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'How do I apply for a MS course in the US?'
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July 01, 2008

Studying abroad is an option many consider, whether they are midway through their careers or fresh out of college. However, the decision is not an easy one to take, thanks to the endless number of destination options, colleges and courses. 

While we feature regular articles on rediff.com addressing the various aspects to studying abroad, many of our readers write in asking about tuition costs, eligibility, accomodations, applications and many other aspects of studying overseas. Here, international education consultant Karan Gupta addresses some of the queries we recieved.


I have 5 years work exp, and 65% aggregate in TY. I did maths and physics and I'm plannin to start my MBA this year. I have applied to US but only to low ranked colleges as I did not cross 550 in my GMAT. I applied to Australia too. I have gotten admits from a few, I have gotten into UWA Perth. I'm not sure if I should take it as there is no common ranking. These multiple rankings have gotten me confused.

-- Sophia Tennyson

Karan replies: Various factors such as your past academic record, standardized test scores, essays, work experience and so on are considered while granting admission. It is best to apply globally to universities which are reputed and accredited. In my opinion, UWA is an average university. However, please remember this is your own decision and make sure you carefully 'research' the university before making your final choice. Speak to university alumni, faculty etc and you will find it easier to arrive at a decision. Please refer to www.ft.com for a list of B school rankings worldwide.


I would like to pursue MBA in the US, can  you tell me what is the minimum score required in GMAT in order to get into good B schools?

-- Kiran

Karan replies: Most 'top' B schools require the GMAT and TOEFL score along with at least 2-3 years of work experience. Universities consider various factors such as prior academics, entrance test scores, additional activities, application essays, growth pattern at work and so on while reviewing an application. A score of 680 and above (out of 800) is a good score in the GMAT.


I am a student of electronics engg , and I want to apply for MS in Biomedical Signal processing in US. Please tell me How much CGPA, ToFEL, and GRE score required to apply, in any university in USA, not necessary Top 25 universities.

-- Faisal Farooq

Karan replies: Most schools in the US require the GRE and TOEFL scores for admission to a Master's degree programme along with 16 years of undergraduate education. Universities consider various factors such as prior academics, entrance test scores, additional activities, application essays, and so on while reviewing an application. A score of 1300 and above (out of 1600) is a good score in the GRE. In the TOEFL IBT, 100 points (out of 120) and above is considered a good score. Also try to maintain your academics above a first class.


I want to get my MBA from a top university next year and am currently studying for my GMAT. I have a GPA of 3.96 from University of Pittsburgh, currently work at a Big 4 accounting firm, and just passed my CPA exam. However, by the time I apply to school, I will only have had about 1.5 years of full time working experience. Should I be spending my time getting the highest score I can on the GMAT, or can I be satisfied with a score around 700?

-- MaryJane

Karan replies: Most 'top' B schools require the GMAT and TOEFL score along with at least 2 - 3 years of work experience. Universities consider various factors such as prior academics, entrance test scores, additional activities, application essays, growth pattern at work and so on while reviewing an application. A score of 680 and above (out of 800) is a good score in the GMAT. The work experience is accounted for till the time you leave for your university. To enhance your work experience, concentrate on handling diverse responsibilities at work as well international opportunities or other prospects that come your way.


I finished my 2nd year BTech IT and I have some doubts regarding masters in US. I have an average academic percentage of about 70% and I also have arrears in IT. Will these arrears affect my admission process of getting into a good college in US. And what is good GRE score to get an admission in the top 15 colleges for this academic score?

-- Kyashwanth Reddy

Karan replies: Most schools in the US require the GRE and TOEFL scores for admission to a Master's degree program along with 16 years of undergraduate education. Universities consider various factors such as prior academics, entrance test scores, additional activities, application essays, and so on while reviewing an application. However, your backlogs may have a negative impact on your application profile and thus try to maintain your academic grades. A score of 1300 and above (out of 1600) is a good score in the GRE. In the TOEFL IBT, 100 points (out of 120) and above is considered a good score. Send your applications to the universities 1 year prior to your course starting date.


I have completed by Engineering with a distinction and have a work experience of slightly more than 3 years. I am currently working as a Process Manager and am also Married. Due to this, it is extremely tough for me to go for a 2 year MBA programme. I do want to do my MBA and wanted your opinion as to how the one year MBA that some schools give is as compared to the 2 year MBA.
 
ISB, SP Jain are a couple of big names that I have looked into. IIM A requires more experience so I can safely rule that out at this stage. Do let me know your advice and what you think is my best option.

-- Arun Seshadri

Karan replies: European and UK MBA schools usually follow a one-year curriculum and require candidates to have many years of work experience before they can be admitted. Students that wish to get back to work quickly, consider one year programmes. The one year curriculum is extremely demanding and students are expected to work more than 10 hours a day to be successful in the one year programme.

Employers do not make any distinction between the one year and two year programme when considering an applicant for employment. IE Business School (Spain), INSEAD (France [Images]), Warwick Business School (UK) are among some top B schools that offer a 1 year MBA degree. 


I am working with HSBC as a IT Software Engineer for the past 3 yrs. I plan to enroll in  MBA course abroad. Can you please guide me about the good colleges i can apply for abroad and how should I prepare  for them. Also, can you tell me how good are the 1 year MBA Executive courses offered in India in terms of placement.

I am primarily looking at completing MBA and work in India thereafter, but if I study abroad then I presume that to recover the expenses on a MBA course abroad . I will have to work there for some time .

-- Archit Khare

Karan replies: Most 'top' B schools require the GMAT and TOEFL score along with at least 2-3 years of work experience. Universities consider various factors such as prior academics, entrance test scores, additional activities, application essays, growth pattern at work and so on while reviewing an application. A score of 680 and above (out of 800) is a good score in the GMAT.

Refer to www.ft.com for a list of B school rankings and consider applying worldwide. Executive MBA courses are offered for students with 10+ years of work experience. Additionally, it is important to network with peers, professors and so on for employment purposes. Firms in India sometimes recognize students with an international degree (from a recognised university) and may give employment preference to these students once they are back in India.


I am from Malaysia. I have a BSc (Info Systems) from Drexel University, Philadelphia (1998) and a MSc (Info Tech) from a local university in Malaysia (2006) with English as its Medium. I am now a lecturer in one of the universities here in Kuala Lumpur. I am planning to pursue my PhD in researching in the Info. Retrieval (IR) area. I have made some university search and here are the list of universities that I have short-listed based on their research activities that are relevant to my own research interest and the place that I may want to live in:
1. U. of Glasgow, Scotland
2. U. of Sheffield, UK
3. Carnegie Mellon U., PA, USA
4. Syracuse U., NY, USA
5. U. of Massachusets, Amherst, USA
6. U. of Maryland, MD, USA

I will be sponsored by one of the Malaysian government agencies. My questions to you are:
1. Which university(s) from the above list would you recommend me to apply to?
2. Do I need to take the GRE (for US univ.) and IELTS/TOEFL (for UK univ.)? Can I get anything to be waived since both my previous degrees are in English and plus my BSc. was awarded by an American U?
3. How should I know which Subject Test to take? (I have tried to look in the Admission sites and most would only say 'General Test and Subject Test' instead of the actual Subject name
4. When should I apply? I have been given approval by my university to start my PhD next year (2009). Should I do the GRE/IELTS tests and wait for the results first or can I start applying (using their online registrations) and get the GRE results to be sent right away to the respective universities once they are out?
FYI, I have also considered Drexel U as they also have an IR research group, but I actually want to explore other part of the US or maybe UK too. What do you think?

-- Rita

Karan replies: You have made a good list of schools and I recommend you consider applying to all of them since it is better to apply to at least 6-8 schools. GRE and TOEFL are required by US universities. Schools in the UK require IELTS or TOEFL. However, since your Bachelor's degree was from Drexel University, you need not take the TOEFL. 

Please take the General GRE test. Send your applications to the universities 1 year prior to your course starting date. It is best to complete the GRE and TOEFL by September end, receive your scores within a month and send your applications to the universities. Thereafter, you can forward your GRE scores to the universities.  It is a good idea to consider schools in other parts of the US as well. 


My education qualifications BE computer science. I am willing to do MS comp in abroad. I want to know which is better among US, UK, Australia, Canada [Images], and Singapore to study. Can you give me risk and benefit of studying at these countries? Please guide me. 

-- Prabu P

Karan replies: The US is the best option to apply for the MS degree program due to the flexibility of course it offers as well as the option of OPT (Optional Practical Training) where students are allowed to work for 1 year in their field of study after completion of their course. Other countries may or may not offer this option. On the other hand, the US and Canadian schools offers a 2 years Masters degree whereas UK and Australia offer a 1 year program. Thus, if you have the required finances and your family supports your decision, studying abroad would definitely be a great opportunity to gain international exposure as well.


I am a student in London [Images] doin my BBA(Bachelors in Business). I am interested in studying in USA, and I have my final year of bachelors but I want to complete it from the US. I have heard that if you even travel on visit visa to USA and once you are in the US you can change your visit visa status in to student status by enrolling in a college or university. Is this correct?

I have heard from people that there is a kind of new US visa which is called ALWA or Aiwa in which you can go with your family to the States if you show your bank statement of about hundred thousand dollars and you have to deposit about ten thousand dollars then you can file a case and can migrate with your family in 5 to 6 months time to States?

-- Haider Shah

Karan replies: You can transfer to universities in the US after completion of 1-2 years of undergraduate study in another country. A Bachelor's programme in the US generally lasts for 4 years. Each university has a different method of evaluating transfer of credits, and so in some cases students may have to repeat a few classes or even start afresh. It is best to contact each university to inquire about their individual procedures and credit transfer policies. Therefore, in some cases you may be required to study for 2 years and in some cases you may be required to study for 3 years. SAT and TOEFL are the exams required for admissions to US universities.

It is not legal to travel on a visitor's visa and then convert the status to student. You have to come back to home country and apply for a student (F1) visa. 

Please contact the US Embassy or an immigration consultant for your immigration related queries.


I am planning to do MBA from abroad. I am a BE from MS Ramaiah Institute of Tech-Bangalore, working in Satyam [Get Quote] hyderabad since Oct 06. Please guide me on some best b-schools. Also if I take the GMAT next year, will it be a good work exp by then?

Also i did my engineering with First class but 64%, with a backlog in one subject which I cleared the very next semister, without affecting my degree length. Please tell me about Melbourne University(MBS) and NUS-Singapore, which one is more preferable?

-- Abhishek Roshan

Karan replies: Top B-schools worldwide require students to have 2-3 years of full time work experience along with the GMAT and TOEFL for an MBA. If you apply for fall 2009, you will have 3 years of work experience. In that case, take the GMAT by October and send out your applications by December.

It is always better to apply to good B schools globally rather than restricting your options to a particular country. Concentrate on the courses offered rather then the country of study. Melbourne Business School and NUS Business School are both leading B schools offering the MBA programme. Please refer to www.ft.com to refer to list of B schools worldwide.


I have applied for the visa on June 12, I have got admitted into the CAMPBELL SCHOOLof pharmacy. Can I go to visa with a course completion certificate or do I surely need a provisional? I want to know what all documents I need to take with me too. I also heard from my friends that pharma student visas get easily rejected. Kindly give me certain tips on how to face the interview successfully.

-- Sailaja

Karan replies: If you do not have your Bachelor's degree, a course completion certificate along with mark sheets and transcripts will be sufficient at the time of the US visa interview. Prepare an Asset Statement showing the division of Movable Assets, Immovable Assets and Family Income. Include the totals available to you from all family sources (immediate family). You will be required to show that you can pay for your complete expenses for education and living. Please also carry your admit and reject letters and your entrance test score sheets. Be confident and honest during the interview. Research the course that you have applied for well before you go for the interview. For more information on the US visa you can log on to www.vfs-usa.co.in.


I am working in IBM from last 1.5 years as a software developer. I want to pursue MBA from abroad. Financially I am not too strong and have to go with loan. Do you think its worth taking a loan of 20+lakh? And which stream should I go for  in MBA?

-- Pradeep Raghuvanshi

Karan replies: For students who cannot take care of their own academic expenditure, loans are a good option. You can consider applying for loans in India or in the US (if you have a US co-signor). In India, the maximum loan that you can get is Rs.20 lacs from State Bank of India [Get Quote]. The interest rates are around 13% and you need security of around 140% -150% of the loan amount to qualify.

It is important to evaluate your short term and long term career goals before finalizing on the field of specialization.


Kindly give me the information regarding universities in the US (mainly chicago) which do accept 12+3 for pursuing master's for microbiology, immunology, and other related sciences such as food science and food technology.

-- N A Malwade

Karan replies: In order to apply to the Master's degree program in the US you maybe required to complete 16 years of undergraduate education. The 16th year requirement now varies from university to university. A few schools in the US may accept students with 15 years of prior education, thus accepting the 3 year Indian Bachelor's degree. However, in most cases, students have to complete 16 years of education. Generally the 16th year of education can be one year of a two year Master's degree from a recognized university. Please check with each individual university you are applying to if they will accept your application without the 16th year.

Please study the Masters degree program in Food Science or Human Nutrition offered by UIUC, and Masters degree in Microbiology offered by Southern Illinois University.  


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