- How to Select US Universities – Part 1
- How to Select US Universities – Part 2
- How to Select US Universities – Part 3 [this article]
7) Course Length
This is another important factor you have to consider when deciding which college/university to pursue. Some programs are very lengthy. Majority of the master’s programs will vary from 30 credits to 36 credits.
Make sure that you have information about the different courses offered in the graduate school you are applying at. If you want to major in Database, check if the college has courses offered in the database field.
But if you are transferring to a different department, then you will be asked to take pre-requisite subjects/courses.
For example, you are moving from the mechanical engineering department to computer science or from electrical to computer science. For sure you will be asked to take undergraduate courses in computer science before you can take actual M.S. courses.
Sometimes you will be asked to take up to 7 pre-req. courses (7 x 3 = 21 credits). That’s a total of 3 semesters. So you need 21 + 32 credits to finish your master’s.
That’s 3.5 years for an M.S. If you don’t have aid, then students will have to pay for 3.5 years.
When there are no pre-requisites, then HP = 10
Without pre-requirements and max of 36 credits, then HP = 10
1 or 2 pre-requirements, then HP = 7
3 or 4 pre-requirements, HP = 5
More than 5 pre-requirements, then HP = 3.
8) Thesis vs. Non-Thesis
In any master’s program, you will have 2-3 options to take course. A master’s with thesis requires students to solve a significant problem and defend a paper in front of a panel.
Personally, I don’t like to do further research because I’m not interested to pursue a Ph.D. So I took the Non-Thesis Option, which involves completing courses to graduate with a master’s degree.
If you are more interested to do thesis, then rate HP to 10.
If you just want a degree to get a good job with high salary then, HP = 10.
To find this, read about the program in the department website and find what options you have. Then rate HP to 10 if you are interested to do thesis and the program has thesis option.
If a particular school doesn’t have a non-thesis option and you are not interested to do thesis, then put HP = 5.
9) International Student Population
This has both advantages and disadvantages. You will feel at home having a large number of Indian students around, but fewer chances to find part time jobs and scholarship.
Some colleges have very a small population of international students, but I’m sure you will feel very lonely.
You might have to stay with students from different countries. So weigh the advantages and disadvantages and rate the HP.
I would prefer to stay in universities with more international students than those with fewer foreigners. Anywhere from 100 to 200 students from your home country is considered good.
10) Quality of Education
Let’s say you have admission from TAMUK, University of Alabama, Birmingham, and NJIT. I would decide to go with UAB.
The reasons: expenses are cheaper, much better than TAMUK, with more professors, more choices of courses, with lower cost of living than NJIT, and with courses almost similar to NJIT.
So, weight HP of 10 for UAB, NJIT to 5 and TAMUK to 2
Here, you have to weigh the options according to your preference. Good college vs. cold weather, etc.
If you really have good college admissions in the north, and are ready to deal with the cold, then HP to 10. If not, give a low rating for HP.
12) Current Student Satisfaction
To answer this, ask some current students to rate their college/university experience in a scale of 1 to 10 and make sure that you ask at least around 5 students and then average the scores.
Now, you will have the total value for all the universities. So for the universities with the highest scores get the go ahead signal for visa interview.
I hope the above Happy Point Method will help our readers better decide on which university to apply at. Also, I would like to highlight one more thing here.
I know information about some schools and I can give them to you through Orkut Scrap or via comments (under each post) or through email.
However, I don’t have information for all colleges and universities in the U.S. So for these schools, simply follow the same method discussed in this post in getting the needed information.