Study in USA

National Symbols of the USA


Why Study in USA

Popular States of USA



New York





North Carolina


American symbols are recognized the world over. The Statue of Liberty, the White House, and the Bald Eagle are just some of the iconic images that may come to mind when students think of the United States of America (also known as the US or America). 

Indeed, the US means many things to different people. For some, it is an economic and political powerhouse and an influential player on the world stage; for others, it is defined by its entertainment industry – Hollywood films and the bright lights of Broadway. And for years, many have seen it as the land of opportunity, a destination for immigrants seeking new freedoms and wealth. 

But the US is much more than its symbols and stereotypes. For international students, the US education system offers world-renowned educational opportunities of all shapes and sizes. Students can choose from a variety of excellent education institutions in cities and towns across the country. They can experience American college life in a nation that is known for its ethnic and geographic diversity, while discovering the sights, sounds, and tastes of the US.  

These are just some of the reasons why the US hosts more international students than any other country in the world. This section will outline what makes the US attractive to students considering study abroad – beginning with quick facts about the country and progressing to a more detailed look at its history, economy, government, people, culture, geography, and climate.  

Natural resources, a stable government, and a relatively well-educated workforce are just some of America’s competitive advantages in the global marketplace. Although Americans make up less than 5% of the world’s population, they generate and earn more than 20% of the world’s total income. 

The US is the second-largest trading nation in the world behind China. Canada, China, Mexico, Japan, Germany, and the UK are some of its largest trading partners. It is a free market economy, in which individuals or corporations own most of the technology and the economy is determined by independent transactions between buyers and sellers. Nevertheless, the government does intervene in the economy in other ways – from regulating taxes to changing interest rates. At times, the government takes an active role in matters the private economy overlooks to make sure vital services or stewardship (for example, of the environment) are provided for citizens. However, the US government generally favors less economic intervention relative to other industrialized nations. 

With almost 32 million small businesses and many of the world’s largest 500 companies, the US represents one of the world’s most influential financial markets: the New York Stock Exchange. Banking, retail sales, transportation, and health care account for two-thirds of the value of America’s GDP, and the economy is very rich in information technology. The US also produces roughly 17% of the world’s manufactured goods. After more than a century as the world’s top manufacturing nation, the US is now ranked second globally, behind China. 

The currency of the US is the United States dollar. It remains the most popular world reserve currency, although it has been suggested that its share of total reserves may decline in the future.  

Around 333 million people live in the United States, making it the third most populous country in the world, after China and India. 

The majority of Americans – 83% – live in urban areas. Many American cities are thriving thanks to multiculturalism, artistic offerings, and greener lifestyles than in the past. As of 2020, the largest US cities are: 

  • New York (8.8 million) 
  • Los Angeles (3.9 million) 
  • Chicago (2.7 million) 
  • Houston (2.3 million) 

America’s coastal areas are substantially more crowded than the nation as a whole. In 2017, 94.7 million people, or 29% of the US population, lived in counties directly on the shoreline, a figure that is expected to increase. The most populous US state is California, with 40 million people, but the most densely populated state is New Jersey. Compared to many other developed countries, however, the population density of the US remains relatively low. 

The US is an ethnically and culturally diverse country whose current population is a result of original settlement, colonization, and immigration. Except for Native Americans, most people living in the US are either immigrants or the descendants of immigrants, beginning with the English who colonized the country in the 1600s. 

Culturally, Americans define themselves in many ways – through the arts, ethnicity, faith, work and play, home life, and community. 

Native Americans and immigrants have each contributed their own customs and traditions to the US, creating a multicultural society that has sometimes been referred to as a “melting pot.” Each of America’s regions has its own identity as well, characterized by distinct food, history, attitudes, and culture. Every year, that diversity is celebrated and recognized through events and celebrations large and small, national and local, including Cinco de Mayo, Martin Luther King Day, and Chinese New Year. 

Above all else, Americans believe in individualism (a value that prioritizes independence, freedom of thought, and self-reliance), even though many also strong family ties and loyalties to groups. From a young age, Americans are encouraged to see themselves as responsible for their own destiny. Many Americans place a high priority on personal achievement, and they don’t see social and economic status as being barriers to success in life. 

Americans also have a good sense of teamwork and value equality in their social relationships and society at large. More than a quarter of them volunteer their time to help others or a cause. Friendly and informal, Americans are comfortable striking up a conversation, and quick to use first names. They are often open and direct in their dealings with others, and encourage the expression of opinions, including in a classroom setting. American college and university life is known to be particularly vibrant, with a wealth of social opportunities, sporting events, and clubs to choose from. 

The US has a thriving arts and culture scene, and American artists and creators – such as painter Georgia O’Keeffe, architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and director Steven Spielberg – are known worldwide. While students may be most familiar with American TV shows and Hollywood movies, the contemporary arts scene in the US also includes modern dance, avant-garde visual art, independent theater, literature, and other artistic practices. And popular music has long expressed what it means to be American, from folk songs to jazz, rock and roll, hip-hop, and country. 

Some say that what really draws Americans together is sports. Baseball, American football, basketball, ice hockey, and car racing all have millions of fans in the US. Soccer (known as football in some other parts of the world) is also gaining in popularity at the professional level and is one of the country’s most popular youth sports. 

Perhaps not surprisingly, foods such as apple pie and hamburgers often come to mind when one thinks of American cuisine, but the country offers an array of dining options – from fast food to fine dining. Americans have mixed food cultures to create their own, and food from around the world – for example, Japanese sushi, Mexican tacos, and Indian curry – is readily available. 

Many traditional American foods originate from a specific region. For example, the Cajun gumbo and grits (ground corn cooked to a porridge-like consistency) was first created in the South; and clam chowder and Boston baked beans are associated with New England. Cooking a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner is a tradition for many American families. Coffee is also an extremely popular beverage in the US and students will find coffee shops everywhere – from cities to university towns. 

Americans lead a variety of lifestyles and there are important differences between rural and urban areas, and between social classes. The US has one of the world’s highest standards of living. The median household income is around USD$68,700, though this varies by region, ethnicity, and other factors. 

Material success, however, is not everything for Americans, who also appreciate the cultural, spiritual, and human aspects of life. The United States placed among the top 20 countries in the world in the latest World Happiness Report, a United Nations survey that rates respondents’ overall satisfaction with life. 

In 2019, the United States was ranked in the top 20 on the UN Human Development Index. The US also ranks highly regarding overall quality of life among industrialized democracies, according to the OECD’s Better Life Index. 

Situated in the center of North America, the United States covers a total area of 9 million square kilometers and is the third largest country in the world after Canada and Russia. The continental US is made up of 48 states and the federal district of Washington, DC, which is the nation’s capital. Alaska – the largest US state – is located northwest of Canada, and the islands of Hawaii are found southwest of the US mainland in the Pacific Ocean. 

The continental US stretches from east to west, bordering both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. To the north, it shares an 8,893-kilometer land border with Canada, and to the south, a 3,145-kilometre border with Mexico. In-between its borders, the US boasts a staggering range of landscapes, including forests, swamps, farmlands, beaches, and deserts. Its notable mountain ranges include the Rocky Mountains, Cascades and Coast Ranges, and Sierra Nevada Mountains in the west; and the Appalachian and Adirondack Mountains in the east. 

There are over 3.5 million miles of rivers and streams in the US, including the great Mississippi River, which is one of the world’s major river systems. The country’s almost 40 million acres of lakes and reservoirs serve as a major water resource. The five Great Lakes, which the US shares with Canada, are the greatest expanse of fresh water on the planet and a major part of America’s physical and cultural heritage. 

Utah’s Great Salt Lake, with an area of 4,400 square kilometers, is the largest salt lake in the western hemisphere and just one of the natural wonders found in the US. Others include the immense and majestic Grand Canyon, the world’s tallest trees in the Redwood Forest, and the sand dunes of the Mojave Desert. 

With such landscape, it is perhaps not surprising that taking a road trip – embarking on sightseeing adventures by car – is a timeless American tradition. 

The climate in the US varies by place and time of year. Mostly temperate (i.e., mild), it can range from tropical in Hawaii and Florida, to freezing cold in Alaska, and extremely dry and hot in the deserts of the Southwest. 

Florida has the highest average annual temperature at 21°C, followed closely by Hawaii at 21.1°C, and Louisiana at 19.1°C. At the other end of the scale, Alaska – not surprisingly – has the lowest average annual temperature at -3°C, followed by North Dakota (4.7°C), and Maine (5°C). In the middle is Indiana with an average annual temperature of 10.9°C. 

The US has four seasons: summer is generally understood to begin on Memorial Day (the last Monday in May) and end on Labor Day (the first Monday in September). Spring begins in March and ends in May. Fall goes from September to November, and winter from December to February. But not all regions experience the changing seasons this way. Much of the central and southern US experiences consistent weather, and warm to hot temperatures – sometimes year-round. Northern states have much colder temperatures and more extreme weather variations, including heavy snowstorms in winter. 

Agents should encourage students studying in the US to learn about the typical climate in their respective state and plan accordingly – whether that means investing in sunscreen for the summer months, or warm boots, coats, and gloves for the winter ones. 

For more detailed information visit the website of the US National Weather Service. 

Across the world and for many years, students and parents have recognized the benefits of obtaining a US education. The best accredited US programs at every level offer an approach to education that encourages students to develop their own capacity and passion for learning with the support of cutting-edge instructional resources and facilities. Graduates of such programs emerge not only with job-ready skills, but also with a foundation for learning and success that serves them their whole lifetimes. 

Some of the hallmarks of the US education system are: 

High quality:Across the range of American schools, from Ivy-league to smaller colleges and vocational schools, students can find programs taught by leading experts in their field – experts in the US and often the world. Such experts have a natural inclination toward best-in-class research and practical applications of knowledge, both of which encourage rich learning experiences for students. 

Large variety:The US education system has often been said to be the most diverse in the world, in terms of: 

  • Size of student population (from only a few hundred to tens of thousands of students); 
  • Admissions criteria (from highly competitive to completely open); 
  • Setting (from world-famous metropolises to lovely small-town campuses, and from desert-hot to northern climates); 
  • Programs (in terms of duration and field of study, as well as approach, for example vocational or academic); 
  • Delivery (from physical campuses to blended delivery models and entirely online programs); 
  • Culture (from rigorous and specific academic programs to arts-focused, sports-intensive, or technically oriented programs). 

Student centered:The American school system, like US values in general, is centered on a belief in individualism, on personal growth, and on opportunity for anyone – regardless of race, class, or other differences – to achieve a quality education. From an early age, students are encouraged to voice their opinions, and to participate actively in their learning. They receive a broad-based education from the day they first enter school as children to high school and even into the first years of college. Extra-curricular activities and social skills are prioritized alongside academics. 

Well rounded:Students are viewed as individual human beings most of all, and while grades are important, American educators believe strongly that students being active in social, sports, and cultural activities is crucial to their well-being and eventual success in their lives and careers. 

Before we outline how the US education system is organized, it’s important to describe briefly who makes decisions about education in America. Different than in many countries, the national (federal) government does not make most of the decisions about American education. 

The federal government influences policy and some of its broad-based initiatives (e.g., No Child Left Behind Act and Race to the Top) ensure that schools are following national laws and guide states and local school districts, but most decisions are made by individual states and local school districts. So there are state-to-state and district-to-district differences what students can expect from studying in the US. Also, American universities have similar organizational structures but each institution runs differently according to its resources and strategic priorities. 

As stated in Understanding American Schools, it is the states, not the federal government, that decide: 

“What subjects to teach, what teaching methods to approve, when a child may graduate from high school, what kind of special education to offer, which books to use, how to judge the progress of each child’s education, how many days and hours of school to require, and the like.” 

Funding for public schools at every level is variable across the US, and education budgets are very different depending on the state in question. 

Even within a state, schools will have unique funding structures and different rules governing how they use the state budget they have access to. They will have their own strategies for how they operate under their funding allowances. For example, they might have other ways to obtain money in the case of low state support, and different school districts might prioritize different programs (e.g., the arts, or STEM subjects) than other districts. which programs they prioritize). The quality of the education they are able provide is in many ways affected by how much budget they have to work with. 

Whatever their state and school district contexts, both public and private higher education institutions offer financial assistance and scholarship programs to students and may have some reserved specifically for international students. We will cover scholarships more fully in an upcoming section. 

The implication for agents and counselors is that they need to understand the state context and the individual character of each school when speaking with international students and their parents. They should have a list of contacts they can contact to get accurate, up-to-date information.  

One way of understanding post-secondary options in the US is to look at how they are funded. 

Public universities (also known as State universities) receive at least some of their funding from the state government. Many belong to a state university system, which is a larger group of public universities spread throughout a US state that are connected in some ways through administrative functions but that operate separately from each other. Examples are State University of New York (SUNY), City University of New York (CUNY), and University of California (UC). 

Community colleges are also supported by public funding, and they mainly specialize in offering two-year degree programs (associate degrees). 

Private universities receive most of their revenue through students’ tuition fees, which are often higher than those charged by public universities. These institutions are often highly ranked and with very selective admissions requirements, include Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Harvard, and Yale.  

Liberal arts colleges offer mostly (though not exclusively) undergraduate courses focus on teaching undergraduate-level courses in the liberal arts and sciences (although some also offer graduate-level programs and more vocational subjects such as medicine, business administration or law). 

For-profit private universities and colleges. Unlike other types of university, for-profits operate as business ventures, aiming to make money for their shareholders as well as providing a good education for their students. 

The study visa that an international student is on is the biggest determinant of what work options, if any, there are for the student in the US during studies and after. 

As such, international students who want to work must abide by the rules and regulations on their visas. Limited work permission is possible for students in F-1 and J-1 status. But, employment is not guaranteed and cannot be used as part of students’ financial support for visa purposes. 

Types of Possible Employment for F-1 Students 

Focus Questions: 

  • Who is not eligible for practical training? 
  • Who can offer CPT (Curricular Practical Training) work to international students? 
  • What forms are required for CPT work to be authorised? 
  • How many months of OPT could an international student in a STEM field be eligible for? 

On-Campus Employment 

International students on F-1 status can work on campus 20 hours a week while school is in session, and full-time during scheduled breaks, such as winter and summer breaks. This work can occur on the school’s campus or at an off-campus location “educationally affiliated with the school.”  In the latter case, the work must be “associated with the school’s established curriculum or related to contractually funded research projects at the post-graduate level.” 

Here are some more details about on-campus employment for F-1 students according to US Immigration and Customs. 

  • It can be “work that takes place at the student’s school location (such as at an on-campus commercial business, like a bookstore or cafeteria, as long as the work directly provides services for students)” 
  • It can be work with an employer that is contractually affiliated with the school is on-campus employment even if the work site is not located on the campus (such as a research lab affiliated with your school) 
  • An F-1 student may begin working as much as 30 days before the start of a program of study. They should inform the DSO before they begin work. They do not have to wait a full year before being eligible to work on campus. 

Off-Campus Employment 

There are not many opportunities for F-1 students to work off campus. The government notes, 

“U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will authorize off-campus employment only in cases of severe economic hardship occurring after a student’s enrollment in an academic program and after the student has been in F-1 status for at least one full academic year, or in emergent circumstances as defined by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).” 

However, there is an opportunity for some F-1 students to work with an international organization. These students will have been offered employment under the sponsorship of an international organization, as defined by the International Organization Immunities Act.  For more information check this government website. 

Popular Courses to Study in USA

The I-20 is a multi-purpose document issued by a U.S. government-approved educational institution, certifying that a student has been admitted to a full-time study program and has demonstrated sufficient financial resources to stay in the United States.

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) program that administers the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). 
It ensures that government agencies have essential data related to non-immigrant students and exchange visitors to preserve national security.

SEVIS is a web-based system for maintaining information on nonimmigrant students and exchange visitors in the United States.

SEVIS tracks and monitors nonimmigrant students and exchange visitors. 

If accepted by an SEVP-certified school, foreign students may be admitted to the United States with the appropriate F or M non-immigrant status.

If accepted for participation in a Department of State-verified exchange visitor program, exchange visitors may be admitted to the United States with J nonimmigrant status.

Records of these nonimmigrant admissions and continued participation in these educational programs are maintained in SEVIS. 

SEVIS enables SEVP to assure proper reporting and record keeping by schools and exchange visitor programs, thereby ensuring data currency and integrity. 

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