Student Guide to Undergraduate Studies in US

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Piyush Kohli
Study Abroad Expert
Updated on Apr 16, 2021 16:34 IST

These vary between courses and colleges. For each course, Indian students will need to meet a minimum English language requirement on tests like TOEFL or IELTS. Along with that a minimum academic record of 65% and above for humanities stream in class XII, and 70-80% and above for Science/Commerce stream in class XII will also be required, in case of undergraduate degrees. If you are going for foundation and Diploma programs, they may be available for students who have secured below 60% in school.

For any degree or program in US, the student should have completed 18 years of age before joining the program.

It is important to note that these numbers are just for reference purpose, the actual numbers may differ from university to university.

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The following documents need to be submitted:

  • Attested copies of mark sheets of class X, XII
  • At least, two academic reference letters from teachers and counsellors who have taught and worked with you most during your school years.
  • Statement of Purpose (SOP)
  • Academic Resume
  • Score reports of SAT / IELTS / TOEFL
  • Portfolio (in case of students applying for art and design courses & architecture programs)
  • Others (certificates/achievements in extracurricular activities)
  • Proof of funds

Intake seasons

The session starts mainly in September and January but some institutions have intakes in May, July and October as well. The Major intake season for the top courses in US is September, while the minor intake season is January, which is meant for a fairly small number of courses.

You should start your admission process around six months before the application deadline. Typically most universities have three deadlines, from October to January. It is up to the convenience of the students, which deadline to aim for. You should be done with your language and aptitude tests by three months before the deadline. The last 3 months should be dedicated to filling out the application form properly.

It is essential to ensure that the ‘complete application process’ along with appearing for interviews and visa application procedure should be complete by June or July for the September intake.

The main intake season for top colleges and courses is the fall season i.e. September. It depends on what course you are looking to pursue, because many courses don’t have the January intakes.

If you are looking to get admission into vocational courses, then some courses may have admissions open in January and perhaps even May or July.

Language exams

International English Language Testing System (IELTS), Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and Pearson Test of English (PTE) are all standardized language tests, which are required to be taken for the purpose of getting admission to colleges. These follow different formats, structure and result bands. These tests are all different in various ways but many colleges ask for any one of the results. So it's up to the student to decide which exam to appear for.

Repetition of exams: IELTS can be taken unlimited number of times. TOEFL can be retaken as many times as wished, but cannot be taken more than once in a 12-day period. Same with PTE, it can be taken as many times as desired. You must wait to receive your scores before you can book your next test.

Fee: The fee for these exams is Rs. 9,300 for IELTS, Rs. 10,000 for TOEFL and Rs. 9,350 for PTE.

Time to apply: Ideally, if you are aiming at the September intake you should appear for these exams by November, so that you can apply before the first deadline. The universities you will be applying to will mention which exam results they will accept. But if they give a choice to go for either of these, then the choice depends on you. The time required to prepare for IELTS/TOEFL/PTE would depend on the existing English language proficiency. You may require 2 to 4 months of preparation before the exam date.

General exam

SAT - The Scholastic Assessment Test measures literacy and writing skills that are needed for academic success in college. This test assesses how well the test takers analyze and solve problems—skills they learned in school that they will need in college. The SAT is typically taken by high school students to get into UG courses.

The university you will be applying to will mention which exam results will be applicable for the course of your choice. But if they give a choice to go for either of these, then the choice depends on you.

Most of the US colleges accept online applications. You will have to visit each college's website to apply. In most cases you will have to make an account on the college website to provide your basic information, submit the scanned version of your documents, and pay application fees. You will be informed about the application process and its stages through this account. Please refer to the website of the colleges of your choice to know the process of applying.

Steps: The common steps to applying for admission are as follows:

1. First steps: April 2016 to September 2016

  • Start early and by August, shortlist 8-12 universities that you will apply to. Visit university websites and note application requirements, deadlines etc.
  • By September, be familiar with bank loan options and scholarships to fund your studies.
  • Begin by downloading admissions brochures from the university websites. Most brochures are out more than a year earlier.
  • Do some initial research on various accommodation options.

2. Crack the exams: June 2016 to December 2016

  • Prepare for required standardised tests like SAT, TOEFL or IELTS - depending on the course and university.
  • By June-July or three months before the test date, register for SAT.
  • Register for TOEFL/IELTS at least a month before the test date.
  • Take the required tests around September. Plan for buffer time in case you need to retake the test. Check test taking and re-exam process and guidelines. 

3. It’s application time: August 2016 to October 2016

  • Shortlist the colleges and prepare for your application. Think hard about what makes you unique as an applicant and sketch out your strengths and self-assessment.
  • Contact your professors and direct managers for the required 2-3 reference letters. At least a month before your application deadline. Check the deadline timetable!
  • Begin drafting your SOP and essays. Give a month’s time to structure these documents properly.
  • Apply before the deadline!

4. What next: November 2016 to April 2017

  • Don’t delay replying to college e-mails. And there will be quite a few!
  • Appear for personal/video interviews. These are scheduled around January to March.
  • Once you get acceptance letters, make your decision as soon as possible.
  • Depending on the deadline, notify the universities of your decision.
  • You will need to pay a non-refundable deposit to confirm your admission.

5. Visa and money matters: May 2017 to July 2017

  • Search for and begin applying for external scholarships (if applicable).
  • Apply for student loan, after you get your acceptance letter.
  • Gather paperwork for your student visa. Check visa requirements.
  • Apply for student visa in time. Keep in mind the time taken for visa processing!

6. Get ready to fly: July 2017 to August 2017

  • Book airline tickets.
  • Arrange for Travelers’ Cheques.
  • Collect all the documents and their photocopies, to take along.
  • Check out Pre-departure checklist!

Read more articles related to undergraduate courses in US

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USA Undergraduate Degrees Course Structure

About the Author
Piyush Kohli
Study Abroad Expert

With a plethora of knowledge of the education domain, Piyush Kohli has been involved with study abroad for over 5 years and counting. He comes with prior experience on the complexities of the study abroad applicatio... Read Full Bio



I am a class 11 student ,i want to do my bachelors degree in US,i studied in a cbse school till class 10 and changed to some coaching centre for jee which teaches state syllabus can i study abroad if i do state syllabus

Reply to Sai srinivas sujan Maddirala

Swameeka Medhi

3 years ago

Hi Sai, complete your 12th with good grades and take the SAT or ACT to be considered for admission in US. State boards are acceptable, do not worry. JEE is not required, instead you must take SAT or ACT. Also, you need to take the TOEFL. Please go through the article above for UG studies in US.

5 years ago

I'm a diploma first year student and I plan to complete bachelors and Masters degree abroad. Can anyone suggest any colleges or any country in particular to start with?

Reply to

5 years ago

Please guide about application process for transfer applicant's from India to US universities too. regarding when to apply,documents required and other thing.

Reply to

Swameeka Medhi

5 years ago

Hi Prathamesh, transfer process involves meeting credit point norms which are specific to the universities. Would suggest you to directly contact the universities about the same.

5 years ago

and what kind of extracurricular activities i need to do in this less time,because i m applying this year only?

Reply to

Swameeka Medhi

5 years ago

Hi Dhara, if you are not confident of your 11th performance you must work harder on your class 12th exams and also your SAT. It is late for you to now get involved in extra curriculars, you may still engage yourself in community services and develop your skills through some research or projects,...Hi Dhara, if you are not confident of your 11th performance you must work harder on your class 12th exams and also your SAT. It is late for you to now get involved in extra curriculars, you may still engage yourself in community services and develop your skills through some research or projects, foreign languages etc. Not banking too much on your extracurriculars now please only focus on your academics.

5 years ago

I got very good cgpa in 9th and 10th but very low grades in 11th and in may i m applying for sat , targeting to score good.Right now my problem is with my 11th results will this affect my profile and scholarships on basis of that?

Reply to

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