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Applying to Science and Technology Programs

Thursday | December 8, 2016 | by WES Advisor

Student studying science and technology

In our recent webinar, “Applying to Science and Technology Programs,” admissions experts from varying backgrounds gave their advice and tips on what students should know, and what factors to consider when preparing for a degree in these fields.

Our speakers included Barbara Heissenbuttel, director of admissions at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Susan Seed, coordinator of student advisement and retention at Fairleigh Dickinson University, and Amy Bristor, assistant director of admissions at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Within the science and technology fields, students have a wide variety of concentrations to choose from. You can sign up to watch the full webinar here: Applying to Science and Technology Programs. The following is an overview of what you should know when applying to these programs.

What are the Advantages of Studying Science and Technology in the U.S.?

When students choose to study science and technology in the U.S., they have more opportunities to contribute to world-class research. Students can work with their professors and gain hands-on experience that employers and graduate schools look for. Many American universities even partner with institutions to provide students with work experience and internships while in school, which can open doors to further work opportunities after graduation.

There is also an established accreditation in the U.S. school system, which means students earn a well-respected degree of high-quality that will be recognized almost anywhere in the world.

How Do I Find the Right School/Program for Me?

Shortlisting schools and narrowing them down to the programs that are right for you depends on many factors. Above all, you want to think long-term:

  • What types of career and research opportunities are you seeking?
  • What are your ultimate career goals once you earn your degree?

Asking yourself these questions will help you determine which school is going to help propel you to where you want to be in the future.

Next, consider if your top schools align with your personal needs, such as location, cost of living, tuition fees, and work opportunities.

For example:

  • Should your studies focus on a specific subject or be more general for the degree you are interested in?
  • Is the size of the university appropriate for the kind of education you are looking to get?

You should also research job opportunities offered by different schools and programs, as this can be important for your career.Once you establish what is most important to you in a science or technology degree, you will be able to narrow down your school list and apply for the programs that best fit your long-term goals.

What Do I Need for My Application?

The application materials required from the student vary between different schools and programs. Generally, international students have to provide the same materials as American students, in addition to official language exams. This checklist can include:

  • Credential evaluation
  • Essays/personal statements
  • References/letters of recommendation
  • Standardized tests (ACT, SAT, GRE)
  • Language tests (TOEFL, IELTS, others)
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV)/résumé (particularly for graduate students)

How Can I Strengthen My Application?

When applying to science and technology programs, remember that every single piece of the application is important. Take a holistic approach to your application by seeking to strengthen all areas as much as possible including test scores, letters of recommendation, and essays.

One of the biggest and most common mistakes students make on their application is not following exactly what the requirements say. You also want to make sure to know your deadlines and prepare certain parts of your application in advance, such as requesting recommendation letters (as these can take time). Avoid applying right before the deadline and rushing to get your materials together at the last minute. Instead, do your research in advance so you can give yourself enough time to prepare a quality application.

Can I Receive Financial Aid?

Finding financial aid for U.S. universities is definitely possible for international students. Before you begin looking into different kinds of aid, make sure to research what the cost of tuition will be for the schools you are interested in. Also, contact the schools and check different websites (for example, Education USA) to see what scholarship opportunities are available.

Other options include scholarships and grants offered by your home country as well as taking out students loans from banking institutions in your home country that allow you to repay over time once you have graduated. There are many options available when it comes to financial aid and your U.S. education; it just takes some time and initiative to do the research.

Can I Work While in School?

Depending on your student visa (particularly F-1/J-1), students can get on-campus work for 20 hours per week. Off-campus work is also permitted but under very specific circumstances.

Internships are another great option for international students. Internships allow you to gain practical work experience while applying what you learned in the classroom at the same time. Internships are usually made available after the student has completed at least two semesters of school and can often lead to a full-time job opportunity upon graduation.

Are There Work Opportunities after Graduation?

After graduating from a science or technology-focused program, students can look to their institution or other schools to continue their studies for a graduate or Ph.D. degree.

There is also a visa extension and off-campus work authorization called Optional Practical Training (OPT) in the U.S. This is for international students who want to work after graduating and allows students to stay in the U.S. while working outside of their school’s program. The extension grants 12 additional months for students with an F-1 visa, and 24 additional months to students with a degree in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields.

People studying in the science and technology fields have a wide variety of career options open to them after earning their degree and can go into many industries such as government, universities, hospitals and health systems, nonprofits and NGOs, startup companies, and more.


Want to explore this topic further? Sign up for our webinar archives and access the full video for “Applying to Science and Technology Programs.”

Was this blog helpful to you? Do you have further questions about applying to these programs? Let us know about in the comments below!

WES Advisor is an initiative of World Education Services, a non-profit organization with over 45 years of experience in international education. We provide advice and resources for international students and skilled immigrants to help them make informed decisions about education, employment, immigration, and integration opportunities in the U.S. and Canada.