Are you wondering about the best time to apply for a Master’s degree in the United States? Let’s explore the best timeline to follow for your U.S Master’s degree applications.
A Master’s degree from a reputable university in the U.S can broaden your horizons – both academically and professionally. Not only will the experience give you an international perspective, but you’ll also advance your knowledge and skills in your area of expertise.
If your dream is to pursue a graduate program in the U.S, one of the first steps is figuring out the best time to apply.
The process of applying for a Master’s degree is a little different from applying for an undergraduate program. Unlike when applying for a bachelor’s program, for instance, you’ll probably be required to write a personal statement.
In this brief guide, we’ll explore what you need to know about the graduate application process – including the best time to apply for a Master’s degree abroad and general timelines to keep in mind.
Let’s dive in.
When Should I Apply for a Master’s Degree?
The best time to apply for a Master’s degree abroad varies depending on the country and university you are applying to.
Expert tip: In general, it’s recommended to start the application process at least one year before the intended start date of the program.
In the United States, most graduate programs invite international applications for the Fall (mid-August to December) and Spring (January to May) semesters. A limited number of schools also accept international applications for graduate programs in the Summer semester – early-June through late-July.
Some programs may have earlier or later deadlines. To get the specific deadlines, check each university program’s webpage.
It’s recommended that you submit your application early in the admissions cycle, ideally at least six months before the program’s start date.
Since admissions decisions for Master’s degree programs are made on a rolling basis, delaying your application could result in missing out on the opportunity to attend your preferred program.
Applying early also gives you more time to explore and secure any additional funding you may need (such as applying for an international student loan), apply for your student visa, and to finalize your accommodation arrangements.
Additionally, it’s important to factor in time for preparing your application materials, such as taking standardized tests (e.g. GRE, GMAT) and obtaining transcripts and letters of recommendation.
U.S Master’s Programs Application Timeline for International Students
If you’re planning to pursue your Master’s degree in the U.S, the best time to start the application process is a year before the program’s start date.
Here’s a proposed timeline for U.S Master’s applications for international students:
- 12 Months Before Application: Start researching and comparing universities and graduate programs you’re interested in applying to. Important factors to consider include tuition fees, location, curriculum, rankings, employment rates, acceptance rates, reputation, eligibility criteria, and financial aid.
- 10-8 Months Before Application: Book slots to take required standardized tests (such as GRE or GMAT) and English proficiency tests (such as TOEFL or IELTS). Prepare for the tests by studying and taking practice exams.
- 6 to 7 Months Before Application: Take the required tests and have your scores directly submitted to the universities you’re applying to.
- 5 Months Before Application: Start drafting your statement of purpose for graduate school application.
- 4 Months Before Application: Identify potential referees and ask them to write recommendation letters for you.
- 3 Months Before Application: There are four main things to do during this period.
o Request your academic transcripts from previous academic institutions
o Work on application forms
o Refine your application essays
o Retake standardized tests (if you didn’t get satisfactory scores)
- 2 Months before Application: Review and proofread the application form and essays. Make sure that your recommendation letters and academic transcripts are on track.
- 1 Month Before Application: Review and wrap up your application before submitting.
This Master’s degree application timeline for international students will allow you adequate time to:
- Research and compare schools programs
- Prepare your application
- Request recommendation letters
- Process your academic transcripts
- Prepare your finances
When Should I Apply for an International Student Loan?
The best time to apply for an international student loan is after receiving your admission offer letter. Most lenders require you to provide proof of enrollment before you can be considered for a loan.
The loan amount is determined by the tuition amount, room & board, and other fees for the school that you plan on attending.
Once you’re received your admission letter for an eligible program, that’s the right time to start applying for international student loans. Before you apply, make sure to research and compare loans from different lenders.
The loan application process can also take time – so start applying as soon as possible to avoid delays. You want to ensure that loan funds are available when you need them.
When Should I Start Applying for Scholarships?
The right time to start applying for scholarships can vary depending on the scholarship and the organization providing it. Each scholarship has its own requirements and application deadlines.
Should you apply for scholarships before or after acceptance?
You don’t have to wait for college acceptance before you can start applying for scholarships – unless the scholarship has specified college acceptance as a requirement.
If you’re relying on scholarships to fund your graduate programs abroad, it’s advisable to let the school know about your situation.
Some universities only offer fully-funded places and require applicants to have sufficient funding in place. However, other universities allow you to apply for a program without having secured scholarships, with the expectation that you inform them promptly if you need to decline the place due to inadequate funding.
In the event that you are not awarded the scholarship, you should still have enough time to withdraw your university application or seek alternative funding options before the start of the program.
When Should I Apply for a Student Visa?
Once accepted into a Master’s program in the U.S, international students must obtain a student visa. It can take several months to process your student visa.
Therefore, it’s recommended that you begin the visa application process as soon as possible after receiving your acceptance letter.
Overall, as an international student, you need to plan ahead and be mindful of the various deadlines and requirements involved in the application process for Master’s programs in the US.
Join the 8B Community to get support through the application process from peers and university admission professionals.
If you need financing to fill funding gaps after being accepted into a graduate program in the U.S, 8B is here for you. Use our loan comparison tool to find affordable cosigner-free loans for international students.