Things to do before applying for a Ph.D. program in the USA 

Along with bachelor’s and master’s degrees, a lot of international students are now pursuing Ph.Ds. at American universities because the programs are comprehensive and structured, and encourage a lot of independent research.  Apart from world-class facilities, well-equipped research labs, and qualified professors, American universities also offer funding opportunities to deserving candidates which makes it easier for international students to pursue Ph.D. in America. 

To pursue a Ph.D. program in any American university, students must have a minimum of 16 years of education, which means, they must have completed their bachelor’s degree at the least. Students can also apply for a combined program for MS and Ph.D. In order to qualify for a Ph.D. students should have a high score in the GRE (320+) and sometimes, in the subject GRE along with a GPA of 8.5 or above in their undergraduate program. If the master’s has been done from the USA, the GPA has to be 3.5 and above.

However, below are a few things you need to keep in mind and start preparing well in advance if you are planning to pursue a Ph.D. in a top American university: 

  • Choose your research topic well in advance: Narrowing down your research topic in advance will help you a great deal in making an informed decision. Study the topics, and see which topic would be viable for a Ph.D. project. Choose your program accordingly.
  • Research your Ph.D. guide: When it comes to a Ph.D., a good research guide is far more important than a good university. Hence, study the research work performed by professors from various universities, get in touch with them, and see if you can get approval from them for supervising your work. For Ph.D. programs, it is always beneficial to first narrow down the right research guide and then finalize the university.
  • Lookout for funding opportunities: Pursuing a Ph.D. in America can be very expensive and hence it is recommended to first look at universities that offer funding opportunities, scholarships, and research/ teaching assistantships and make your Ph.D. tuition affordable.
  • Finalize the universities: Once you decide your research topic, supervisor, and funding opportunities, shortlist your universities and start the application process.

Co-curricular activities that strengthen your application

For those of you who want to pursue higher studies abroad, it is time to focus on preparing a strong application and considering all the key aspects required to strengthen your profile, including co-curricular activities. 

Especially for those of you applying for undergraduate programs, your co-curricular and extra-curricular activities carry equal weight along with your academic and SAT scores. For the master’s program, your co-curricular activities will definitely set you apart.

Here are a few important co-curricular activities you can highlight and work on, to strengthen your profile: 

Undergraduate Applicants

  • School Headboy/girl, Class Prefect, House Captain, Model United Nations (MUN) speaker 
  • Editor or writer for college newsletters and magazines 
  •  Participation in Science clubs and projects
  •  Inter-class and inter-school competitions and state/national level competitions, elocution, etc.
  • Self-driven projects, seminars, and workshops 

Graduate Applicants

  • Technical quizzes during college fests
  • Filing for patents
  • Articles contributed for academic publication, state/national level technical competitions 
  • Seminars and projects 
  • Internship/ apprenticeship 

For detailed guidance on building your profile and going about the application process, enrol for our admission counselling services today! We provide thorough guidance on drafting of SOPs, selection of universities, application essays, and visa counselling. 

Eligibility Requirements for MS Programs in Canada

1. Academic credentials

A majority of Canadian universities require you to have completed 16 years of education (12+4), i.e. a four-year Bachelor’s degree before applying for MS. This is applicable for students from technical backgrounds like Engineering, Pharmacy, and Architecture. For non-technical fields like Arts and Management, a student is required to complete 17 years of education (12+3+2).

Canadian universities have a very high cut-off percentage. Hence, you need to have a minimum of 70% to 75% in your degree course and an equivalent CGPA of a minimum of 7.5 to 8.5. Top universities especially, give a lot of emphasis on your performance in the last two years (i.e. the 3rd & 4th years) of your degree course.

If you are planning to pursue an MS in Business Management, Finance, or Business Analytics, you are required to have relevant work experience of minimum 1 to 3 years.

2. Qualifying examinations

TOEFL or IELTS: certain minimum English Language Proficiency Test scores are mandatory for admission to Canadian universities. A minimum IELTS band score of 6.5 to 7 or a minimum TOEFL score of 85+ is required by a majority of Canadian universities. At Dilip Oaks Academy, we offer  TOEFL coaching and  IELTS coaching along with rigorous practice sessions and mock tests.

3. GRE: Though a majority of universities in Canada do not require GRE scores, some of the top universities do, and so we recommend that you give your GRE if you aim to get into one of these universities. Our GRE Coaching will help you thoroughly prepare for the GRE exam. (hyperlink underlined words to GRE landing page)

We also offer Admission Counseling (hyperlink to Admission Counseling Masters in Canada page) through which we provide guidance on the selection of universities, application essays, and visa counseling. 

Advantages of Pursuing a Master’s degree in the USA

Here are top 7 reasons why you should pursue a Masters in America:

  1. The strong American economy: America is the largest economy in the world, with a GDP of $ 20.54 trillion, which is 24% of the world GDP. For this reason, they have the capacity to absorb thousands of immigrants and offer those with good technical skills high paying jobs.
  2. Shortage of technical manpower: America is the world leader in technology, especially in the field of IT as can be seen by the dominance of tech giants like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, and Apple in this field. However, they are in constant need of technical manpower. Since there are not enough Americans to fill these technical positions, Indians students are always in great demand.
  3. No discrimination: The American social system is unbiased. American universities and corporates welcome people of all nationalities and ethnic backgrounds. Hard working, intelligent and innovative students can prosper in the American corporate world. Good examples are Sunder Pichai and Satya Nadela.
  4. Updated university syllabi: American universities keep updating their syllabi to keep pace with industry trends and the latest technologies. This enables their alumni to get good job opportunities all over the world.
  5. Research-based education: This is perhaps the most important reason why the American education system is so popular. Universities in America lay a strong emphasis on research. Most of their professors are constantly engaged in active research. Likewise, they encourage students also to take up the thesis option and carry out independent research during their programs of study. Their labs are also outfitted with the most advanced equipment and facilities. The overall exposure that students receive greatly builds up their practical skills.
  6. Scholarships and funding opportunities: American universities are non-profit organizations funded by the government and private donors. They offer financial assistance to students in the form of scholarships, Research, Teaching and Graduate Assistantships, campus jobs and internships. This makes education in America very affordable.
  7. Special quota for H-1B Visa: STEM students with a master’s degree have an additional quota of 20,000 for the H-1B visa or work permit over and above the general quota of 65,000.

Considering all these benefits, we strongly recommend that students consider pursuing graduate degrees in the US.

To help you get started with your preparation, we offer GRE Coaching and also Admission Counseling through which we provide guidance on selection of universities, application essays and visa counselling.

7% country cap on green cards likely to be removed; great benefit to Indians students and H1-B visa holders

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Following the US presidential elections, a major turnaround of events has taken place in favor of Indian students and immigrants with the new bill passed by the US Senate last Wednesday, December 2, 2020. The bill eliminates the 7% per country cap on the employment-based immigrant visa (EB-2 and EB -3 categories) green cards. The bill has proved to be a huge relief for Indian immigrants stuck in the green card backlog for years.

Every year, the US grants more than a million green cards for the following types:

  1. Family-sponsored Green cards: This type of Green Card is given only to immediate family, such as spouses, children, siblings, or parents of a US citizen or a US permanent resident.
  2. Employment sponsored Green cards: This Green Card is given to you if you have found a job in the US and your employer is going to pay for the forms and application procedure and sponsor your stay in the US.
  3. Returning resident Green Card: This Green Card is for those who previously had a Green Card but travelled outside of the US and did not come back for more than one year for unavoidable reasons.
  4. Diversity Visa Green Card: Every year the US holds a visa lottery for citizens of countries with low immigration rates to the US.

The employment sponsored green cards are further categorized into the following types:

  1. EB-1: Employment-based first preference, priority workers with a 40,040-annual cap.
  2. EB-2: Employment-based second preference, professionals with 40,040 workers with offers of employment in jobs requiring an advanced degree or higher.
  3. EB-3: Employment-based third preference, skilled workers: 40,040 workers with offers of employment in jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree and skilled workers with at least two years of experience.
  4. EB-4: Employment-based fourth preference, special immigrants: 9,940 religious’ workers, broadcasters, US government and military employees, and abandoned juveniles.
  5. EB-5: Employment-based fifth preference, investors: 9,940 foreign investors who made investments in a new commercial enterprise in the United States.

Out of these, the EB-2 and EB-3 visas apply to students pursuing masters and bachelor’s degrees in the US. Every year, as the number of applicants for green cards kept increasing, the backlogs also kept accumulating due to the 7% country cap.

As of November 2019, the backlog for EB-2 and EB-3 green card applications for India is a whopping 706,097 and only around 8000 green cards are being cleared annually because of the 7% country cap. Considering these figures, it might take 89 years to clear this backlog. As of December 2020, EB-2 applications up to 15th May 2011 and EB-3, applications up to 1st January 2014 have been cleared.

But there are chances that the clearance process for these backlogs will now accelerate if the 7% country cap is removed, and the number of green cards cleared annually will increase from only 8000 to 1,40,000, thereby benefiting H1-B visa holders and aspiring students.

However, even if the Senate has passed the bill, the chambers must reconcile their differences before the bill goes to the president. It is not yet clear whether President Trump would sign the bill into law, as the White House has previously expressed opposition to the concept of removing per-country caps and anti-immigration groups are publicly opposing the bill.

 

Impact of COVID-19 on American universities & admissions: An overview by SUNY Binghamton

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Last week, Dilip Oak’s Academy conducted a webinar on the current scenario in American universities, the impact of COVID-19 on admissions for Master’s degree, and funding opportunities in the USA. The webinar was presided over by Maggie Wolford, director of graduate admissions and recruitment, SUNY Binghamton. Here is an overview of her valuable insights into the scenario in America concerning several important pointers viz.:

  1. Location: Universities in the major cities like San Francisco, Chicago and New York have been more affected by the pandemic as compared to those in remote areas, like SUNY Binghamton, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, University of Oklahoma, Norman, etc.
  2. Financial impact: High class, Tier 1 research universities (those offering STEM courses) can sustain the effects of the pandemic, but liberal arts and other smaller universities have incurred significant losses.
  3. Factors for resuming in-person instruction: Universities will decide whether to start the in-person instruction soon or wait, depending upon the number of COVID cases in the area, cost of testing, and testing policies. (whether they have compulsory testing, voluntary testing, or symptomatic testing, and the budget for each)
  4. Spring semester schedule: The majority of the universities are quite likely to push their spring semester start dates. Usually, the spring semester commences in January, but universities might extend it to February. In that case, students will have extra time for project completion, but their holidays will be reduced.
  5. Impact on funding: Due to online instruction, positions for Teaching Assistantships are likely to reduce. Research Assistantships will also depend upon whether the university is funded by the government or by private agencies. Government funding has been reduced significantly for other fields, but a few like Supply Chain Management and Healthcare Management will still receive enough funding. Graduate Assistantships won’t be affected since university jobs like web page development, networking, etc. will continue.
  6. Impact on CPT and internships: CPT is activated only after completing two on-campus semesters. If you join in the spring semester, you cannot work on the CPT in summer. In that case, you can utilize the time for summer courses and graduate early, or take campus paid internships which don’t require CPT. For example, lab assistant jobs, office jobs, admin jobs, etc. You can also take up certification courses free of cost, which will add to your résumé.
  7. Impact on admissions: Presently, the examination system all over the world has been disturbed due to the pandemic. Many universities have waived the GRE requirement, and they are accepting unofficial transcripts as well. But the situation will remain uncertain for a few more months.

For the full webinar, you can visit our YouTube channel:

and subscribe to it for regular updates and videos on higher education in America.

For detailed guidance on higher education in America, Canada and Germany and assistance on university selection, drafting SOPs and LORs, join our admission counseling today!

 

 

 

 

Step-by-step guide to obtain a Canadian Study Permit (Student visa)

QUICK GUIDE ON GETTING YOUR CANADIAN STUDY PERMIT (1)

In continuation with our blog published on 17/07/2020 where we briefly discussed the admission and visa requirements for Canada, we will now take you through the step-by-step process for obtaining the Canadian study permit for MS, the application timeline, and the required documents.

Before we proceed, let us first understand the difference between permit and visa. Often, students get confused between the two.

Study Permit Vs Visa

A Study Permit allows you to stay in the country until completion of your course at any of the Designated Learning Institutions (DLI) in Canada.

A Visa allows you to enter the country. You must therefore remember that the study permit is not a visa and it doesn’t let you enter Canada. For entry, you need a visitor visa or an electronic travel authorization (eTA) which is issued by the Canadian government once your application for the study permit is approved.

Timeline and documents required for Canadian Study Permit

Your application process should begin as soon as you receive acceptance letter from your desired university. The fee for a study permit is CAD 150, which is around Rs 8400.

If you are planning to go for fall intake (September), you should begin the process around June. The documents required include:

  1. Valid passport
  2. Acceptance letter from the university
  3. Proof of funds (CAD 10,000 per year without tuition for those outside Quebec. For those in Quebec, CAD 11,000 per year)
  4. Passport size photographs
  5. Immigration Medical Examination (ideally to take a week before starting the visa process)
  6. TOEFL/IELTS scores
  7. Statement of Purpose
  8. Credit card

Step-by-step application process for a study permit:

Your application process might take three to four weeks to complete hence you should start the process with some margin in your hand. Once you decide, you can either apply online or apply in-person.

To apply online, you require scanned documents and a valid credit card for payment. Before you start the application, read the instruction guide HERE. Fill out the application and pay the biometrics fee. Once you submit the application, you will receive a letter specifying the time and place to give your biometrics. From receiving the letter, you have up to 30 days to give your biometrics.

To apply in person, you can download the application kit and the instruction guide from the official website of the government of Canada,  fill the VFS consent form and attach it to the application, pay the processing fee (in addition to VFS Global services charges), and submit the documents at the nearest VFS office.

While you can go with either of the ways, we recommend students to apply online as the process is faster and easier.

Once your application is approved, you will receive a letter of introduction. This letter is not your study permit. You need to show it to an officer when you arrive in Canada. Along with the letter, you will also be issued an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) or a visitor visa (temporary resident visa) to enter Canada.

On arriving in Canada, you are required to present all these documents to the border services officer, who after validation, will issue you with the study permit.

MS in Canada: Work Permit process and PR opportunities (Part 3)

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In the last blog dated 17/08/2020, we learnt about the admission requirements and visa process for masters in Canada. In this final part, we will cover vital information on how to obtain a work permit and apply for a Permanent Residency in Canada.

Work Permit

A Work Permit, or a Work Visa, is issued to eligible international individuals to work in that country for a specific time period (3 years). Unlike the US, you don’t need a job offer in order to apply for a work permit. You can apply for it within 180 days of receiving the post graduate degree. In order to be eligible for a work permit, you need to meet the following criteria:

1) You must complete MS from a Designated Learning Institution (A designated learning institution is a school approved by a provincial or territorial government to host international students.)

2) Your course should be at least 8 months long

3) Your study permit should be valid at some point within the 180 days of receiving your MS mark sheet. If you stay in Canada with an expired study permit, you must apply to restore your status as a student before applying for a work permit.

4) You must maintain full-time status as a student. Part-time status does not qualify you for a work permit.

Permanent Residency (PR)

International students can apply for PR while studying in Canada or after completing their MS. Most students apply for the PR while studying. This is popularly called ‘dual intent’ application and is readily accepted by the Canadian immigration law. For PR, each applicant is scored out of 100 on the basis of his/her age, qualifications, English language proficiency and experience.  Generally, applicants who score above 67 get their PR faster than others. Broadly, there are three types of PR programs you can apply for as a student:

Canadian Experience Class (CEC)

To qualify for this, students must have at least 12 months of work experience in Canada. While the requisite work experience gained by applying for a work permit is considered, any part-time work experience earned during the program like internships and co-ops does not count as valid work experience for a PR.

Quebec Experience Class (QEC)

Students who have completed their program in Quebec and who have passed intermediate level of proficiency in French can apply for this. This type does not require prior work experience in Canada.

Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs)

To be eligible for this, a student must meet the minimum requirements of that province he/she intends to settle in, must have graduated from a Canadian post-secondary education program, and must have a relevant work experience. (This requirement varies for different provinces)

After receiving the PR, you should complete at least 4 years of stay in Canada before applying for the citizenship.

MS in Canada: Admission and student visa requirements (part 2)

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In the last blog dated 10/08/2020, we discussed the benefits of pursuing masters in Canada and saw how fast the country is becoming one of the most sought after destinations for higher education. In this blog, we will focus on the admission and visa requirements for MS in Canada and breeze through the top Ten Canadian Universities for STEM courses.

Admission requirements 

Academic credentials

Majority Canadian universities require you to have completed 16 years of education (12+4), i.e. – a four- year Bachelor’s degree before going for MS. This is applicable to all the technical background students like Engineering, Pharmacy, and Architecture etc. For non-technical fields like Arts and Management, a student is required to complete 17 years of education. (12+3+2)

Canadian universities have a very high cutoff percentage. Hence, you need to have a minimum of 65% to 70% in your degree course and an equivalent CGPA of a minimum of 7.0 to 7.5. Top universities especially give a lot of emphasis on the performance of the last two years of your degree course. (3rd & 4th year)

If you are planning to pursue MS in Business Management, Finance, and Business Analytics; you are required to have relevant work experience of minimum 1 to 3 years.

Qualifying examinations

TOEFL/IELTS: English Language Proficiency Test scores are a mandatory requirement of Canadian universities. A minimum of 6.5 to 7 band score in IELTS or 90+ score in TOEFL is required to get into the best Canadian universities. At Dilip Oaks Academy, we offer online TOEFL and online IELTS coaching along with rigorous practice sessions and mock tests.

GRE: Though a majority of universities in Canada do not require GRE scores, some of the top universities do ask for it. We recommend you to give the GRE and keep your scores ready if you aim to get into one of the top universities. Our Online GRE Coaching will enable you to prepare for the GRE in a hassle-free manner.

Crucial student visa requirements:

Once you receive admit from a Canadian university, you need to apply for a study permit that requires you to fulfil four crucial criteria:

1)      Admit should be from a recognized university

2)      Proof of funds to support yourself. At present this is equal to the tuition fee for one year and CA$10,000 as living expenses.

3)      Proof of no criminal record

4)      Fitness certificate from the doctor as recommended by the Canadian High Commission

Lastly, a quick glance at the Top 10 Canadian Universities:

  • University of Toronto
  • University of British Columbia
  • McGill University
  • McMaster University
  • University of Montreal
  • University of Alberta
  • University of Ottawa
  • University of Calgary
  • University of Waterloo
  • Western University

Kick-start your prep for MS in Canada NOW!

Enrol for our admission counselling services and start planning your Canadian endeavour the right way!

Top 6 benefits of pursuing masters in Canada (Part 1)

TOP 6 BENEFITS OF PURSUING MASTERS IN CANADA

With its international student population touching 6.4 lakhs this year, Canada has become the 3rd leading destination of foreign students, especially Indians, who constitute 34% of this number. Since 2014, the Indian student population in Canada has grown by a whopping 350%.  Premier affordable education, internationally recognized degrees, and opportunities for Permanent Residency have led to a large number of students to apply for Masters in Canada. Additionally, a small population of 37 million, and steady growth of the economy have opened multiple job avenues over the last decade, especially in the provinces of Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec, and have made them the most sought after areas for settlement.

Given these facts, let us explore in detail what makes Canada one of the ideal destinations for higher education:

Quality education and internationally recognized degrees: To date, Canada houses around 30 high-ranked universities offering degrees that are recognized internationally as being equivalent to US degrees. These universities have highly qualified professors, mostly Doctorates with enormous experience in their fields. Secondly, the teacher-student ratio is as low as 1:20. This allows personal attention and interaction. As per the current rankings, the top three universities in Canada are the University of Toronto, McGill University, and University of British Columbia.

Affordable tuition fees and living costs: Compared to American universities, Canadian universities have a very affordable fee structure; in fact, the lowest among other English-speaking countries. This is because the Canadian dollar (1 Canadian dollar (CAD) = 56 INR) is much cheaper than the American dollar (1 USD= 74 INR) and the Euro (1 Euro= 88 INR). As for the living costs—the total housing, food, and other expenses usually do not exceed 1,000 CAD per month. Additionally, students can take on-campus jobs for 20 hours/week and make u to 800 to 900 CAD per month. They can also apply for full-time jobs during summer and winter breaks and earn a substantial sum to cover their tuition costs.

Easy immigration and PR laws: Unlike the US, there is no annual quota for immigrants in Canada. In fact, the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) recently published their Canada Immigration Levels Plan for 2020-2022 according to which, they plan to admit around 1,053,000 new permanent residents till 2022. Also, under the new system, international graduates from Canadian study programs can obtain up to 30 additional CRS points. Thus, pursuing MS in Canada increases the chances of securing Permanent Residency.

Job opportunities: Canadian curriculum is designed to meet the changing industry demands. By the time students finish their masters; they are well-versed with the latest trends and manage to land a good job within 6 months of course completion.

Research-based education:  Canada ranks 4th in the world for its quality scientific research. Canadian universities actively encourage students to conduct research. University of Toronto and University of British Columbia have been recognized as the best Canadian universities due to their high research impact. A student applying for Masters can choose either a professional master’s program (MEngg) or opt for a research-based master’s program (MaSc) emphasizing on original scientific research. The industries and government institutions in Canada also extend support by organizing learning programs and workshops.

Cultural diversity:  Canada has a rich cultural diversity of people from various ethnicities. Universities also conduct a lot of cultural programs that help students to develop a broader and global perspective.

In the next part, we will talk about admission requirements for MS in Canada.