2 years ago
5 Tips to apply for graduate school in the United States
When a Nepali student graduates with a Bachelor’s (undergraduate) degree, and wants to pursue a Master’s or a PhD (graduate degrees) there are a handful of accredited universities to choose from at home. Naturally neighboring countries, China, India and Bangladesh are hot favorites to study medicine, engineering and accounts. But there are others like me, young dreamers infatuated by the American dream, the United States (US) is the top choice. The reason being that the US is home to many prestigious universities and hosts more number of international students (1.1 million) than any other country. On arrival to America for my doctorate degree, my inbox got full of inquiries from friends and family in Nepal and sometimes even from friends living in the US. As America has thousands of good universities, it’s a mammoth task to pick the one best suited for you. Based on my personal experience of having helped many friends over the years with information on studying in the US, I have decided to summarize some of my advice in writing. So here it goes, my five most important tips to apply for graduate school in the US, hopefully, they can come in handy to those interested.
Area of Study
To be eligible to apply for graduate school in the US, you should have completed four years of Bachelor studies with minimum course requirements in the area you want to study. You can begin to look for universities that offer the program you want to pursue. The best way is to search for schools through the internet, helpful websites such as usnews.com, the United States Educational Foundation in Nepal (USEF) library resources then make a list of prospective universities. For each of those schools, you can go to their department’s website and read the information available for prospective graduate students.
To begin an application process to study in the US, you need to plan 12-18 months in advance. In addition to providing your undergraduate degree certificates, graduate applicants must register and take the TOEFL and the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) or the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) tests. TOEFL is a test that measures your English language skills while good GRE and GMAT scores boost your application profile, extremely helpful in landing scholarships and assistantships.
Emails are key to this whole process of application. Please don’t hesitate to contact the department’s graduate admission office (email can be found on the department’s website) for inquiries. The graduate admission office is there to help students successfully apply to the university. Please be mindful of how you write your emails. Simple and precise, written with honesty are the best ones. I highly recommend doing a little bit of investigation and try and find anyone you might know or Nepali students studying in that university. You never know you can even find a long-lost friend or a distant relative just waiting to be found. Most of the universities have Nepal Student Association and I suggest reaching out to them. Such contacts will prove to be highly beneficial for your smooth transition to living in the US.
Depending on the area you want to study, there might or might not be funding available at that time to support your education. The best way to find out is through the department’s graduate admission office. Usually, STEM areas have more research and teaching assistantships while others might be offered scholarships or grant awards to support tuition and living costs. Please be prepared to explain the math of how you are going to cover all your expenses in graduate school during the visa interview taken by the American embassy.
Besides these four tips, the most important tip is to research. Applying for a graduate school in the US needs a lot of research on your part. From the area of study, you want to pursue, to whether the ethics and norms of the university match with your own beliefs, to connecting with future friends, you must have your homework done to cover the basic aspects. Do your research thoroughly, don't leave any stone unturned, be equipped and confident to start your application process successfully.