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Study in USA: Scholarships, student visa, cost of education and application timeline

The United States offers admissions in reputed universities that have updated curriculum. Here's the list of scholarships, overall tuitions fees and the student visas details

By: Education Desk | New Delhi | Updated: April 5, 2019 1:49:57 pm
US University, USA Colleges, USA University, US Educational Institutions, United States University, United States of America College Check top colleges to study in the USA. Image source:

It would hardly surprise anyone there are more international students who study in the United States than in any other country around the world. The number of Indian students in the United States has doubled since 2012-13, the 2018 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange shows. As of 2017-18, there were 1,96,271 Indian students in the US, up 5.4 per cent from last year, and more than twice the 96,734 in 2012-13.

Top universities in the USA

US universities dominate the QS World University Rankings, with 157 institutions ranked in total (QS Rankings, 2019), including 11 in the top 20. The top 4 universities in the world, in fact, are in the US.

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Here are the top universities in the USA:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

One of the world’s most reputed institutions in the sphere of science, engineering, and technology, is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT. For the seventh-year in a row, the institution has stood at the top of QS World Rankings for Universities.

Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the University has over 11000 undergraduate and postgraduate students, including an impressive ration of international student, studying at its sprawling campus comprising five schools (architecture and planning; engineering; humanities, arts, and social sciences; management; science).

Stanford University

Based in the start-up hub of the world – Silicon Valley in California – it is no surprise that alumni from the Stanford University have gone on to be founders of some of the world’s biggest companies like Netflix, YouTube, WhatsApp and Google. Stanford is renowned for its entrepreneurial spirit and business courses and has been nicknamed the “billionaire factory” for its credentials. It has been rated as the second-best university in the United States, as well as the world.

Harvard University

One of the oldest universities in the world, as well as one of the most prestigious, Harvard University, is renowned for its world-class courses in a range of subjects – from law and medicine to business and social sciences. Over 21,000 students, including over 2,000 international students, study at Harvard, one of the three top universities in the world.

US University, USA Colleges, USA University, US Educational Institutions, United States University, United States of America College Over one million international students are studying in the universities of the United States, making it the world’s leading study destination for international students. Image source:

California Institute of Technology (CalTech)

California Institute of Technology, or CalTech, is a leading tech school, located in the city of Pasadena, California. The university offers excellent research facilities and produces very high research output each year. Devoted entirely to the technical arts and applied sciences, the University has a very competitive admission process, ensuring that only the brightest candidates get to study here.

University of Chicago

Established in 1890, the University of Chicago is well-known for its strong focus on research, and its reputed professional schools for medicine (Pritzker), business (Booth), and public policy studies (Harris). It is one of the most reputed universities in the USA, outside the Ivy league schools.

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Princeton University

Founded in 1746, Princeton is one of the oldest universities in the US. It is well-renowned for its arts and humanities faculties. Spread across 500 acres, Princeton’s main campus in New Jersey is home to over 10000 students, with over 12 per cent international students, and is considered one of the most beautiful college campuses in the United States.

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Cornell University

Based in Ithaca, New York, Cornell University is a co-educational, non-sectarian institution where admission is not restricted by religion or race – one of the principles it has stood by since being set up in 1865. It has an excellent program in veterinary medicine, ranked the second-best in the world, and was, in fact, the first university in the US to award a veterinary medicine degree.

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Yale University

An Ivy League University, situated in New Haven, Connecticut, Yale University was founded in 1701. It is a private research university and awarded the first PhD in the US in 1861. It is also renowned for its prestigious law school, one of the toughest law courses to get admission to.

Columbia University

Columbia was established in 1754 and has produced many notable alumni, including the former American President, Barrack Obama. A private Ivy League research university, Columbia is situated in Upper Manhattan, New York City, and has one of the lowest acceptance rates in the world for its undergraduate programs.

University of Pennsylvania

One of the top 20 universities in the world, the University of Pennsylvania also belongs to the Ivy League. The university was founded by one of the founding fathers of the USA, Benjamin Franklin. The school is known for its focus on diversity, as can be seen in its student population, 46 per cent of which is Black, Hispanic, Asian, or Native American, and an unprecedented 54 per cent of which are women.

Application timeline

The curriculum in the United States universities is divided into semesters. The varsities here have 4 periods of admission when students can join the university. These are spring (January/February), fall (August/September), summer (April/May), and winter (December). Most universities have their intake in the Fall Semester, while many are also open for spring. A few universities take in students during winter and summer sessions too.

Considering the stringent eligibility criteria, the tomes of documentation and applications to be filed, competitive exams to be taken, and the time required to gather your finances, it is usually advisable to start the application process at least a year in advance.

Cost of education

As a feature of it being the most popular destination for studies, the US is also the most expensive in terms of education, especially for international students. Here’s what you can expect to spend on your studies in the USA:


Tuition is usually quite steep for the top universities and courses and can go upwards of $50,000 for a year. There is a lot of variation, obviously, depending upon the university, state, city, and course. Be prepared to shell out an average tuition of $30000 per year though. The good news? Many universities offer bursaries or financial aid depending on the need of international students, reducing the tuition as per the financial capabilities of the students.


Expenses can vary depending on your city and location. In general, states in the US Midwest region are less expensive to live in than those in the East and North East. Off-campus accommodation can range from $500 a month for an apartment in a rural area, to up to $3,000 a month for an apartment in the cities. On-campus accommodation is typically in dormitories with shared bathrooms and sleeping arrangements. On average, university accommodation can cost you around $10,000 for a year.

Living Expenses

Apart from accommodation, also be prepared to foot the bill for utilities (if you’re living off-campus). Electricity can be about $50-100 per month, while depending on the area you are staying in, you may also require central heating ($100-200 per month). The cost of groceries can vary depending on your diet but generally stand at around $20-60 per week. A meal at a restaurant can be from $10 (at a McDonald’s) up to $50. Do not forget to tip, either, if you eat at a restaurant. You would also be expected to spend up to $1500 per year on college supplies and textbooks.


With such high costs for studying in USA, it is extremely important for students to receive funding from other sources such as scholarships. Thankfully, the admission department at the university you get into can help with scholarships available at the university, including need-based financial aid. There are many other scholarship opportunities that Indian students can apply for.

Fulbright-Nehru Master’s Fellowships

Particulars: For highly motivated graduates and post-graduates from India who wish to pursue their post-graduate studies in the United States must demonstrate leadership skills and a track record of community service, along with a good command over the English language.

Eligibility: Graduation

Award: Tuition, visa, airfare, living costs, insurance

Inlaks Scholarships

Particulars: Especially for Indian citizens seeking to study abroad in the US or Europe, must have secured an admission at a US university and be less than 30 years of age at the time of applying.

Eligibility: Good first degree

Award: Full US Scholarship and covers the entire tuition fees, travelling and living expenses (up to $100000)

Narotam Sekhsaria Scholarship

Particulars: Especially for Indian students looking to pursue a postgraduate degree from a reputable and prestigious institution in India or abroad, must be below 30 years of age, be pursuing their postgraduate studies in the fields of Pure Sciences, Applied Sciences, Social Sciences and Humanities, Law, Architecture or Management.

Eligibility: Graduates

Award: Rs 20 lakh

KC Mahindra scholarships for Post-Graduate Studies abroad

Particulars: To students in India who wish to pursue their post-graduation overseas in any field.

Eligibility: Graduates with admission in a US University

Award: Interest free loans of up to Rs 8 lakh to the top 3 selected scholars, and up to Rs 4 lakh for the remaining scholars

JN Tata Endowment Fund

Particulars: Indian students who are below the age of 45, willing to pursue full-time Postgraduate/Ph.D./Postdoctoral studies abroad in any field.

Eligibility: Graduates

Award: Loan of Rs 10 lakh at a nominal interest rate of 2 per cent, which can also be waived off if the student repays the loan timely.

Tata Scholarship-Cornell University

Particulars: Offered by the Tata Education and Development Trust to Indian class 12 passed students, admitted to Cornell University.

Eligibility: Admitted to Cornell undergraduation program

Award: Full Scholarship for the undergraduate program

Stanford Reliance Dhirubhai fellowship

Particulars: For Indian nationals residing in India who have been admitted to the MBA program at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Eligibility: Admitted to Stanford MBA

Award: 80 per cent of tuition and associated fees

Chicago Booth MBA scholarships

Particulars: Three scholarships especially for Indians (Akhtarali H. Tobaccowala Fellowship, Ramakrishnan Family Scholarship, Indian Trust Fellowship) that offer tuition fee support to Indians for the full-time MBA course.

Eligibility: Admitted to Chicago Booth full-time MBA programme

Award: Variable – from $10,000 to full tuition

National Overseas scholarship

Particulars: Set up by the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment caters exclusively to SC/ST students- Meritorious graduate and post graduate students from India belonging to the scheduled castes or tribes – pursuing a post graduate or PhD degree in the United States.

Eligibility: Graduates and Post Graduates, belonging to SC/ST

Award: Tuition Fee, Insurance Premium, Visa, Maintenance Allowance

AAUW International fellowship

Particulars: The American Association of University Women (AAUW) international fellowship exclusively for women studying in the US who are non-citizens or permanent residents.

Eligibility: Indian women graduates

Award: Master’s course or a first professional degree = $18000, doctoral studies = $20000, post-doctoral studies = $30000

Lady Meherbai D Tata Education scholarship

Particulars: Tata Education Trust – exclusively for Indian women pursuing higher education in the US, UK, or Europe – must be admitted to a course in one of the fields of study included under the program, namely, social work, social sciences, education, gender studies, child health, public health, rural development work, communication of development.

Award: Financial support

Available Student Visa for US

For all international students who wish to study in the USA, obtaining a student visa is compulsory. Applying for a US student visa can be quite complicated, as it is with most immigration processes, and requires you to prepare well in advance – at least three to five months before your course is due to start.

Types of US Student Visas

F1 Visa

The most common student visa for international students is the F1 Visa, which is mandatory for all full-time students for an academic course. Students with F-1 visas can work on-campus for 20 hours a week or less.

J1 Visa

This visa is applicable for international exchange visitors participating in programs in the US. Exchange students, research fellows, and working professionals visiting the US for short courses or programs fall under this category.

M1 Visa

The M1 visa is a type of student visa reserved for vocational and technical schools. M-1 students are admitted to the US for a fixed time period – the length of their training program plus any Optional Practical Training. They must not stay in the US for longer than one year except in the case of extensions due to medical reasons and are not allowed to work in the US.

With inputs from 

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