5 Steps to Graduate Studies in the U.S.

More than 1,700 universities and other institutions offer graduate degree programs in the United States.  Below is information that can help you find the right program for you and give information on admissions procedures and guidelines.

After you define your priorities and identify the factors most important to you, you should use other resources to narrow down your choices. There are several ways you can do this:

  • Visit an EducationUSA advising center
  • Refer to college and university websites
  • Use search engines
  • Attend education fairs

Almost every college and university in the United States has a website with detailed information about degree programs, application procedures, academic departments, on-campus facilities, and other topics. Often, you can also find a copy of the course catalog online.

Many independent websites also allow you to search for institutions by your subject of interest, geographic preference, or by other criteria that you specify. Students should review each website to ensure that the search engine includes all accredited U.S. higher education institutions.  Here are two for starters:

As part of the application process, most graduate programs require one or more standardized test scores. In the United States, universities or schools establish their own admission requirements, including which third-party standardized tests they accept.

Take these exams a year to 18 months before the date you plan to study in the United States since you may want to take them more then once to improve your scores. There are many websites, books, and tutors available for test preparation.

English Language Ability Tests

Being able to communicate in English is a basic requirement for successful graduate study in the United States. If English is not your native language, U.S. colleges and universities will ask you to take an English language proficiency test.

The most common tests of English language ability are the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), and the Pearson Test of English (PTE).

Admissions Tests

Testing requirements vary among graduate programs, so be sure to confirm requirements with institutions. Some of the specialized graduate-level examinations:

GRE: a standardized test of verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing that measures readiness for graduate-level study.

GMAT: a standardized test for MBA applicants that measures basic verbal, mathematical, and analytical writing skills that have been developed over time through education and work.

MCAT: a standardized, multiple-choice examination that assesses problem solving, critical thinking, writing skills, and knowledge of science concepts and principles prerequisite to the study of medicine.

LSAT: a standardized test that measures acquired reading and verbal reasoning skills that law schools use as one assessment factor for admission.

DAT: a multiple-choice test to measure general academic ability, comprehension of scientific information, and perceptual ability, used for admission to Dental schools.