total cost of studying masters ms degree in the usa

The Cost of MS in the USA – Masters Degree

Are you planning to study a Masters Degree in the USA and you want to know the cost of studying Masters (MS) in the USA?

Add all the expenses for each category, you can estimate the total cost of attending Graduate School in America as an International Student.

But, I’m sure want a really see the cost in Dollars and Indian Rupees. Right?

What’s Included in This Article

  • Table – Cost of Living in USA and Indian Rupees
  • Factors Influencing the Cost of Masters Degree in the USA
  • Breakdown and Analysis of Cost of Living Factors
  • Example Cost of Living from Various Universities
  • Sample Total Cost for Various Universities

Note: There are 5 articles in this series. Please read them all to get a 360-degree picture of your total expenses to study a masters degree in the USA. You can find the links at the end.

[Table] Cost of Studying Masters in the USA

If you plan to attend “typical” public university, then the following table applies to you.

Tuition Fees can would be less by couple of thousand dollars, if you go to cheaper university per semester.

If you go to University of Southern California (USC), your Tuition fee alone for 4 Semesters will hit $76,000 (compared to average cost of $40,000).

Read On:

Me: Mom. I want to Study in the USA.

Mom: USA? Why America? What will the total cost of a Masters Degree in the USA?

Me: Total coat for 2 years Masters in the USA will be around $50,000.

Mom: How much is $50,000 in Indian Rupees?

Me: About 35 Lakhs.

Mom: Ok. let’s chat with Dad and Uncle this weekend and see what they have to say.

I’m sure you will have such a conversation in your home, with your parents, relatives, about the cost of studying MS in the USA.

October 2001:

I had the same conversation with my mom.

I want not able to tell her the total cost of studying a Masters Degree in the USA.

I just had the interest, but I haven’t really see the numbers.

December 2001:

My neighbor’s grandson was studying Masters in Florida.

He was visiting his grandma’s home and he came home to talk to my parents.

He clearly laid out the total cost of studying Masters in the USA on a small piece of paper!

You should have seen the look in my parents eyes when the final estimate was about $20,000 per year. Back then 1USD = Indian Rupees 47.

My parents did not think twice about the cost, but how are they going to arrange the funds.

My first semester fee was just less than $4000 at the University of Texas at Arlington. These days, you can’t find Universities that such low tuition fees.

Now the cost if like $10,000 per semester for International Graduate students per semester.

Factors Influencing the Cost of Masters in the USA

  • Location – Major City, Small Town, Rural
  • Type of University – Public vs Private
  • Lifestyle – Sharing Apartment
  • Assistantships
  • Part-Time Jobs and Internships

Once can literally save 50% of their 2 Years Tuition fees by opting to attend a Public University.

I would go with the University of Texas at Arlington or Dallas over the University of Southern California or Stevens Institute of Technology, because they are Private University and tuition fees per semester are almost the twice the cost from the UTA or UTD.

And the skills you are going to gain as a Grad student from expensive Private University is not going to be any better! So, why pay twice, as an International student?

Breakdown of Total Cost of Studying MS in the USA

The cost of studying MS in the USA includes not just the tuition fees, but you need to start adding the expenses from the day you decided to Apply for Universities in the USA.

Total cost of studying graduate MS Masters Degree in the USA for Indian students

Here’s the breakdown of the costs.

  1. Testing Services
    • Test Prep – Books, Coaching or Tutoring
    • Test Registration Fees
    • Test Score Reporting Fees
  2. College Admission
    • University Application Fees
    • Transcript Evaluation
    • University Document Mailing Fees
  3. Student F1 Visa
    • US Visa Interview Fee
    • SEVIS Fee
  4. Travel
    • Shopping
    • Airline Tickets
  5. Tuition Fees
  6. Living Expenses
  7. College Planning & Counselling

When people think of the cost of studying in the USA, most don’t realize that the Major expenses start when the Test Prep starts.

1. Test Prep Expenses

  1. Test Prep – Books, Coaching or Tutoring
  2. Test Registration Fees
  3. Test Score Reporting Fees

Test Registration and the Score reporting fees are standard. Some students would take the tests multiple times.

And International students would take IETLS or TOELF (not both).

But, the Test Prep expenses can vary from person to person.

  • Test Coaching – INR 10,000 to INR 40,000.

Test Score Report Fee is Free for first 3 to 4 Universities.

For each additional University, the fee can be $20 to $30 per University.

If you are applying to seven universities, then $50 (on average).

Score Reporting – $50 x 7 = $350 (~ INR 25,000)

Estimated Total Testing Expenses = GRE/GMAT + IELTS/TOEFL + Test Prep + Score Reporting.

Total Expenses = $205 + $190 + $210 + $350 = $955 (~ INR 66,000)

2. College Application and Admissions

The next major expense is going to be your college applications.

  • College Application Fee
  • Transcript Evaluation
  • Application Package Mailing

2.1 College Application Fee

Let’s look at the Application Fee from three universities from three difference corners of the USA.

Apply – Admissions – The University of Texas at Arlington
harvard university applicaiton fee for masters degree
Applying for Graduate Admission | University of California Berkeley application fees
  • The University of Texas at Arlington – $75
  • Harvard University – $105
  • University of California Berkeley – $125

For our calculation, let’s round out the application fee to $100 per University.

2.2 Transcript Evaluation

Some Universities requires Transcripts to be Evaluation.

WES (World Education Services) is the leading provider of Transcripts Evaluation services. Cost for Course by Course is $205.

And $7, in addition, to mail the results to Universities via Standard Postal Mail.

You can save money by applying to universities that don’t require the evaluation.

2.3 Mailing the Application Package

To ship College application materials to Universities, it used to cost like INR 4,000 per package.

These days, there are cheaper options. You can send one package for about INR 1000 (USD 10).

Other options would send all the documents to a relative in the USA and have them mail to the universities.

3. F1 Student Visa Fees

  • F1 Visa Interview Fee
  • SEVIS Fee

There’s no way around these two fees.

F1 Visa Interview fee is $160 (INR 11,840).

This changes depending on the exchange rate.

SEVIS Fee is $200. (about INR 14,000)

In 2004, Congress mandated all international students and exchange visitors must pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee, which funds the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) and SEVIS. This fee is separate from visa fees and school SEVIS administration fees.

Better plan to ace your F1 Visa interview in the first attempt.

You don’t want to shell out $160 for every attempt.

100% of Indian students, appear for F1 Visa interview more than once, if their visa is denied in the first attempt.

The F1 Visa approval rate once the visa is denied is less than 30%

4. Shopping & Travel

The shopping expenses will add up.

Just the 3 suitcases, a good backpack can cost about $250 (About INR 17,000).

Then, you will be a dress and clothes and other items.

I used to recommend carry books, but thee days the books are really cheap and you can manage with used books from Amazon.

Plus, when I came to the USA, Airlines would allow 32 kgs per suitcase. Not, you can get only 23 kgs per suitcase.

Flight Tickets

One way flight ticket to the USA can be between $800 to $1250 (INR 55,000 to 88,000) depending on the city and date of travel.

If you have a domestic connecting flight to reach your final destination, then you would pay $200 to $300 more for your tickets.

5. Tuition Fees

Your major expense will be the College Tuition Fees.

These days, expect to pay about $10,000 per Semester.

The cost can be plus or minus $2500 depending on the location of the University.

Some universities are way more expensive than $10,000 per semester. You can do that math for that.

  • $10,000 per Semester
  • Cost for 4 Semesters = $40,000 (28 Lakhs INR)

Even if you plan to finish college in 1.5 years, you will still pay the same tuition fees.

You can see examples of

6. Living Expenses

If you decide to Study in California, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, and a few other Major cities, expect to spend $1000 to $1300 per month.

If you attend schools in a small city or Southern US States, you would spend like $500 per month.

For our rough estimate, let’s use $750 per month.

  • $750 per month for living expenses
  • 24 months * $750 = $18,750 (INR 13 Lakhs)

Here are some examples of Living Expenses as reported by Current Students.

  • The University of Florida, Gainesville
    • Rent is around 150$ to 220$ (shared 4/4 or 2/2)
    • Grocery: $120
    • Utilities: $50
    • Phone and internet: $30
    • Travel: $200 (if required for trips)
    • Misc: $50
  • The University of Massachusetts, Amherst
    • Cost for 1 BHK since I have my wife with me
    • Rent+utility: $900
    • Phone bill: $40
    • Grocery: $200-220 
    • Total $1100-1200
  • The University of Arizona, Tucson

I feel my expenses were high as compared to other students while in school. One can save more in Tucson, Arizona. Rent can go cheap to 200-300 if you are okay to share a room. I personally don’t like to share my space and having full-time RA position and no burden of fees, getting a stipend as graduate student body member was one reason for living like this.

  • Year 1 (3b3b ) Furnished rental apartment Arizona
      • Rent 490 ( include electric and internet) 
      • Phone bill 45 
      • Groceries 200
      • Extra 200( clothes, eating out, travel) 
      • Total – 972
    • Year 1.5 ( inside university graduate apartments 4b4b) furnished
      • Rent 680 ( include wifi and electric) 
      • Phone 82 ( phone +bill) 
      • Groceries 200
      • Extra 300( travel, medical bills, restaurants)
      • Total – 1262

Just the living and tuition fee alone would reach to INR 40 Lakhs.

7. College Admissions Counseling Services

If you add College Counseling services, it can vary from INR 15,000 to INR 50,000 depending on the type and the quality of services.

If you the cost is cheap, then chances are the Counselors are getting a referral fee from the University (about 10% of your Tuition Fee).

It’s a person choice, when it comes to taking counselors help.

There are two kinds of Counseling Services.

  • Agents
  • Independent Counselors

Agents – Student pays nothing to low amount. Doesn’t help students to learn from this application process.

Independent Counselors – Students pay more, but they will learn and grow from the process.

Students who use Agent as per Research paper tend to struggle in the University.

A lot of students refer to the blogs and facebook groups and apply on their own. That’s what you should do.

And you can get guidance and planning from Independent Counselors with Strategy, approach and you can do the work.

Sample Cost for Tuition and Living Expenses from Universities

  • Valparaiso University – MS in Information Technology
    • Tution Fee – $16120
    • Living expenses – $14,000
    • Total – $30,120
  • Stevens Institute of Technology – Ms. Cybersecurity
    • Fees $36,000
    • Total – $58,670
  • The University of South Florida at Tampa-MS Business Analytics-No
    • Total – $35881
  • The University of Texas at Dallas-MS Business analytics –
    • Total – $49,000
  • Florida State University Tallahassee – MS MIS -In Process-
    • Toal – $39000
  • The University of Nevada, Las Vegas – School of Dental Medicine – DDS
    • Total Fees $150,000

Summary: Cost of Studying MS in the USA

  1. Worst Case Scenario – Plan for INR 45 Lakhs ($63,000)
  2. Part-Time Jobs, Scholarships, Assistantship can lower the cost
  3. Not everyone finds a job or assistantship
  4. It’s illegal to work on hotels and gas stations (part-time jobs within the university campus is allowed)
  5. Bigger Cities tend to be expensive, but it provides ample opportunities to find an internship or a job.
  6. The Southern US States like Texas, New Mexico Alabama, Mississipi, Oklahoma offers lower tuition fees and cheap places to live.

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One Comment

  1. Trying to determine the lowest possible tuition for a online MBA . I am living in Canada so will be considered an international student. I am 70 years old with 38 years of business related experience. Need your help in suggesting an appropriate school at a most affordable cost (under $20,000 CAD for completion of the MBA without an undergraduate degree.

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