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female international student researching study options

Step 1: Research Your Options

Graduate

The first step to graduate study in the United States is researching your options to find a college or university that best fits your needs.

Remember that no official ranking system exists for colleges and universities in the United States. The best college or university is the one that is best for you and meets your requirements—academic, financial, and personal. 

There are over 1,000 universities in the United States that offer graduate degrees, so be sure to allow yourself enough time to conduct thorough research about potential graduate schools and programs. You should begin your search at least 12 to 18 months prior to the academic year in which you hope to enroll at a U.S. college or university. 

The two main graduate degrees in the United States are the master’s degree and the doctoral degree. Both degrees involve a combination of research and coursework. Graduate education is characterized by in-depth training and specialized instruction. Study and learning are more self-directed at the graduate level than the undergraduate level.

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