Studying abroad

What is a degree?

The term ‘Degree’ refers to the level of education that you have completed or wish to pursue in your academic career.  One can pursue a Bachelor’s or an Associate or a Master’s or a Ph.D. degree.

What is the difference between a degree and a diploma?

A degree is a recognized qualification.  A diploma on the other hand is not recognized and is generally awarded to students who major in a technical or vocational field.  Most students find the need to return back to college and secure a degree as the diploma is often an inadequate qualification for some of the best jobs.  In the United States an associate degree is equivalent to a diploma.

I am in my tenth grade, when can I go overseas to study?

You could apply immediately for High School, where you can complete your 11th and 12th grades which is referred to as the junior and senior years.  Your other option is to complete your twelfth grade and then apply directly for a Bachelor’s degree

How long will it take me to complete a degree?

In United Sates the High school program begins with the 9th grade and ends with the 12th grade – a total of 4 years.  A Bachelor’s degree in America is a four-year degree.  A Masters degree ranges from one and a half to two-years. The Ph.D. program generally varies from a period of 3 to 8 years.

What is dual degree?

Generally, a student must apply and complete one degree at a time. Some Universities do have provisions for students to complete two degrees at the same time.  For example the Engineering Management program allows the student to complete both the Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in a 5-year program at the same University rather than in the actual six years that it would otherwise take. However very few colleges offer this possibility.

What are credits?

The credit system, until recently has been unique to the US education system.  It is devised to give ‘points’ for lectures attended.  For instance, if a student takes one paper in Economics that is worth three credits, it means that she will attend lectures in Economics three hours a week for the whole semester.  The three hours maybe divided into three lectures, two lectures, or one three-hour seminar session.  Credits eventually are added and must meet the minimum of 30 credit hours per academic year. Hence in a bachelor’s degree a student has to achieve 120 credits. If each subject/paper is equal to 3 credits then the student would have to do 40 papers in 4 years! Different courses have different credit hours ranging from one, two or three credits.

How many credit hours make up a degree?

Students must complete 30 credit hours per academic year.  A bachelor’s degree is equivalent to 120 credit hours while a Master’s program is equivalent to 60 credit hours.

I have a three-year Bachelor’s degree, am I eligible to apply for studies in America?

The United States offers a four-year program at the undergraduate level.  At this stage you can either opt to pursue a Master’s degree or transfer into the Bachelor’s degree. To be eligible for the Master’s degree you must complete the Master’s degree – part 1.  A few majors might require you to complete both Part 1 and 2 of the Master’s course to be eligible to apply for a Master’s degree. Another option that you might consider is to apply as a transfer student into the undergraduate program.

What is a transfer status?

If you were unable to go to the US soon after the 12th grade, you still have an option.  If you are currently in a Bachelor’s degree program here, and have completed a year or two, then you have the option to apply to a University abroad and transfer into the second (sophomore) or third (junior) year of college at a particular University depending on your transfer of credits.

How many transfer credits can I expect?

The transfer of your credits will largely depend on the overlap in the curriculum of your current University and the one you have applied to.  Hence if you have completed the pre – requisite courses here in India you will not need to do them again.

What are the documents needed for credit evaluation?

You will need to submit your official marksheet and transcripts for any undergraduate degree coursework that you have already completed.  In order to further facilitate the process you will also need to submit an attested copy of your syllabus.

How do I know how many credits will I earn when transferring to a University abroad?

Depending on the course that you are applying for, and the University’s recognition of the subjects completed by you, you will be given a transfer of credits.  Normally 30 credits equal to one year of education in the US.

My University does not evaluate credits.  What should I do?

Some colleges or Universities do not evaluate the credits of students.  They may direct you to an agency that specializes in the evaluation of credits.  These agencies will evaluate your documents (official marksheet, transcripts and attested copy of syllabus) for a fee.  They will then send a written report on the number of credits that you have earned and which are transferable.  Some of the evaluation agencies are the World Education Services (WES) and the Education Credential Evaluation (ECE).

What happens to my credits when I change majors?

If you change majors after admissions your transferable course credit should remain fairly intact.  However, because you may need extra or different preparation for a new major, some of the courses you have taken may now be useful only as an elective.

What is a major and what is a minor?

As a student you are required to complete 30 credit hours in an academic year.  You could choose to major in the field of Computer Science.  This is the subject in which you take core courses.  Apart from your core courses you are allowed to take electives in any other subject of your choice, which may or may not be related to your major – for example creative writing or philosophy or business studies.  These electives form your minor subject.

What is a dual major?

The term dual refers to ‘two’.  Hence a dual major means pursuing two majors at a time.  Students have the option of pursuing a dual major.  In India students may decide to do a Sociology – Economic double major or a Biochemistry – Life Sciences double major.  Similarly in the United States you can pursue a double major.  A dual major is when you pursue a degree, which requires you to take classes from 2 different departments.

How should I choose my major?

Choosing a program of study in which you wish to major in after high school is a difficult choice.  The simplest method is to choose the subject that interests you the most and co-relate it with the job prospects after graduation.  Once you are enrolled in college, you will learn about fields that you have never studied about in high school as well as discover ones that you have already been exposed to.

Madhavi Desai RecommendsIf you are unsure about what field you would like to study and ultimately pursue as a career or about the type of program you would like to take it is wise to enroll at a college that has a variety of courses.  On the other hand if you are sure of your major or basic area of study that you plan to pursue at college it is important that you select an institution that provides a strong foundation in that program.

What are the various courses that I can choose to major in?

There are wide ranges of courses that you can choose from.  You could pursue a major in Music or Film or a degree in Physics or Engineering.

What are the most popular majors?

In today’s fiercely competitive and global environment students with a business or computer science major are the most sought after professionals.  Besides, these jobs have the highest level of mobility and the knowledge gained can be applied to any organization across the world.

Is an MBA degree worth it?

An MBA degree is your key to some of the highest positions in the corporate world.  It is an investment that will keep paying you rich dividends at all times in your career.  Above all the MBA degree will give you global access to some of the most challenging jobs in the industry.  Almost every student recovers the cost of their MBA degree within a couple of years after graduation.  Hence, yes though expensive the MBA degree is definitely worth your while.

How many years of work experience do I need to apply to a Top 20 MBA program?

The Top 20 MBA schools are the most competitive and sought after schools.  You will need a minimum of 5 years of work experience to be eligible to apply to a Top 20 MBA program.

Which are the best locations for creative majors?

If you are looking at a major in Film Studies, Fashion Designing or any other creative major you must be in a location where the industry is thriving.  California and New York are perhaps the best places to go to, however they are also very expensive.

What majors come under Fine Art?

Ceramics, Painting, Drawing or Sketching, Photography, Sculpture and Printmaking are some of the popular majors that come under the field of Fine Arts.

What is a Liberal Art Program?

A Liberal Art program includes majors such as psychology, philosophy, life sciences and foreign languages.  Generally the business and computer science program also fall under the category of liberal arts.

If I do not get into the top 50 schools is it still worth going abroad, or will I just be wasting money ?

The rankings provided by US News and other reliable sources are a complementary tool to aid your decision in choosing a particular school.  There are 300 colleges in America yet only 50 of them make it to the Top 50.  This does not mean that the remaining 250 schools are not good. Besides competition is fierce in the top 50 schools and not everyone can make it to a top 50 school.  However the educational facilities and the wide range of courses that you can pursue in the United States makes it worth your while to pursue an academic career overseas.

Are some majors more expensive than others ?

Yes.  Some majors are more expensive than others. The costs of the materials that you use are related to your course costs. For example an Engineering course may be more expensive than an English major.  Fashion Designing, Photography, Interior Design and Film Studies are some of the most expensive majors.