A Complete Guide for Master in The USA 2023

A Complete Guide for Master in The USA 2023

A Complete Guide for Master in The USA 2023
Ashma Shrestha

The USA is the most popular and extensive study abroad destination, attracting over 950,000 international students who want to pursue a Master's degree. With over 4,300 higher education institutions to choose from, it can be overwhelming for students. 

Typically, a Master's degree program in the US lasts two full-time years, with some programs even shorter. This may be longer than in other countries like the UK, but the more extended program provides greater exposure, skill acquisition, and development opportunities. As an international student, you can broaden your professional network, immerse yourself in different cultures, and learn about the work culture in the US. 

The cost of pursuing a Master's degree in the United States can vary greatly depending on several factors, such as the institution and program you choose. Generally, international students can expect to pay anywhere from $20,000 to $35,000 per year in tuition fees at a public university. In private schools, the cost can be very high with the necessary funding options.

This guide provides comprehensive information about obtaining a Master's degree in the USA, covering course eligibility requirements, applications, and visas. Studying for a Master's degree in the US can lead to professional success, so learn the steps and process to apply with this helpful guide.

Why choose the USA for a Master's Degree?

  • American universities lead the way in global rankings, with 23 of the top 50 institutions listed by Times Higher Education based in the US.
  • The US is the most sought-after destination for international students, and for a good reason, as it offers a wide range of academic programs. 
  • Although obtaining a Master's degree in the US may not be inexpensive, numerous funding opportunities are still available for international students. 
  • US Master's programs emphasise student research, allowing students to engage in hands-on primary study and collaborate with experts. 
  • Many US universities have specialised research faculty, and if you are interested in exploring new ideas, you can work directly with specialists and use exclusive research labs and facilities. 
  • US universities recognise the significance of experience and connections in securing job opportunities and building careers.
  • As a graduate student in the US, you can participate in employment fairs and networking events and gain valuable experience through internships that can help advance your career.

Master's Degree in the USA

In many ways, a Master's degree in the US is similar to those offered in other countries, requiring you to study at a higher level and fostering independent thinking and learning. However, compared to other international postgraduate programs, the experience in the US is more structured, with more frequent assessments and the possibility of required additional training. 

Your daily experience will depend on the type of graduate program you choose and its intended goals. These programs can generally be divided into two categories: academic and professional programs.

Academic Masters

Academic Master's programs in the USA are similar to traditionally taught Master's degrees in other countries, focusing on broad subject areas and ending with a significant research project and thesis submission. 

However, they tend to be less specialised and offer a more comprehensive knowledge of the discipline at an advanced level, aligning with the nature of undergraduate education in the USA, allowing students to study a diverse range of subjects before selecting a major.  

Master's programs can choose from various mandatory and elective modules. The opportunity to delve deeper into their specific interests comes during the dissertation stage, where students undertake a significant independent research project guided by an expert.

Professional Masters

Professional Masters's programs are tailored to equip you with the skills and technical knowledge required for a particular career. Many of these programs are accredited, allowing you to work in regulated professions, but remember that accreditation in the US may not be recognised globally.

These programs are designed to be more structured and focused, with fewer electives and a strict curriculum that covers the core competencies required by a particular profession. Specialised graduate schools and institutions that connect with professional organisations often offer these programs.

Instead of a dissertation, professional Masters's programs typically culminate in a formal internship in a relevant organisation or company. This hands-on experience provides valuable exposure to real-world challenges and the opportunity to apply your skills professionally.

Eligibility Requirements to study for Masters 

  • To apply for a Master's degree in the US, you must have the required undergraduate degree and provide a full academic transcript, academic references, and a personal statement. The academic transcript summarises your undergraduate studies, including your courses and performance in individual assignments. 
  • Some institutions may also ask for a research statement, particularly if you are applying for a graduate program that leads to a PhD. 
  • The minimum GPA requirement may vary from university to university, but a 2.1 GPA or equivalent is typically expected. 
  • If English is not your first language, you must take and score well on an English language proficiency test.

Standard Exam to Pursue Master in USA


The GRE test is for students who aspire to pursue a graduate program in liberal arts subjects such as psychology, literature, sociology, philosophy, and the like. The GRE assessment consists of three parts: verbal reasoning, analytical writing, and quantitative reasoning. It evaluates your abilities in English, writing, evaluation, analysis, use of evidence, and math skills, including algebra and geometry.


The GMAT is an assessment test for business graduate students in accounting, management, and human resource management. The GMAT evaluation comprises four sections: analytical writing, integrated reasoning, verbal reasoning, and quantitative reasoning. These sections assess your proficiency in English, mathematics, data interpretation and analysis, and written communication. The analytical writing section includes an essay graded separately from the rest of the test.


The LSAT is a crucial exam for those aspiring to study law or politics at the top graduate schools in the USA. It assesses your analytical writing, reading, verbal reasoning, and logical thinking abilities through five multiple-choice sections, with one unscored writing portion. The LSAT exam lasts about four hours, including breaks, with only four of the multiple choice sections counted towards your score - which ones are chosen is kept a surprise.

Documents Required

When applying for a Master's program in the US, you must submit more than just your standardised test scores and English proficiency test results. To give US universities and colleges a comprehensive understanding of your background and abilities, you must also present other documents that showcase your strengths and characteristics.

Since graduate programs are more focused and have limited enrollment capacities, the admission process is stricter and more selective. These additional documents allow institutions to gain insights into your personality and evaluate how you can contribute to and enrich the university community.

Some of the other academic documents to submit while applying for a master's in the USA are:

  • Statement of Purpose
  • Letter of Recommendation
  • Essays
  • Transcripts
  • Resume
  • Work Experience
  • Credential Evaluation Documents

Visa Requirements to Study in the USA  

  • A valid passport
  • A copy of the photo that will be on your visa
  • Your DS-160 and I-901 SEVIS payment confirmations
  • Your I-20 form, official exam results, and academic transcripts, as listed on your university application
  • Diploma (if appropriate) (if applicable)
  • Bank statements or other financial documentation

Top University for Masters Program in the USA

Here are some of the top universities in the US for studying for a Master's degree:

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • Stanford University
  • Harvard University
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
  • Princeton University
  • University of Chicago
  • Columbia University
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Yale University

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