How to Apply for Masters in the USA?


Cyril Zachariah
Updated on Aug 18, 2023 04:28 PM IST

As studying abroad becomes the trend across India, we are compiling some tips and tricks you can use to apply for masters in the USA. Outlined in this article, you can find the admission process commonly followed across top universities in the US for graduate courses.

How to Apply for Masters in USA?

Studying masters in the USA has its allures and charms. A postgraduate degree from a reputed US institution would help students grow academically and develop people skills that help to thrive in a globalised world. Given that most international students wish to journey to the US for masters, they must remember that the application process can be complex and competitive with careful planning and preparation.

To apply for masters in the USA, it is crucial to first research and identify the academic courses and universities that best suit their requirements. The factors that should be considered while deciding the same include course curriculum, research opportunities, facilities, financial aid and other aspects. Once the courses and universities are shortlisted, students must find out the eligibility criteria and prepare their applications accordingly.

This article will answer the most essential question of how to apply for masters in the USA, what are the requirements, how to go about the process from research to final application and mistakes to avoid during the application process. 

Masters in the USA: A Quick Glance

Here's a quick glance at the important steps to apply for master's in the US.


2-3 Years

Eligibility Criteria

Bachelors or Undergraduate degree recognised and converted to US equivalent.

Individual course requirements will vary between universities.

If applicable, work experience should be highlighted.

Entrance Tests

GRE - Graduate Record Examination

GMAT - Graduate Management Admission Test

University-specific entrance tests

English Language Proficiency Requirements

IELTS - 6.0 or Higher

TOEFL iBT - 80 or Higher

PTE Academic

Masters Course Fees

USD 5,000 - USD 60,000

Use Our Comprehensive Search to Explore Best US Universities for Graduate Courses!

How to Apply for Master's in the US?

The first step to applying for a Master's program in the US is to be well prepared for the admission process. It should be noted that while there are general guidelines for applying for a graduate or postgraduate programme in the US, most universities define specific guidelines and processes that are unique to them. Therefore, it is crucial that you are well-versed in the university-specific master's admission process in the US.

Step 1 - Consolidate Your Course and University Choices

The first step in the preparation process is to figure out your choices in terms of the universities and courses that you are interested in. In this step, you must narrow down your choices to the universities and courses that are the most applicable to you, in terms of your interest in them, your ability to meet the academic and financial requirements of the course and university, as well as questioning whether pursuing a course at a specific university will meet your career and future goals in the US.

TopUniversities in US Offering Graduate Courses

Let us help you start your search for the right university for you in the US. Listed below are some of the top universities in the US offering master's courses.


List of Universities

Business & Management


Computer Science & IT

Applied & Pure Sciences

Humanities& Liberal Arts

These are just a few universities to get you started in your search for the perfect university for you. There are hundreds of other master's universities in the US that you can choose from. Click here to know the different universities available for you.

Step 2 - Familiarise Yourself with the Admission Process

While most universities will follow a general set of guidelines and admission processes for their masters programs in the US, it is still necessary to familiarise yourself with the masters admission process at the university of your choice. Each university will specify an admission process and criteria unique to them that aspiring international students like you are required to meet. You will need to find out information regarding the eligibility criteria for the specific masters programme in the US that you wish to study, understand the admission processes and steps that you as an international student needs to follow, the financial requirements associated with studying abroad, and other crucial information. Your Collegedekho study abroad expert can help you find and understand all the important admission processes and information.

Step 3 - Attempt the Necessary Standardised Tests

Most universities in the US require international students to attempt some kind of standardised test and present them with valid test scorecards. These tests usually provide an outline of your academic, professional personality, thus painting a better picture of you and allowing a fair and equal trial to enrol in the masters programme. There are numerous tests that are accepted all over the country by different universities. Some of the more popular tests accepted for Masters admission in the US include:

  • GRE - Graduate Record Examination is an entrance test for most masters programmes in the US.

  • GMAT - Graduate Management Admission Test is probably the most popular test for management admissions at the masters level around the world. If you are planning to pursue a management programme in the US, you will probably need to hold a valid GMAT score.

  • IELTS - International student admissions in most universities require students to submit an English proficiency test score. IELTS exam is one of the more popular English Proficiency tests that are accepted by the top universities in the US.

  • TOEFL - Among the most popular English Proficiency tests accepted across universities in the US is TOEFL. Most universities will specify the minimum TOEFL score they need for them to be considered for admission.

Note: There will be other tests that international students may need to attempt, however, this information will only be made available by the university. You can reach out to your study abroad consultant at Collegedekho for this information.

Additionally, due to the pandemic, many US universities have dropped their requirement for standardised tests. Therefore, it becomes even more crucial to check out which US universities still require a standardised test score for graduate admissions.

Step 4 - Prepare the Letter of Recommendations and Statement of Purposes

A crucial component of a Masters admission process in the US is preparing LORs (Letters of Recommendation) and SOPs (Statement of Purpose). Each university will specify what the student needs to submit, however, in most cases, for masters admissions in the US, students are required to submit both LORs and SOPs.

LORs are more commonly asked for admissions to professional courses but other courses may also require students to submit the same. In some cases, for scholarship purposes in the US, students may also be required to submit LORs. Meanwhile, the SOPs are a common requirement for Masters admissions in universities across the US.

Both SOPs and LORs are crucial to the admission process as an admission committee can completely reject or accept a student based entirely on these statements. Many times, university admission panels are on the fence about enrolling a number of applicants, however, their SOPs and LORs can completely change the tangent and help those with a perfectly structured and formatted statement to win over other applicants.

Step 5 - Apply to the Masters University in the US

A rather important step is to apply to the university. Here, we advise applying to multiple universities, as your chances of being accepted by one of the universities become higher. Since the first step in the admission process is to shortlist a couple of universities, we recommend applying to as many of those universities as possible.

However, it should be noted that most admissions to universities in the US are done based on academic and professional merit, therefore, the better your academic and professional record is, the better chances you pose in being selected by the top universities in the US.

In the US, students can either apply directly to the university themselves or be assisted by their Collegedekho study abroad expert. However, before applying to the university, make sure you are in possession of the necessary documents and valid test scores, the details of which should be entered in the application form itself.

Know the Best Course to Study Abroad Based on Your Qualification and Interest!

Step 6 - Let the University Respond

From here on out, there will either be two or three outcomes possible. The university may respond by asking you to redo your application form if there is something missing from it. However, in most cases, the university will either respond with either an acceptance letter or a rejection letter.

In most cases, there is nothing you can do if the latter is the result. However, some universities may offer students the opportunity to reapply for the programme, but only if the candidate either missed out on providing the right information.

In the case of the former, where the application has been accepted, students will receive the necessary information and guidelines on the next steps in the admission process that they need to complete, before being selected for admission to the university. The acceptance letter will contain the guidelines and deadlines by which all the subsequent admission processes must be completed.

Here, it should be noted that since you may have applied to multiple universities, you may be required to decide which university you may finally want to choose. You may also be required to pay an admission fee upon acceptance, that confirms your willingness to pursue higher education at the university. Therefore, it is crucial for you to think it through carefully and move forward with your admission process.

Step 7 - Apply for Student Loans

Another important aspect of studying abroad is settling your finances or getting a student loan to continue your studies abroad. As stated before, studying abroad can be expensive and the US is one of the countries where higher education is relatively expensive. Therefore, you may need to apply for a student loan or some kind of financial aid like sponsorship or scholarships. In some cases, students need to prove some sort of financial support or stability to prove that they can sustainably live in the country while studying, without having to take up a job or avail some other financial benefits from the country.

Step 8- Apply for Student Visa in the US

For international students studying in the US, including Indians, it is necessary to apply and receive an F-1 or J-1 student visa. You can reach to your Collegedekho Study Abroad expert to help you through the application process for the right US student visa. However, it is advised to apply for a student visa only after receiving your acceptance letter from at least one university.

Note: It is also recommended to wait for your student visa application to be approved before you book your tickets to travel to the US.

Eligibility Criteria for Masters in the US

Before applying for admission to any university in the US, it is important that you meet the necessary eligibility criteria for masters in the US. Since there are several degrees available at the graduate level in the US, the eligibility or admission requirements for each masters programme in the US will vary, depending on the course and university offering the course. Listed below are the general admission requirements for graduate programmes in the US.

  • Students must hold a valid bachelors degree in the relevant discipline or equivalent, the university of their choice recognises that.

  • The academic transcripts submitted should be in English and converted to the US scoring system.

  • Candidates will also be required to hold valid scorecards or reports of the necessary tests such as English Proficiency tests and entrance tests for masters programmes. Some of the common tests accepted for masters admissions in the US include IELTS, TOEFL, PTE, etc., for English proficiency and GRE and GMAT for entrance tests.

  • Along with the application form, students will be asked to submit a Statement of purpose and a few letters of recommendation.

  • Each university will specify its course-wise admission requirements. Therefore, we suggest interested students connect with our study abroad counsellors who can assist you through the entire admission process, gauging your skills and interests and guiding you through with the best possible decisions.

Common Application Mistakes to Avoid

So, how do you ensure a successful application to a graduate school abroad? Well, you can certainly avoid a few common mistakes, as mentioned below, that foreign universities believe applicants often make:

  • Sending the Wrong Documents: Hey, did you go through the documents asked by the university? A lot of grad school applicants send application documents not asked by the university primarily because they have very little knowledge about the nomenclature in another country. For example, US universities ask students to submit their academic transcripts, which many international students might not know about. Also, universities ask applicants to get their transcripts, not issued in English, translated by someone legitimate. Make sure you are mindful of all of these details.
  • Ignoring Scholarships on Offer: Apart from external scholarships, most US universities offer their scholarships to international students. However, international students, unaware of them, lose several opportunities of winning scholarships and eventually have their financial burden eased.
  • Not Researching Enough: Dont be in a hurry when it comes to applying to foreign universities. If you fail to conduct thorough research, you might end up getting rejected by the admissions committee. From tuition fees to availability of scholarships, eligibility criteria and visa requirements, check everything before you move ahead with your application.
  • Not Putting Enough Details in Your Statement of Purpose: Your statement of purpose is one of the most significant aspects of your grad school application. It helps the admissions committee get to know you, your personality and how you could be the ideal candidate for the program and the university. Also, while writing your statement, do not use generic phrases that might demonstrate a lack of effort on your part, exaggerate your accomplishments or use jargon.
  • Not Proofreading: No person likes to read something that is not easy to read. From checking for wrong spellings to correcting grammar and punctuation, make certain that there are no errors in your essay. Run it through a spell check and also ensure that you have added the university's name correctly.
  • Not Starting Early: Always start early. No matter how much time you think you have, planning to study abroad and converting it into reality takes time. You have to take the required tests on time, prepare the documents as required, reattempt the tests if necessary and apply to the universities before the deadline. If not planned properly, studying abroad might get delayed by a year or more.
  • Ignoring University Instructions: Application instructions with respect to SOPs, LORs, application fees, and academic transcripts may vary from one university to another. If you fail to follow the university's directions, you might end up in the rejection pile.
  • Asking the Wrong Recommenders: Give yourself enough time to pick the right recommenders who know you well academically and/or professionally. Do not just get it done by someone who is least bothered about your application, which always reflects poorly on the admissions process. What is also important to understand here is to choose a professor or former employer who can vouch for your intelligence, record and potential to become a crucial part of the university you are applying to. Don't just go to someone who is famous or has a broader network.

The application process for masters in the USA requires time, effort and dedication. Prospective students have to navigate through various steps before completing the application process. It is essential to begin the application well in advance, take the GRE or GMAT exams as required and collect documents beforehand. It is essential to review the admission requirements and deadlines and act accordingly. The masters in the USA is a challenging as well as enriching experience that provides opportunities for research and career advancement. Therefore, it is essential to carefully plan and persevere during the process.

If you wish to learn more about studying in the US and the different processes associated with studying and living in the US, then you can consult with our expert team. You can reach out to us at and raise your queries about pursuing master's in the US.

Confused About US Visa Process? Our Counsellors Can Guide You!


How long does it take to receive an offer letter from the university after applying for masters in USA?

It can take a few weeks to a few months to receive an offer letter from the university after applying for masters in USA. Some universities send out early decisions in case students apply for early action. It is necessary to be patient during this period and not lose hope. 

What documents are required to apply for masters in USA?

The documents required to apply for masters in USA are academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, resume, GRE/GMAT scores and language scores. Along with that, some universities require financial documents and a copy of your passport while applying. 

Is it necessary to have GRE or GMAT score for applying for masters in USA?

GRE or GMAT scores for applying for masters in USA are often necessary. However, not all courses require standardised scores. Also, some universities have waived the requirement and they consider GPA or work experience as relevant eligibility for admission.

When should one start the application process for masters in USA?

Students should ideally start the application process for masters in USA at least a year before the start date of the course. They can begin their preparation by checking out colleges and researching the courses. Besides, they should prepare all the documents for the application. 

What are the admission requirements for masters in USA?

The admission requirements for masters in USA are a bachelor's degree from an institution, a satisfactory GPA, standardised exam scores like GMAT or GRE, language proficiency scores,  letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose and a resume or CV. Students should meet all the criteria before applying for masters in USA. 

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