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Postgraduate Degree: Pursuing MS in the US

Imagine this: a bustling campus, brimming with students from around the globe, engaged in groundbreaking research, and sharing their unique perspectives. Now picture yourself being a part of this diverse student community learning the latest and the greatest skills from one of the best professors in the world and contributing to the ever-growing field of technology. Yes, it’s possible! 

The US offers an educational landscape that is both vibrant, avant garde, and transformative.

When it comes to pursuing a Master’s degree, the United States has long been a magnet for Indian students seeking academic excellence and diverse opportunities. Let’s explore the reasons why pursuing a Master of Science (MS) from the US can be a life-changing and enriching experience.

1. The primary advantage of studying for an MS degree in the US is the vast range of specializations available. It’s like stepping into a treasure trove of knowledge, with options spanning from traditional fields like Engineering, Business, and Science to emerging disciplines such as Data Science, Renewable Energy, and Artificial Intelligence. With a staggering 781 specializations to choose from, you can tailor your studies to match your passions and carve a niche for yourself in your chosen field.

2. The US education system emphasizes experiential learning, allowing students to go beyond textbooks and immerse themselves in hands-on experiences. Imagine being a part of a team developing cutting-edge technology or working on a real-world project that has the potential to revolutionize an industry. MS programs in the US provide ample opportunities for internships and projects that bridge the gap between theory and practice, equipping you with the skills and insights needed to thrive in your future career.

3. Several US universities, especially the established ones, are powerhouses of knowledge and research. As per the THE (Times Higher Education) rankings, a staggering 27 US institutions are ranked in the top 100 for education excellence. These universities have earned their reputation through decades of groundbreaking research, fostering an environment that nurtures innovation and intellectual growth. 

For example: The Internet was invented at UCLA and Stanford; GPS technology was developed in collaboration with MIT; Columbia University contributed to the invention of LASER; UC Berkeley played a pivotal role in the discovery of the revolutionary gene editing technique CRISPR-Cas9.

4. From the Ivy League to state-of-the-art public institutions, you’ll have the chance to learn from eminent faculty who are leaders in their respective fields. This access to world-class resources and mentors is unparalleled, offering an immersive educational experience that can shape the trajectory of your professional journey. So, whether you aspire to be an engineer driving advancements in sustainable technologies or a business leader spearheading innovation, pursuing an MS degree in the US opens doors to endless possibilities. 

A Master of Science (MS) degree in the US is predominantly focused on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) programs, attracting a significant number of international students. When considering an MS in the US, it’s no surprise that popular choices among students include a diverse range of disciplines such as Engineering, Computer Science, Data Science, Information Technology, Pharmacy, Life Sciences, and Biotechnology to name a few. These fields offer abundant opportunities for growth and specialization, paving the way for exciting careers in top-notch industries and path-breaking research.

Top US Universities for pursuing MS

Some of the best universities in the US for pursuing a Master’s degree are:

California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Stanford University, Yale University, Cornell University, Columbia University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of Chicago, University of California, Berkeley, Harvard University, Princeton University, Georgia Institute of Technology, and University of Pennsylvania. This is not an exhaustive list and there are several other prestigious universities where students can pursue their MS with confidence.

Application Timeline

The MS application process typically begins when the student has entered the final year of their bachelor’s degree or, in the case of a working professional, one year before the commencement of the MS degree program. 

Please refer to the diagram below to understand the MS application timeline.

Admission Requirements 

To pursue an MS degree in the US, there are several key prerequisites you must meet:

  1. Completion of a bachelor’s degree in the relevant field, typically spanning 3 to 4 years, with a commendable average GPA of 3.5 or equivalent (on a scale of 4.0), ranging from 75% to 80% and above.
  2. Demonstration of English-language proficiency by providing test scores such as IELTS.
  3. Attainment of a competitive GRE score, typically 290 or higher (out of 340), showcasing your aptitude in areas such as analytical writing, verbal reasoning, and quantitative reasoning.
  4. Submission of a well-crafted Statement of Purpose (SOP), outlining your motivations, academic background, career aspirations, and how the specific MS program aligns with your goals.
  5. Provision of two to three letters of recommendation from professors or professionals who can vouch for your academic capabilities and potential for success in graduate studies.

In addition to these primary requirements, there are certain aspects that can strengthen your application:

  1. Engagement in research or internships that highlight your practical experience and ability to apply theoretical knowledge in real-world settings.
  2. Publication of any research papers or articles, demonstrating your intellectual curiosity, analytical skills, and contribution to your field of interest.
  3. Documentation of participation in social or leadership activities, illustrating your commitment to community engagement, teamwork, and personal development.

By fulfilling these requirements and showcasing these additional facets, you can strengthen your application and increase your chances of securing admission to a top-notch MS program in the US.

Cost of Studying in the US

Understanding the costs associated with both tuition fees and living expenses is crucial for planning your finances and ensuring a smooth academic journey in the US.

When it comes to the cost of pursuing an MS degree in the US, it’s important to consider a few factors. Tuition fees are determined based on the credit hours of the courses and the type of university, whether public or private. It’s worth noting that the minimum credit hours for an MS program typically amount to 30 credit hours spanning over 1.5 to 2 years. On average, the cost of an MS degree in the US falls within the range of $30,000 to $60,000. However, these figures may vary depending on the institution and the specialization opted for.

In addition to tuition fees, the cost of living in the US also plays a significant role. Expenses such as accommodation (on-campus and off-campus), food and groceries, transportation, and healthcare contribute to the overall cost of living. It’s important to note that the cost of living can vary depending on the city and region. 

Students must plan ahead and take advantage of opportunities like scholarships, teaching assistantships, research assistantships, and student loans in order to support their postgraduate studies. Normally, scholarships and assistantships cover tuition fees whereas on-campus jobs and summer internships are adequate to cover living expenses.

Future Prospects for MS Graduates

MS graduates in the US can expect a promising career future with a high demand for their specialized skills. 

  • Industries such as technology, engineering, healthcare, finance, data science, and research actively seek professionals with advanced degrees. 
  • The job market is constantly evolving, creating opportunities in emerging fields like artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, renewable energy, and biotechnology. 
  • Graduates who have engaged in research during their studies are well-positioned for roles in research and development, while others can pursue leadership and managerial positions. 

Post Work Study Visa

After completing your MS program, you may be eligible for different types of work visas in the US, such as the H-1B visa, which is commonly used by employers to hire foreign professionals in specialized occupations. The H-1B visa allows you to work in the US for three years with the possibility of extension of up to six years.

Additionally, there is an option to work on a student visa, known as Optional Practical Training (OPT). OPT allows you to work in the US for a certain period after completing your degree. Typically, you can engage in OPT for up to 12 months after completing your program, and for STEM graduates, there is an extension option of an additional 24 months, making it a total of 36 months of work authorization.

During the OPT period, you can gain valuable work experience and potentially secure an employer willing to sponsor your work visa for long-term employment. 

It’s essential to stay updated on the latest immigration policies and consult with your university’s international student services for accurate and detailed information tailored to your circumstances.


Studying in the United States offers a life-changing educational journey, global exposure, access to advanced resources, and promising career prospects. If you aspire to achieve this “American Dream”, it is crucial to start planning early, dedicate time to prepare for standardized tests, collect LORs, and write SOP during your final year, work out your finances, and submit your applications in a timely manner.

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