How to Get a Master’s Degree in USA

getting into a graduate program in the us

Getting a master’s degree is one of the first steps to getting yourself a professional career in the field of your choice. The field you choose is extremely important, but equally important is also the place you get your degree from. Different countries have a different expertise in education and finding a university which suits your needs is immensely beneficial.

Specifics Of Master’s Programs In USA

One of the most popular countries where people want to get a degree from is the United States of America (USA). A masters degree in USA is valuable and difficult to get. Many students embark on their journey to getting a graduate degree in their field within the US. The process is long and requires high qualifications. So before you start this journey, keep in mind the following things:

All in English

Any master’s degree in the U.S is completely taught in the English language. If your language skills are not great, then you should consider either getting more language learning courses or finding a different place.

Different teaching methods

Whereas in a lot of countries, professors are expected to completely teach classes themselves, professors in the U.S try to involve students in the teaching too. Half the classes are lectures and then the other half includes participation from students by getting into discussions and debates about issues that the class is concerned with.

Different learning methods

Since educational systems differ between countries, you might not be surprised to learn that U.S learning is different too. Students are not expected to learn on their own and few assignments are individual. Except for your final thesis or dissertation, most of the studying you will do will be in teams. You will learn that you have to trust others and find people you can rely on to perform well in class.

High expenses

Graduate school in the U.S is very expensive. Programs can cost from around $30,000 to $100,000 and you’ll also have to pay living costs. Become informed about scholarship opportunities and make sure you have the necessary funds to get yourself through school.

So now that you’re aware of what it’s like to go to university in the U.S, you are ready to know how to get a master’s degree in USA.

8 Steps You Need To Follow To Get A Master’s Degree in USA

1. Select universities you want to go to

The US has a ton of universities. Each one offers different master’s degree programs that as well as different titles. Based on what your field is and what you want to get your degree in, you should start to research the university that fits you best. Look at their websites and curricula. If the courses that you want to take are not offered, you can research other universities and find them. There will definitely be an institution which has a tailored program that you want to complete.

2. Make a list their requirements

Select at least 9 universities you want to go to. Three of them will be schools you are completely sure you will get admission, three will be top universities which you know that it’s difficult to get into, and the other three are the universities you are aiming for.

After you choose these schools, make a spreadsheet of their requirements. Listing the conditions that you need to fulfill makes it easier for you to identify those that you meet and those that you need to work on getting.

3. Prepare your English Skills

To get a master’s degree in USA means that you will have to understand, speak, write, and read English in a level close to being a native speaker. A master’s program uses advanced language and terms which are not used in everyday life, so you’ll have to become an expert or at least close to an expert of English. One way to do this if you lack some skills is to get additional English courses. Pair those courses with watching movies in English and listening to music or podcasts in English. You will see that your language skills will improve.

Moreover, to prove your proficiency you will have to take a standardized English test. For the U.S, most schools require you to submit TOEFL scores. The TOEFL tests your reading, listening, speaking, and writing skills in English. To get into a graduate program, you will need to have a score of more than 90. The test has a total of 120 points.

4. Get ready for the graduate standardized tests

Another requirement of graduate programs in the US is graduate standardized tests. There are a variety of tests, each one targeting a certain field of study. The GMAT is used for business and management degrees, the MCAT is for medicine, and the LSAT is for law school. If your field doesn’t fall into any of the above, you will most likely have to take the GRE. The GRE is a graduate standardized test used for a variety of programs, from social sciences to STEM fields.

All of these tests are quite challenging and they measure the success you will have in grad school. The higher your scores, the more likely you are to get admission into the school of your choice. So you’ll have to start preparing very early, at least 3 months before to take these tests.

5. Ask for your recommendation letters

All application procedures in the US require recommendation letters. They play a major role in the admissions decision of universities. Most school require two to three recommendation letters, so make sure you submit ones that are valuable. They could be from your previous professors, work supervisors, or mentors. As long as the person who submits the recommendation knew you well and knows that you have great potential for graduate school in your specific program, you should be fine in this regard.

6. Write your statement of purpose

You will also have to submit an essay. Or if your field of study is research oriented, you’ll have to submit a research proposal. Some universities might require both. The statement of purpose is an essay where you describe yourself, your qualifications, and why you are the right candidate for that graduate program. This is the essay where you will have to boast and unfold all of your achievements and it’s not the time to be shy. You should make sure that the admissions board knows you are capable of completing the program successfully and that you will use that degree to achieve professional excellence.

If you have to submit a research proposal, then it has to be more specific. The research proposal is not about you, but it should be about something you are curious and passionate about. You must pick a topic which you’ve always wondered about and that has had little research done on it. Write down why it matters to you and how you will go about researching it. Be specific about the methods that you will use to collect your data, how you will analyze it, and why it will be an important contribution in the field. Universities want to know why that specific research is important since they will be the ones publishing it and they don’t want to publish irrelevant work.

Whichever piece of writing you will have to admit, take some time to write it. Prepare an outline and then a first draft. Have one or multiple people go over it to give you feedback. Take that feedback and incorporate it into your writing and have the final document. Make sure it’s professional and addresses all the points you want to get across to the admissions board.

7. Meet the deadlines

After you’ve prepared all the necessary documents and met the requirements, you should submit your application. U.S universities have specific deadlines to submit your core application, your TOEFL scores, and your standardized graduate test scores. Have a spreadsheet where these deadlines are written so that you keep them in mind. You can also create reminders so that you don’t forget any of them.

Most universities also accept early applications. Early applications have the advantage of being cheaper since you won’t have to pay the full application fee, the admissions board considers them first, and thus you get a response on whether you were accepted earlier than everyone else.

If you have missed a deadline, do not worry though. U.S universities also have late application deadlines, so you can try to submit your application by then.

8. Apply for a student visa

After you get responses from the universities you have applied to, you will notice that some might have accepted you and others have not. From the universities which gave you an offer for admissions, you will have to choose one of them. Take into account the curricula of the program, the location, the university ranking, as well as the expenses when you make that decision.

Following your decision, you will then have to apply for a U.S visa. Student visas for master’s degrees can be of two types:

  • J-1 Visa – which is given to students who are sponsored by international or governmental organizations to complete their degree
  • F-1 Visa – is for students who are going to the U.S to study without a sponsor and may or may not have a scholarship

Find out in which category you belong in and what the application procedures are. Gather your documents, complete your visa interview, and wait for a response from the U.S Embassy. Hopefully it will be a positive answer and you will get the visa so you can start your journey towards getting a master’s degree in USA.