Study in the U.S.A: Top Universities, Degrees Offered, Choosing a University, Popular Courses, Career Options

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    Shahid Baig

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    The US houses more than 4000 institutions that offer higher education. A wide variety of courses to choose from, different types of institutions to get admission in makes the United States one of the most preffered study abroad destinations. 

    Study in the U.S.A: Number of Colleges 

    Owing to the fact that many international students come to study in the U.S.A, the country has different types of colleges to choose from. 

    No. of 4-year Institutions Public universities 629
    Private universities 1,845
    No. of Community colleges Public 1,070
    Private 596

    College Degrees to Study in the U.S.A

    US universities offer more than 2 million courses under its 2- year and 4-year institutions arrangement. There are mainly 2 types of institutions in the United States offering different types of college degrees. There are a wide range of courses and universities offered in the U.S.A that international students can choose from. 

    Type of Institute Degrees Offered Duration of the degrees
    4- year Universities Bachelor’s degree 3-4 years
    Master’s Degree 1-2 years
    Doctoral Degrees 3-6 years
    Post-Doctoral degrees 4-5 years
    Community Colleges (2-year institutions) Associate Degrees 2 years
    Certificate programs 1 year

    Top Universities in the USA

    The USA houses the best universities in the world. Quality education is one of the most salient features of the US education system. When deciding to study in the USA, one must know the top universities in the world. the application process to study in the U.S.A may differ from university to university. According to QS world ranking, following are the top universities in the US

    1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    2. Stanford University
    3. Harvard University
    4. California Institute of Technology
    5. University of Chicago

    How to Choose a University to Study in the U.S.A?

    Choosing the right university out of a pool of more than 4500 institutions can be a daunting process. In such a situation, an elimination method can work wonders for the students. 

    Make a list of universities considering the following the factors. Then make the 2nd and 3rd list eliminating the options that don’t meet your criteria.

    First list

    Prepare your first list of colleges considering the following factors.

    Cost: This is the most important factor for most of the students who decide to study in the USA. Collect all the information pertaining to travel and living in the U.S.A. 

    Faculty and their Research: students who want to pursue higher admission in the USA need to know the reputation of the department and faculty member that they are admitted to. Since for further admissions, an applicant is evaluated and recommended by the faculty members.

    Programs offered: An applicant need to choose a program that best suits his/ her intelligence level. Thus, the program is offered at a specific university should be the main factors while choosing a university.

    Financial Aid: Students with an excellent academic record, High GRE/GMAT score, Extensive research work are usually preferred for funding, Knowing what kind of funding is offered by the universities in the U.S.A and the how competitive is getting that funding should be considered while choosing a university.

    Location and Housing: Living in a country for a good 3-4 years comes with a lot of factors that are of great relevance to anyone. Checking if the college is in urban or rural setting, is the climate warm or cold if the campus is located on coast or plains are all the factors that might affect a students’ decision about which university to choose.

    Second list

    • Eliminate universities that do not meet your criteria.

    • Select 20-35 universities and check their official website for university application deadlines to study in the U.S.A, course catalog etc.

    • Enquire about information regarding extracurricular activities, financial aid available, any special services for international students etc.

    • Collect information about the admission tests required in your selected universities.

    Third list

    After you have received the test scores, check the scores required by the selected universities in the second list. Further, eliminate the universities whose requirements do not match your score. Remaining universities are the ones you’ll apply to.

    Popular Courses to Study in the USA

    Since admission to a university in the USA doesn’t mean admission to a particular department, the first decision after getting admission is to choose which course to apply to. Considering the top 5 popular courses can help a student make a decision.

    Top 5 Courses to Study in the U.S.A

    Course Enrollment
    Business management 197,258
    Engineering 196,750
    Maths and Computer Sciences 112,950
    Social Sciences 75,951
    Physical and Life Sciences 73,838

    Community colleges in the USA

    Community colleges in the USA offer 2-year programs as an alternative to 4-year programs at universities. Students studying in a community college can enroll themselves for 2 year Associate degrees or transfer after 2 years to a university (2+2 program).

    International students applying to community colleges in the USA should first check with the guaranteed transfer agreement with the 4-year universities.

    Why Community College?

    Community colleges are considered the gateway for higher education in the USA for the following reasons:

    Minimized Cost: Average cost of studying in a community college is $6500 which is evidently much less than a 4-year university. Students can minimize their cost of studying Bachelor’s in the USA by taking the first 2 years of credit courses at community college.

    Flexible English Proficiency Requirements: TOEFL score doesn’t hold much importance in the admission process in a community college. One can take Intensive English programs instead of TOEFL. Also, some Community colleges accept IELTS score in place of TOEFL score.

    Easy Transfer opportunities: Most of the community colleges in the USA has transfer agreements with 4-year universities also called the “2+2” Transfer agreements. Community colleges allow students to complete their 2 years and then transfer those credits to a 4-year university and continue with their bachelor’s degree.

    Greater Individual Attention: The average class size in a community college is 15-20 students. This gives the professors an opportunity to pay more attention to each and every student. This is more beneficial to International students who anyways need more help from teachers to be able to adjust with the pace of US education.

    Highest Paying Careers in the USA

    The end motive of every international student is to make a stellar career in the USA. The courses that an applicant chooses decides their Future in the USA or in the world. Know about the Highest Paying jobs in the USA and other post degree options in the U.S.A is extremely important. 

    Careers/ courses Projected Growth (2016-2026) Mean Annual Salary
    Anesthesiologist 17.8% $269,600
    Surgeon 16.8% $252,910
    Obstetrician and Gynecologist 17.9% $234,310
    Orthodontist 17.3% $ 228,780
    Psychiatrist 13.1%  $ 194,740