How to Choose Right University and Program in USA - Step by Step Guide



Updated On 11 July 2023


Read Time 10 minutes


US university has established a reputation for their excellent education system in recent years. It is a dream study-abroad destination for millions of international students. Every year more than seven lacs international students from different parts of the world move to study in the USA.


Are you also the one who aspires to study in the US but don’t know how to select the right university and program in USA?


Selecting a university to study in USA could be a very rigid and hectic task. But worry not! This blog provides you with guidelines and directions to select a university in the US. Read the blog till the end to gain complete knowledge on selecting a university in the US as an international student.


Steps to Choose University in USA for You

Selecting the right university to study in USA as an international student requires careful consideration and research. There is no particular formula or criteria on how to choose university in USA. However, following some simple steps can make your process easy. Here are the steps on how to choose a right university in USA:


# STEP:1 Define your goals


Determine your academic and career goals. Consider the field of study you're interested in, potential majors, and long-term aspirations. This will help you identify universities that offer strong programs in your chosen field. If you are unsure about the field in which you have to enter, don’t hesitate and connect with your educational counsellors, they’ll surely help you figure it out.


# STEP:2 Research Universities


Conduct thorough research on universities in USA. Consider factors such as academic reputation, rankings, faculty expertise, research opportunities, campus culture, location, and available resources. Websites like U.S. News & World Report, QS World University Rankings, and university websites can provide valuable information. We are pretty sure that you’ll be able to find at least 7 to 8 universities in US that offer a course that caters to your interest.


# STEP:3 Consider financial aspects


Now that you have shortlisted the university for your course, the second thing to do would be to evaluate the cost of tuition fees and living expenses at different universities. Shortlisting a university without considering the budget would be of no use. Remember to research the scholarships, grants, and financial aid options available for international students. Scholarships are a great source to reduce your cost of studying in USA. Take into account the potential for part-time work opportunities on or off-campus to support your expenses.


# STEP:4 Check Admission Requirements


Check the admission requirements for each university you are interested in. Consider factors like standardised test scores (SAT, ACT, GRE, etc.), English language proficiency (TOEFL, IELTS), letters of recommendation, and application deadlines. Also, universities may ask for portfolios or work experience for certain courses, so plan accordingly. Ensure that you meet the necessary prerequisites.


# STEP:5 Look into student support services


Investigate the support services provided by universities for international students. These may include orientation programs, academic advising, career counselling, health services, housing assistance, and cultural integration support. It is quite important to assess these services as they will directly contribute to your overall student experience at the university.


# STEP:6 Seek feedback and advice


Connect with current or former international students who have studied at the universities you are considering. Their insights can provide valuable perspectives on academic rigour, campus life, and the overall experience at the institution. The best way to connect with them is through LinkedIn.


# STEP:7 Compare and shortlist


Create a shortlist of universities based on your research and preferences. Compare the universities on various criteria, such as academic programs, financial aid, employability rate, campus facilities, location, and student support services. Narrow down your options to a manageable number.


# STEP:8 Make a decision


After carefully considering factors, make an informed decision. Choose the university that aligns with your goals, preferences, and aspirations. Remember to submit your application within the deadline and fulfil all requirements. We suggest you make an application to 5 universities as a backup.


Things to Consider While Shortlisting a University

When selecting a university in the US as an international student, there are several important factors to consider. Here are some key things to keep in mind: 

  1. Academic Reputation: Research the university's academic reputation, faculty qualifications, and the quality of its programs. Look for rankings and accreditations to assess the institution's overall academic standing.

  2. Program Availability: Ensure that the university offers academic programs and majors that align with your interests and career goals. Look for specialised programs, research opportunities, and industry partnerships that can enhance your learning experience.

  3. Tuition Fee: See whether the cost of tuition fees and living expenses to study in that particular university matches your budget. Consider the availability of scholarships, grants, and financial aid options specifically for international students. Determine if the university provides opportunities for part-time work on or off campus.

  4. Student-to-Faculty Ratio: This ratio reflects the number of students per faculty member at a university. A lower student-to-faculty ratio is often seen as an indicator of more personalized attention and interaction with professors.

  5. Size and Campus Culture: Think about the size of the university and the student population. Larger universities may offer a wider range of resources and activities, while smaller universities may provide a more intimate and personalised learning environment. Research the campus culture to understand if it aligns with your preferences and values.

  6. Student Support Services: Assess the support services available to international students, including orientation programs, academic advising, career counselling, language support, and cultural integration programs. These services can greatly impact your experience and help you navigate the challenges of studying abroad.

  7. Diversity and Inclusion: Consider the level of diversity and inclusivity on campus. Look for universities that value multiculturalism, promote inclusiveness, and provide support for underrepresented communities. This can contribute to a more enriching and supportive learning environment.

  8. Location: Consider the geographical location and climate of the area in which the university is established. Think about your preferences for urban or rural settings, proximity to major cities, cultural attractions, and community atmosphere. Choosing a location where you will feel comfortable and thrive is important.

  9. Alumni Network and Career Services: Investigate the strength of the university's alumni network and career services. A robust network and comprehensive career support can enhance your job prospects and networking opportunities after graduation.

  10. Research Opportunities: If research is an important aspect of your academic journey, explore the research opportunities available at the university. Look for research centers, labs, and collaborations that align with your interests and can provide valuable hands-on experience.

  11. Visa and Immigration Support: Check if the university offers support and guidance with visa and immigration processes. Ensure that the university has experience working with international students and can provide assistance with documentation and visa-related queries.


Remember to thoroughly research and compare multiple universities based on these factors to make an informed decision. Each student's priorities and preferences may vary, so take the time to assess what matters most to you in your educational journey.


Ranking Organisations in USA

The ranking is a very important factor in shortlisting the universities as it helps students know about the university's global reputation. There are several prominent ranking organisations that assess and rank the universities in the US. Here are some of the well-known ranking organisations:


QS World University Rankings


QS World University Rankings is an international ranking organization that evaluates universities worldwide. It provides rankings based on indicators such as academic reputation, employer reputation, faculty/student ratio, citations per faculty, international faculty, and international student ratios.


U.S. News & World Report


U.S. News & World Report is a well-known American media organisation that publishes annual rankings of universities in the US. Its rankings consider factors such as academic reputation, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, financial resources, student selectivity, and alumni giving.


Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings


THE World University Rankings is another global ranking organisation that assesses universities based on various factors. These factors include teaching, research, citations, industry income, international outlook, and the institution's reputation among academics and employers.


Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) - Shanghai Ranking


The Shanghai Ranking, also known as ARWU, is an influential ranking organisation primarily focusing on research performance and reputation. It evaluates universities based on indicators such as the number of Nobel laureates, highly cited researchers, publications in top journals, and field-specific rankings.




Forbes publishes rankings that focus on the return on investment (ROI) and outcomes of universities. It considers factors such as alumni earnings, student debt, graduation rates, academic success, and student satisfaction.


NOTE: It's important to note that each ranking organisation uses its own methodology and weighting system when assessing universities. Therefore, rankings may vary depending on the organisation and the specific indicators they prioritise. It's advisable to explore multiple ranking sources and consider a range of factors that are important to your specific academic and personal goals when evaluating universities.



Q: What is the cost of studying in USA for international students?

A: The cost of studying in USA varies according to the university and program you choose to pursue in USA. However, if we talk about the average cost of studying in US for international students, then it is around 25,000 USD to 60,000 USD per year.


Q: How long does the US university take to provide an offer letter to international students?

A: The duration taken by the US universities depends on several factors, such as the program, the volume of applications received by the university, competitiveness among the applicants, etc. However, universities generally take around 4 to 8 weeks o asses the student’s profile and give offer letters.


Q: How to choose universities for Masters in USA?

A: Their various factors to consider while selecting a university for Master in USA, such as ranking, academic excellence, research opportunity, employability rate, faculty qualification, student experience, etc.



Choosing the right university is a significant decision, so take your time, gather information, and consult with mentors or advisors who can provide guidance to choose the right university and program in USA and help you throughout the process. Good luck with your university selection!


If you are still unsure or would like to get deeper insight, we encourage you to have a word with our team of expert counsellors at Meridean Overseas Education Consultants (MOEC). If you are unable to travel to our offices, we offer online counselling services via our website. Our dedicated counsellors will provide you with the best guidance regarding your application to study in Canada. Don't hesitate to contact us at or call us at 1800-1230-00011.

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