Why should you do an MS?
While the decision to pursue an MS maybe dominated by practical enhancements in your career, the most vital reason should be associated with your interest in the subject. The best way to make up your mind would be to evaluate your current and future requirements, with some relevant questions, to see if the responses lead to a unanimous Yes for an MS degree.
–Is this degree going to increase my chances at better job opportunities?
-Does my potential financial gain outweigh my current situation?
-Is there affordable education available in my desirable program and university?
-Do I satisfy the requirements to obtain an admission to the desirable program?
-Do I have the motivation and passion, for the subject, to get involved in an in-depth study for the next two years?
These are difficult questions to respond to and may require the resource of your time and effort to find the right answers. So let us help you get there. To start with, find yourself a support group, which has experience and expertise in your field as well as the process of application. In this day of social media, you should be able to easily access a few groups of past graduates, current graduates and even professionals who have a few years of work experience in the field.
Read the following articles to orient your research for answers.
Getting your Masters in India vs Abroad?
There are some very obvious advantages to getting enrolled in an MS program in India. It is cheaper and it is also closer to home. And while a lot of institutes in India offer Masters degrees that are quite marketable, the factors that fall in their disadvantage category are low compensation and heavy competition.
Compared to that, good universities in the US, provide highly specialized MS programs that could lead to significantly good job prospects. Not to mention a global experience which goes a long way towards your development. Your decision to get a masters degree abroad, should consider the following.
-Can I afford the cost?
-Are there optimum programs available in India that I can explore instead?
-Are there job opportunities back in India, if I return?
Some helpful links.
Student life and experiences in masters programs
Cost of Studying for a Masters Degree in the US
The price tag on an MS degree (in USA) includes not just the tuition and application fee (including GRE) but airfare and living as well, taking the tally to a couple of lakhs. While this may sound hard for many middle class families in India, it is also possible to apply for scholarships and on-campus jobs that do manage to relieve a lot of the debt stress.
If you have a good command on the English language, you can even get a job as a Teaching Assistant to undergraduates. It pays well and covers the living costs quite sufficiently.
Here are a few articles that might help you.
Financial Aid and Loans for Masters Courses
Since money can be a constraining pull, there are various ways whereby you can try to reduce the strain.
-Most banks, in India, offer Student Loans which allow you to pursue your education without the stress of having to repay, while studying. You can start clearing your loan once you obtain an employment, after graduation.
Here are a few links.
What are the top Programs in MS?
Here, top programs are defined by marketability, career prospects, expected job growth and overall job satisfaction in the given field. These are fields that have shown a promise of good returns on investing in an MS degree. Some examples are Applied Mathematics, Operations Research Analyst, Systems Engineering, Biomedical Engineering and some other STEM fields. It is advised that you research your interested specialization for all the above factors and use the open source data from sites like Bureau of Labor Statistics and Payscale.com to gauge its current worthiness.
Read these articles for more information.
Top Specializations in MS
Where to pursue your MS degree?
There are nearly 630 public and 1850 private four year colleges, in the US (source). Unless accredited and reputed, your degree may not be recognized in India or even in the US. It is always recommended that you choose your graduate school wisely.
Ivy League colleges, MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, etc are considered popular destinations for being excellent in overall education, whose stamp on your CV can push you ahead of others. However, there could be many other public and private Universities, further down on the rankings, but wih excellent individual departments in your field of interest. Follow US News for subject specific college rankings and follow these links for more definitions.
How to apply for masters programs in the US?
While selecting a list of a few Universities, you can apply to, make sure you have a few selected from 2nd and 3rd tier rankings as well, for back up. Most Universities, and the individual departments, don’t reveal their cut off GRE scores. However some data could be assessed based on average enrollment. Here are a list of average GRE scores from top schools. Whether you get a knock on your door will depend on the approval of an admission committee who can decide based on one, few or multiple factors of your application. However, you should leave no stone unturned to prepare yourself well with all that is required, including your letter for recommendation.
This is, by no means, an exhaustive to-do list. But if you are here, reading this article, you have already made a smart move. So go ahead and buy yourself a little notepad and start writing down bullet points of your everyday learnings. Planning and execution could take months. And with a process so long drawn, it is quite likely that the application process – choosing your school, your program and preparation – may often leave you on the brink of a nervous episode. So take your breaks, from applying, so you can recharge your system before you take it on again.
Let’s say that if you don’t approach this process with a clear and fresh head, you may run the risk of landing up in a program you don’t like, under excess debt you can’t repay, in a school which doesn’t help your future and worse, stuck in a no-man’s county in the US for the next two years.
Do your homework and always think of the bigger picture – your future career and quality of life.
Meanwhile we welcome your suggestions and hope to keep updating this list for your benefit.