What To Expect As An MS Student in the US

    Updated on: 12 Apr 2023

    Getting the chance to study abroad in the best university or college in the United States is definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity for any student. In the last few years, the US has enjoyed a dominating position across the globe as the most popular university destination for students looking to pursue an MS degree.  

    MS in the USA is typically a 2-year program that usually begins either in the fall (August) or spring (January) each year. The journey of being an MS student in the US is definitely an interesting one filled with several ups and downs. If you’re planning for MS in the US, here is everything you need to know.

    Check Your Education Loan Eligibility for Free Click Here

    Stage - 1: Before The Admit


    As an international student, before you apply for a Master’s degree in an American university, you must have a graduation degree with you. Most of the universities of the United States demand 16 years of formal education to be eligible for a Master’s program.
    Some of the programs offered in India, such as BSc, BCom, and BA, which are for three years, limit the formal education to 15 years. While there are some universities that accept 15 years of formal education as well, it is advisable to either complete either a Master’s program or a one year PG Diploma in India before applying to US universities. Many Master’s programs, especially those in the fields of medicine, education, and technology, require practical experience or internships as well.
    Additionally, a candidate is also judged on the basis of his\her academic record, projects, letter of recommendations, research work, published work, extracurricular activities, etc. Another important part is a statement of purpose (SOP) which is also to be submitted along with the application.

    Statement of Purpose

    A Statement of Purpose (SOP) is one of the most important elements of the application package. Whether your application will enjoy acceptance or face rejection is largely dependent on your SOP. An SoP basically answers the question - “Why do you want to pursue this course” - and must elaborate your unique position on each of the 4 underlined words/phrases.

    To get more insights on How to Write a Killer SOP ?, click here.

    Letter of Recommendation

    A comprehensive insight of your worthy candidature is provided to the admission authorities by a letter of recommendation (LOR). Your work experience, contributions or specialization in any field – both academic and professional, are picturized in the letter of recommendation. 


    Proficiency in English is another requirement for applying. Two most common tests to assess the proficiency of a candidate are TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and IELTS (International English Language Testing Service). You will be required to take and qualify for any of the two exams. The TOEFL fee in India is about $170 (or 11,900 Indian Rupees).


    The Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) is a standardized test and a key requirement for most Graduate Schools in the US. It is a broad assessment of your critical thinking, analytical writing, verbal and logical reasoning, and reasoning skills. GRE Exam is divided mainly into three sections: the Analytical Writing section often takes the first place followed by the other two sections: Verbal and Quantitative. It costs about $200 (14,000 Indian Rupees). Looking for tips to start your GRE preparation? We have you totally covered!

    Individual Applications

    Once you put all of the above in place, you’ll need to complete an online application for each university. You’ll have to answer a few biographical questions, upload your latest resume and the items outlined above. Each application costs ~ $100. The cost and time involved in each application make it critical that you shortlist the right colleges to apply to. Our admit predictor could come in handy in helping you with the shortlisting.

    Looking For An Abroad Education Loan?

    Fill the form to get free expert help

    Stage - 2

    Financial Preparedness

    As an aspiring MS student in any of the US universities, the first and foremost requirement is of financial preparedness. From the process of applying for an education loan to actually apply to the desired college/university, every step should be considered carefully keeping in mind the important details such as allocated budget, varied expenses, etc.

    Details of Expenses

    • Tuition Fees -Tuition fees, as well as the duration of a degree for MS courses, varies from university to university. It is, therefore, advisable to check with the school you plan to attend for exact costing details. The MS course fee in the US typically starts upwards of $25000 for the full program. A large number of students consider applying for educations loans offered by government banks (SBI, BOB, etc), private bank (ICICI, Axis), NBFCs like HDFC CredilaInCred, Avanse, and and international lenders like Prodigy Finance and MPOWER Financing at varied rates of interest. Before making the choice for an education loan, it is essential to do a detailed analysis of various factors such as interest rates, the collateral asked for as security, etc.
    • Living Expenses - Although there is no accurate way to estimate living expenses due to the fact that factors such as location, distance to the university, size of the apartment, etc vary from person to person. However, on average, these living expenses range anywhere between $8,000 and $12,000 per year and include:
      • Rental costs
      • Meal costs
      • Transportation cost etc
    • Miscellaneous Expenses - Other than living expenses, students need to account for several other cost heads such as books & literature expenses, entertainment expenses, stationery expenses, and other personal (lifestyle & habits) expenses as well. This can range anywhere between $400 to $800 per month depending on the area where you live.


    Check Your Education Loan Eligibility for Free Click Here

    Overcoming the Challenge of a New Environment

    There is no denying the fact that America offers a high standard of living to the students going to study there, right from housing options to public transport, excellent Medicare system, and much more. However, student life in a new country like America also comes with a host of challenges. Some of these could be :

    • Housing - One of the primary challenges is of temporary accommodation you have to put up in, till you find a decent house to lease. While choosing the accommodation in the US, it is a good idea to keep these tips in mind:
      • Find a place within close proximity of the University for ease of travel.
      • Acquaint yourself with the neighborhood and find essential places such as grocery, laundry, etc.
      • Seek suggestions from seniors and other students about more stable places for lease, their prices, etc.
    • Culture Shock - Another challenge that students face in the US is dealing with cultural shock. It is a kind of disorientation that the students experience with an entirely new way of life. The reasons behind this can be the lack of familiarity with the new place and difficulty in communication due to language & accent barrier. To overcome this feeling, it is crucial to-
      • Develop a strong support system around in the form of family, friends, academic advisor, etc
      • Maintain regular habits with a group of like-minded people such as jogging, taking up a physical activity, sports, etc
      • Develop emotional intelligence to fight the loneliness that can lead to emotional stress. Being emotionally mature is crucial to surviving as an MS student in America to lead a successful life, full of self-awareness.
    • Challenge of Dealing with Ever-Changing Laws - Dealing with changing government, laws, and visa restrictions, etc poses a constant threat in the mind of international students studying in America. To overcome this, it is important to focus on the opportunities rather than dwelling too much on the negatives propagated around by media until the time such laws and proposals are being legislated.

    Living in the US As An International MS Student

    Living in the US as an MS student is both, a challenging, as well as a rewarding experience in itself. Taking every single decision on your own, managing the expenses, doing daily tasks such as groceries, laundry, etc., (along with academics) instills a lot of independence, as well as responsibility in students. 

    Some of the effective ways to make the transition of living in a country like America smooth are -

    • Look at the Big Picture while Choosing the Specialization - It is important to make an informed decision regarding your specialization, after having detailed discussions with seniors about course syllabi, etc., to get a sense of the most suitable courses for you. While the choice should be made after in-depth research of the specific field of interest, some of the popular options include MS in Computer Science, MS in Power Engineering, MS in Embedded Systems, and MS in Management Information Systems. The list is based on important parameters such as quality of jobs, excellent salaries, and relevance of the courses to international students.
    • Understand Curriculum and other Project Requirements - This is important since the MS curriculum in the US differs from one university to another. In general, make sure that you are aware of -
      • Any pre-requisite courses mandated by the university.
      • Details about the core MS subjects including theory and programming.
      • Electives that MS students are allowed to take.
    • Hunting For An Internship - Doing MS in the US requires extensive experience with the right mix of both, practical and theoretical knowledge. Depending on the university you go to, you can start hunting for an internship from anywhere between four to eight months of starting the MS program. To begin the search, start with preparing a good resume. You can take advantage of career counselling solutions provided by qualified professional counselors, expert psychologists, and supervised trainees who offer specialized solutions to help students identify the right steps of internship selection, career development, and exploration process. Once the resume is ready, the next step is to start applying through - 
      • Various websites such as LinkedIn, Glassdoor, etc.
      • Official company websites, and
      • Actively participating in career fairs organized by the University

    If you want to know about Cost of Living in the US, click here.

    Check Your Education Loan Eligibility for Free Click Here

    To sum it up

    The decision of studying MS in the US is definitely a significant one for students. However, culturally America is both, diverse and vastly different from India. To make the process smooth and hassle-free, students need to be well-prepared financially, emotionally, as well as culturally. It is advisable to gain sufficient knowledge and understand the background of the country beforehand, to be more familiar with the people and life in the US at large.

    First published date: 29 Jun 2018


About author

Aishwarya Bhatt
A bookworm who transforms into a web-usability evangelist, when her favorite blend of coffee is flowing in her veins. Happiest in a bookstore and when she is painting with words on paper!

Gd snap
GyanDhan is India's first education financing marketplace.

Kickstart Your Journey Abroad

Upcoming Events

Unsecured Loans Up To 1 Crore for Studies Abroad

  Fri, June 02, 2023    18:00 IST

How to Secure the Guaranteed Best Education Loan?

  Fri, June 09, 2023    18:00 IST

Education Loans for Masters in the USA

  Fri, June 16, 2023    18:00 IST

Looking For Help in Foreign Education Loan? Arrange a Call From an Expert:

Enter Mobile no. Without Any Prefix.
By entering my phone number here, I hereby authorize GyanDhan to contact me through call, message or WhatsApp. \ It will override my registry on the NCPR/NDNC