Application Requirements for US Master’s Programs
Now that you’ve decided to apply to MS programs in the US, it is important to be mindful about and very organized with filling the application requirements, for they will seal your fate.
Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
Although the GRE isn’t mandatory for all master’s applications, it is a requirement for most top universities in the US, and it tends to work as a “negative filter” for rejecting poor candidates – which is to say, it is very important! Although a good score on the GRE won’t be enough to get you into a program, it will help a lot, especially given that you are an international student and that the admissions committee might be unfamiliar with your university’s grading system. Moreover, in such a scenario, a good GRE score can even make up for any poor performance on undergraduate transcripts.
While admissions committee may be more forgiving with the verbal section of the GRE, especially for international students, most STEM related MS programs expect a score of at least 750/800 or above on the quantitative section.
So, prepare extensively for the GRE. There are lots of resources online, as well as preparation centers in most places, if required. And most importantly, make sure to allow for enough time to prepare well and take the GRE multiple times if need be – it’s better to be safe than sorry in taking the GRE earlier than required.
The TOEFL is an English proficiency test required by international students applying to MS programs in the US. While this certainly won’t be the most significant factor in getting admission, it is especially important to make cut off score, if indicated by universities you are applying to. Often, students who speak English regularly will decide against studying for the TOEFL – this is not a great decision. When applying to graduate school, it is never good to leave anything to chance, and so taking a couple practice tests and attempting to get the highest possible score on the TOEFL certainly won’t hurt.
Undergraduate Transcript/Academic Reports
All MS applications in the US will require a transcript from your undergraduate programs, and this will have a very significant impact on your admission. Most likely, at this stage, there is little you can do to impact your GPA, and so what is most important is that your reach out to your undergraduate school administrative early on so that they send the documents in time.
Statement of Purpose (SOP)
Along with recommendation letters, your statement of purpose for master’s programs, MBA programs, or any other graduate programs, will be one of the most significant factors in determining your application decision, and so it is worth it to put a great deal of time and effort into perfecting it. Writing a statement of purpose is often confused with expanding on one’s curriculum vitae, and so many students will submit statements of purpose that are almost identical to their CV. This isn’t the path you want to go down. Keep in mind that the statement of purpose for MS/MBA is about purpose, not only about your achievements, but most importantly, about why you want to pursue a master’s degree within that field of study in the US.
As such, it is helpful to extensively research about and read examples of statements of purpose for MS/MBA. Of course, you should never copy from someone else’s work or plagiarize from the internet, but reading these will help with getting the specific statement of purpose format down. Additionally, there also exist lots of statement of purpose editors and editing services – you don’t necessarily need to use them, but it doesn’t hurt to keep them in mind in case you have any grave difficulties.
Ultimately, all admissions counselors will tell you that the statement of purpose for graduate school is the one aspect of your application wherein you can showcase what is unique about you and attempt to excite the admissions committee. For although good grades and standardized test scores are certainly very important, there are likely at least a couple hundred applicants with very similar statistics as you, and they may not necessarily make you stand out.
Letters of Recommendation
Letters of recommendations for master’s programs play a very important role in one’s acceptance, for they give the admissions committee insight into what sort of individual you are from the perspective of someone who has (hopefully) spent a significant amount of time with you, either in teaching you, or supervising you for research, etc. In this, a good recommendation letter for a master’s degree could potentially change the admission outcome, especially if the admissions committee is on the fence about a candidate.
A good letter of recommendation for graduate school is largely defined by how private it is, by which I mean the level of detail into which it goes, such that the admissions committee can tell that the letter is not based on a template, but rather the experiences that the professor (or whoever the letter is coming from) has had with the student.
Sometimes, teachers may not immediately think of unique experiences they’ve had with you, given that they interact with so many students. A good way to cope with this, from my own experience in asking for recommendations, is to write your professor a very detailed note going over what you feel your successes in their class has been, your strengths, and some traits that you’d like to emphasize – most professors are very busy, and so if you effectively write the recommendation letter for them through the note, they will likely incorporate a significant amount of your own writing.
Lastly, remember that all of this information applies to all sorts of recommendation letters, even those for scholarships or grants.
Financials/Bank Statement for Visa
When applying for a student visa for the US, you will need a detailed financial statement, which will include an account of your income, assets, cash flow, etc. This is to show the US government that truly can afford studying in the US, or that you have secured the funds to do so (through scholarships or grants). The application for your bank statement for your visa is simply a letter written to your bank manager, and you can find multiple templates of this online. Ultimately, while you should not let this worry you unnecessarily, remember to double check everything and ensure that your account is an entirely accurate depiction of your financials.
Understanding the application process to MS programs in the US and choosing the right set of schools to apply to can be tough, but Nomad Credit is happy to help you navigate this difficult process and ensure that you have a smooth ride ahead.
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