How to Apply for MS in USA - With over 800,000 international students, the USA is the most prominent education hub in the world. While it is an attractive education destination across all fields and levels of study, international students are drawn mostly toward MS programmes. So, why is it that students pursuing MS prefer the US over most countries? Well, one of the main reasons is that universities in the USA have built a strong learning foundation where the emphasis is given on research and practical experience.
One of the biggest questions being faced by aspirants who wish to pursue their MS in the US is how to apply, how to start and what are the requirements? With a large application package and several steps required, admissions for MS in the US may appear to be intimidating in the beginning, but the process becomes easy if it is followed with proper planning and understanding of the required elements.
Here we have explained the entire process of applying for an MS programme in the USA, right from the time one needs to do research till final submission of the application form.
Read ahead to know the exact steps to apply for MS in the US:
1. Choose universities
The first step while applying for MS in the US is to make a list of universities which offer the candidate's choice of programme. This should be done around the months of May or June of the previous year. Ideally, one should start the process of admission at least 15 months prior to admission. While the US admission cycle has three intakes -- Fall, Spring and Summer -- a majority of the programmes start in Fall i.e., around September.
2. Check deadlines
Once the candidate has made a list of the colleges of his choice, the next step should be to check the deadlines of the specific courses the candidate is applying for. Usually, universities in the US do not have a common deadline for all courses. Therefore, it is necessary to check the individual departments of the universities to know the opening and closing dates for applications to MS in the US. Usually, applications for Fall start around September and close between December-January, though some universities accept applications till February.
Also, the flexibility offered by the USA allows the student to apply for the course through three plans - Early admission plan, Regular admission and Rolling admission. Regular admission plan follows the same procedure of setting deadlines for admission by universities every year. On the other hand, early admission allows an aspirant to apply and fix admission before the start of the Regular admission. Rolling admission has the advantage of making application to the university of one's choice anytime of the year, provided there are vacant seats.
Apply for MS in the US: Deadlines of the top 5 universities:
Level of study
Application start date
Application end date
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Early Action: 1st November
Regular Decision: 1st January
December- January (varies according to department)
Regular Decision: 3rd January
California Institute of Technology
December 15- January 01 (varies according to department)
3. Eligibility: Before going ahead with the application process, it is important to check the eligibility requirements for the MS course in the US. While different courses have different sets of requirements, here are some of the general eligibility criteria required for the programme
16 years education: The first thing to keep in mind before opting for an MS is that a majority of the universities in the USA require the student to have a minimum of 16 years of education. Therefore, the completion of at least 4 years of education (graduation or diploma) after 10+2 is the basic criteria. However, some schools in the USA also accept 3-year undergraduate degrees. Besides, students have the option of getting their academic transcripts evaluated by either the university or private organisations like WES which can then term degree to be equivalent to a US four-year degree. But for that one needs to fulfill certain criteria. WES demands that the candidate should have, at least, a first class degree and the college from where the candidate has passed out should have a good accreditation. Students who have completed their Master’s degree are also qualified to apply for MS in the US.
Standardised test: Admission for MS in the US universities requires the aspirant to take certain standardized entry level tests. Some of them are GMAT, GRE, TOEFL, IELTS, MCAT and LSAT, among others.
4. Exams required: As mentioned, entry to MS courses in the US universities requires the aspirant to appear for standardised tests as set by the university. One should, ideally, register for tests between July and August so that test scores are ready by the time one applies to universities. This leaves room for retests if one is not satisfied with his/her test score. Many universities in the US require the average or minimum score for entry into MS. So, one can decide to sit for the retest depending on the required score. Here are some of the common standardised tests required for entry into MS in the US.
GRE: GRE is mandatory for almost all MS level programmes in the USA, including management studies. While all universities require GRE general test score, there are some others which also ask the student to take GRE subject tests.
TOEFL: TOEFL is an English proficiency test for students from non-native English speaking countries.
IELTS: IELTS is also an English proficiency test for students from non- native English speaking countries.
LSAT: LSAT is for law aspirants
5. Arrange application package- This is one of the most important parts while applying for MS in the US. Universities in the USA put heavy weightage on the application of the student. Besides academic transcripts, the US universities demand that the student introduce himself through intent statements and references. An ideal MS application package should have the following:
SOP: The Statement of Purpose is one of the most vital elements of the application package for admission into MS in the US.It details the applicant's commitment of joining the programme and his goals in life. One important thing to remember while writing an SOP is that it should be brief, and reflect clarity regarding what the candidate wants from the programme. One should strictly adhere to word limit set by the concerned university or department.
LOR: Unlike the SOP, the Letter of Recommendation is an independent assessment of the candidate's potential. Most universities require at least two to three recommendation letters. It is advisable to have professors or employers to write recommendation letter for the candidate.
Essays: Different universities have different requirements for essays. Some universities might offer a random topic to write on. Others might ask for a relevant topic of the candidate's interest. Besides, the number of essays to be submitted also differs. Generally, universities ask for 2-3 essays.
Resume: Some universities require the candidate to submit a CV along with the application form. It should contain basic information like date of birth, academic qualifications and achievements.
Academic transcripts: Academic transcripts include all the qualifications that the candidate will list in the application form. It is advisable for the candidate to start arranging transcripts from October itself.
Scores: Universities with a requirement of standardized score require results of the tests along with the application.
6. Document checklist for MS in the US:
Recommendation letters ( minimum 2-3 lectures)
GRE/TOEFL/GMAT/IELTS score proofs besides reporting the test scores officially.
Academic Transcripts for the qualifications listed in the application form.
Work experience certificates, if applicable
Photocopies of passport
Certificates for extra-curricular activities mentioned in the application form.
WES Evaluation documents, if required by the university.
7. Apply: The first thing to keep in mind while applying in any university in the US is the deadline. As mentioned earlier, most of the application dates close by January. Therefore, it is advisable to apply early and not wait for the last date to avoid any last-minute glitch.
While one can send the application and all the documents by post, most universities allow the candidate to submit the application online. Some universities also seek application via email.
8. Offer letters: The universities usually take a few weeks to respond to applications. Most applicants receive their acceptance or rejection letter between February and April.Stay tuned to studyabroad.careers360.com for more news and feature related to MS in USA
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