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Study Under-Graduate in USA


The United States has one of the world’s finest university systems, with outstanding programs in virtually all fields. At the undergraduate level, excellent programs exist in traditional disciplines, as well as in professional fields. The preparation for application to U.S. universities can be a tedious and time-consuming process. However, if you plan and prepare ahead of time, you will be able to get into the University of your Interest.



To get started:

  • Research online the top reasons why Indian students study abroad in the US
  • Check out the application timeline of various colleges to see when to start the application process
  • Choose what type of degree is the best fit for you, whether it be an associate or bachelor’s



With 4,500 universities to choose from, narrowing your search is not always an easy task. However, it can be an exciting and surprising process. Before researching US universities, we suggest students and parents do an honest assessment of their expectations for university study and priorities for selecting a university. There is no limit to the number of universities you can apply to. However, as you will submit a separate application to each university, your goal should be to narrow down your list to 6-8 universities to which you will apply.

You really need to put in the time to carefully choose universities. Keep in mind the different factors you will want to consider in choosing the university. Some factors for considerations are:

  • Minimum academic qualifications: When selecting universities, first consider whether you meet the minimum academic qualifications.
  • Type of degree and university: Would you like to attend a private or public university? Would you like a four-year university or a two-year college? Would you want to be a part of Ivy League or Public Ivy schools? Study these types of degree and university first before you start applying.
  • Academics: If you have an idea of what you want to study, make sure the university offers degrees in your academic majors of interest.
  • Location and campus setting/size: Don't forget to take into account the location of a university, as it could be the place you live for the next four years. You may want to consider universities and areas that are centers of excellence in your field, where you may find related internships, work experience and networking opportunities.
  • Campus life: Each university has its own distinct atmosphere. It is important to choose the place that is the best fit for you. You may want to consider what type of experience you are looking for – an academically rigorous experience or more of a balance between your academic demands and extracurricular interests.
  • Competitiveness of admission: Some of the top-tier US universities have an admission rate of around 10%. Therefore, to help ensure you receive several admissions offers from which to choose, you will want to select a well-rounded list of universities. We recommend applying to:
  • a maximum of 2-3 highly-competitive universities
  • 1-2 safety schools where you are well above the academic profile of last year's admitted class



The first step in the application process is to take the two tests below:

1) Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT): SAT is a test required for most undergraduate level applications. It will test your verbal, mathematical and analytical skills. The qualifying score for SAT depends on the school you apply to. The better the university, the higher the qualifying score. Visit  for more details.

2) TOEFL or IELTS Exam: All international students will need to take a language exam. TOEFL or IELTS exam is an English language proficiency test. It will test your understanding, listening and English speaking skills. Again the qualifying score for this test depends on the university you apply to.



Eligibility and Process

There are basic steps for applying to an undergraduate degree program. All applications are done through common application (

***NoteMake sure the university/college offers both Merit and Need-based scholarships.

1. Submission of Application Materials

Closely observe the deadline and required materials set by your academic program of interest, including any additional documents requested of students seeking departmental funding. Complete the application and mail any materials that could not be submitted online. If you are in 12th grade, you should have your SAT score already ready and you should start the application by October of your final high school year.

2. Review by the Academic Program

The admissions committee for each academic program decides who will be accepted. During this process, the committee reviews documents you sent them as well as the information you sent to the Undergraduate School. You might receive correspondence at this point regarding whether you have been recommended for admission, but this is not the final step.

3. Final Review

The Undergraduate school receives the academic program’s recommendation and completes a final review of your file, checking to make sure you meet the minimum admission requirements. If you are an international applicant, you may need to provide additional information before admission can be finalized. If you are accepted by an academic program, you will then be asked to provide official copies of all transcripts.

4. Official Admission to the University

If you are accepted into the degree program to which you applied and you meet the minimum admission requirements, Admissions department will admit you to the university and send you information for new students.



Freshman applicants are students who have completed their secondary education and have earned a certificate of completion which enables them to be admitted to a university in their home country and has never been enrolled as a university student. Please go the university’s website to check the specific admission requirements. Below are the general requirements:

  • You must complete both year X and XII state board or CBSE examinations, with average marks above 70 and no mark below 60.
  • Take the ACT with Writing Test or SAT Reasoning Test by December of your last year at secondary school 
  • Demonstrate English-language Proficiency – take the TOEFL or IELTS test
    • Financial statement/ Proof of financial support
    • Letters of recommendation (depends on the university)



Fall quarter/semester

November 1-30

Winter quarter/spring semester

July 1-31

Spring quarter

October 1-31



Sometimes it takes a significant amount of time for universities to receive records from schools abroad. To help speed consideration of your application, we recommend that you make legible photocopies of your official academic records. After you submit your undergraduate application, you may be requested to send your copies to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at each campus to which you have applied.

If you are admitted, universities must receive an official academic record directly from each institution you attended, beginning with grade nine and up to and including the school or college/university you currently attend. Each academic record must list the:

  • dates you attended the institution
  • titles of courses and examinations you completed
  • grades (marks) you received
  • credit, hours or units earned
  • any degree or diploma you may have received. Diplomas or certificates you received for completing government and university examinations must show the subjects you passed and the grades received.



Before you apply for a visa, your university will send you documentation that enrolls you in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), which tracks international students through an electronic network of colleges, universities, U.S. immigration services and U.S. consular posts overseas.

You must pay a fee to be enrolled in SEVIS, and you’ll need to retain your proof of payment for presentation during your visa interview at the U.S. embassy. The fee varies according to the type of study or exchange program you’re participating in and the type of visa you apply for.



Before entering the U.S., you must first obtain a U.S. student visa, which is an endorsement on your passport indicating that you’re allowed to enter the U.S. and stay for a specified period of time. You must have a valid passport to apply for a student visa. Make sure to apply for your visa early to avoid possible delays. The U.S. Department of State has plenty of information on this.



The three most common types of visas that students outside the U.S. can apply for are:

The F-1 student visa: This is for students attending a full-time degree or academic program at a school, college or university. It’s valid for as long as it takes you to complete your course of study. It also allows you to work on campus part-time.

The M-1 student visa: This is for students enrolled in non-academic or vocational study. It’s valid for one year, but you may apply for extensions for up to three years.

The J-1 exchange visitor visa: If you’re being sponsored by a government scholarship or exchange program, you may be eligible for this visa, which allows you to participate in work-and study-based exchange visitor programs.

If you’re applying for an F-1 or M-1 visa, familiarize yourself with the process on how to navigate the U.S. immigration system.



Items you’ll need to take care of before you head off to start your new academic life:

  • Get or renew your passport
  • Obtain a student or exchange visitor visa (Refer Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) section below)
  • Make airline reservations
  • Confirm your living arrangements
  • Get vaccinations and have your doctor complete a World Health Organization yellow immunization card
  • Obtain health insurance from the university
  • Contact the university’s international student adviser
  • Make sure you understand U.S. currency 
  • Arrange to set up and transfer money to a U.S. bank account and bring funds (in U.S. currency) to use when you arrive
  • Ask the university about transportation from the airport or contact the Indian association of your university in advance and ask if anyone can pick you up from the airport. Search on FaceBook if there is a group for your program and get connected with people before you start your journey
  • Arrange in advance to ship belongings that will be over the baggage limit on airlines (if applicable)
  • Pack appropriately (a warm coat for Chicago, flip-flops for Miami), and label all of your luggage with your full name and address of the college you’ll be attending



While academics are important, a successful U.S. university education also involves balance. Getting involved in social, cultural and sports activities outside of class gives you a chance to meet new people and make friends, as well as develop team and leadership skills that will benefit you in your future career. Visit your university’s website or talk to your international student adviser on campus for suggestions on how to become involved at your new college. The International Student Office should be your first stop after arriving on campus.



The cost of attending a U.S. university is something you and your family should consider while you’re in the planning process and could be a determining factor whether you will actually study in the U.S.

Costs vary widely among institutions, so make sure you create a budget for yourself to include tuition and fees, living expenses, books and supplies, transportation and personal expenses for each year you’ll be at college.

Keep in mind, the cost to attend university for international students is primarily your responsibility. However, universities may offer financial aid and scholarships to international students. Visit university websites directly to find out if you’re eligible for any financial assistance.

Once you receive your financial aid award notice from a college, it pays to analyze what they’re offering (gift aid, loans, and student jobs) and whether it meets your needs. Paying for college is a long-term investment and how you put together your funding plan can differ from school to school. Be aware that loans from U.S. sources normally require a resident of the U.S. as a co-signer, so it’s always worth checking in your home country for local sources of loans and grants as well.





The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a computer adaptive test (CAT) intended to assess certain analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills in written English for use in admission to a graduate management program, such as an MBA. Go to to learn more about GMAT and to schedule your exam.



A Grade Point Average (GPA) is a summary statistic that represents a student’s average performance in their studies over a stated period of time, such as one semester. Being numerical, GPAs are often calculated to two decimals. They are used as indicators of whether levels of student performance meet some fixed criterion, and for sorting groups of students into rank order. Calculate your GPA using the WES iGPA Calculation tool




The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a standardized test that is an admissions requirement for most graduate schools in the United States. The exam aims to measure verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, analytical writing, and critical thinking skills that have been acquired over a long period of time and that are not related to any specific field of study. The GRE General Test is offered as a computer-based exam administered at Prometric testing centers. To learn more about GRE and to book GRE test, go to



IELTS is the International English Language Testing System which tests English proficiency across the globe. Go to to book the IELTS test. (NOTE: This test is applicable to international applicants only)



A letter of recommendation (LOR), also known as a letter of reference is a document in which the writer assesses the qualities, characteristics, and capabilities of the person being recommended in terms of that individual's ability to perform a particular task or function. Letters of recommendation are typically related to employment (such a letter may also be called an employment reference or job reference), admission to institutions of higher education, or scholarship eligibility.



SEVIS stands for Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. It is nationwide, Internet-based system that the U.S. government uses to maintain accurate and current information on non-immigrant students (F and M visa) exchange visitors (J visa), and their dependents (F-2, M-2, and J-2)




The statement of purpose (SOP) is perhaps the most important, and most challenging, element of your application packet. This letter needs to reflect who you are and why you would be an asset to the program you are applying to. In your letter, specify what you want to study at graduate school? Why you want to study it? What experience you have in your field? What you plan to do with your degree once you have it? The letter needs to make you stand out from the hundreds of other applicants and yet stay within the genre-based expectations for a statement of purpose.



The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) test measures your ability to use and understand English at the university level. And it evaluates how well you combine your listening, reading, speaking and writing skills to perform academic tasks. Learn more about TOEFL here (NOTE: This test is applicable to international applicants only)



A transcript is an official record from your current or former institution giving a breakdown of the marks or grades you have achieved during your study. If your university does not issue official transcripts in English, you will need to provide both the official original language version plus a certified translation (signed and stamped by your institution or an official translator).



World Education Services (WES) is a nonprofit organization that provides credential evaluations for international students and immigrants planning to study or work in the U.S. and Canada. To learn more go to




Contributors: Seine Yumnam, Shilpa Phairembam Weiss


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