We present you the definitive guide to University Selection for MS in US. One of the most difficult and important parts of the whole process of applying to American universities is deciding which ones to apply to. And considering the large number of good universities and the wide variety of courses available, selecting the right universities is a difficult exercise. So, here are a few pointers to help you on your way.
You need to begin with a clear statement of what you wish to study and what your career goals are. Another approach is to first define your future career goals and then think about what academic degrees you would need to achieve your career goals. These should guide your choice of institutions. A list of institutions that meet your broad criteria could be prepared by:
- a search of university websites, which is the most authentic and current source of information about universities and colleges in the US – what they courses they offer and what research they carry out etc.
- consulting seniors already in US universities
- consulting those of your teachers who are well-informed about current developments and courses
- looking up sources such as Petersons.com.
Popular discussion forums and other web resources can be unreliable since the details reported are often based on personal opinions of students which are unverifiable.
Once you have a list of 25-30 accredited institutions that offer your field of study and the specializations that you are interested in, you will need to compare the objective data for these institutions (see bulleted list below). Do not rely solely on rankings or ratings of institutions; there is more to choosing the right department than choosing the most well-known or elite university.
For any particular discipline there will be about 10 to 15 schools that have excellent reputations. Keep in mind that a department’s reputation relies heavily on the reputation of its faculty and the research projects they are doing. Sometimes it is more important to study under a particular person than it is to study at a university with a prestigious name. Also remember that assistantships and fellowships are often based on the right “match” between student and faculty research interests. An in-depth advance study of these aspects can help you find the schools whose departments and faculty meet your academic and professional goals, and it may enhance your chances for obtaining financial assistance.
Make a comparison chart listing the universities which you had selected with respect to:
- core courses and electives offered
- research projects and facilities
- size of the department (intake of students and number of faculty)
- cost of tuition, fees, books, etc.
- availability of financial assistance
- location, housing options, campus setting, climate, and cost of living
- course and thesis requirements
- length of time required to complete the degree
- admission requirements, including required test scores and undergraduate grade point average
Narrow your choice of universities to those that:
- meet your personal and professional needs
- you can afford to attend and
- you are qualified for admission.
Develop a final short list of eight to ten universities to which you plan to apply. Once your final list of universities is decided, you are ready to start the application process.
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