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What is the cost of pursuing an MS in the US?

Let me give you a general idea about the cost of pursuing an MS in the US.

Cost of MS in US (Masters in USA)

Tuition/Fee for Masters in the US

First, let’s take a look at how American Universities charge students for education.

School’s tuition depends on the number of credit hours you take in a semester.

Usually, one course is considered as 3 credit hours (In most of the universities). For example, if you attend 3 courses in one semester, it is equivalent to 9 credit hours. Thus you have to pay tuition for the 9 credit hours in the first semester.

Schools with low tuition will charge you less than $6000 per 9 credit hours or per semester.

Schools that charge average tuition would cost you anywhere between 6000 to 7500 per 9 credit hours or per semester. Schools with high tuition rates will cost you over 7500 per 9 credit hours or per semester.

Most of the Schools ask you to take 12 courses to complete the masters degree, which means 12*3 = 36 credit hours. The number of credit hours varies from university to university.

Students have to select well-ranked and low-tuition / fee schools with Assistantships or Fee waivers.

Cost of Living Expenses

You can live in University apartments (on-campus housing) or outside the university.

Indian students usually opt to live in groups. Generally around 4 or 5 people live in a double bedroom apartment.

If you plan to live outside the university, apartment rents will be lower. However, university apartments are usually safer than the outside apartments.

If your university is located in or near a village, living cost (including rent + electricity + food) may go up to $350 per month.

If it is a mid-level town/city, it will go up to $600 per person when you share accommodation.

Which cities in the US have a very high cost of living?

In the US, there are a few cities that have a high cost of living and a few cities where the cost of living is a lot less.

As a result, if your University is located in these expensive cities, the total cost you incur for your MS program will increase.

On the other hand, if your University is located in less expensive cities, your costs will decrease. Most of the cities in the state of California have a high cost of living.

The following cities in the US are extremely costly based on living expenses like apartment rent, housing, electricity, groceries, food, transportation, laundry and other daily expenses.

  1. New York
  2. San Francisco
  3. Washington DC
  4. Boston
  5. Los Angeles
  6. San Diego

Which cities in the US have a very low cost of living?

In the US, there are a few cities with an extremely low cost of living.

If your University is located in these cities, the total cost you incur for your MS program will decrease, even if the University is a private University.

Most of the cities in the state of Texas have a low cost of living.

The following cities in the US are extremely economical based on living expenses like apartment rent, housing, electricity, groceries, food, transportation, laundry and other daily expenses

  1. Brownsville – Texas
  2. Pueblo – Colorado
  3. Fort Smith – Arkansas
  4. Springfield – Illinois
  5. Ashland – Ohio
  6. Austin – Texas

How to Cover Costs While you are doing MS in US?

As a student, you are allowed to work for 20 hours a week. Pay for students usually range from 6 – 12 $/hour.

You should also try to get fee waivers. TAs, RAs, GAs will cover some part of your fee and you will be paid monthly.

Other costs which are mostly are never considered 

  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
    This is usually the first step in the entire journey. This parameter is like the poker face – nobody knows whether it can make or break your chances. The cost of the exam is $190. Low scorers and a bunch of restless high scorers may retake the exam for an additional $190.
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) 
    While you MIGHT skip the GRE test for your applications to the States (some universities do take in applications without GRE), TOEFL is something that you can’t skip. It is like a passport to the United States. The universities need to know your proficiency with the language and hence, it is a compulsory exam, if not at the time of applications, it is required during the VISA interview. The cost of the exam is $150.
  • Applying to US universities:
    Fees for applying to each university varies from $50 to $100 with former being the most common. However, applications are incomplete without sending your official test scores (GRE and TOEFL) through ETS, adding another $40 (GRE: $23 and TOEFL: $17) On an average, students apply to 10 US universities and the total estimate comes out to be as follows: Application Fee ($50) + Sending GRE and TOEFL scores ($23 + $17) = $90. Let’s be on the safer (read higher) side and assume $100 per university. So, applications to 10 universities will be a whopping $1000.
  • Other Expenses During Applications:
    Now, this list might be long and will drastically vary for every applicant. Still, the normal expenses in this category are as follows:
    a) Counselling: Applicants, rather lazy applicants, who feel that a counselor can fit in their shoes and get them to Stanford or Berkeley shell out anywhere between Rs. 10,000 and Rs. 50,000. We’ve assumed the average at Rs. 25,000.
    b) Transcripts on the college letter head (around 15 copies), bank statements (15), affidavit (15) with the sponsors name on it (15) and dispatching them to the university (major expenditure of the lot). This, altogether, should not cost more than Rs. 8,000. In some cases, students make multiple copies of the Letter of Recommendations (LoRs) and Statement of Purpose (SoP) and unnecessarily burn an extra 500 bucks or so.
  • VISA:
    While the costs are just a notable factor, it’s really important to know the entire VISA Procedure. Once you receive your I20 (official document sent by the university that confirms your stay in the United States and the amount to be spent each year), you need to pay the VISA Fee, which is $160, followed by the SEVIS fee, which is $200.
  • Flight Tickets: Single way airfares in Economy Class vary between Rs. 40,000 and Rs. 60,000 depending on your city, destination and airline. Return airfare cost somewhere between Rs. 60,000 and Rs. 90,000.

Total of these other expenses

Around 2 lakh rupees. Cheapest University- Michigan Technological University- The entire MS program costs around 24 Lakh rupees.
Costliest University- Stanford University- The entire MS program costs around 67 Lakh rupees.

The entire cost for other universities’ MS programs range between 30 and 50 Lakh rupees, with the location being a major variable along with whether the university is state-run or private.

Can I do MS in Computer Science if I am an EE or ECE students?

It is possible for students from Electrical Engineering or Electrical and Communication Engineering or even Civil Engineering to switch to a Master’s in Computer Science.

Because of the open education system in USA, you are free to apply for any specialization or major as you wish. In your Statement of Purpose in MS application, you would have to articulate why you decided to pursue a different major.

For example, you have a B.Tech. (or, BE) in Electrical Engineering and you want to apply for MS in Computer Science. You can do that. It is same for other degrees as well.

Your admission decision is not based on your Major or specialization in Bachelors. It will depend on your academic excellence and standardized test scores like GRE and IELTS.

For a MS in Computer Science you will have to demonstrate reasonable proficiency and relevant coursework in Data Structures, Algorithms, Operating Systems and Programming Languages, which often are prerequisites for most graduates school courses in Computer Science.

Since you may not have taken these prerequisite courses in your B.Tech. (or BE), the per-requisite courses are mandatory to ensure that you understand the basics of your specialization in Computer Science.

So, if you get admission, in your admission letter, the school will mention 3 to 5 or more per-requisite courses that you would be required to take for your MS in Computer Science.

Additional per-requisite courses would mean you would take longer to complete your MS.

Depending on tuition fee per course, which could vary from $400-$1300 or more, your overall tuition fee could increase.

Also, as you would be living longer in the US, your living expenses would also increase.

If you have an undergrad major in Electrical Engineering or Electrical and Communication Engineering, you may be better off by choosing specialization offered by Computer Engineering department in your target school as they would often accept a background electrical / electronic engineering.

Is it possible for a non-CS graduate to pursue a PhD in CS?

It’s common for students outside computer science and electrical engineering to attend grad school in computer science.

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