The success of your admissions efforts depends on three elements (if you ask us!):
1. Your program list (the graduate programs you are interested in);
2. Your application (approach the process with the U.S. perspective in mind!);
3. Unknown factors: what the department, professors, university want and need, who else is applying – all sorts of factors that might come up without you ever being aware of them. You have great power in the application process and you should use it – but the result of the application is not just based on what you did or did not do.
An important factor is the compatibility between yourself and the U.S. Master or Doctoral programs you are applying to, based on research you have conducted on these programs, the departments and universities they are housed at – it may even be based on your enthusiastic email communication with a professor in said departments!
Basically, you need first to become aware of your needs and expectations, and then to identify the U.S. institutions where they will be best met. As there is no single official ranking system for graduate programs in the USA, the best program for you will be the one that meets your requirements that encompass academic development, financial support, and personal growth.
With over 1,000 universities in the USA offering graduate degrees in a wide range of fields, you will certainly need plenty of time to research the graduate study programs and institutions where you may decide to apply. That is why it is advisable you begin your search for the right program at least 12 to 18 months before the academic year in which you plan to become a graduate student in the USA. That being said, it’s never too late or too early to start applying – after you make the first steps, it will become clearer what options you can choose from at that particular time.
The major graduate degrees at U.S. institutions are the Master’s degree and the Doctoral degree and they combine research and coursework. As with graduate study in Romania and the European Higher Education area in general, graduate education involves in-depth training and specialized instruction, with massive self-directed study and learning.
Here are some of the main features of Master and Doctoral programs, to help you develop a clearer understanding of the program type that is adequate for you.
In the U.S., you may apply to a PhD straight out of your Bachelor's program!
- Provide instruction, education, and training in a specialized branch or field of study.
- May have an academic focus, like the Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MS), or a professional focus, such as the Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Fine Arts (MFA), Master of Social Work (MSW), or Master of Education (MEd).
- Generally take one to two years.
- Prepare you for a teaching career at university level or for research, as well as for other careers in your field requiring advanced knowledge and research skills.
- May be academic, e.g., Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), or professional, e.g. Doctor of Education (EdD), or Doctor of Business Administration (DBA).
- Require successful performance in a comprehensive examination and completion of original research leading to a dissertation.
The U.S. graduate system appears to be uniquely flexible to Romanian students as admission to a number of graduate programs does not require a Bachelor’s degree in a specific field. This means that a college graduate with a BA in English can enroll on an MBA program and then develop a successful career in Business, or an engineer with professional expertise in Marketing may continue exploring this field through a U.S. graduate program.
Another difference between Europe and the USA is that professional degree programs leading to licensure in specialized fields such as Law or Medicine are only available after university. Medicine takes around three-four years while Law School takes three years. Neither requires a Bachelor’s degree in a specific field, but they may require pre-requisite coursework and a separate application process including specific exams.
U.S. universities offer a huge range of graduate programs. So how to choose the right program for you, with so many appealing options?
Let’s say you are clear at this point about your priorities, but the wealth of choices looks overwhelming. In principle, you could further your search by visiting graduate program search engines (such as Niche.com, Peteresons.com. GradSchools.com), sites like Google Scholar (search for keywords you’re interested in), or attending educational fairs like IUF or info sessions offered by both universities and EDMERICA.
Research faculty members, their research interests, their publications, and you’re on your way to building a professorial link on your dream U.S. campuses!
Please remember that the U.S. graduate study opportunities are so wide and diverse, and the standards – academic, professional, logistic – so high, alongside generous financial aid for deserving applicants, that you will be enriched in multiple ways by attending such a program. Talk to EDMERICA to learn about Romanian students thriving in their U.S. graduate programs. WE offere free info and resources & paid-for courses and individual advising for every step of the application process.