As the home of over 150 universities in the world University ranking, the US remains the world’s leading destination for international students. In 2013/14, the number of international students choosing to study in the US rose to a record high of 886,052 students, according to the Institute of International Education’s Open Doors report. The most popular states for international study in the US were California, New York and Texas, and the most popular subjects were business and management, engineering, mathematics and computer science.
Of course, it’s not just the high standard of US universities that draws students in. Whether you’re attracted to the bright lights and fast pace of the big city or to miles and miles of unspoiled wilderness; sun-kissed beaches or lush forests; the rustic and traditional or the sleek and modern, this huge and incredibly diverse country has something for everyone.
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New York City
As well as ‘The Big Apple’ and ‘The City That Never Sleeps’, New York City is sometimes called the ‘Capital of the World’. Few other cities conjure up as many instant associations, be it the skyscrapers that serve as towering monuments to the city’s financial power, the legendary music and fashion scenes, the bright lights and glitz of Broadway or something else altogether. Everyone has their own ideas about NYC, whether they’ve personally experienced it or not.
There is no shortage of top universities rankings in New York either, including Columbia University and New York University. There is no shortage of top universities rankings in New York either, including Columbia University and New York University.
If you want to be surrounded by the world’s best and brightest students and academics, then you can’t really do much better than Boston – especially if you include the nearby student-centered town of Cambridge, MA. This is the location of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University, ranked first and second in the world in the 2015/16 rankings. Other top universities in Boston include Boston University, Tufts University, Brandeis University, Boston College and Northeastern University.
The Boston area is well known for arts and culture, particularly when it comes to contemporary classical music. It’s not all serious academia and highbrow culture though: the city is also renowned for its pubs and bars, and its fondness for sports.
In terms of wealth, population and cultural impact, Chicago only lags behind the behemoths that are New York City and Los Angeles. From a distance, it may appear to be a sterile mass of imposing skyscrapers, but underneath all that glass, metal and concrete is a living breathing city, known for its lively mixture of cultures, its vibrant live music scene and nightlife, and its thriving intellectual life.
High-ranking universities in Chicago include the University of Chicago and Northwestern University (just outside the city) at 32nd. Other strong options are the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Illinois, Chicago (UIC), and Illinois Institute of Technology.
San Francisco & the Bay Area
IUniversities in San Francisco and the Bay Area which surrounds it include two of the world’s most prestigious and best-known: Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley. The intellectual might of this pair has massively contributed to the area’s wealth, which is largely founded on the renowned technology hub known as Silicon Valley.
San Francisco itself, and the branch of the University of California which shares its name, is also known for its ground-breaking biomedical research. Add mild weather, a liberal outlook and a solid party culture, and you can see the appeal for yourself.
Los Angeles will forever be primarily defined by the creative industries on which its wealth is founded: music, television, and – most of all – film. Other things that might leap to mind when you think of the city are the bright Californian sun, beaches, and the perpetual pursuit of the body beautiful – after all, this is the home of “Muscle Beach”.
If you’d rather be exercising your mind than your body, there are plenty of prestigious universities in Los Angeles, including the University of California, Los Angeles. Worth a look if you want to combine studies with star-spotting!
Tuition fees at US universities
In terms of fees, US universities do not tend to differentiate between domestic and international students. Public universities charge lower fees for students from within the same state compared to everyone else, while private universities usually have one set fee for everyone. However, fees do vary significantly from university to university. Studying in the US certainly won’t be cheap, but most US universities are very good at providing accessible information about the expected cost of study – including tuition fees, course resources, accommodation, food, insurance and other expenses. There’s also a good chance you will not have to pay the full tuition fee amount. At many universities in the US, a majority of students receive financial aid, via various grants, scholarships, loan and work-study schemes.
US University applications
To start your application to study in the US, you will need to apply directly to each of the universities you’re interested in. Remember that athletic recruitment and sports scholarships follow a slightly different timeline to regular applications, so it’s worth checking the application deadlines early (1-1 ½ years before enrolment) to avoid missing out. Entry requirements for each university are different, but most involve completing an admissions test or essay, the SAT or ACT admissions tests, and providing recommendation letters from teachers. On top of this, most universities ask for a transcript of your grades and a personal statement. If you are accepted you’ll be entered into an international student database called the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), and sent a copy of the information stored on this, which you will need to check for accuracy. It’s also important to ensure that you pay the application fee (the SEVIS I-901 fee) for this database service, which will be US$200. A few universities also allow international students to apply for free online. The university will then provide you with a Form I-20 to present to the US embassy when you attend your visa interview.
US visa requirements
Once you’ve been accepted to study at a US university, you will then be ready to apply for your F-1 non-immigrant visa. In order to obtain this, you will need to arrange an interview at your local US embassy, following the US visa requirements process below:
- Pay the MRV visa application fee of US$160 (the embassy will tell you where you should pay this). Complete a DS-160 form online, uploading a photograph.
- Bring to the interview your acceptance letter, proof you’ve paid all the fees and filled in the right forms, the Form I-20 or Form DS-2019, which is a Certificate of Eligibility, and a passport which doesn’t expire until six months after you complete your degree.
- The decision to give you a visa will be in the hands of the consular officer. Their decision will hinge on three things: whether you can financially support yourself, whether you can show you can and want to return home after graduating (getting a work visa is a whole different process), and whether you can prove your academic results to date.
- The last of these may involve you proving your proficiency in English. You will also have to provide evidence of this to your university at the application stage.
- You can receive your US study visa a maximum of 120 days before your course’s start date, but processing can commence before this date. You cannot actually enter the country until 30 days before the beginning of your course, unless you have a visitor visa. This last stipulation also applies to those who would normally not require a visa for short stays in the US.
Florida Polytechnic University
Florida Polytechnic University, started as a university of engineering and technology, is designed to be different so that graduates possess the talent and job-ready skills to stand out from the crowd. While other top engineering schools in Florida have centers of innovation, Florida Poly was established on April 20, 2012, as a wholly innovative university dedicated to the principle that innovation occurs when research and creativity are applied to real-world challenges. Florida’s only public university for engineering and technology dedicated to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) was created to be both a rigorous academic institution and a powerful resource for high-tech industries. Florida Polytechnic University was granted the status of candidacy by the Southern Association on Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges on June 17, 2016 to award bachelor and master level degrees.
University of Idaho
The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is one of only 72 land-grant research universities in the United States. From its residential campus in Moscow, UI serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Coeur d’Alene, Boise, Idaho Falls and Twin Falls, and Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to more than 11,000 students statewide, UI is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities and their advancement of diversity, citizenship and global outreach. UI competes in the Big Sky Conference and Sun Belt Conference.
Idaho is consistently recognized as one of the best public colleges in America by The Princeton Review. Kiplinger’s listed Idaho in its “Best 100 Values in Public Colleges” for our academic strength and affordability.
Northern Kentucky University
Northern Kentucky University, a growing metropolitan university of more than 15,000 students served by more than 2,000 faculty and staff on a thriving suburban campus near Cincinnati.
Located in the quiet suburb of Highland Heights, Ky. – just seven miles southeast of Cincinnati – we have become a leader in Greater Cincinnati and Kentucky by providing a private school education for a fraction of the cost. While we are one of the fastest growing universities in Kentucky, our professors still know our students’ names.
The university is primarily an undergraduate, liberal arts institution, but it also features graduate programs. Total enrollment at the university currently exceeds 15,000 students, with over 13,000 undergraduate students and over 2,000 graduate students served by nearly 2600 faculty and staff. Northern Kentucky University is the third largest university, behind the University of Cincinnati and Miami University, but before Xavier University, of Greater Cincinnati’s four large, four-year universities and the youngest of Kentucky’s eight state universities, although it is not the last to join the state system, as the University of Louisville did not become a state university until 1970.
Northern Arizona University
Northern Arizona University is a public university offering undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees of high quality and societal value. As a student, you are at the center of the NAU experience, which is guided by a dedicated and distinguished faculty committed to teaching, individual engagement, and research excellence.
Northern Arizona University provides multiple ways for you to earn your degree, whether you plan on studying at our Flagstaff campus, online, or at one of our locations throughout Arizona.
The university is a high-research institution, providing practical solutions to problems that impact our region, nation, and world. Our students and world-renowned faculty researchers work together to explore solutions to climate change, minority healthcare disparities, improve prosthetics technology, and create sustainable solutions for a wide variety of issues.
University of New Haven
Founded in 1920 on the campus of Yale University in cooperation with Northeastern University, UNH moved to its current West Haven campus in 1960 and opened its Orange Campus in January, 2014. The University operates a satellite campus in Tuscany, Italy, and offers programs at several locations throughout Connecticut and in New Mexico. UNH provides its students with a unique combination of a solid liberal arts education and real-world, hands-on career and research opportunities.
The University enrolls approximately 6,800 students, including nearly 1,800 graduate students and more than 5,000 undergraduates – the majority of whom reside in University housing. Through its College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business, Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences, Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, and Tagliatela College of Engineering, UNH offers over 80 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
UNH students have access to more than 500 study abroad programs worldwide and its student-athletes compete in 16 varsity sports in the NCAA Division II’s highly competitive Northeast-10 Conference.
University of California
The University of California, Irvine is a public research university located in Irvine, California, and one of the 10 general campuses in the University of California (UC) system. UCI has over 30,000 students, 1,100 faculty members and 9,000 staff. Times Higher Education (London, UK) in 2014 ranked UC Irvine 1st among all US universities and 7th among the top 100 global universities under 50 years old.
UC Irvine is considered a Public Ivy and offers 80 undergraduate degrees and 98 graduate and professional degrees. The university is designated as having very high research activity in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, and in fiscal year 2013 had $348 million in research and development expenditures according to the National Science Foundation. UC Irvine became a member of the Association of American
Universities in 1996, and is the youngest university to hold membership. The university also administers the UC Irvine Medical Center, a large teaching hospital in Orange, and its affiliated health sciences system; the University of California, Irvine, Arboretum; and a portion of the University of California Natural Reserve System.