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Why go to university in the USA

With so many study abroad destinations available, why should you go to university in North America?
By choosing a US education, you join more than 800,000 international students who benefit from studying at some of the world's best universities each year. It will be the most exciting journey of your life.

A prestigious education

The United States has the finest university education systems in the world. America is the top choice of study abroad destination for international students.


  • 15 universities in the USA in the world's top 20 universities
  • 84 US universities in the top 200 universities worldwide
  • 131 North American universities in the best 400 universities in the world

North American universities are recognized and respected globally for their excellence, diversity, flexibility, range of opportunities, modern facilities, resources to enhance the learning experience, and top quality teachers.

Position yourself for success

International students with degrees from US universities are highly sought-after by employers. Approximately 70% of influential and lucrative positions in government, non-profit agencies, and private enterprise worldwide are held by people with American graduate degrees. More than 50% of undergraduates from American universities immediately pursue postgraduate education, while 98% of the remainder secure positions in their chosen careers within six months of graduation.
A degree from a university in North America will give you the qualifications you need to be internationally successful after graduation.

Why go to university in the USA

Programs to fit your needs

North America offers the most diverse and exciting range of higher education options anywhere in the world. With such a wide selection of learning opportunities, there is truly something for everyone, no matter what your ability or ambitions.

A broad education to prepare you for the future

Earning a degree from a US university gives you the broad academic experience necessary to compete in the global economy. Studying in America means you have choices in the degree courses you study. When you begin university, you will study a variety of subjects, including literature, philosophy, history, mathematics, and science. Only later in your program will you specialize in one subject, called a major, and take more focused classes.

Flexibility

In America, it is very common to change university after two years of study, and most compatible institutions will accept credits from other universities. You are not required to complete all four years of study in the same institution in order to gain your degree there. This flexibility gives you the opportunity to improve your grades as you study, and transfer your credits to a higher ranked institution.

The North American Higher Education System

The North American university system is known for its flexibility and offers a wide variety of paths to the degree and career that you seek. We give you comprehensive end-to-end support through the complex admission process at US universities. Contact our expert advisors to start your university journey.

The academic year

In the USA, the academic year generally lasts nine months, and the majority of universities use a 'semester' system which divides the year into two equal periods. See a typical US academic calendar below

  • Dates
  • 15-16 weeks (late August - December)
  • 2-3 weeks (mid December - January)
  • 15-16 weeks (January - early May)
  • 10-12 weeks (May - July)
  • Session
  • Fall semester
  • Winter break
  • Spring semester
  • Summer session
  • Academics
  • 4-6 courses , 15-16 credit hours
  • University is closed
  • 4-6 courses , 15-16 credit hours
  • ESL preparation or work experience options

There are two intakes a year for the majority of degree programs at university in America. You can usually start a degree at the start of the Fall semester (late August) or at the start of the Spring semester (January).

Credit

During each semester, you will take a variety of courses, each of which is awarded a number of 'credits.' A credit is a unit of study. Most courses carry 3 credits, although varying amount of credit can be awarded for lectures, independent project work, laboratory time and internships. Universities usually expect students to complete:

  • 120-130 credit hours for an undergraduate degree
  • 30-64 credit hours for a Master's degree

As an international student in the USA, you are required to maintain a full course load of at least 12 credits per semester in order to maintain your visa status.

Length of a degree program

At universities in the USA the duration of your program is determined by the time you take to earn enough credits to complete your degree. Most undergraduate programs are designed so you can earn enough credits to graduate with a bachelor's degree in 4 academic years of full-time study. Graduate programs are generally structured to allow you to earn a master's degree in 2 academic years of full-time university study.
If you need to improve your English for degree study, you will take an ESL program, Foundation program or Pre-Master's program before moving into full-time degree study. This may take between 1 and 4 semesters

Assessment and grading

At US universities, your academic performance will be continually assessed by your teachers. They will use a variety of methods including essays, written assignments, presentations, laboratory or studio work, class attendance and class participation. You will also normally take examinations at the end of each semester. At the end of each semester, your teachers will assign a letter grade for each course that you have taken. Typically, letter grades are assigned as follows:

  • A = excellent, the highest grade
  • B = above average
  • C = average
  • D = the minimum passing grade
  • F = fail

Academic good standing and progression

At North American universities a grade point average, or GPA, is calculated for each student, based on the following scale:

  • A = 4.00
  • B = 3.00
  • C = 2.00
  • D = 1.00
  • F = 0.00 (Fail)

At most US universities, you must maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 to be considered in academic good standing and continue to the next year of your degree program. A cumulative grade point average is the GPA for all courses taken throughout the degree program.

North American GPA equivalents in other countries

How does the academic grading system in your country compare to GPA scores in the USA ?

  • Country
  • Bangladesh
  • China
  • France
  • Georgia
  • Ghana
  • Hong Kong
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Japan
  • Jordan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Korea
  • Macau
  • Mexico
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Qatar
  • Russia
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Spain
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • UAE
  • Ukraine
  • Venezuela
  • Vietnam
  • GPA 2.0
  • 46%
  • 70%
  • 10
  • 3
  • 3/C
  • 50%
  • 46%
  • 6
  • 12
  • 3
  • 50%
  • 3
  • 2.0 - 70%
  • 60%
  • 6.0 - 60%
  • 7
  • 46%
  • 3
  • 3
  • 3 - 70%
  • 5
  • 60%
  • 2
  • 5
  • 70%
  • 3
  • 10
  • 5
  • GPA 2.5
  • 55%
  • 75%
  • 11
  • 3 - 4
  • 2/B
  • 57%
  • 55%
  • 6
  • 13
  • 3 - 4
  • 60%
  • 3 - 4
  • 2.5 - 75%
  • 65%
  • 7.0 - 70%
  • 6
  • 55%
  • 3 -4
  • 3 -4
  • 3 - 75%
  • 5.5
  • 65%
  • 2.5
  • 6
  • 75%
  • 3 -4
  • 11
  • 5.5
  • GPA 2.75
  • 60%
  • 78%
  • 11.6
  • 3 - 4
  • 2/B
  • 60%
  • 60%
  • 7
  • 13.8
  • 3 - 4
  • 66%
  • 3 - 4
  • 2.5 - 78%
  • 68%
  • 7.3 - 76%
  • 4
  • 60%
  • 3 -4
  • 3 -4
  • 3 - 78%
  • 6
  • 68%
  • 2.8
  • 7
  • 78%
  • 3 -4
  • 13
  • 6
  • GPA 3.0
  • 65%
  • 80%
  • 12
  • 4
  • 2/B+
  • 65%
  • 65%
  • 8
  • 14
  • 4
  • 70%
  • 4
  • 3.0 - 80%
  • 70%
  • 8.0 - 80%
  • 3
  • 65%
  • 4
  • 4
  • 4 - 80%
  • 7
  • 70%
  • 3
  • 8
  • 80%
  • 4
  • 14
  • 7

University teaching and learning styles

You may find that the style of teaching and learning in the US is different from that in your home country. Class lectures are an important part of learning at North American universities, but you can also expect a high level of responsibility for your own studies. You will often be expected to read, and sometimes write about, the subjects that are covered in class.
In American universities, teachers and students sometimes enjoy a much more informal relationship than in other countries. Some teachers prefer to be called 'Professor' or 'Doctor,' while others will not mind being called by their first names. Many teachers will meet with students outside of class time to discuss projects or review topics covered in class.
In some countries, it is not acceptable for students to express their opinions to their teachers. In North America, where the learning process stresses analysis and critical thinking, the exchange of ideas is encouraged. You may find that students often respectfully challenge teachers in class, and teachers view such challenges as signs of students' intellectual prowess.

Frequently asked questions about studying in USA

  • Am I eligible to apply for a place at a North American university ?

    To qualify for an undergraduate degree program, you must have a Diploma or acceptable certification of graduation from a High School or Secondary School in your home country. To qualify for (post) graduate study you must have successfully completed the international equivalent of a US bachelor's degree, or join a qualifying pre-master's program in North America.

    All students must prove that they have spoken and written English sufficient for university study, by submitting a TOEFL or IELTS score, or successfully completing a university-based ESL or pathway program. See below for more details of English language requirements.

    There are additional eligibility requirements for undergraduate and postgraduate studies.

  • What grades will I need for Universities in the USA ?

    You will need the equivalent of a minimum GPA of 2.5 in your previous studies to qualify for an undergraduate degree or master's degree at the US universities. Some universities and programs require up to 3.0 GPA.

  • What is GPA?

    GPA means Grade Point Average and it is used in the American education system to indicate the level of a students' academic success. An average score is calculated for each student on a scale of 0-4, with O being a fail and 4 being the maximum academic achievement. World Education Services (WES) offers a free grade conversion guide for more than 120 countries, so you can compare your grades to an American university's GPA requirements.

  • Do I need to take a SAT or ACT exam ?

    International students whose first language is not English are not required to take the ACT (American College Testing) or SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) exam - the standardized testing for US college applicants. If you are an international student from a country whose education system is in English, you may be required to take ACT or SAT for entry to some universities. We will advise you during the application process if this is the case .

  • Do I need to take GMAT or GRE graduate admissions tests ?

    Maybe. Some of the universities we work with require graduate applicants to take the GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test) for business Master's programs, or the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) for other Master's programs.

  • How do I get an evaluation or translation of my academic records?

    You will need to provide an official copy of your academic transcripts, translated into English, with your application. Additionally, some universities will require that you provide a professional evaluation of your academic credentials. World Education Service will review your transcripts and prepare a transcript evaluation report for a fee (starting from $100).

  • What level of English do I require to study at an American university?

    The requirements vary at each University.

    • For direct entry to undergraduate programs, you need a TOEFL iBT score between 68 and 71

    • For direct entry to graduate programs, you need a TOEFL iBT score between 79 and 88

    • For conditional admission through a university-based ESL program, you usually do not need an official TOEFL or IELTS score, but you'll need a minimum equivalent English level between TOEFL iBT 32 and 52.

  • How much does it cost to go to university in North America?

    In 2012, at the US universities, undergraduate degree tuition costs between $16,000 and $30,046 per academic year, and master's degree tuition between $27,540 and $82,246 for the entire program. You will need extra funds for accommodation, meals and other living expenses. Tuition fees are likely to rise each intake.

  • Can I split the cost of my tuition into more than one payment?

    Yes. Both undergraduate and graduate students can choose to pay by semester, to spread the cost of tuition over a longer period, or for the full year in advance.

  • Which universities have lower prices?

    The price of a North American education varies according to particular university you study at. Public universities generally charge lower fees than private universities.

  • When are the fees payable?

    Once you accept an offer of a place, the School require a deposit (usually $500) in order to release your immigration documents. The remaining fees are due: 1 July for the Fall semester, 1 November for the Spring semester, and 1 April for the summer semester. Delayed payments incur a $500 late fee.

  • How can fees be paid?

    Universities accept payment by Visa, Mastercard, or American Express credit cards, by check or bank draft drawn in US dollars, or by bank transfer

  • What is the cost of living in North America?

    The cost of living varies widely throughout the United States. Read our guidance about cost of living and additional expenses, below,

The cost of accommodation, meals and insurance are given on our price list for international students. However, you should consider the additional costs of study in America. When you apply for a visa you need to provide evidence of your parents' or sponsors' financial ability to cover both tuition and living expenses throughout your time at university.

What the fee doesn't include

Items not included in the Universities in the USA pricelist are:

  • Airfare to and from the United States
  • Personal expenses (e.g. entertainment, laundry, clothing, cell phone)
  • University textbooks and supplies
  • Vacation travel
  • Meal and housing expenses when the University is officially closed*

For students who are conditionally accepted onto a university ESL program, the fee does not include regular ESL classes if your English level when tested on arrival is inadequate for the campus-based program.

* University closing is usually limited to the Thanksgiving holiday in late November, the Christmas holiday (about four weeks in December/January) and Spring vacation (approximately 10 days in March or April).

Other expenses

The cost of living varies greatly depending on where you are in North America. It is generally more expensive to live in large cities, sometime significantly so (e.g. New York City, Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles).

Some Universities estimate the cost of typical additional expenses per academic year. These prices are intended to give you an idea of the average costs that undergraduate students experience, and will vary by student depending on lifestyle:

  • Expense
  • books and supplies
  • Transportation
  • Personal expenses
  • Lowest cost
  • $876
  • $495
  • $1,170
  • Highest cost
  • $1,200
  • $1,942
  • $1,854
  • Average cost across universities
  • $1,092
  • $1,086
  • $1,453

You will be required to present financial documentation to the US Consular Office in your country in order to obtain your student visa. You need to show that whoever is responsible for your fees has the financial ability to cover all your expenses :

  • For undergraduate students, if your parent/guardian or a sponsor is paying your fees, you must have proof of funds to cover your first year of tuition/accommodation fees and other living expenses (see above for example amounts). If you are paying for your own fees, you must show funds to cover four years.
  • For graduate students, you need to show funds to cover the tuition fee of your program and usually another $10,000 for living expenses.


  • What kind of visa do I need?

    For the USA you will need an F1 Visa, which is for full-time students enrolled in an academic or language program.

  • What is the I-20 form?

    The I-20 form allows you to apply for a student visa at the American consulate or embassy in your country. Following university acceptance, a deposit will be required to release the I-20 immigration document. This deposit is refundable in the event of a visa denial.

  • How long will my visa be valid?

    When you enter the United States on a student visa, you will usually be admitted for the duration of your student status. That means you may stay as long as you maintain full-time student status, even if the F-1 visa in your passport expires while you are in America. However, if you depart the USA with an expired visa, you will need to obtain a new one, applying at an Embassy abroad, before being able to return to America and resume your studies.

    When you complete the course of studies shown on your I-20, and any authorized practical training, you are allowed an additional 60 days in the USA, to prepare for departure from the country, or to transfer to another university.

  • When will I receive the documentation required for my visa application?

    If your application is successful, the Registrar or Dean will offer you a place at the University. To accept your place, you must send us a deposit (usually $500). Once we have received your deposit payment we will send you by mail the official I-20 document along with the acceptance letter from the university, and other pre-arrival documentations. You will need to submit this with your visa application.

  • When should I arrive at university?

    You should aim to arrive at the university in time to be ready to start the international orientation program at your selected institution. The orientation program will usually take place a few days before classes start.

  • What documents should I bring to the airport when traveling to America?

    Remember to bring your University acceptance letter, I-20 and F-1 visa along with you on the plane. You may be asked by an immigration officer why you are in the US, please be clear that you understand where you are going and what you intend to study.

  • Can I work while I am a student in the US?

    Yes. The US government allows students on an F-1 visa to work on-campus up to 20 hours a week during the university semester. You can work on-campus 40 hours a week during breaks and the summer vacation. You must apply for US Immigration Department permission before you can work off campus, and again only up to 20 hours per week. There are three types of off-campus work authorizations for full-time students:

    1. Unexpected, extreme financial hardship

    You must have been studying on an F-1 visa for at least one year to be eligible. You must prove you have less money than expected (e.g because of large currency devaluations or loss of your parent's job).

    2. Curricular practical training

    If your academic department grants credit for internships, you may be allowed to complete an off-campus internship. Contact your academic advisor for help applying

    3. Internship with an international organization

    You must be a full-time student while you do your internship. You may work full-time or part-time for one year. You will need a written offer from an international organization.

    Working without following the regulatory guidelines is a serious status violation. Students terminated for unauthorized employment are not eligible for reinstatement and must leave the United States immediately.

  • Do you offer job placements?

    No. International students with an F1 student visa are expected to return to their countries once they have finished their education in the United States. However, you can extend your stay with paid work experience through an Optional Practical Training (OPT) placement in the US. OPT is a temporary employment authorization that gives F1 students an opportunity to use valuable skills gained during their degree studies in a practical work setting. Currently there are more than 70,000 international students taking advantage of this scheme, and getting a head start in the job market.

  • What type of degree should I have for Optional Practical Training?

    OPT is available to students with both Bachelor's and Master's level degrees.

  • How long can I work on an OPT placement?

    The standard period allowed is 12 months. However, students studying science, technology, engineering or mathematics can extend their program for an additional 17 months making a total of 29 months but strict conditions apply.

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