Tips for Indian Students to Deal With Competition for Graduate Programs in the US

By Subhashri Roy Updated On - Aug 16, 2021 04:44 PM

Factors such as the victory of Joe Biden in the US Presidential elections 2020 and the impressive COVID-19 management in the US have played a crucial role in attracting more Indian students leading to fierce competition among them. Find out how Indian students applying for graduate programmes in the US can overcome this competition. 

With studies showing almost little or no impact on students wishing to study overseas and the US still being the top study destination, it is predicted that Indian students are likely to face extreme competition for graduate programmes in the US in the upcoming intakes. One of the major reasons for the same is that those who dropped their study abroad plans in 2020 and 2021 would also be applying in 2022.

Top universities such as University of Illinois, ChicagoAuburn UniversityUniversity of DaytonHofstra University; among others have been working towards ensuring a smoother admissions process and drawing more international graduate applicants. 

Let us now look into how Indian students can deal with competition for graduate admissions in the US. 

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Tips for Indians to Deal with Competition in the US for Graduate Programs

Given below are the tips for Indian students who are planning on pursuing a Master’s degree in the US in the current academic year: 

Shortlist More Universities and Apply to Universities Not on Your List

One of the major ways to fulfil your study abroad dream despite competitive upcoming intakes in the US is to shortlist more universities. Also, keeping in mind the current situation shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is significant that you handpick universities that are Covid-safe and have been responding to the pandemic and the international students in a satisfactory manner. 

Know Your University

With more and more universities going digital and even conducting admissions online, one of the best methods to get ahead is by networking with the university officials on social media platforms such as LinkedIn. When universities go through applications, those with greater outreach or those who have made an effort in reaching out will always stand out.

Get Someone to Write a Good Letter Of Recommendation (LOR)

The Letter Of Recommendation (LOR), never to be mixed with a resume, should be crisp, short and to the point in order to have a lasting impact on the admissions committee of a university. It is a great tool to showcase your strengths and stand out from the crowd. short, crisp and to the point to have the best impact. An ideal LOR would be the one that is written by someone who knows you well and has not been forced to write it. For that, you must make sure that you have a prior meeting with the concerned person to mention the need of a LOR for admission to a foreign university.

Write a Strong Statement of Purpose (SOP)

Your application to almost any US university would require you to submit an SOP. A well-written personal statement is attached with great importance, that often works as a decisive factor in admission or denial. While many may think that an SOP is a narrative of your accomplishments, it is rather a piece that should be able to prove that you are ideal for the programme you have applied for and that it will certainly help you achieve your goals and ambitions. Also, remember that every university might want you to add different pointers to your SOP. You must hence go through each university’s guidelines (if any) before submitting the same. 

Attempt Standardised Tests

With exam conducting authorities having closed a number of testing centres in different areas/locations across the world, applicants have not been able to take standardized tests at test centres. However, tests such as the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or Graduate Record Exam (GRE) are being conducted in online mode, wherein students can take these tests from the comfort of their homes. It is due to this that many universities in the US have made submission of GMAT/GRE scores optional or removed it completely from the selection process for the current academic year. Having said that, taking and submitting the scores of standardized tests can help put you on the map and get into top schools. 

Apply Early

Now, many ignore this thinking that it would not make much of a difference. Although it might vary from university to university, many US universities do prefer international students applying way before the application deadline. Needless to say that you might also be eligible for early application scholarships or financial aid offered by the university.

Learn New Technical Skills

Universities, today, are more focused on admitting students who not only have work experience in a related field but have skills that make them more employable. Industries have gone digital and employees are working from home, requiring them to be proficient in a number of digital/technical skills.

Wish to Apply for Graduate Programs in the US?

Also Read: USA Universities With the Highest Acceptance Rates for Int'l Students

Reasons Why US Admissions Would Become More Competitive

Over and above, there are a good three reasons why Indian students applying for graduate programs in the US would face more competition in the future. Let us find out what they are: 

  • The End of Trump Era: Trump rule was marked by rigid immigration rules leading to fewer international students studying in the US and those already in the US more fearful about their stay in the country. With the win of Joe Biden, a Democrat, in the US Presidential Elections 2020, it is hoped that the US would attract more overseas students, with a large chunk from India. The Biden administration has promised to revoke all the immigration policies implemented by Trump and welcome more than 500,000 Indians over the next few years. 

  • Better Covid-19 Management at US Universities: From complying with the public health guidelines to offering mental health support, US universities have left no stone unturned to ensure that all students are taken care of during these unprecedented times whilst not compromising with standard of education. Most universities in the US are delivering classes in online mode or hybrid mode which is a mix of both online and on-campus learning. A lot of universities are also offering hardship funds to students who have been financially impacted by the pandemic. 

  • Growing Need for STEM Graduates: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there has been a rapidly growing need for STEM training to result in innovation and job creation in the States. International students applying for STEM graduate programmes can also find scholarship schemes or new specialised grants programs introduced in the midst of the pandemic. 

Popular US Universities for International Student Admissions

Here is the list of top universities in the US that are offering admissions to international applicants along with the top courses on offer and their tuition fee range:

Name of the University

Scholarship Availability

Courses Offered


Tuition Fee Range (in INR)

University of Illinois, Chicago


List of Courses Offered

Fall, Spring and Summer


Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge

No List of Courses Offered Fall and Spring 35-66L

Auburn University


List of Courses Offered

Fall, Spring and Summer


University of Dayton, Ohio


List of Courses Offered

Fall, Spring and Summer


University of Kansas


List of Courses Offered

Fall, Spring and Summer


University of Utah


List of Courses Offered

Fall, Spring and Summer


Harvard University

Yes List of Courses Offered Fall and Spring 29-52L

University of Massachusetts, Boston


List of Courses Offered Fall and Spring


Suffolk University, Boston


List of Courses Offered

Fall, Spring and Summer


George Mason University


List of Courses Offered

Fall and Spring


Texas A&M Corpus University


List of Courses Offered

Fall, Spring and Summer


Hofstra University


List of Courses Offered

Fall and Spring


Stanford University

Yes List of Courses Offered Fall and Spring 25-94L

New Jersey Institute Of Technology

Yes List of Courses Offered Fall and Spring 19-22L

Webster University

Yes List of Courses Offered Fall and Spring 11-12L

DePaul University

Yes List of Courses Offered Fall, Spring and Summer 12-35L

Cleveland State University

Yes List of Courses Offered Fall, Spring and Summer 13-14L

University of South Florida

Yes List of Courses Offered Fall, Spring and Summer 11-13L

Arizona State University

Yes List of Courses Offered Fall, Spring and Summer 15-41L

Washington State University

Yes List of Courses Offered Fall, Spring and Summer 11-16L

Also Read: September 2022 Intake to Study in USA

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