Popular searches
Day Trips
Studying in the US: The complete process for academic studies

Studying in the US: The complete process for academic studies

Want to study in the US and don’t know where to start? Here’s a comprehensive guide, from registration to admission.

USA has the world’s largest international student population, with more than 1,000,000 students choosing to broaden their education and life experience in the United States. Nearly 5% of all students enrolled in higher-level education in the USA are international students, and the numbers are growing. From the mid-1950’s, when international student enrollment was only just reaching 35,000, international education in the USA has come a long way. We look forward to helping students like you who are considering continuing education in the United States through this guide. You will find all the tools you need to compile your necessary research in deciding if the United States is the best place for you — we have gathered valuable information on educational, social, cultural and economic aspects of studying in the U.S.

Step 1 – Choosing your academic subject

So, as an aspiring student in USA you need to first ask yourself what is it that interests you and most likely you will find a great school offering that subject.

While most Indians prefer studying STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math), there are plenty of other subjects and fields that you can choose to do your studies here.

Some of the most sought-after subjects in the U.S after Technology is Information Systems, Business and Management Studies, Medicine, Economics, Law, Arts & Humanities, Accounting & Finance & Social Sciences. It is always a good idea to research about the upcoming demand for a subject and figure out if that interests you. This will also help in eliminating a lot of options that you may have in your mind.

Once you’ve have settled on a subject, the next step is to identity the university/universities that offers that subject, select the one that you like the most and then gather more information about the university.

Step 2 – Learning about the institutions

This is often a complicated task, because you need to know a lot of information to make a good choice. If you have no idea about how to do this, you may consider contacting the closest academic advising center sponsored by your government or by the United States government. Each of these offices can provide excellent advice about schools that you should consider.

Remember that no official ranking system exists for colleges and universities in the United States. The best college or university is the one that is best for you and meets your requirements—academic, financial, and personal.

At least 12 to 18 months prior to the academic year in which you hope to attend a U.S. college or university, you should begin your research. Start by answering these basic questions and looking at the more specific 'define your priorities' pages under each level of study in this section:

  • Which colleges or universities will meet your needs?
  • Will you need financial assistance?
  • What are the application and financial aid deadlines?
  • Where do you want to live in the United States?

Choose your level of study (e.g. undergraduate, graduate, etc.) to learn more about researching your options. Keep in mind that the schools you apply to must be certified by the Student Exchange Visitor Program. You can find a searchable list of certified schools on the Department of Homeland Security's Study in the State's website.

Step 3: Financial Planning

Invest in yourself! The cost of living and studying varies across the United States. With the right amount of planning and research, pursuing a U.S. higher education can be made affordable with high returns on your investment.

Start your financial planning as early as possible. Each year international students receive significant amounts of financial assistance for their studies. However, competition is high. Applications for financial aid go together with applications for admission. When looking into studying in the United States, evaluating your finances should be one of the first things you do. As with any investment, you need to evaluate what's best for your educational and career goals and what you are willing to spend.

Step 4 – Registration and admission requirements

Once you’ve figured out the subject and university / universities you want to apply to, comes the time to actually start the long and tedious task of registration and applications.

Here’s the common eligibility criteria and the application process followed by most universities.

  • Good Academics: A solid GPA is a must in order to study in the US. A limited number of backlogs is also desirable (ideally, no backlogs if you are aiming top universities), and some other requirements that can be asked by the universities for specific courses
  • Standardized Tests: Students who are looking at to study Bachelors in the US, must appear for TOEFL or IELTS. If you are aiming for the top 100/200 colleges in the US along with financial aid, you should also opt for the SAT or ACT. For the most selective schools like Ivy League schools and top 25 – 50 colleges, you should also appear for SAT Subject Tests and/or AP exams. For graduate studies, you must appear for GRE or GMAT, along with IELTS/TOEFL
  • Essays/SoP and Letters of Recommendation: Apart from academic transcripts and test scores, you are also required to submit college essays, a statement of purpose (SoP) outlining your reasons to apply to a particular college or university and recommendation letters (LoR) from you ex-teachers or managers.

Step 5 – The academic process

The application process for USA will change for different universities, however, most of them follow the process of online application. Most of the documents like the scanned copy of your passport, academic transcripts, essays, etc. must be uploaded to the online application portal of the particular universities.

Tests: The Graduate courses will require the GRE, and management courses (like MBA or MS Finance, MS Business Analytics) will require GMAT scores. The undergraduate courses will require SATs and LSAT (for Law courses), MCAT (Medical Courses). The other major requirement is English Language Proficiency Test scores such as IELTS and TOEFL scores. All these scores must be reported officially through the conducting bodies.

Finances: As an international student, you would be looking at an overall expense (fees & living expenses) of INR 80 Lacs to 1.5 Crore for an undergraduate degree or INR 45 Lacs to 85 Lacs for a Masters (MS) program. MBA programs will cost you INR 70 Lacs to 1.5 Crore. There are many scholarship and financial aid schemes are out there for international students.

Also Read: Saving Money as a Student in USA

U.S. institutions offer a wide array of programs with a wide array of tuition and fees. Find information about special opportunities and financial aid provisions that U.S. higher education institutions offer international students, such as scholarships, in-state tuition benefits, waived application fees and deadlines, and similar provisions. Keep in mind that the United States is a large country and the cost of living varies greatly from place to place. You need to assess your funding and what you can spend on your education and living expenses.

Admission Intakes:

There are two main intakes in the USA – fall and spring. The Fall Intake starts in August, and it has the most number of courses available. The Fall Intake in USA is the most favorite among the international students.

The Spring (or Winter) Intake starts in January, and the students who might have missed the fall intake in USA can choose to study in Winter Intake, though not every course that is available in fall would be available in winter. There is a Summer Intake (May), too, however, it has a very limited number of courses on offer.

Once you’ve completed the entire application process, you start the waiting process and wait for the university to let you know that you are accepted. Once accepted, you need to then apply for a U.S Student Visa.


This guide is meant to provide you with a comprehensive gist with the purpose of giving you an idea as to what it takes to study in USA! Right from deciding what to study and where to study, you also need to sort out the finances, complete a lengthy application process involving SOPs, Letter of Recommendation, Transcripts and even appearing for English Proficiency Tests like the TOEFEL and finally applying for a student visa once you’ve been accepted by the university.

We hope that this guide helps you in your process of Applying for your Study in USA. 

Below are links to a few other guides that are important for a student studying in the USA

100 Saved