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What’s an international engineering masters really like? Three CMU students share their journeys 

Rishabh Goel - October 16, 2019

Prefer to watch before reading? Check out this video from Sampath, one of the CMU Engineering students featured in this post. 

CMU MS Engineering student and Prodigy Finance borrower Sampath

Starting a new life in a new country? Scary.

Starting a Masters in Engineering? Scary.

Starting both? Scary.

We sat down with three of our students, Sampath, Ardra, and Akshay, who are all studying at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). While all are pursuing a Master's in Engineering, their academic interests are varied. But, is it as scary as it sounds?

CMU MS Engineering students and Prodigy Finance borrowers

Why CMU College of Engineering?

CMU’s College of Engineering is a hub for innovation and excellence and consistently demonstrates its prestige across global platforms and ranking agencies. Akshay, Ardra, and Sampath were drawn to the culture of learning, and the plethora of programmes ranging from biomedicine to chemical, and information systems to energy.

Coming from India, our panellists all believed in the importance of a master’s degree, noting that it's a reliable path to a career in competitive job markets. Indians make up a significant portion of the world’s engineers by producing an average of 1.5 million graduates annually.

Still, while the security of home provides comfort, less than 10% of India’s engineers end up as engineers because many higher-ed institutions don't operate at the level that they should.

And yet, there's a massive opportunity cost to an international education. It’s not enough to have your studies paid for; you almost need a guarantee that your life will be exponentially better afterward. (Families, especially in India, often need this assurance too.)

Akshay, Ardra, and Sampath, while on separate journeys all felt it necessary to pursue the experience, prestige, and opportunity - despite the cost of the investment.

At CMU, it's also about the incredible networks - professional, academic, and personal.

Companies like Microsoft and Intel regularly encourage CMU students to apply for internships and jobs. Akshay, who specializes in energy, says that there’s a good working relationship between educators and the companies recruiting at the school. And, he's learned that a professor’s recommendation can go a long way towards securing a post-graduate job.

Getting into a good school and finding MS Engineering financing

The Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) is a standardised admission requirement for most of the US graduate schools. Engineering applicants feel the pressure to achieve a minimum of 326 on the GRE.

A high GRE score is a benchmark many strive for, but it's only one part of an application.

Our CMU panellists believe the Statement of Purpose (SOP) essay is perhaps even more important for some universities. That's especially true for those with lower GRE scores. Plan to spend plenty of time crafting this piece and revising it until it's the best it can be.

And then there's the pressure of paying for an international master's degree. In addition to the smooth simplicity of Prodigy Finance's online application, our CMU students found relief when they realised they would not need collateral or co-signers. Prodigy Finance can cover up to 100% of the cost of attendance at CMU. Once funds are disbursed to the school’s account, the excess funds are transferred (by the school) into student’s local bank accounts.

International Carnegie Mellon engineering students and Prodigy Finance borrowers

Moving to the US as an international student

Akshay, Ardra, and Sampath found it easy to find some semblance of home at CMU. The cost of living is similar to that our panellists experienced in India; Pittsburgh is ordinarily cheaper than New York or California. But, the excitement of life in a new country is propelled by their studies.

While there are plenty of campus activities, it can be a challenge to become involved. The work never really stops. And, the jump between undergrad and master-level education is steep; all-nighters just don't cut it.

But it's not all doom and gloom; our panellists were welcomed with warmth and support - from the institution and their peers. They cite the comfort of having many Indian students within the university; it's an exercise in academics and joy, a family away from family.

It’s important to choose the right school - for you and for Prodigy Finance. When it comes to supporting Carnegie Mellon University the decision is simple: our students love it, which is why we love it. And, neither the degree nor the move is as scary as it might seem at the outset.

Will an MS Engineering degree from CMU take you where you want to go?

If it's your dream, Prodigy Finance can help you get there. We offer no-cosigner and collateral-free loans for international students pursuing their master's degrees.

Prodigy Finance Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Post updated for accuracy and freshness on October 16, 2019. Originally published on March 21, 2017.

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