Things to know before completing your application for US varsities

US universities generally require students to have completed a four-year bachelor’s degree to be considered eligible for admission to a master’s programme

By   |  Monika Setia  |  Published: 28th Mar 2021  12:01 amUpdated: 27th Mar 2021  9:54 pm

We continue our discussion today on Step 3 – Complete Your Application, of the 5-Steps to master’s degree applications under EducationUSA at US universities. Last week, we understood the different admission intakes and corresponding application timelines for master’s programmes.

The article also highlighted how it is important for students to check websites of the shortlisted institutions for available intakes and application deadlines before starting their application.

US universities generally require students to have completed a four-year bachelor’s degree to be considered eligible for admission to a master’s programme. The academic strength of the student reflected through their performance in the bachelor’s programme and standardised test scores (GRE/GMAT), good English proficiency test scores, letters of recommendation(s), and statement of purpose, along with work experience and/or involvement in co-curricular activities/research are some of the assessment criteria used by the admission committee while reviewing applications. Financial documents, reflecting a student’s ability to pay for their studies, is another measure used by some institutions for admission. Overall, US institutions consider student’s complete profile for assessment of their candidature to master’s programmes.

If a student is pursuing a three-year bachelor’s degree program in India, the student should shortlist a few universities and check their graduate admissions pages or reach out to the admissions offices to confirm if they accept three-year degrees and accordingly proceed with their applications. While some US institutions clearly state that they do not accept three-year bachelor’s degrees, others may consider three-year programmes depending on an evaluation of the student’s educational credentials by the university or another approved agency to determine his/her academic readiness for the master’s degree programme.

The application package for master’s programmes at US universities involves an online application form and an application fee, standardised test (GRE/GMAT) and English proficiency scores, transcripts from bachelor’s programme, statement of purpose (SOP), two-three letters of recommendation, resume or CV, and financial documents as specified by the institution.
Starting next week, we will discuss each aspect of the application package for master’s degree applications to US institutions.

— Monika Setia (Regional Officer and EducationUSA Adviser at the United States-India Educational Foundation based at the U.S. Consulate General Hyderabad)

Queries Answered

Q. What is the difference between JD and LLM programmes in the United States?
– Rajasekhar Rao

There are various degree options available for students in the field of law in the United States. Juris doctor (JD), Master of Law (LLM), and other Master’s degrees (MJ, MCL, MCJ, etc.) are some considerations for international students.

The first professional law degree in the US is the juris doctor (JD). JD programmes are pursued after four years of undergraduate (bachelor’s degree) study in any major. The Master of Law (LLM) programme is an advanced law degree that requires students to have completed a primary law degree such as Bachelor of Law or JD degree at the time of admission. LLM is a more advanced degree than JD. JD programmes are of two-three years duration while almost all LLM programmes in law are one year long. In some US states, the LLM degree qualifies successful degree holders for bar eligibility along with some additional criteria, but once a student has completed the JD degree, they are eligible to take the bar exam in any state.
If a student has already pursued a bachelor’s degree in law in India, then he/she is eligible to apply for the LLM program. However, if the student does not have the relevant educational background, then he/she may consider the JD program.

Q. I have received admission in MS program in the United States for Fall 2021. Can you please explain what is SEVP and SEVIS?
– Ashwin Kumar

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is a programme by the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). SEVP ensures that government agencies have essential data related to non-immigrant students and exchange visitors to preserve national security. The SEVP administers the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). SEVP also provides approval and oversight to schools authorised to enroll non-immigrant students in the ‘F’ and ‘M’ visa categories and gives guidance to both schools and students about the requirements for maintaining their status. SEVIS is an internet-based system that maintains data on foreign students and exchange visitors before and during their stay in the United States.
As an international student in the US, students pay the SEVIS fee in time to ensure that the payment can be deposited and recorded in SEVIS prior to the scheduled student visa interview. The interviewing consular officer will confirm that the fee has been paid by accessing SEVIS. To allow for adequate processing time the fee must be paid:

• At least three business days prior to the visa interview date if paying electronically.

• At least 15 business days prior to the scheduled visa interview if submitting payment through regular mail. (This time frame allows adequate time for the fee payment to be received at the DHS address listed on the Form I-901, deposited, and recorded in SEVIS.)

• Be sure to add local mail processing time to this processing estimate for accuracy.
For more information about the SEVIS program, visit

Key criteria to check before applying for Master’s programme in US

Cost and potential sources of funding

Application timelines and how to go about it

Five steps to higher education in US

How to get benefit from EducationUSA

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