Graduate Education in the United States

Graduate Education in the United States

International students travel from all over the world to come to the U.S. to participate in graduate study. Universities in the U.S. offer capacity for study that many countries are not able to offer their citizens, which is why many students pursue graduate education abroad. Graduate education allows students to garner advanced knowledge of prior studies, with specific interest in a discipline. Students seeking careers in many fields are required to obtain specialized training through earning an advanced degree. A graduate school experience offers an environment rich in academic and social experiences that foster intellectual and personal development.

“Graduate education teaches students how to research and apply knowledge,” says Brandy Randall, Associate Dean of the North Dakota State University College of Graduate and Interdisciplinary Studies. “In advanced degree programs, students are learning how to tackle problems that don’t yet exist.”

Institutions across the U.S. offer a variety of graduate programs such as Master of Science (M.S.), Master of Arts (M.A.), Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in the arts and sciences, Education Doctorate (Ed.D.) and doctorate degree programs in professional practice. Programs are available in science, technology, engineering, math, health, human development, arts, education and professional degree programs.

American graduate education is high quality, with research laboratories, facilities and libraries that are equipped to meet the needs of graduate students to ensure success in their fields. U.S. institutions focus on the global economy, building relationships and networking with international graduate students benefitting both international and domestic students, which increases opportunities for careers and international collaboration.  

“It has been a truly enriching experience to study in this country. I have been fortunate to work with wonderful faculty, colleagues and staff, while developing my personal and professional skills. I have grown tremendously and am eager to translate my expertise into further professional endeavors after graduation,” says Corina Todoran, a Ph.D. student in Education Doctoral Programs, who is from Borsa, Romania

Faculty and students build strong working relationships by collaborating in the lab and conducting research together. Students often feel fortunate to work closely with innovative faculty mentors who are recognized and respected internationally for their contributions to their fields of study.

Application and Admission Standards

Admission to a graduate program is a selective process intended to identify applicants who are outstanding among recipients of baccalaureate degrees. Most institutions require applicants to have earned a baccalaureate degree from an educational institution of recognized standing. In addition, applicants must have adequate preparation in the chosen field of study and must show potential to undertake advanced study and research as evidenced by academic performance and experience. To attain full standing in a graduate degree program, aim for a high cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0, or equivalent. (Each graduate program will have different admissions standards, including GPA.) Many universities require additional evidence of academic performance. 

Students must be admitted to a graduate program prior to registering for courses. Prospective students should be prepared to submit the following:

  • An application (paper or online)
  • Transcripts from all institutions attended (take note that many institutions require a WES evaluation)
  • Test Scores (TOEFL, IELTS, GRE, GMAT)
  • Statement of Purpose (Document describing intent to pursue graduate degree.)
  • Letters of recommendation

Opportunities Within a Program and After Graduation

Many programs offer opportunities to collaborate on research and scholarly activity in the form of research and teaching assistantships to qualified students. These awards recognize superior teaching and research contributions of graduate students. Graduate assistantships contribute to professional development with the primary purpose of helping students successfully complete their academic program. Assistantships augment other educational experiences and provide financial support to help students focus of their educational goals.

After graduation, many international graduate students choose to live and work in communities near the university they attended. Advanced degree holders often choose careers in academia, research, manufacturing, industry and business with employers who seek well-educated and trained graduates.

Graduate Education at North Dakota State University

At North Dakota State University (NDSU), graduate students chart their own courses for traditional scholarly inquiry and push the boundaries of modern theory and research. As a student-focused, land-grant, research university located in the heart of the Upper Midwest, North Dakota State University is a leader in academic excellence and competitive research.

NDSU offers 51 doctoral degrees, 84 master’s degrees, an education specialist degree and 12 certificate programs. The University offers graduate programs in eight colleges:

  • Agriculture, Food Systems, and Natural Resources
  • Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Business
  • Engineering
  • Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Human Development and Education
  • Health Professions
  • Science and Mathematics

Students in North Dakota State University’s Graduate School learn from internationally renowned faculty mentors, have access to world-class research facilities and participate in numerous public-private business partnerships. A growing, vibrant university, North Dakota State University is recognized as a leader among its peers.

Lisa Hauck is the Assistant Dean for Recruitment, Admissions and International Initiatives at the Graduate School, North Dakota State University in Fargo, North Dakota.

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