Destination US: English proficiency tests play crucial role

Prior to completing the application, students should review the form to understand the types of sections/questions and any special information required

Last week we talked about the eligibility criteria for applications to master’s programmes in the United States as part of “Step 3: Complete your Application” of the EducationUSA 5 Steps to U.S. Study.

So far, we learned about the eligibility criteria and the application package components for master’s programme applications. Generally, the master’s degree application at US institutions includes an online application along with fee, scores of standardised test(s) and English proficiency exam, bachelor’s degree transcripts, personal statement, two-three reference letters, resume/C.V., and financial documents.

Students should start planning their application process 1-2 years in advance of their programme start date, considering that they must gather multiple application components. Planning and taking standardised English proficiency tests is a crucial part of this process, especially given that not all these tests are offered throughout the year and each test round has limited availability. In the current scenario, many testing agencies are offering home-based administration of standardised tests. Student should look up this information before registering for the relevant tests.

The online application form is the first piece of the master’s programme application to US institutions. Almost all US higher education institutions require students to complete this application form that, in general, requests details about a student’s personal information, academic history, work experience and/or research background, test scores, contact information of referees, resume/C.V., and personal statement.

For their shortlisted institutions, students may access the application form through the university website. It is very important for students to research what application form should be completed for the programme of study to which they are applying. Some programmes have specialised application forms and instructions. In addition, students should take care while filling the form for international graduate applicants. The graduate school website and webpage of the department of the US institution to which the student is applying are the right places to look for information about the appropriate form to be completed for the master’s degree application. Prior to completing the application, students should review the form to understand the types of sections/questions and any special information required.

Students also pay an application fee that needs to be submitted at the time of the online application submission. The application fee for each institution varies and students should look up this information before making the payment. It is important that students take note of the fee for international graduate applicants.

As we discussed in one of the recent columns, the application deadlines for master’s programs vary by university. Students should understand these application deadlines based on whether they are meeting the priority or regular application deadline.

– Monika Setia (Regional Officer and EducationUSA Adviser at the United States-India Educational Foundation based at the U.S. Consulate General Hyderabad)


Q. I am currently in the United States, about to finish my programme of study. How many days can I stay in the country after completing my programme?

Ans. Foreign students in the United States with F1 visas must depart the United States within 60 days after the programme end date listed on Form I-20, including any authorised practical training. Foreign students may request an extension through the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website (see the USCIS webpage ). Students who are authorised Optional Practical Training (OPT) must have a Form I-20 endorsed for OPT and apply to USCIS for an Employment Authorisation Document (EAD). You may also be able to request a change in your non-immigrant status to another category if your plans change while in the United States (for example, you receive an offer of employment). Visit the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website to learn more. Failure to depart the United States on time may result in you being ineligible for US visas in the future. Please refer to the website below for additional information on US student visas:

Q. I am currently doing my BA in Mass Communication. I want to pursue my further degree from the United States. What are my options of study?

Ans. Higher educational institutions in the United States offer multiple degree options in the fields of journalism and communication at the graduate level (master’s/Ph.D.). Students intending to pursue a graduate-level program in these fields may earn an MA (master of arts), MS (master of science), or PhD (doctoral degree) degree. They may choose either one of the two fields (journalism or communication) for their programme or pursue their degree with a combination of the two fields.

Students with an interest in pursuing a research career may opt for a Ph.D. programme. The exact titles of the degrees and offerings of specialisations do vary by institution and academic programme. Students may choose among various concentrations – public relations, editing, publishing, communications, technology in journalism and communication, etc.

For further information and to narrow your search of institutions/programmes, please visit:

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