Work experience is highly desirable in a candidate seeking admission into an MBA program in the U.S

Currently I am pursuing my bachelor’s degree in technology with a focus on mechanical engineering and am interested in doing an MBA program after I receive my bachelor’s degree. Can you please recommend an MBA program for me? I would like to study at Harvard Business School or other B-schools. Is work experience required for B-schools like Harvard? Does the school provide merit-based scholarships or financial aid? Can you please tell me about the admissions process for MBA programs?

Venu Gopal Vegi

Work experience is highly desirable in a candidate seeking admission into an MBA program in the U.S. While there are some universities that consider students without work experience, and programs designed for fresh graduates, those are the exception rather than the rule. If you are aiming for the premier MBA programs, then it is advisable to have at least two to three years of work experience under your belt when you apply. With regard to financial aid, most MBA students are in self-financed courses of study, and there are a few scholarships and merit based awards. A few years of work experience gives students the opportunity to save for an MBA program, and there are educational loans as well which help students cover the costs incurred during the course of their graduate studies.

Since the admissions system in the U.S. is based on a holistic assessment of student capabilities, there are several components to a typical application. You will need to take the standardised tests for graduate school – either the GMAT or the GRE. You will also need to obtain letters of recommendation from professors who have taught or worked with you. Finally, there are essays that you will have to submit as part of the application. For more information on specific requirements and planning a successful application, please see www.usief.org.in/Study-in-the-US.aspx and www.educationusa.state.gov.

I am pursuing my masters degree and wish to pursue higher studies or research at a U.S. university. Can you please give me more information?

Siva Jampani

The U.S. higher education system is known for both the breadth and flexibility of its offerings, and for the quality of its research. When you apply to U.S. universities, your application will be judged on the strength of your previous academic record, your GRE and TOEFL scores, letters of recommendation, any research or work experience, and your statement of purpose. Your statement of purpose is an essay that explains your reasons for applying to the program and why you are a strong candidate. For specific programs, the search tool on www.petersons.com is very useful.

There are many components to a strong student profile, and it will be very important that you plan your application carefully. Students are generally advised to begin the process 12 to 18 months prior to the session in which they seek admission. For more detailed information on the process of planning, shortlisting, and applying to U.S. universities, you can also visit www.usief.org.in/Study-in-the-US.aspx and www.educationusa.state.gov.

I am in my final year of an electrical engineering program, and I would like to pursue my master’s of sciences degree in the U.S. Aside from taking the GRE, should I also take the IELTS or TOEFL exams? I heard that IELTS is not accepted by all U.S. universities.

Raavi

The GRE is a mandatory requirement for admission into nearly all graduate courses in the U.S., with the exception of business management programs where the GMAT may be preferred. Additionally international students need to demonstrate adequate English language proficiency to undertake graduate studies. TOEFL, PTE and IELTS are the most popular tests to do so. While most U.S. universities accept any one score, some may state a preference for one over the other. It is best to double check the specific requirements of the universities you will be applying to before deciding on which test to take. For more detailed information on the process of planning, short-listing, and applying to U.S. universities, you can also see www.usief.org.in/Study-in-the-US.aspx and www.educationusa.state.gov.

I am completing my final year of a bachelor’s in pharmaceuticals program, and I am interested in pursuing my master’s degree abroad. Can you please recommend schools and give me information about applying?

The Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD degree) is a four-year entry level graduate professional program preparing students for practice in pharmacy in the U.S. Applicants are required to complete two years of pre-pharmacy course work from an accredited college/university to qualify for admission.

For international students, the PharmD must be earned in the U.S. before a master’s level course can be undertaken. International students interested in the PharmD will therefore first have to apply to a bachelor’s degree granting college or university in the U.S., where the pre-requisite coursework can be completed. After this, they can apply to pharmacy school. Also, Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) scores are required as part of the admission requirements by around 75 percent of the pharmacy schools. After the PharmD, students can opt to gain practical experience with the opportunity to apply and enhance their knowledge and skills through one or two year long post graduate residency programs. A good place to start researching appropriate pharmacy schools and their requirements is www.petersons.com.

This process of gaining a graduate professional degree in pharmacy can be quite time intensive (involving many years of study) for students who have already earned their bachelor’s degrees in India. You should carefully evaluate this plan for your higher studies with respect to your long term career goals. For detailed information on the process of planning, short-listing, and applying to U.S. universities, you can also see www.usief.org.in/Study-in-the-US.aspx and www.educationusa.state.gov

I am planning to apply to American International Medical University, St. Lucia to do a four-year MD program. Can you please give me more information about this school’s standards, opportunities it offers, and the faculty? I am also interested in knowing whether the college is recognised by MCI.

Pradossh

Admission to medical schools in the U.S. is very competitive. Typically, less than three percent of international applicants are accepted to medical schools, and factors such as an excellent undergraduate academic record, fluency in English, as well as a satisfactory score on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) are considered extremely important.

To be eligible to undertake graduate studies in medicine, a student must first clear the USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Examination). To take the USMLE, the first step for international applicants is to register with the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG®). The purpose of ECFMG Certification is to assess whether IMGs are ready to enter U.S. residency and fellowship programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). Please see www.ecfmg.org/applicant-portal.html for details on the necessary steps and timeline you need to follow in order to appear for the USMLE.

All degree courses from accredited medical schools in the U.S. are recognized in India. However, as per an announcement by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (Government of India) in April 2012, any doctor travelling to the United States for higher medical studies from this year onwards will have to sign a bond with the government, promising to return to India after completing his / her studies. You might want to factor this as you plan your further studies.

I am pursuing my bachelor’s degree in technology. I would like to pursue higher education in the U.S. Can you tell me when to take the GRE and TOEFL exams? Is TOEFL required for Australian universities? What is the admissions process for U.S. universities like? Can we get into a good college even if our score is not so good? One of my friends received a score of 1100 and still got accepted into a good university.

Anusha

The TOEFL is administered 30 to 40 times a year, while the GRE is administered Monday through Friday throughout the year. This gives students a lot of flexibility in choosing their test dates as per their own schedule and take the tests when adequately prepared for the same. Registration for both tests can be completed online at www.ets.org.

For detailed information on the process of planning, short-listing, and applying to U.S. universities, you can also see www.usief.org.in/Study-in-the-US.aspx and www.educationusa.state.gov.

I completed my bachelor’s degree in information technology in 2011. At that time I didn’t take the GRE. Now I want to pursue my master’s degree. I have been out of college for one year and I don’t have any work experience. It will take another year to complete the GRE. Will I get a visa next year? What should I say if they ask me what I was doing for the past two years?

B.Niyathi

Well, Niyathi, you are in a great situation. You have the time to strengthen your profile by studying well for your GRE and TOEFL, and to gain some work experience in the field you are interested in pursuing your career. So when you come for your interview, you should have the confidence to tell the officer that you have really worked hard in improving your profile in the free time you had.

I am currently pursuing my bachelor’s degree in technology. I am going to take the GRE on October 17. Many people are saying that during their visa interviews, people are rejected because of their backlogs (supplementary memos). I had five supplementary memos. Will they cause a problem during my visa interview? My final transcript score is 58 percent. My friends say that my academic transcript will play an important role during the interview.

Goutham

It’s the whole picture, Goutham. You have to prove that you're a legitimate student, and undergraduate grades are not the only factor, but they are important. If you have average or below average marks in your undergraduate program, it is very likely that you will need additional factors to prove to the visa officer that you will be successful in a United States graduate program. Students have the burden of proof to show that they're qualified for a student visa.

Here’s what you need: a credible intent to study at the graduate student level (which is a pretty high level, of course), a credible plan for finances (which can be tough as graduate school in America is expensive), and an intent to return to a residence abroad (which means that the officer can’t suspect that you’re using the student visa for economic or immigration purposes.) You’ve got to convince us that you're a student, first and foremost, and that you are going to the U.S. for a world-class education. You must separate yourself from the mass of people who want to use a student visa to work or play.

I have already obtained a visa for Arizona State University. Now I have received admission to a higher-ranked university. Should I apply for a visa again just as I did for Arizona State University? Will it have a negative impact on my application if I apply for the second time?

Puneet Sethi

If you are applying again because you think the new program is a better match for you academically, you should feel free to do so. The fact that you are applying for a new program will probably not be seen as a negative. However, you will probably be asked why you are making a change, and you will need to once again prove that you are a credible and qualified student who wants to go to the U.S. to study, and not for some other purpose, such as to work. Good luck to you!

I finished my bachelor’s degree, and I have 12 backlogs. I have cleared all the backlogs and have an aggregate score of 70 per cent. Will this be a problem during my visa interview?

Gopichand

Hello, Gopichand. I don’t know the specifics of your case, but you do have many strong points to your application. What are the things you can still improve? I’d encourage you to take some time to improve any weaknesses. You can expect the officer to be interested in both your academic marks and the reasons behind any backlogs. Good luck!

When you apply to U.S. universities, your application will be judged on the strength of your previous academic record, your GRE and TOEFL scores, letters of recommendation, any research or work experience, and your statement of purpose