Guide to USA Bachelor's and Master's Programs: Research, Requirements, and Preparation

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Bachelor’s programs in the USA are typically 4 years. Master’s programs typically require one to three years of additional study beyond the bachelor’s program. Students should start their research for studying a bachelor's or master’s course in the USA at least 12 to 18 months prior to the start of the target academic session. Please note that there is no official ranking system in the USA for colleges or universities. Students should extensively research to identify institutions that match their priorities and goals. SEVP stands for Student Exchange Visitor Program. Students must choose a school certified by SEVP. 

Respicite Tip:

Before identifying a college or program, we recommend students browse through hundreds of career options available. We then advise them to take a psychometric test for career to identify suitable career options for themselves. We further strongly recommend they book a career counselling session with a Respicite-certified career counsellor to finalize their career options and create an educational roadmap.

How to research?

Independent websites like College Board & College Navigator are also helpful. You can also check for college & education fairs hosted by US colleges. Additionally, almost every college & university in the USA has a website. By visiting the college website, more granular information can be accessed.

A brief about the US education system:

U.S. undergraduate education is based on the concept of liberal arts and sciences. You can take classes in a wide variety of subjects in addition to your major field of study. The bachelor’s degree is awarded after completing a specified number of credits in a major field of study. Every course earns a certain number of credits, and each institution has its own requirement for the number of credits needed to graduate. 

Institution Research criteria:

Students should consider the location of the institute. They should also consider their own short-term & long-term goals. Further important questions are the tentative expenses and how these shall be funded. They should identify whether they shall require a scholarship. They should further identify required standardized test scores, preferred institution size, and preferred nature of the institution (public or private). Other important parameters include how easily they shall be able to adjust to a new community & environment, their preferred settings (urban-suburban-rural), preferred accommodation (on-campus vs off-campus) and preferred clubs or sports.

Prepare for standardized test:

Many undergraduate programs require one or more U.S. standardized test scores as part of the application process. Each college or university establishes its own admission requirements, including which third-party standardized test they may require as part of the application process. Some U.S. higher education institutions have implemented test-optional admissions policies, meaning that they do not require test scores. Standardized tests should be taken a year to 18 months before you plan on starting your degree program. Many students take the exams more than once to achieve higher scores.

Standardised tests for bachelor’s courses : 

  • English language proficiency test - If English is not your native language, most U.S. colleges and universities will require that you take an English language exam as part of the application process.
  • UG Admission tests
    • SAT - A test that measures critical reading, writing, and mathematical abilities.
    • ACT - A curriculum-based multiple-choice assessment that tests reading, English, mathematics, and science, with an optional essay section.

Standardized tests for Master’s program

Apart from English language proficiency test, other specific domain tests include

  • DAT – Dental
  • GRE – MS
  • GMAT – MBA
  • MCAT – Medicine
  • LSAT – Law

Standardized test results should reach admission officers before the application deadlines. 


Pursuing higher education in the USA demands thorough research and preparation. From choosing the right institution to preparing for standardized tests, early planning is key to a successful academic journey. Understanding the diverse educational landscape and aligning personal goals ensures a fulfilling experience in the vibrant American education system. For prospective students, leveraging resources and seeking guidance can pave the way for achieving academic and career aspirations in the United States.