What Do Students Need to Think About to be Able to Graduate in the US with a Master’s Degree?

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What Do Students Need to Think About to be Able to Graduate in the US with a Master’s Degree?

Earning any degree at a university anywhere in the world is likely to benefit you in the long run with a stable career. You probably understand what it takes to earn a degree in your home country, but what if you wish to study abroad? Not every country has the same standard requirements for graduating from a post-graduate program. If you plan on pursuing a Master’s Degree in the US, your first need to know what it takes to gain admission and then graduate with your diploma.

  • Program Selection

    One of the first steps in pursuing a Master’s Degree in the US is to select your program. There are many different options to choose from and a range of schools that offer graduate courses and degrees. Some programs are even available online. Most graduate students choose to earn a Master’s Degree in a field that relates to their undergraduate studies. You will want to take into account your previous studies and which programs you are most likely to qualify for when deciding on your field of study.

  • Admission Requirements

    Although it might seem like the US admission requirements would be the same for every school, not only do different universities have varying requirements, but each program may differ as well. It is likely that you will need to submit an extensive application that includes your GPA, exam scores, essays, letters of recommendation, and other documents. Before you can even apply to a Master’s Degree program in the US, you already need to have a Bachelor’s Degree. This is a four-year undergraduate degree that most Master’s Degree programs require before admitting students.

  • Grades

    Most American Master’s Degree programs take only the best students from undergraduate programs. This means you will likely be competing against other students trying to get into graduate school. Some programs have limited availability, so the admissions requirements are quite stringent. If you have good grades and beneficial experience from your undergraduate studies, you may have a good chance at getting in. Even if you were not at the top of your class, there are many different programs available in the US.

  • Standardized Admissions Tests

    As part of your application to a Master’s Degree program in the US, you will probably need to complete a standardized test. It is important to find out the test dates well in advance so you can take the test and receive scores in time to submit them with your application by the deadline. There are a few different tests to take depending on the type of program you plan on enrolling in: GRE: The Graduate Record Examination is the most common standardized exam for US graduate schools. It is a timed exam that aims to measure verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical writing. This is likely a requirement for students wishing to enter business or typical Master’s Degree programs.GMAT: The Graduate Management Admission Test is another timed exam that comprises verbal, quantitative, integrated reasoning and analytical writing sections. This exam is ideal for students looking to pursue an MBA.LSAT: The Law School Admission Test focuses on reading comprehension, analytical reasoning and logical reasoning. It is the exam to take if you plan on pursuing a law degree.MCAT: The Medical College Admission Test includes questions that cover chemical and physical biological systems; critical analysis and reasoning; biology and biochemistry of living systems; and psychological, social, and biological behaviour. This is the foundational test for getting accepted to a post-graduate medical degree program.

  • English Proficiency

    To attend any university in the US, you need to demonstrate a certain level of proficiency in the English language. This is because most professors teach their course in English. Each university and college has different proficiency requirements, so you will need to research your school of choice carefully. You will probably need to take a special English proficiency examination. The type of exam required depends on the school, but there are a few tests that most institutions generally accept or require: TOEFL: The Test of English as a Foreign Language ranges in price from $160 to $240. The exam measures proficiency in reading, listening, speaking and writing.IELTS: The International English Language Testing System comprises listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. Good vocabulary and grammar are also important for a high score. Scores range from 1 to 9 with half scores also possible. IELTS exam dates and fees may vary, but most exams generally cost around $230.PTE: The Pearson Test of English comprises speaking and writing, reading and listening. The exam is available in many countries around the world and typically costs around $250.

  • Applications

    To enroll in a Master’s Degree program, you will need to submit some sort of application. What the application entails depends largely on the specific program and the school. These days, you can complete and submit most applications online; however, keep in mind that some parts of the application may include documents that you need to mail directly to the school admissions office.

  • Essays

    As part of your application, you may need to write an essay. The question you answer in your essay may depend on your program. Many Master’s Degree programs in education, for example, might ask for an essay explaining your teaching philosophy. Others might ask why you wish to enroll in the program. It is important to also keep in mind that some Master’s Degree programs might require samples of your work in lieu of an essay, or they may require both. Most art programs require you to submit samples of your work in a portfolio format. This is why it is imperative that you read over the application requirements and understand them before submitting yours.

  • Interviews

    Interviews are often a requirement for enrollment in any US university but particularly for post-graduate degrees. Because interviews are often in English, you need a good grasp of speaking and listening skills in the language. You will typically meet with a professor who is involved in the program you are interested in. If your program of choice requires an interview, be sure to practice well in advance so you are less nervous and feel more prepared for the real thing.

  • Prerequisite Courses

    Most Master’s Degree programs in the US require you to first complete a Bachelor’s or other undergraduate degree. Just because you complete an undergraduate program does not mean you have met all of the requirements for a graduate program, however. Some Master’s Degrees have prerequisites. These are specific courses prospective students must complete before enrolling in the program. In addition to taking certain classes, you may need to achieve a minimum GPA to qualify for your program of choice. You can find out if your Master’s Degree program has any prerequisite courses by researching online or contacting the school directly. If the Master’s Degree program relates to your undergraduate studies, you may have already completed the prerequisites in your natural course of study.

  • Financing

    It is also vital that you consider how you will pay for your education before you start applying. The applications alone could cost you hundreds of dollars depending on how many schools you apply to. You will also need to take into account housing, supplies and textbooks in addition to tuition. Some universities in the US may have strict rules about international students’ employment status. The good news is that there are often scholarships, grants and other financial aid options you can apply for. Research the average tuition prices for your program of choice and start planning for your financial needs right away.

  • Capstone Project, Thesis and Exam

    Understanding the capstone project or thesis is important before accepting admission to a Master’s Degree program. Typically, the capstone project or thesis is a requirement for graduating and earning your degree. The type of program you enroll in may determine what your final project will be. A capstone project could be something like a dance performance, while a thesis involves researching the answer to a question and explaining your results. Some programs require neither a capstone project nor a thesis, but an exam instead. This means you will need to pass an examination demonstrating the knowledge you acquired throughout your studies before you may earn your degree. If you have a preference, you will want to find a program that meets your needs.

  • Deadlines

    You want to plan far in advance for application submission. Most US universities have an application deadline in February for programs that begin in the fall. However, some program deadlines may be as early as November, almost a year before courses start. This is why you need to schedule any standardized tests as early as possible and allow time for score processing. Be sure to get your application and all required documents and exam scores in by the deadline, keeping in mind that you may need to physically mail the documents. You can start researching Master’s Degree programs and submission deadlines today with SchoolApply.

Levels Explained

  • Bachelor's

    A bachelor's degree (also called a first degree or undergraduate degree) is attained after receiving a post-secondary (high school) education and generally spans four years. Students pursuing these types of degrees are commonly referred to as bachelor or undergraduate students. A bachelor's degree is usually offered at an institution of higher education, such as a university.

  • Master's

    A master’s degree (or postgraduate or graduate education) involves learning and studying for academic or professional degrees. This degree is preceded by a bachelor’s degree and generally takes two years to complete. Students pursuing these types of degrees are commonly referred to as master's, or grad students.

  • Pathway

    Bachelor’s and master’s pathway programs are designed for international students who need additional English language and academic preparation before continuing to a degree program at a university. The purpose of these programs are to give students the confidence and skills needed to succeed in college.