When talking about higher education in the United States, it is undoubtedly labeled as the best amongst the best. Universities offer graduate-level programs with unmatched and high quality of education. The home of the globally recognized institutions makes the United States the top choice for international students.

The country is wide open for international students pursuing their graduate studies. It can be overwhelming to student aspirants as there is a lot of information ranging from location, specialized master’s programs, funding, living costs, scholarships, etc. Here are some comprehensive guidelines that would aid every student aspirant looking for their best option in pursuing their graduate studies in the USA!

Master’s Degree Admission Requirements

There are numerous premier universities offering master’s programs in all disciplines in the United States. The application requirements for master’s programs may differ for every institution. It is always best to consult your chosen university about the specific documents required for admission. Although, in general, here are the following entry requirements every international student must prepare.

Aside from the undergraduate degree diploma, universities in the United States require student aspirants to present their transcript of records. This academic record shows the complete and detailed courses and grades the student has undertaken during their undergraduate studies.

Another essential requirement to prepare is a duly accomplished Personal data form. Students must completely and correctly fill up all necessary information needed in the application form. Instructions must be strictly followed in the application process, as the admission committee will also evaluate this.

A Statement of Purpose is necessary when applying for a master’s program. This personal statement is an opportunity to show the admissions committee your capabilities, strengths, work experiences, and other important information that would prove that you are qualified to take up a master’s program in their institution. It is important to keep your statement clear, detailed, and concise.

International students who wish to obtain a master’s degree in the USA are also required to submit Recommendation letters. These letters are typically written by former professors, employers, and mentors affirming that a student possesses exemplary qualities and is suitable for the program they are applying for.

Language Proficiency Tests Needed for Master’s Studies

English is the medium of instruction at all levels when studying in the United States. Students from non-native English-speaking countries must submit proof of English language proficiency before admission. Students who failed to pass the minimum score required explicitly in their chosen program are advised to take up an Intensive English Program. This program aims to improve and acquire the desired level of English proficiency needed for the student’s master’s program. This program may either be taken before pursuing the master’s program or while taking up the master’s program, depending on the institution.

International students applying for a master’s program in the USA at Princeton University must prove that they possess an excellent command of the English language, both verbal and written. Students must take one of the two recognized English language proficiency tests accepted by the university: TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System). The minimum score for admission will depend on the specific requirement of the study program. While the university has not set a standard minimum score, students admitted that have scored below 27 in TOEFL or below 8.0 in IELTS on the speaking section is required to take an English placement test. If a student is unsuccessful in passing the test, the university will require the student to enroll in the school’s English Language Program course.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) accepts English language tests from TOEFL or IELTS, although the university prefers the latter. Students taking TOEFL must attain a minimum score of 90 or higher depending on the department the student is applying for. On the other hand, the IELTS minimum score will be evaluated and decided by the department. The university conducts an English Evaluation Test a week before Registration Day for all admitted students from non-native English-speaking countries. The exam will determine if a particular student will still need to take additional English classes to improve their language proficiency.

Master’s Degree Application Process

Step 1. Research on the Master’s Study Program of Choice

The United States is the home of many globally recognized universities, and international students are primarily drawn to applying to the most prestigious schools in the country. However, it is strongly recommended that students who want to pursue a master’s degree in the USA must thoroughly research and find a university that would best suit their academic goals and personal preferences.

Step 2. Learn about Financial Aid, Tuition Fees, & Living Expenses

Studying master’s degree in the United States involves early planning and adequate knowledge in assessing the overall costs and spendings throughout your stay in the country. The tuition fees in most universities usually increase by 6 – 10 % yearly, so students need to know how to budget their education costs and living expenses while pursuing their master’s degree program.

While universities offer financial aid and scholarships, granting such is limited to graduate students. Some financial support or scholarships offered in graduate schools would only pay part of the student’s tuition and living expenses. It is still best to plan and save for your education as early as possible.

Step 3. Completion of Application Process

The general entry requirements in applying for a master’s program in the USA include Transcript of Records, Statement of Purpose, Personal data form, and Recommendation Letters.

Aside from the basic requirements, part of the application process is to take standardized tests. Admission tests in the graduate study programs vary per university. Students are advised to consult the Admissions Office on what particular admission test must be taken. In addition, international students from non-English speaking countries must submit their English proficiency test results.

Upon submission of the application, all requirements will be evaluated. The Admission Committee of the university will administer the assessment. Once the student is admitted to the study program, a notification will be sent via email.

Step 4. Applying for A Student Visa

International students who want to study for a master’s program in the USA must first ensure that the institution they were admitted to is certified by the Student Exchange and Visitor Program (SEVP). A SEVP certified institution will provide a Form 1-20 or DS-2019 for students who have been accepted and admitted to the master’s program in their graduate school. The said document is part of the basic requirements when applying for a student visa. The university’s International Office committee gives assistance and guidelines concerning visa processing and other additional immigration information.

Step 5. Plan Your Arrival in the United States

As a general rule, all incoming international graduate students who will enroll for a master’s in the USA are obliged to inform the university’s International Office of their expected arrival at the university. This is crucial, and all information sent to the office must be accurate to avoid inconsistencies. Also, before traveling to the United States, students must attend a pre-departure orientation in their home country to prepare students to adjust to the environment. They also provide other important information about living abroad.

Yale University offers a wide range of master’s study programs at The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences for international students. Students must submit all the basic requirements and additional documents requested by the department of their preferred study program when applying. Always make sure to complete all documents specified on the program’s website. Students must check the deadlines of their chosen program to set a timeframe to complete the documents needed. It is also crucial to take all the necessary standardized testing ahead of time to ensure that the administrator has submitted the results before the application deadline. Once the application is submitted, students will have to wait for the admission decisions of the university. Results are usually released bet February and early March.

Stanford University offers an extensive list of master’s programs. Students can search and select a program of their choice on the university’s website. A student can only be allowed to submit one application per year. To apply, student aspirants must create an account to start the application process. During the application process, students are mainly required to upload application documents, pay for the application fee of 125 $, and take standardized exams required by the department. The department committee will assess all application materials submitted. They are the deciding body of whether a student will be admitted to their department.


We hope that this article on Study Master’s in the USA was helpful. To know more information similar to this, check out the Master’s Programs for International Students!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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