Missouri State University admissions connect - A public research university, Missouri State University is the second-largest university in USA with more than 23,000 students. The student community of the university has representatives from 85 foreign countries, including India, in addition to all the 50 states. Currently, the university offers over 85 undergraduate and 45 graduate degree programs. In an interview with Careers360, Colonel Kent D Thomas, Assistant Vice President, International Programmes, Missouri State University, shares his insights on how MSU is well-poised to fulfill the academic aspirations of international students. He elaborates on key topics like financial assistance available for international students, admission requirements and unique programs offered at MSU.
Read the full interview here:
Q: What is the USP of Missouri State University? And importantly, how does it fulfill the academic requirements of an international student?
A: We at MSU embrace international students in a manner which make them feel at home. With a very nominal academic fee structure, lower than that of other state universities, and lower cost of living, we make it easier for international students to pursue their dreams at MSU. At MSU, we offer a huge variety of undergraduate and graduate courses for students to choose from. Indian students are known to be more inclined towards pursuing STEM courses. So to cater to their needs we have various programmes in STEM subjects. Also, there are a good number of programmes at MSU that are better than those offered by other state universities; one of them being the MBA course offered at our Business school. We also have a unique course which only a few other universities offer - Master of Science in Administrative Studies.
Q: What is the number of international students in your university and what is the graduate and undergraduate break-up? How many of these students are Indian?
A: We have 23,000 students at the university. 1,700 of them are international students out of which 53 are Indians and currently studying at MSU. Two-third of students at MSU is enrolled at the graduate level while one-third is in the undergraduate level.
Q: What are the popular courses among international students? Have you seen a change in course selection among Indian students in the last few years?
A: The three most popular courses amongst international students are: Business (BBA & MBA), Master of Health Administration and Master of Natural and Applied Science. The course in product management is also gaining popularity these days. Students are beginning to prefer product management over MBA because they feel the field of MBA is getting saturated and they would instead get better job opportunities in product management. Cyber security at master’s level and software development at undergraduate level are also two rapidly growing fields.
Five years ago, we rarely received any undergraduate application from India, but as India’s economy continues to register strong growth, we have been seeing a change in the mentality of Indian students and parents. Also, notwithstanding the fact that Indian students have a special affection for STEM courses, at MSU we have 53 Indian students in 26 different disciplines. This shows that there has been a change in the thought process of Indian students.
Q: What are the common problems faced by international students upon arrival? How do you help them cope?
A: Cultural difference and nostalgia of their home town is what international students feel most traumatized about when they arrive at Springfield. At MSU, we ensure students a comfortable, cooperative and safe environment. For example, we send a staff member to receive the student at the airport upon landing in the city. The member then takes the student to a safe and comfortable place where the student can rest. In instances like lost luggage, we also assist in tracking the lost item. The following day we provide the student with a SIM card, so that he stays connected to his family. We also match the students with roommates. Further we introduce the arriving Indian students to the existing Indian community at the university and make sure they get to know each other.
At MSU we have tied up with an organization that enables us to adopt the Adoption Policy wherein families based in Springfield adopt international students so that they do not feel isolated.
Q: What are the undergraduate and graduate admission requirements at your university?
A: The requirements for undergraduate admission at MSU are- average score of 65-70% in class 10th, 11th and 12th. Students scoring less than the prescribed score are required to appear for SAT. An IELTS score of 5.5 or TOEFL score of 61 is the English language requirement. For graduate admissions- IELTS score of 6.0 or TOEFL score of 79, accumulated under graduate score of 3.0 on a scale of 4, GRE score of 290, and GMAT score of 500 are the major requirements. For special courses which are reserved only for the most-brilliant minds, students have to score more.
Q: Is SAT mandatory for admission at the undergraduate level?
A: SAT is not mandatory for those who seek admission at MSU. However, we highly recommend aspirants to appear for SAT because if they get SAT score of 1090 or higher on critical reading and mathematics, they are eligible for SAT scholarship that cuts their tuition fee to almost half.
Q: Do you have funding programs to provide for financially weak but academically brilliant students?
A: We have SAT scholarship that cuts the tuition fee at MSU to almost 50%. Interestingly, after taking the scholarship value into account, our fee becomes at par with tuition fee at many Indian universities like, Amity or SRM.
For Indian students enrolled in graduate programmes at MSU, financial aid is available in the form of Missouri Outreach Graduate Opportunity (MOGO) Scholarship that has a value of three-fourths of the non-resident graduate student fees for 9 credit hours (5 credits hours in the summer). The scholarship amount will be adjusted annually when the Missouri State University Board of Governors approves changes to the student fee schedule.
Graduate assistantships are also available in many areas to assist students with expenses and to enhance learning while studying for advanced degrees at Missouri State University. Graduate assistantships are offered in both academic and administrative areas and involve teaching, research, and/or administrative responsibilities. Often, the assistantship assignment is related to the student's program of study. Some openings are posted on the Graduate College website https://graduate.missouristate.edu (under Financing Graduate School). As this is not an exhaustive listing, students are encouraged to contact departments and offices directly regarding openings.
Q: Can you elaborate a bit on the application process and eligibility criteria for these scholarships/funding programs?
A: At the undergraduate level, we offer SAT scholarships. The eligibility for SAT scholarship is a score of 1090 or more.
While at the graduate level we have the MOGO scholarship for which a student must have an undergraduate cumulative score of 3.25 or higher on a scale of 4.
Applying to MSU is done through a simple ten-step application process. One can easily log on to MSU’s official site and fill the application form for the desired course for which a student is eligible.
Q: Considering how crucial alumni network has become in recent times, where does your university stand in this crucial aspect?
A: We do try to stay in touch with our alumni through the annual alumni meet that we organize. However, as people today keep changing their jobs, it is quite difficult to track or contact them at all times.
Q: A university is known by the number and nature of unique programs it offers? How does MSU fare in this regard?
A: MSU offers some unique certificate programmes. But as the US embassy doesn’t allow Indian students to stay in the US exclusively for certificate courses, they can take up these courses while pursuing their under graduation or graduation from our university. Another unique programme offered at MSU is the Master of Science in Administrative Studies, which only a few institutions offer.
Q: Research is another criterion to judge the eminence of a university? What kind of scope and exposure students get at your university?
A: Yes, research definitely decides the eminence of a university. At MSU we have some courses that allow students to pursue applied doctorates. These include Physical therapy, Audiology, Nursing and Occupational Therapies. The students enrolled in these programmes are required to go for research and doctoral degree. We also send students to other universities for research if they are willing to.
Q: Do you help students to explore work opportunities after completing their studies?
A: Yes, we do! We have various placement centres available for students’ guidance on work opportunities. At the centers we don’t just help and inform students about good job opportunities but also prepare them for job interviews by teaching them job interview etiquettes. Our College of Business has its own group of counselors. The result of the guidance can be assessed by our placement results, 83% of our students got placed the previous year.
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