Why US remains top contender for Masters studies for Indian students

With over 4,000 universities to choose from, there are many options to consider based on your individual academic and professional goals.

Manmohan ThoratUpdated: Saturday, April 09, 2022, 04:11 AM IST
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The United States is the most popular destination for higher studies in engineering for Indian students as engineering programs in the United States help students to pursue both their academic and professional goals. One can study engineering at the bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate levels, and each level has specific requirements and student outcomes. Some of the many reasons that Indian students choose to pursue their higher studies in engineering in the United States are the flexibility to choose courses that are of interest to the student, a hands-on learning approach, access to specialised equipment and laboratories, global recognition of the degree, and the internship opportunities through optional/curriculum practical training.

The United States has seen a steady increase in the number of Indian students applying to undergraduate programs in the United States, with the majority of these students choosing to pursue a major in one of the many engineering fields of study available at U.S. universities. One of the unique features of studying engineering at the undergraduate level on an American campus is the flexibility of the education system. Students can decide to change their majors, pursue dual degrees, double degrees, or choose a major and minor. All students at the undergraduate level are required to take the general educational courses which are designed to support students’ overall development. In addition, once students progress to the third year of their engineering degrees, they can choose electives based on their interests within the chosen major. In the final semester of their engineering degree, students usually pick a capstone project which teaches them to work on a team and to apply the engineering knowledge they have accumulated. A student can pursue engineering in three ways: at a university, at a technical school, or through the liberal arts and science curriculum at a U.S. college. Each of these options has its individual benefits. For example, studying at a university might provide the student with greater academic flexibility in terms of the number of courses offered. Technical schools are more focused on academic and professional growth, and the liberal arts and science route is focused on communication skills and critical thinking. While each university has its own application and unique requirements for undergraduate admissions, to apply to an institution in the United States, students generally must prepare their transcripts from the 9th grade onwards, give test results (SAT/ACT/English proficiency test, if required), write personal essays, obtain recommendation letters, and other university-specific documents. Applications to U.S. universities are usually submitted 8-10 months before the date you wish to join the university.

Many Indian students choose to pursue postgraduate studies in engineering in the United States as well. When applying to pursue a master’s degree, students typically have decided on an area of focus that is linked to the career they wish to pursue. An engineering degree at the Master’s level is of two types: thesis and non-thesis track. A thesis track Master’s degree is focused on research and obtaining academic understanding and proficiency in a subject. This almost always involves doing a research project in the student’s final semester. The non-thesis track is focused on taking classes and skill development. The non-thesis track is further divided into two types: a Master of Science degree (M.S.), which is usually a two-year course, and a Master of Engineering (M.Eng.), which allows students to pursue an accelerated course within one year. To obtain a successful outcome, it is imperative that students think of their long-term career goals and choose the course and a university which can provide the skills and knowledge required to achieve those goals. Like the application process to undergraduate programs, universities have their own applications and unique requirements for postgraduate admissions. For a master’s application, the general requirements may include GRE scores, an English proficiency test, transcripts from an undergraduate program, a statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, and other documents specific to the university.

For students who are interested in a career in research, pursuing doctoral studies may be an option. Doctoral program applications are similar to master’s degree program applications except that faculty usually like to see some proof that the student is capable of pursuing independent research. Some universities even allow prospective applicants to apply to doctoral programs directly after completing their bachelor’s degrees. When admitted to a university, doctoral candidates will usually be required to take some graduate level courses before they embark on their doctoral research project. In choosing universities for doctoral studies, it is advisable that students look for programs with two or three professors conducting research in the desired field. In addition, many universities recommend that prospective doctoral students contact faculty with whom they would like to work before submitting the application.

In conclusion, the United States offers many opportunities to students who wish to pursue engineering studies at the undergraduate or postgraduate levels. With over 4,000 universities to choose from, there are many options to consider based on your individual academic and professional goals.

For more information please visit the EducationUSA website (https://educationusa.state.gov), and for individual questions, please write to mumbai@educationusa.org.

(Manmohan Thorat is an EducationUSA Coordinator at USIEF Mumbai, where he advises Indian students interested in applying to U.S. universities. He graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Sociology from Oklahoma State University.)

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