A full-time Bachelor’s degree program in the USA is commonly a four-year program with a flexible model. Students study general subjects in the initial years (called freshman and sophomore years) to fully understand what subject areas interest them. A basis that they can opt for their major in third and fourth year, called junior and senior years.
Students can also study a two-year program that leads to an associate degree at community colleges. These are geared towards imparting vocational skills if students want they can transfer their credits to enrol in a full-time Bachelor’s degree program at a degree-awarding university/college.
Eligibility Criteria for UG Program in the USA:
UG aspirants may wonder what standardised admission tests or entrance exams do they have to take for studying in the USA? Primarily there are two entrance exams to qualify:
SAT is taken by aspiring high school students in their 12th Year to qualify for pursuing an undergraduate degree in the US.
Both TOEFL and IELTS, test English language skills in reading, listening, speaking and writing.
Apart from these two, a few universities may ask students to appear for ACT(American College Testing)
Know more about the Entry Requirements for USA Universities.
Intake & Application Deadlines
US universities have two intakes throughout the year- Fall, Spring. However, Fall is considered to be a major one there are a few colleges and universities for spring.
- Fall semester starts in September and ends in December
- Spring semester starts in January and ends in May
Most universities offer fall intake with a higher number of scholarships and financial aids aimed for this semester.
The deadlines for each intake are usually a few months before the start date hence, it is recommended to apply early. The ideal time to begin applications is 9-12 months prior to the intake. Universities generally take about 8-10 weeks to process the applications.
Know more about the Upcoming Intakes to Study in USA.
UG Course Duration in USA
An undergraduate student in the United States can study for two higher education degree:
Associate degree: An associate degree usually takes two years to complete which is normally offered at community colleges.
Bachelor’s degree: Bachelor’s degree usually takes four years to complete, is offered at degree-granting colleges, universities, or specialized institutes
Bachelor of Architecture Degree, Doctor of Medicine(MD), Doctor of Dental Surgery(DDS)
Juris Doctor(JD) may take four to six years to complete.
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The tuition fee will depend on whether one is enrolled in a public or a private institute. Private universities are more expensive than public ones.
The tuition fee for an undergraduate degree can range from $20,000 to $30,000 per year
Work while studying: After the first year in college students are eligible to work on campus for 20 hours a week. During breaks and vacations, there is no restriction on the work hours.
Important Documents required for application:
Apart from the entrance exam scores, some of the important documents required to be submitted are:
- Transcripts/Final Marks Sheets (Class 9, 10, 11 and 12)
- Official Test Score Reports
- Scanned Copy of Passport
- Financial Documents
- Letters of RecommendationsPortfolio for Fine Arts programs like Architecture, Dance and Music(If applicable)
517 colleges & universities require the use of the “Common App” which is the US application service for applying to undergrad programs in the US. Applicants submit a single application via Common App with a list of up to 20 universities, although universities might require additional supplemental documents along with the CommonApp.
In case you are applying via CommonApp, you need to submit a mandatory CommonApp essay in which you need to demonstrate your ability to write clearly and concisely on a selected topic. In addition to the CommonApp, most of the universities will ask for supplemental essays as well.
A student visa is applied in F1 visa issued for studying in the USA.
Why choose the USA for UG?
The US is the leading study abroad destination for STEM-related courses, let’s take a look at what makes it a preferred destination for international students:
According to the World University Rankings 2021 by Times Higher Education, seven US universities are in the top 10 list. Student satisfaction, quality and research focus are some of the reasons that help American universities rank higher. Universities provide students with the best of faculties, some of whom are distinguished personalities in their respective fields. For these reasons, a US degree is valued higher compared to a degree from any other country.
One of the factors that make the US education system top-notch is the flexibility it allows its students to structure programs according to their convenience. They also allow students to choose from an array of different subjects to pursue their major in. Students are allowed to find their strengths and passion during their initial study years, for them to appropriately decide their field of study later.
Most degree programs require a certain number of classes in a discipline but let students choose the rest of their schedule. For example, if two students are studying International Relations at the same university at the same time, one might decide to do a minor in Philosophy or Chemistry and the other might change her/his major to Anthropology after a year of study. A decentralized system of education allows each university to decide how they want to teach their students.
Better Course Design
The programs are designed to create a fine balance between the theoretical aspect and practical knowledge of a subject. Unlike India where theoretical knowledge is emphasised, courses abroad focus more on applied knowledge. The curriculum is designed to give students ample time to focus on research and assignments.
High Ranking Institutes and Wide Range of Courses
Most of the top-ranking institutes offering world-class UG degrees are in the USA. Universities in the US, especially in the field of medical, technology and engineering are renowned internationally and the degree offered by them are valued globally. They offer a far wider range of subjects to specialise and research.
Prepares for a Global Career
Studying in the US prepares students for an international career. College campuses in the US have a rich ethnic diversity. The multi-cultural environment helps students learn the value of diversity, racial, gender equality and acquire skills to foster cross-ethnic relationships. With technology advancing quicker than ever in a global economic set-up, irrespective of the field, a wide range of knowledge and agility is a skill sought after by employers everywhere.
Quick Facts to Know
Types of higher education institutions in the USA
Degree-awarding institutions can be universities, colleges or institutes. Universities generally offer a wider range of degree programs.
Ivy League Schools (Universities): The eight universities in this group focus on undergraduate education of liberal arts, and also have associated professional and graduate schools under them. Admission here is highly competitive. Yale University, Princeton University, Harvard University, Cornell University, Brown University, Columbia University, Pennsylvania and Dartmouth College are the universities in this group.
Small Liberal Arts Colleges: With stress on undergraduate courses, these colleges offer humanities, sciences, and social science courses. They have high admission standards. Swarthmore College, Manhattan College, Amherst College, etc., are some of the colleges under this category.
Technical Schools: These schools offer engineering, science, and research programs. Graduate-level students with a strong background in science and maths can attend these colleges. Some schools under this category are Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), California Polytechnic Institute, and Georgia Institute of Technology.
Community Colleges: These colleges offer higher education, granting certificates, diplomas, associate degrees, and lower-level tertiary education. De Anza College and Bellevue Community College, among others, fall under this category.
Common Application Mistakes
Limiting application to a few universities- Every study abroad student wants to study at top league universities like the –Ivy League. However, limiting one’s application to high-ranking universities alone may not be the wisest thing to do. Students should map their academic and professional achievements to universities and colleges that are right for them. Getting the right counseling before deciding on which universities/colleges to apply, helps save time and effort alongside increasing the probability of acceptance.
Little/Overload of information- Sharing too little or too much information can become a problem fora person applying to study abroad. Every institute has a list of documents and other materials required for the application process. Not sharing all the documents or sharing unwanted information voluntarily without being asked for it, may lead the admission officers to question your ability to understand and adhere, the given instructions. They may relate this inability to academic studies as well. Whereas, completing the application process as required in one go, leaves a good impression.
Not being authentic- Imitating others, or writing what one thinks an admission officer may want to read is a common mistake applicant make. The essay and other questions asked in the application are for the admission panel to know more about the applicants. Using big words and common responses will not make an application stand out, it will come across as inauthentic. One can take professional help to improvise and proof-read an application but the responses should be original.
Popular Fields of Study in UG Courses
Bachelor of Engineering offers specialisation in environmental engineering, bioengineering, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, petroleum engineering and more.
Bachelor of Architecture students study the principles of utility, durability, and aesthetics. It leads to careers such as architects, urban designers, landscape architects, or structural engineers.
Bachelor in Communication focuses on digital cinema & television, journalism, strategic communication, ethics and social responsibility in communication.
Bachelor of Science in Public Affairs offers specialisation in public administration. Public policy, political science, criminal justice, homeland security, public communications, health policy, emergency management.
Bachelor of Social Work curriculum includes studies in human behaviour and the lifespan, cultural diversity and justice, cultural diversity and justice, social work case management practice.
Bachelor of Fine Arts degree program is designed for students with a professional interest in art, and five areas of concentration are offered: ceramics, digital media, painting, photography, and sculpture.
Bachelor of Philosophy course includes logic, philosophy of mind, metaphysics, ethics, philosophy of science and political philosophy.
Bachelor of Science in Nursing focuses on Anatomy, Physiology, Microbiology, Psychology, Anthropology, Statistics, Nursing Assessment, Life Span, Nutrition and Diet.
Bachelor of Design with specialization in Products (industrial design), Communications (graphic design), and Environments (both physical and digital).
Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing focuses on fundamentals of marketing including consumer behaviour, applied strategy, integrated communications, research, and policies.
Top Institutes for UG in USA
According to the 2021 Times Higher Education World University Rankings following are the top universities in the USA for Undergraduate Degree programs:
California Institute of Technology
California Institute of Technology has six academic divisions with a strong emphasis on science and technology teaching and research. It has a high research output and alongside many high-quality facilities, both on campus and globally. This includes the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Caltech Seismological Laboratory, and the International Observatory Network.
Stanford University is one of the largest campuses in the United States with 18 interdisciplinary research institutes such as School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences; Graduate School of Education; School of Engineering; School of Humanities and Sciences; Law School; and School of Medicine.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology is currently organised into five different schools: Architecture and Planning, Engineering, Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, Management and Science. Scientific discoveries and technological advances accredited to MIT include the first chemical synthesis of penicillin, the development of radar, the discovery of quarks, and the invention of magnetic core memory, which enabled the development of digital computers.
Princeton University is also one of the world’s foremost research universities with connections to more than 40 Nobel laureates, 17 winners of the National Medal of Science and five recipients of the National Humanities Medal.
Harvard University situated in Cambridge, Massachusetts the campus has 12 degree-granting schools in addition to the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The private Ivy League institution has an impressive alumniof 45 Nobel laureates, over 30 heads of state and 48 Pulitzer Prize winners.
Yale University is a private Ivy League research university. It is made up of 14 schools, and students follow a liberal arts curriculum, covering Humanities and Arts, Sciences and Social Sciences before choosing a departmental major. Students also receive instruction in writing skills, quantitative reasoning and foreign languages.
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is an urban research university with an interdisciplinary core curriculum and programs focused on developing critical, analytical, and writing skills in students. Faculty, researchers, and alumni have earned 90 Nobel Prizes and 50 MacArthur “genius grants” along with numerous other national medals and fellowships.
Average Median Salaries for UG Graduates
Designation: Physician Assistant: $97,000
Designation: Registered Nurses – $70,000
Designation Research Scientist – $67000
Designation: Software Engineer – $81000
Designation: Public Affairs Officer – $65000
Designation: Business Analyst, IT – $55000
Designation: Design Architect – $60000
Designation: Marketing Manager – $64000
Top Industries to Choose
- Life Sciences
- Home healthcare services
- Educational services
- Financial and Banking services
- Consumer products and services
- Mining/Oil and Gas
- Leisure and Hospitality
Post Study Stay Back Options
F1-visa will allow students to stay for 60 days after a degree in the USA, students have to apply for one of the following visas:
Optional Practical Training (OPT)STEM course/ Management courses
- H-1B visa
Optional Practical Training (OPT) refers to temporary employment for students relating to their field of study. Eligible students can receive up to 12 months – 24 of OPT employment.
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) students get an opportunity to apply for a 24-month extension on their post-completion OPT, provided they have been granted the initial 12-month post-completion OPT and are in the valid period of OPT.
Post-completion OPT: Students can apply for this option after completing their studies. Those who are authorized for post-completion OPT can work either part-time or full time. OPT allows students to stay and work in the United States for 12 months.
The H-1B visa is an employment-based, non-immigrant visa for temporary workers. An F-1 student visa can be transferred to an H-1B visa if one’s US employer is willing to sponsor. With an H-1B visa, one can live and work for up to 6 years in the US.
Know more about the Student Visa Assistance for USA.