The United States is presently the world’s topmost destination for postgraduate studies and both domestic and international students seek out funding for their master’s studies in various subjects. Being home to the world’s largest and rather complex master’s studies, the universities in the US are divided into state-run (or public) and private institutions. These institutions provide a wide range of courses and specialisations, with several scholarships and bursaries to help students.
While the fees in public universities are lesser than private universities, the annual fee depends on the status of residency of the candidates and whether the program is academic or professional in nature. A professional master’s degree or an MBA program is likely to cost much more, as they are awarded by well-funded and renowned institutes. Typically, public universities charge in between $20,000 and $35,000 per annum, for their master’s program, and the amount varies as per the course. Because the course fee depends on the student’s in-state residency, students from the same state as the college get a small cess in case of public universities.
Many universities offer need-based or merit-based scholarships to students to help them out. While need-based scholarships are often provided to students from a difficult financial background, merit-based scholarships are given to students who score well in the entrance tests. Scholarships typically help students cover the tuition fees of the university, although some universities might also provide regular stipends or grants to cover students’ accommodation charges as well. In the case of merit-based scholarships in certain colleges, students are also required to score above a certain GPA to keep getting that scholarship.
Assistantships are provided to students in the form of a stipend/waiver in exchange for their services to the university. Such services may be in the form of teaching students, assistance in labs/workshops along with the faculty or providing demonstrations to undergraduates. Assistantships are primarily offered to research students, but could also be offered to other master’s students in the US universities.
There are several additional costs that students have to bear, even during the application process itself. They include the application fees for different universities, tests fees, and visa fees. The application fee is a small administration charge which is around $50-$100 for each university that you apply to. There are also several tests that students must appear in (such as GMAT, GRE, SAT) to get selected in the universities. These tests cost around $200-$300 and these test scores typically can be used to apply to multiple universities for up to five years. Additionally, the visa-registration fees would cost around $200, along with the visa application fees and issuance fees (applicable to some countries).
There are many financial institutions today to provide loans to students for masters. Since the US is the premier destination for studying abroad, getting loans from banks are quite easy. As per the payment structure of a university, a bank can provide the tuition fee per session or provide you the entire loan amount upfront. However, you have to declare this beforehand and get permission from the university before the session starts.
Many students also work part-time during their masters to reduce their debt-load. International students in the US who have an F1 visa can opt for 20 hours of paid work (in the campus) for the first year of their course. After a year, you have to take permission to work off-campus from the US Citizenship and Immigration service.
By Joydeep Das, Senior Editor