a must for getting admission into most graduate schools in the USA. The test analyzes a student’s verbal, reasoning, quantitative reasoning, analytical writing and critical thinking ability. The fee for the test is $195, with a late registration fee of $25.

Application fee

Application fee is the fee for applying to individual colleges and universities and can be as low as $50 and more than $150 in some cases depening on the number of universities the students apply. Some of the popular universities in the USA like Cornell University Graduate School and Stanford University charge $95 and $90 per student respectively. Application fees are generally non-refundable.

Visa fees: Once you have been selected for a MS course in the USA, you have to apply for visa. The current going rate for students is $160.

So you can see that arriving at the final cost of studying MS in USA is not only tuition and living expenses alone.


Stay tuned to for more stories on USA

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