Masters degree in US Universities takes one to two years to complete depending on your degree plan.

Here is an overview of 3 possible degree path that available based on the program structure offered by the university.

Some schools offer Thesis and Course Based option. Some schools offer all 3 program structure. Most Universities offer Thesis and Course Work only plan. Project option is offered only in few universities.  Here’s the three program structure

  1. Thesis  Option
  2. Non-Thesis – Course Work Only ( or Structured Option)
  3. Non-Thesis – Project Option

Before you read about Masters Degree course path, here is  an in-depth overview about Study in USA – Timeline.

Masters Degree Program Structure


Masters Degree Plan

Masters Degree Plan

Masters Degree – Thesis Option

  • Students usually start working on Thesis after 1st year.
  • Professor will assign a research problem
  • Takes 2 or more semesters to solve the research problem.
  • Defend thesis in front of a panel and you graduate.

Non-Thesis – Course Only

  • Complete required number of courses ( or credits)
  • Complete all the required courses with GPA above 3.0
  • Optional : 1 or 2 semesters of internship

Non-thesis – Project

  • Some Universities have an option to complete a project.
  • Project runs for 1 semester or so.
  • You have to meet the GPA requirements.
  • Optional : 1 or 2 semesters of internship


  • Some schools require 3 months of Internship in addition to above 3 degree plan.
  • When Internship is optional, you can work as an intern for 1 or 2 semesters.

Best Option?

  • Depends on your interests and plans.
  • Thesis – If you plan to do PhD later or inclined to do research.
  • Non-Thesis – If you just need to improve your skills and find a job after M.S.
  • Internship – If  you are in Thesis or Non-thesis, try to do at least 1 semester internship.
  • Internship increases your chances to get job.
  • Internship is a MUST for students without work experience.

Financial Aid

Chances of getting Financial Aid is high when you are in Thesis or Project track.

Also, RA would be available from other departments within the university.

Next : What does it take to Complete PhD Degree?

  • Srikanth

    I’m a three year undergraduate from an Indian university.i heard that some of U.S universities offers MS with three indian degree too.can you post the list of such universities????.But i want to pursue my MS that leads to PhD in Astronomy at Harvard willl be appreciated if you furnish the course details also.

  • santhos

    can u describe me about financial aid?

  • santhos

    hi, am doing my UG in KSR college of tec,1st year and my aim is to do MS in abroad,plz suggest me a way ,wat to do after my UG studies and my family is a middle rated family… please say to study in abroad how much money i should have in my pocket,..


    Really informative one. Thank you very much for your attempt :)

  • Chinmayee

    My gre score is 298 V-150,Q-148 AWA-3
    Toefl :-80
    Currently working in Tata Consultancy Services as a ASE.
    My GPA is:-3.5
    Plzz suggest me some good universities for MS in Computer Science.

    • Vaibhav Singhal

      Hi Chinmayee,

      I have a similar profile like yours, Let me know were are you located at TCS.
      May be we could get in touch and discuss things.


  • oladele ebenezer

    Someone please help me out. I am a Nigerian but is it compulsory I write GRE or any other US-based exams before I can get to secure a place for my masters programme in any US university?

  • Saiman

    have a GPA of 8.82/10 till the sixth semester of my electrical engineering from a decently good college in Karnataka, India. I am looking forward for a decent score in the GRE and the TOEFL as well.
    I have been an active quizzer and debater, won a few prizes in intercollegiate quizzing and debating. I have also done a few projects on high voltage engineering, that have won prizes and my final year project is on the way. I have 89% in my 10th and 92% in PreUniversity Course.
    I have also presented one paper based on my High voltage project and it had won prizes at 2 competitions. Besides this, I often spared time for volunteering activities as well. I have undergone training in 2 major companies (BSNL and MRPL) after my second year and also a minor Internship in the Gulf after my first year.

    I wish to pursue an MS in Electrical Engineering (Dynamics and Control) from a reputed US university soon after my graduation and later continue my career in research.. Given my profile, please suggest me which universities to apply to so that I stand a good chance of being accepted, so that I do not have to undergo the dejection of not being accepted by the ones i apply to.

    • yo


  • suhru

    Hey m planning to take a gre in august and i would like to apply in prior to the universities and so please let me know how to score around 310 in new pattern n on what areas should i concentrate more?

  • Ashokan

    Dear brothers,

    I am a mechanical engineer(2011 passout) from INDIA.I have graduated from a Anna university affiliated engineering college.Now,I am working as a Mechanical Design Engineer(R&D) in INDIA’s 3rd largest windturbine manufacturing company.I am an aspirant to come to US.I got 1160(Quants-780 & English-380) in GRE and 6.5 in IELTS.I am having aggregate of 72% ,But i had a backlog in Heat and Mass Transfer.I am working in Design using Pro-E.And I want to improve my knowledge in CAD & CAE.Please suggest some universities which suits my profile.

  • Mohd. Faisal Ismail

    Hey…HSB… Please help…i have done petroleum engineering in 2010 with a relevant work ex of 8 months…tryin to break into US universities…My profile is as follows for fall 2012 for Non-thesis MS
    GPA 3.2-3.3/4
    GRE 308 ( Q= 156, V= 152)
    IELTS 7.5
    Uni applied : USC, University of Houston ( I have a penchant for this particular uni as it is situated in houston)

    Can you help me finding out which of the above universities i have a chance in. It has been months since i applied in dem widout getting any replies. Please help

    • vivek

      go for georgiatech university,atlanta

  • Vaanya

    I completed my in electrical engineering with 68%aggregate from a top college of uttar pradesh. Also I’ve studied in a convent ICSE school.My 10 score is 86.8% and my 12 score is 82%.
    I’m yet to take GRE.
    Currently I’m working as a systems engineer in infosys.
    I wish to pursue my MS in computer science or in electrical engineering(power system or energy) from a reputed US university.
    Please suggest me some good universities to which i should apply based on my academic performance and also which have an excellent placement track.
    Also is it a must give gre subject test if I wish to change my stream from electrical to computers.


    Im looking for 4 top universities that offers Masters in pharmacy in the USA for international students.


    Im looking for 4 top universities that offers Masters in pharmacy?

    • melky

      I suggest Michigan State University or University of Michigan

  • Art

    Can anyone speak on need blind assistance for international student.

    • atharva

      i will appearing in GRE in september, so can i get admission in us universities ?

  • mahi98

    Hi due
    My ug score is 60pc and i want to do ms management in us or Canada which colleges are likely to accept me and also am i suppose to appear for gre or gmat?

    • charles

      Good day,i study biochemistry please i will ask if i can do my master in pharmacy in canada or in any other university.please kindly direct through the universities.thanks

  • Leela Kiran


    I got 273 in new gre
    and my ielts score is 6.0
    and my academics are 10th-69%,10+2 – 65%,UG – 63%.

    Can i get the admission in any usa university in computer Science program. Basically I am from electronics background is it possible to get into computer Science Program ?If so please suggest which are the best universities I can get the admission. Mostly I am looking in EST. I have 2+ years experience in US IT Staffing as Sales BDE. Please help me out with required information and also which are the best universities I can apply.

    Thanks and regards,
    Leela Kiran

  • Ambaiowei

    Can I have admission to any university in USA with a third class degree honours(mechanical engineering) to study oil and gas engineering

  • Pranav

    I have received admit from ”WORCESTER POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE, MA” and also from PACE UNIVERSITY,NY” for MS in MANAGEMENT INFORMATION SYSTEM . I have seen course of both the univ. n I Like it. guys please help n tell me which the better univ.

  • velangn

    Hi every one,
    I have completed my Bachelors in Pharmacy and interested in pursuing masters in US/CANADA. I am interested in MS in Pharm/Pharmacology/Pharmaceutics. My profile is
    10+2 86%
    10 78%
    gre 298/340(v-141 q-157)(a-2.5)
    ielts 7.5band
    please suggest me some universities where i can get admission into the respective courses . Am trying for this fall 2012. Thanks in advance.

    • Padshala Naresh

      Thank You

  • sameer

    I completed my B.E(civil) with a “not good” 54% aggregate,96 % in 10+2( I was too good in school),I had 13 backlogs and cleared all,I got 6.5 band in IELTS, I desperately want to know is there any chance of me getting admission into Masters course(civil) in an average UK University, I approached some Consultancies ,they said you have some chances,but what % chances,they dint tell me.

    Do i have chances to get admission into A VERY AVERAGE UK university,please answer me,i am so worried about it.
    Thank you

  • Rashmi

    My daughter has done B.Tech in Electronics and Communication this year . But she wishes to pursue her MS in Environmental Engineering and continue with P.hD.She is taking her GRE exam this November. I would like to know whether Universities in the US/Canada/Germany take students who are shifting their stream.

  • S

    i am from ELECTRONICS AND COMM. ENGG dept in btech and would like to

    take MS in CS…i am in a dilemma..I want to know which option is


    1—apply for electrical engg for i20 and after getting into the

    university, shift to CS major …


    2—–apply directly for CS major to get into college..

    i am asking this because i heard that the admission chances for a

    student changing his major become less…and also most universities

    have prerequisites for students from other depts…this can be

    burdensome and if admitted as a provisional student, 1 year would be

    wasted in completing the prereqisites…

  • aditya shah

    hi what about the plan for M.Eng in Canada.

    • parthiban

      have you got any feedback for your comments!!!

  • klrao

    Please let me know the US univerisities offering MS in Computer Engineering

    • Ruth Sobande

      same here to. This is my own plight, Please help me too.

  • vipin gandhi

    which one id gud, thesis or non-thesis option. I dont have any plan fo Phd after MS. I would like to do job after my MS, so do u think internship one option is better or not ?

  • sagar


    I have got admit for MS in mech Engg in Michigan Tech for spring 2011.
    I wanted to know am I eligible to apply for Summer internship(May 2011) in Europe or my home country(India).
    What are the options spring semester students can consider?


      hey…. I myself is planning to applying for Michigan Tech for Fall 2012… can u provide some details like ur credentials which would help me to evaluate my own performance.
      Thanks in advance

  • Gautam Chopra

    People say that getting admission into MS with thesis into a univ. is easier than MS – non theses…….. But in thesis plan internship is more difficult…….. I wanna know if we can change our MS thesis plan to non thesis plan after goint to university and talking to graduate advisor………

  • Sagar

    Hi, HSB

    I need u r help. And, proper information about MS in USA. I'm 2009 passed out later i worked in a software company for 9month as Software Trainee. I this period of time i taken my GRE(540) , TOEFL(108) my academics in CS with 62% having 8 backlogs completed in time. I try for this AUGUST 2010 intake but my visa got rejected twice. So, i dropped my plans for this intake and trying for next intake (JAN-2011). In the mean while is it necessary to take GRE again or not.

    My Question is —-

    Is Visa again be problem for me for the next intake 2011. Is it a risk case. If, then how to over come the risk case and get succeed in getting VISA for 2011.

    Please Please Help Me. I have to decide my career. MS or JOB.

  • puneeta


    I had done BE in electrical engg and i am interested doing masters in electrical department from U.K.

    can you please provide any information regarding study in top universities and after that job opportunities??


  • nitish

    will i be able to earn any money through my internship? if yes much can i expect? and one more doubt in india a normal students when placed in a company get a pay around 20k-25k, how much starting pay i expect in the usa for a ms.

    • Andy

      One word answer to your question: Depends.

      Most internships in US are paid, but unpaid (voluntary) internships exist too. It depends on where you are located in USA (usually, more salary in NY than KS, since living costs are more), your major (engineering/business/arts/science etc), the company where you get an internship (Google will pay more than some small techie company) and your past experience/achievements. It can range from $15/hr to $35/hr, with a median of $25/hr. Similar factors decide your full-time salary. For full-time, range: $35,000/year to $95,000/year and median: $58,000-$62,000

  • Apoorv Gupta

    hello everyone
    i have a ‘lil confusion, whether a student who don’t intend to go for Ph.D. after completing MS (from US) and just want to go for the job should select Project or Course work as his option in 2nd year. Which would make his options wider and more comfortable for the companies to hire him.
    Also, can you provide me a link which diversify the Project and Course work schedule in a more understanding manner? A student choosing Project work – has to attend the classes or solely concentrate on the project work. What kind of Project is appreciated.

  • Chaitanya

    Thanks a lot. The information you provided is very useful for me in clearing my doubts regarding MS.

  • urvi

    what are the ms courses in us for physical therapists

  • Neal Schmiott

    Great chart! As a project for our marketing class, we constructed a video addressing some concerns older, working adults might have about trying to fit graduate school into a hectic life. We'd love some feedback.



    • HSB

      @Neal – Looks good and conveys the message. It's good to have Official Twitter, Facebook Page and Youtube channel for the University. Also, they have to monitored and updated regularly.

  • Gangadharan

    Hi Everybody,

    This masters chart is very useful.But i have a doubt.

    1.what if the student who has opted for a thesis option decides to get a job and not further studying Ph.D??

    2.after Ph.D what is the job prospective of the student apart from becoming a professor?

    • HSB

      Thats what most of the students do. They select Thesis option, because that's easier way to get RA/TA.
      Every company has research department and they hire PhDs

  • vivek

    What are the pay scales after completing M.S in manufaturing or production engg. from U.S universities

    • HSB

      35,000 to 75,000 per year based on job location.

      • vinay

        HSB thats the only pay we get after Masters in manufacturing/mechanical/automobile/industrial enigneers.

        • DHEERAJ


  • vasant

    please send the same plan for uk universities also

  • Krishna

    HSB can you tell about internship? I know about it but i want to know if that internship is offered by university or should we search for the internship like a job during our semester?

    • HSB

      Internsip will with a company. It's same as searching for a job. You apply for internship, attend interview and get the internship position.