Study in the USA
The USA has the world’s largest international student population, with more than 1,000,000 students choosing to broaden their education and life experience in the United States. Nearly 5% of all students enrolled in higher-level education in the USA are international students, and the numbers are growing. From the mid-1950’s, when international student enrollment was only just reaching 35,000, international education in the USA has come a long way.
We look forward to helping students like you who are considering continuing education in the United States. You will find all the tools you need to compile your necessary research in deciding if the United States is the best place for you — we have gathered valuable information on educational, social, cultural and economic aspects of studying in the U.S.
The US is the most sought-after study destination in the world.
More international students study in the USA than any other country, and for good reason. While many of the world’s top institutions reside in the US, there are also more than 4,000 other world-class universities offering a top-notch education that can lead to career success. The US remains the source of most of the world’s ground-breaking developments in technology, business, arts, and beyond.
Below are just some of the reasons that students choose the US.
Quality Education and Unique Curriculum
US education is recognized all over the world. 30 of the top 100 best world universities are located in the US, as ranked by Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings for 2015/2016. One of the reasons students at US universities are so successful upon graduation is because they were educated in the “liberal arts”. This means a focus, not just on a specific major, but on other subjects such as various maths and sciences, philosophy, history, and literature.
The benefit of liberal arts is that it prepares you for more than just your immediate career plan. It helps make you a smarter, more thoughtful, more successful person, able to succeed in a job in your major or thrive in some other field. You might become a manager, start your own business, or accomplish anything else that interests you. It provides limitless possibilities upon graduation.
The United States is home to several thousand colleges and universities, boasting at least ten times as many campuses as in any other country. As a result, the higher education system in the U.S. has something for everyone. Some U.S. colleges and universities stress broad educational principles; others emphasize practical, employment-related skills; and still, others specialize in the arts, social sciences or technical fields. This means that no matter what you plan on studying, you will have a wide variety of programs in your particular field from which to choose.
US universities place great significance on diversity, meaning classes will consist of students of all ages, religions, and countries of origin. This provides a stimulating and rich learning environment which encourages cross-cultural understanding and networking. Most classes will contain no more than 20 students and the professors will take the time to get to know students and support their learning even outside the classroom.
There is also always a very active social life on US campuses, with many clubs and organizations students can join that will help further career opportunities and allow interaction with students who have similar tastes and interests.
The US overall is such a mix of cultures and that makes it an interesting place to study and to live. In many cities and towns, you will find varied cuisines and entertainment for everyone, whether it be international sports, world famous music festivals, or amazing art galleries and museums.
International students in the US can work in a job on campus up to 20 hours a week. Most find that their time is better spent taking internships, or Curricular Practical Training, which allows students to work for university credit in a job in a related field. Nearly every university, even those not located in big cities, has employees dedicated to helping students secure internships.
All US universities also offer numerous extra-curricular activities that provide real-world job experience. This could include writing for the school newspaper, participating in science fairs, joining the debate team, and much more. The idea is to give you practical experience to hone what you learn in class. This becomes invaluable when interviewing for a job.
All US institutions have a career services department staffed with professionals focused on helping students with their CV, teaching job interview skills, and helping them find job opportunities, both during and after their studies.
Thanks to the sheer size of the US and the large number of institutions, there is a perfect fit for each type of student. Huge, sprawling campuses that feel like cities and small, intimate campuses that feel like a collection of close friends. Tropical islands, arid deserts, snowy plains; the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Manhattan. In the US, there is truly something for everyone and every type of learner.
Although many programs are highly structured in that specific coursework requirements must be met, you will generally be able to find a wide variety of course choices to meet those requirements. For example, liberal arts coursework for an undergraduate program will include classes in languages and mathematics, but you will be given a wide variety of classes which fit those requirements, and the freedom to decide which classes the best match your interests.
English is the primary language spoken in the US and all courses are taught in English. Students can develop their skills and become more desirable to employers. Most US campuses offer English language courses specifically for international students, as well as study groups and mentoring programs where students can practice their language training.
Popular with International students
The US has welcomed millions of international students so knows what they need and has the support network in place to make you feel as welcome as possible. US universities have decades of experience with international students from all over the world. Our world is only becoming more international so understanding of other cultures is key to a student’s future success.
Amazing innovation and Research
The US is at the forefront of scientific and creative innovation. Large research institutions in the US, in particular, offer opportunities for students to work side-by-side with their professors and apply what they are learning in the classroom in the lab or workshop. US institutions proudly support the fieldwork their faculty is doing and information is readily available on research opportunities students can undertake.
Universities in the U.S. pride themselves on being at the forefront of technology, research and techniques, and in making the best possible equipment and resources available to their students. Even if your field does not directly involve science or engineering, you will have opportunities to become skilled in using the latest technology to conduct research, as well as obtain and process information.
Opportunity for Research
You may be able to gain valuable experience through teaching or research while you help to finance your education in the U.S., particularly if you are a graduate student. Many graduate programs offer training and teaching opportunities that enable students to become teaching assistants to undergraduates and/or research assistants on special projects exploring different aspects of your field of study.
Support Services for International Students
Many international students find that the college and university international student office is a great resource when it comes to adapting to a culturally and academically different environment. The mission of the international student office is to assist students like you, and there is often a wide range of student services that they provide.
An orientation program upon your arrival is just the start of the many programs and benefits of the university international student office – throughout your time in the U.S., they can help answer questions you may have regarding your financial situation, housing, employment opportunities, health concerns and more. If you choose to complete your degree in the United States, this office often provides resume and employment assistance as graduation nears. The international student office will be an invaluable source of information and help as you make the transition into academic and cultural life in the United States.
Experience in an international setting is a marketable commodity. Many employers seek the wide range of knowledge, adaptability, and experience that international students acquire by studying in the United States. Companies in the U.S. are increasingly seeking to become a strong presence in the global marketplace. They often look to hire employees who not only have multi-cultural language skills but those who can also help communicate, negotiate and conduct business across different cultures.
The United States is not the only country seeking strong candidates when hiring; international students are in high demand elsewhere, as well. In recent years, international companies have become much more proactive in recruiting from the pool of strong international student graduates. Your long-term career prospects can be enhanced by your experiences through the development of self-confidence, independence, and cross-cultural skills – attributes which are in high demand with employers worldwide.
Campus Life Experience
When you continue your studies in the U.S., you are making a choice to broaden not only your educational opportunities but your cultural experience, as well. Whether you attend a small, private college in a small town or a university situated in the middle of a large urban area, most universities offer a variety of student clubs and organizations to match the wide array of student interests. You can have the opportunity to immerse yourself in American culture, meeting new people and making new friends, through different organizations and associations.
International students often find that the international student office is a good starting point for campus offerings, as well as the campus student center.
Role of U.S. Government in Education
Unlike in many other countries, the United States central government does not control the educational system. Rather, the higher education systems are either: 1) controlled by independent groups of people, or trustees (in the case of private schools); or 2) shared between local and state governments (in the case of public schools). A major difference between these two types of schools is the cost. Private schools are generally much more expensive to attend than their public school counterparts, mainly because the private schools must rely on sources outside of the government for their funding.
Additionally, the U.S. Department of Education reviews and recognizes “accrediting agencies” that in turn ensure the quality of the school and their programs. Most colleges and universities have what is called “regional accreditation” from an agency that oversees that particular part of the country where the school is located. You will want to make sure that the school you choose has accreditation, meaning that it has met specific academic, administrative and financial standards. Accreditation also ensures that your degree will be recognized by other educational institutions and employers.
Certain fields of study will also have “program accreditation” in addition to regional accreditation. For example, the Accrediting Board of Engineering and Technology accredits engineering programs. Your overseas educational adviser can help you find out if program accreditation exists in your field of study.
Applying to Schools
Although admission policies vary from one school to the next, most determine admission based on several common criteria, including a student’s high school course of study, high school Grade Point Average (GPA), participation in extracurricular activities, SAT or ACT exam scores, a written essay, and possibly a personal interview.
When looking at a potential student’s high school records, the university admissions office will consider whether the student has taken courses in high school that will prepare them for more difficult coursework. The admissions office will also consider the student’s GPA. A GPA is a quantitative figure averaging a student’s accumulated grades.
University admissions officers also like to see applications from students who have taken part in extracurricular activities, such as theater or art clubs, scholastic clubs, or athletic teams. Participation in these kinds of activities demonstrates that the student has learned valuable skills such as teamwork and leadership.
Most high school students in the US take either the (SAT Reasoning Test) or the (ACT) during their final year of high school. These are standardized quantitative exams. Each school sets a minimum SAT or ACT score that a student must achieve in order to gain admission.
Universities will often require that applicants write an essay as part of their application. Each admissions office determines the length and content of the essay. For tips on writing an admissions essay, check out our Essay Writing Center. The applicant may also be required to have a personal interview with a representative from the admissions office.
University students who are pursuing a Bachelor’s degree are called “undergraduates.” Most universities offer undergraduate students a liberal education, which means students are required to take courses across several disciplines before choosing one major field of study in which to specialize. Undergraduate students will often ask each other, “What is your major?” meaning, “What is your major field of study?”
Courses at most universities are only one semester long. Each course is assigned a number of credit hours, generally based on how much time is spent in class. Most courses are three credits, but some might be one, two, four, or five credits. All degree programs require that their students complete a minimum number of credits before they are eligible for graduation. Most Bachelor’s degree programs do not require students to write a final thesis.
Students who are pursuing a Master’s or Doctoral degree are called “graduate students.” Graduate and professional programs are specialized, meaning students have one field of study from the beginning.
Students continue to take courses at the graduate level, and a final thesis is required for most programs. Doctoral students take courses until they have earned enough credit hours to attend their qualifying exams, which are usually taken over several days and often include both a written and oral component. After doctoral students pass their qualifying exams, they are advanced to candidacy and can begin writing their dissertation. Before the degree is given, the candidate’s completed dissertation must be orally defended before the candidate’s faculty committee.
Studying in the United States has many advantages, but before you pick which program best meets your needs, you will first want to learn about the U.S. education system. There is a wide range of choices and opportunities, and you should have all of the information you need to make a decision that is right for you.
Options to Earn a Degree
Education is mandatory in the United States until the age of 16, and the majority of students to finish high school. After completing 12 years of primary and secondary school, students often begin post-secondary learning or higher education. The first level of higher education is undergraduate study; beyond an undergraduate degree, a student may choose to receive a graduate education, also known as postgraduate work. Traditionally these programs are undertaken on campus; however, there are a growing number of accredited online college degrees that are appearing for students from all around the world. They can offer some fantastic benefits to international students.
If you are debating the two-year degree option versus a four-year undergraduate course of study, you will want to think carefully about your goals. Some employers prefer candidates who have studied a full four years, particularly in competitive fields where there may be many students for jobs. Other professional fields may have a need for employees with only two years of study under their belts. You need to do your research to make an informed choice.
Additionally, some other non-degree options exist outside of the traditional university setting which students should explore as another option.
Congratulations on your Graduation! Now that you have completed your undergraduate degree program in the USA, you now have many options and avenues that you can go down and each option has its own merits and demerits. Choosing the right option will involve a large amount of research and will come down to personal preference – but hopefully, the information in our graduate study guide will help you, and point you in the right direction to choose the next step in your international education adventure.
For most students, the lure of visiting a grad school in the USA and obtain your masters or Ph.D. can be too strong to resist. The USA has some of the very best graduate schools in the whole world, but attending them can be costly, hard to get a place to study and will involve a large amount of hard work
Now that you have graduated, you will need to make sure you are in compliance with your student visa. You can find out your visa options, and further information on how to stay in compliance with our visa options page for students that have just graduated.
Most international students may find it hard to find employment as employers are often reluctant to deal with visa and immigration issues. There are ways around this and we can assist you to find the places to look for employers that are happy to employ international students
Many students will want to return home to their home country and use what they have learned in the USA to help better their own country. However, moving back from the USA after a 4-year degree can be quite a shock to some students, so our returning home section will provide with helpful hints and tips to ease your transition back home.
Working in the USA
If you are an international student studying in the US, you have the opportunity to work part-time but remember that you are restricted by the terms of your visa. It is a must hat you know all the requirements and restrictions concerning your visa!
US Employment Rules for F1 Students
Most international students in the United States hold an which is the U.S. non-immigrant student visa. F-1 students are allowed to work in the United States, but only under certain conditions and in accordance with complex guidelines and restrictions issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).
Generally, all employment is contingent on remaining within the terms and restrictions of your F-1 visa. There are several categories of employment during the term of your stay as an F-1 student in the United States. On-campus employment is the most freely available, and then there are four categories of off-campus employment:
On-campus employment is the category most freely permitted by the USCIS regulations, and it does not require USCIS approval. However, although F-1 status includes an on-campus employment privilege, on-campus employment opportunities at most schools are limited. Even if you can obtain a job on campus, you may not rely on it to prove financial resources for the year, and often these jobs are not related to your studies. Many schools do require that you obtain permission from the International Student Office prior to accepting any on-campus employment, and may not permit such employment in a student’s first semester or year.
For on-campus work, an F-1 student is subject to the following rules:
- You must maintain a valid F-1 status
- You can work up to 20 hours per week while school is in session
- You can work full-time on campus during holidays and vacation periods if you intend to register for the next academic semester
- The employment may not displace (take a job away from) a U.S. resident
The definition of on-campus employment includes:
- Work performed on the school’s premises directly for your school (including work affiliated with a grant or assistantship).
- Work performed for on-location commercial firms which provide services for students on campus, such as the school bookstore or cafeteria (Employment with on-site commercial firms which do not provide direct student services, such as a construction company building a school building, is not deemed on-campus employment for the purposes of the rule).
- Work performed at an off-campus location which is educationally affiliated with the school. The educational affiliation must be associated with the school’s established curriculum or related to contractually funded research projects at the post-graduate level. In any event, the employment must be an integral part of the student’s educational program.
Since your status is always contingent on your school’s support, you must seek guidance and clearance from your International Student Office prior to applying for or accepting any employment and you should request their particular interpretation of an ambiguous situation. You will also need your school’s guidance to ensure that you file all appropriate forms with USCIS and receive any necessary USCIS approval.
- Independence. Americans strongly believe in the concept of individualism. They consider themselves to be separate individuals who are in control of their own lives, rather than members of a close-knit, interdependent family, religious group, tribe, nation, or other groups.
- Equality. The American Declaration of Independence states that “all [people] are created equal,” and this belief is deeply embedded in their cultural values. Americans believe that all people are of equal standing, and are therefore uncomfortable with overt displays of respect such as being bowed to.
- Informality. This belief in equality causes Americans to be rather informal in their behavior towards other people. Don’t be surprised if store clerks and waiters introduce themselves by their first names. Many people visiting the US are surprised by the informality of American speech, dress, and posture. Don’t mistake this for rudeness or irreverence; it’s just a part of their culture!
- Directness. Americans tend to value, frankness and openness in their dealings with other people. They believe that conflicts and disagreements are best solved by means of forthright discussion among the people involved.