Graduate School in The US Webinar
Applying to Grad School in the US - The Main Steps
Check the deadlines and the timeline:
The deadline for most graduate programs in the US is around mid December for the Fall semester (e.g., Dec 2021 for Fall 2022).
Decisions are usually announced by April 15.
While most schools accept Spring applicants, it is usually harder to secure funding for PhD programs. Most Professors plan their funding budget on yearly basis starting from the Fall.
Check the deadlines and the timeline:
Book your GRE and Toefl
GRE is typically required for all programs, but this requirement is currently waived due to Covid in many schools; check the requirements for the program you are applying to.
Toefl is also typically required, but waivers have been made because of Covid. Besides, students graduating from AUB or LAU can get a waiver at many schools. This waiver is not typically stated online, reach out to your program contact person to check about this requirement.
Prepare your CV, SOP and references
CV and SOP are critical components of your application.
Nay Dia can help review your CV and SOP, you can find more resources here
Look into funding
Graduate school in the US has a lot of funding opportunities. Check the Webinar video above for details about funding opportunities.
“The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government's flagship international educational and cultural exchange program, creating connections in a complex and changing world. It provides Tuition, living stipend, and travel and academic allowances.”
Important note: All recipients of the Fulbright Program must return to their home country or location for at least two years upon completion or termination of the program. Waiving this condition is nearly impossible.
The typical visa type is F1 visa:
After acceptance, the university will help you with preparing the needed documents and send you the form I-20 that you need to apply for the visa.
In addition to the Visa fees, you should pay a SEVIS fee to establish your record as an international students. You will receive instructions from the university about this paying your SEVIS fee.
Fulbright recipients get J1 visa which imposes the two-years home residency requirement stated above
Working as a Student
Students on F1 or J1 visa are not allowed to work off-campus except for internships within their major and with university approval
Check the video above to know more about getting on-campus jobs.
Part-time jobs off-campus are not allowed
The best case scenario is to find a student in the city who can guide you through the process. Here are important things to keep in mind:
Open a bank account and try to get a credit card ASAP. You can get up to 200$ when you open a bank account in the US if you get a referral from a customer of the bank, check that out and do not miss it.
Managing your finances in the US may be new to you, make sure you understand how credit cards and credit in general work.
Start building your credit score early on; the length of your credit history matters, so do not lose time.
A very useful book: The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke by Suze Orman (you can get it for ~4$ from ebay or amazon)
The university will provide health insurance options for you to choose from, make sure to attend the health insurance orientation to understand the different options and your benefits.
Always try to use the on-campus health services if possible because you get the best insurance coverage there.
University housing is usually expensive and in many cases reserved for undergrads.
You can find on the university resources page the typical neighborhoods where students live; these are usually safe and within commutable distance to the campus.
Keep in mind the location of the closest grocery store when choosing a house.
Check for housing on craigslist or other rental platforms but be extremely cautious with sending money. Vet the places, and try to ask someone in the city to go and check the place for you before signing any lease or sending money.
If you are looking to find roommates, you can look for facebook groups for roommate matching.
Mobile and Internet:
Shop for the best deals for mobile services. You will get the best deal when you get a group plan with friends, look for that.
Make sure to check all options and possible discounts before committing to a plan. Some plans have yearly contracts that are hard to get out of.
Internet plans vary a lot depending on location and company. Call all companies operating in your city and get their quotes. In most cases, you will get a promotional rate for the first two years.
Get a driver’s license. Even if you do not have a plan to buy a car soon, try to get your driver’s license ASAP for the following reasons:
It servers as an ID card, and you can use it to travel internally without your passport.
You can rent a car when needed.
You start building your driving history: like credit history, the length of your driving history matters. The longer your history, the cheaper your insurance premiums will be when you decide to get a car.
Working after Graduation
When you are close to graduation, you can apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) which allows you to work in the US for 1 to 3 years (depending on your major) without the need for a new Visa.
There are many regulations that govern OPT, you can learn more about the OPT process here.