Everything you need to know to prepare for your MS degree in USA: universities, eligibility, cost, and more.
Step 1: Research university and funding options for your MS in the US
Determine your preferred US universities and budget
Choosing the right schools and programmes is the first step to obtaining your MS in the US. With so many universities and price ranges, you'll give yourself the best chance of success if you start researching MS in USA courses at least 1 year before your intended enrolment.
Step 2: Apply to MS programmes in the US
Consider applying to a range of universities, and be sure to check the application requirements carefully to ensure that you meet MS in USA eligibility criteria. MS in US programme deadlines typically fall between December and January.
Don’t know where to begin or how to apply for MS in US degree? Check out these schools:
10 Most Popular CS Schools for Prodigy Finance customers
Step 3: Confirm your education funding
It’s a good investment to study an MS in the US, but not a cheap one. Most students consider and use a range of funding options to cover the total Cost of Attendance (CoA) which includes both fees for tuition and living expenses.
After savings, an education loan for MS in US is a common funding source. For example, on average, an MS in USA for Indian students who pursue Computer Science programmes will need to borrow USD 70K over 2 years with Prodigy Finance.
If you decide to take an education loan to cover your MS in USA cost, start early. Often, you’ll need to prove funding to your university by mid-April to accept your admit before May. Depending on your loan provider, this could take some time.
Domestic banks: Can take up to a few months to process international student loans, especially when property is offered as security. For example, for an MS in USA for Indian students who apply for loans from domestic banks, you’ll want to submit your loan application by mid-January to prove funding in time.
Online lenders: Require less time. At Prodigy Finance, the application process is entirely online. Apply in just 30 minutes and get an instant quote. If you choose to accept the offer, you’ll be asked to upload documents supporting the information provided in your application, all online, before receiving your approved Loan Letter which you can use to apply for your F-1 visa.
Step 4: Get your admit and proof of funding for your MS in the US
Although admit dates vary for an MS in the US, you can expect to:
- Receive your admit before April
- Prove ability to cover your MS in US cost by mid-April
- Formally accept your admit by May
The international student office at your university will provide clear instructions to prove funding for your programme.
Some schools require loan letters to show your loan amount in US dollars. If you’re applying for a loan in another currency, check that your lender will provide this and that your loan will reach your account in April.
Step 5: Start the F-1 student visa application process
A few weeks after you prove funding and accept your admit, the international student office will issue an I-20 form. This document shows how you’ll pay for your degree, and it’s necessary to apply for your F-1 visa.
When to apply for your F-1 student visa
It’s best to apply for your F-1 visa as soon as you have your I-20 form. Visa approval times can vary, based on the consulate or embassy you visit for your F-1 student visa interview.
When to schedule your F-1 student visa interview
F-1 student visa applications are submitted online, but you must appear in person for an interview. You can choose which consulate you’ll visit for your visa interview, but you can’t change the location after application.
Your interview location impacts appointment wait times. For instance, for an MS in USA for Indian students, you may wait just 28 days in Chennai, while it could be 77 days in Hyderabad.
Ideally, your F-1 student visa interview is 120 days before your course begins, around May. If you’re pressed for time, consider travelling to a location with shorter wait times.
When you can you expect your F-1 student visa
If there aren’t any additional questions, you can expect to receive your visa 7 days after your interview, or 120 days before your course begins, whichever is later.
Your F-1 student visa will be stamped into your passport and you can pick it up from a collection point or pay extra for home delivery.
Step 6: Prepare for student life in the US
As your programme start date draws closer, you should begin preparing for your study abroad journey.
Find your US accommodation
International students have several accommodation choices. But, don’t wait too long to secure housing, as affordable options disappear quickly.
Many Indian students opt to save money by sharing off-campus apartments. To find roommates, reach out to international student services, the housing office and international clubs at your school.
Get to campus for your MS degree
US immigration officials advise waiting for your visa before booking your flight. Once you receive it, book your flight.
With an F-1 student visa, you can arrive in the US up to 30 days before your course begins. Most students plan to arrive at the end of June. Tip for Indian students: contact the Indian student organisation at your school to see if they arrange airport pick-ups to welcome new students.
Open a US bank account
You must provide your US bank information to the bursar's office so your living expenses can be transferred to you. Don’t wait to open a US bank account.
Interested to learn more about how you can fund your own education?
Prodigy Finance Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Note: This article was updated on 31st May 2020