MA in USA - Top Universities, Fees, Intake, Eligibility & Scholarship

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MA in USA can prove to be a turning point for students who wish to pursue a career in the fields of Arts and Humanities. Over 1,700 universities in the USA offer courses under the degree of MA. It is a two-year Master's programme that can help international students gain high-salaried jobs in a diverse range of work profiles. Some of the best universities in the USA offer MA in the fields of Digital Arts, Performing Arts, Language Studies, Cultural Studies, Fine Arts, Philosophy, History, Political Sciences, Archaeology, etc.

Master of Arts in USA is a thesis-driven blend of advanced coursework and original research, designed for a variety of students, including those who wish to have an in-depth understanding of a particular area of study. MA in USA further allows students to develop skills to pursue a PhD degree supported by outstanding infrastructure, resources and exposure.

Quick Glance: MA in USA

Here are the course highlights of MA in USA at top universities and colleges:



Course Duration

2 years

Number of MA Universities in USA


Standardised Tests for MA in USA


English Proficiency Tests


Admission Intakes

Fall, Spring, and Summer

Average Tuition Fees

USD 7,000-44,900 (annual) 


3 to 4-year Bachelor’s Degree

Documents Required

Academic Transcripts

Standardised Test Scores

English Proficiency Test Scores

SOP or Personal Statement


Financial Statements

Types of MA Courses



Online Courses

Top MA Specialisations



Literature Studies

Cultural Studies


Performing Arts



Top Arts Schools

Stanford University


Harvard University

Columbia University

Yale University

Cornell University

Top Recruiters



Ivy League

Hachette Publications


Louvre Museum

Vatican's Museum


Oxford University

William Morris Endeavour

Average Salary

USD 70,000 per year

Types of MA in USA

The types of MA in USA depend upon the duration and mode of instruction. International students can choose among the following types of MA courses to study in USA:

Full-time: Full-time MA courses are those which allow students to gain course credits of nine and above. The US higher education system decides the duration of the course on the basis of course credits covered and achieved by the students during an academic year. The minimum number of course credits required to get a full-time degree of MA in USA is nine. The universities offer up to 12-14 course credits, and students are awarded each credit on the basis of their attendance, assignment submission, and performance in credit-earning tests or exams.

Part-time: A number of universities offer part-time degrees of MA in USA. These courses offer less than nine-course credits in an academic year. Alternatively, If the international student is enrolled for a full-time MA course, but has only been able to complete or achieve course credits below nine in an academic year then they are considered a part-time student, and their MA degree is of a part-time type. The student can complete their remaining credits in the next academic year and convert their MA course to a full-time degree. In order to qualify for a full-time degree, the student has to complete at least nine course credits for each academic year of their study.

Online: US universities also offer online MA degree programmes for international students. Students enrolled in these programmes do not have to attend physical classrooms at their university, instead, they have to attend virtual lectures. They are required to submit their assignments as instructed by their professors and have to appear for exams online or in virtual mode. Online MA courses in USA may or may not be part-time. It depends on the course description set by the university.

Top MA Specialisations in USA

MA in USA is offered in various specialisations, as Arts and Humanities in itself is a diverse area and encompasses varying fields of study. Some of the top specialisations offered by MA colleges in USA are:

MA Specialisations in USA


Visual Arts

Fine Arts

Liberal Arts

Virtual Arts

Performing Arts




English Literature

Language Studies

Cultural History


Social Movement

Sustainability and Conservationism



Political Sciences

Civil Movements

Migration and World History

Designing and Arts

Contemporary Arts

QS and THE Rankings for Top 10 MA Colleges in USA

Here are the top 10 MA Colleges in USA as ranked by the QS and the Times Higher Education for the year 2022:


QS Rankings 2022 for Arts and Humanities

THE Rankings 2022 for Arts and Humanities


Harvard University

Stanford University


University of California, Berkeley

Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Stanford University

Harvard University


Yale University

Princeton University


Columbia University

University of Chicago


New York University (NYU)

University of California, Berkeley



Columbia University


Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Yale University


University of Chicago



Princeton University

University of Pennsylvania

Eligibility for MA in USA 

International students would require to satisfy the following eligibility criteria to be considered for MA in USA:

  • Bachelor’s Degree: A three or four-year bachelor’s degree is compulsory for all the applicants of MA in USA. The majority of MA courses in the US do require a degree in relevant subjects. 

  • GRE: Most US universities require students to submit their GRE scores for graduate-level programs, such as MA courses. Students need to ensure if the Graduate Record Examinations are required or if a waiver is available. In case of a waiver, they need not submit their GRE scores.

  • English Proficiency Tests: International students need to submit proof of their fluency in the English language. Some of the accepted English language proficiency tests for MA in USA include IELTS, TOEFL, Duolingo English Test and PTE Academic.

Admission Process for MA in USA

The admission process for MA in USA differs from one university to the other. However, here is a general overview of the admission process for international students:

Step 1: Students must first shortlist the MA courses relevant to their future goals and plans.

Step 2: Thereafter, they must shortlist the US universities which offer the MA courses shortlisted in step 1.

Step 3: Students must thoroughly check out the eligibility criteria, application documents, and admission process of the shortlisted universities and chosen courses.

Step 4: Prepare the documents required and wait for the announcement of admission intakes.

Step 5: Apply for the shortlisted universities and MA courses by filling out the application form and attaching the documents required.

Step 6: Complete the application submission by paying the application fee, and await the offer letter or decision letter.

Step 7: Lastly, students who have applied for offline MA courses must prepare to apply for US student visa.

Want to make your application process for MA in USA easier? Find out the application deadlines and admission intakes from the related reads below:

Spring (January) Intake in the US

Fall (September) Intake in the US

Timeline for USA Summer Intake 2023

Application Deadlines for US Universities 2023-24

Application Deadlines for MS in US Universities 2023-24

Documents Required for MA in USA 

Documents required for MA in USA also differ for each university. For instance, certain universities might require two application essays (each with a different purpose), while others may require LOR(s) from specific authorities, etc. Usually, the following documents need to be submitted for MA in USA:

Note: The list above is non-exhaustive and students may be asked for additional documents. Students need to check the requirements listed by the university for the chosen MA course.

Cost of MA in USA

Students can expect the following expenses while studying MA in US as an international student.

Average Tuition Fees for MA in USA

The average tuition fee for MA in USA differs not only by the university but also by the MA course. Here are the annual tuition fees charged by some of the recognised US universities for Master of Arts:

University Name

Annual Tuition Fee (in USD)

Stanford University


New York University


Harvard University


Yale University


Duke University


University of California, Berkeley


Pre-arrival Expenses for MA in USA

International students can expect the following costs as pre-arrival expenses for MA in USA:

Expense Category

One-Time Cost (in USD)

Admission Fee


Student Visa Grant


Flight Ticket (India to US)


Cost of Living for MA in USA

International students can expect the following cost of living for MA in USA:


Annual Expenses (in USD)

Accommodation Fee


Travelling Costs


Food and Basic Necessities


Entertainment Expenses


Note: All the above-mentioned costs are not fixed. They can vary according to university, course, city, country, rules, student’s lifestyle, and other general circumstances.

Scholarships for MA in USA

International students from India can apply for the following scholarships in the US for MA:

Scholarship Name

Awarded By


Fullbright-Nehru Research Fellowship


Merit-based selection

Requires separate application

Harvard University Scholarships

Harvard University

Merit and performance-based selection

Requires separate application

New York University Wagner International Scholarships

New York University

Students enrolled in Wagner Graduate School of Public Service

Merit-based selection

Separate application recommended

Job Opportunities After MA in USA

International students can choose from a diverse range of opportunities after completing MA in USA depending upon the specialisation. They can refer to the following facts to get an idea about the job opportunities after MA in USA:

  • Top universities offer fellowships for research opportunities to graduates of MA in USA. Such universities include the Ivy League schools, members of Russell Group (UK), McMaster University (Canada), etc.

  • MA in USA graduates can also apply for a professorship at the universities.

  • Many corporations and organisations accept graduates of MA in USA with lucrative remuneration, such as Nintendo, Electronic Arts, A3 Artists Agency, National Gallery of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Gensler, Jacobs, etc.

  • Graduates can also set up a business with the knowledge and experience they have gained during the duration of their study.

  • Many MA in Fine Arts graduates get permanent membership at top foundations of their relevant field. For instance, Louvre Museum hires experts on paintings, art history, museum curators, etc. 

Salaries After MA in USA

Primarily, work profiles dictate the amount of salary of an individual. However, it is a known fact that completing Masters from the US helps the general remuneration to hike by at least 40%. Here are the salaries after MA in USA offered to top job profiles:

Job Profile

Average Annual Salary (in USD)



Museum Curators










Source: &

Work Permit and Stay Back Period for MA in USA

International students after graduating with MA in USA can stay back in USA for up to two years. For the same, they have to apply for a Post Study Work Visa before the expiry of their student visa. In the US, a Post Study Work Visa can either be OPT or Optional Practical Training or an H-1B visa. 

OPT allows international students who have completed their masters in the US to stay back and pursue an internship or study-based practical work experience for six months to one year. 

International students holding F1 visas can also apply for an H-1B visa which will allow them to stay back in the USA as non-immigrant skilled workers. To be eligible for the visa, one must meet the following criteria:

  • A US employer must sponsor the student,

  • The applicant must have completed their Bachelor’s degree from the US or an equivalent degree from another country,

  • The applicant must be authorised to practice the speciality occupation.


Q. How can I apply for MA in USA?

A. You can apply for MA in USA by following the application process of the selected university. All US universities have a different application process. As an international student, you will have to go through the process set for international applicants, as it is differently pre-set. Generally, universities require the applicants to fill up an application form against an application fee and submit the required documents. 

Q. Which is better to study in USA, MA or MS?

A. International students can choose between MA and MS to study in US as per their future goals and plans. If the student desires to make a career in the specialisations covered under MA, then they should apply for MA in USA. MS specialisations require students to have a bachelor's degree in the relevant fields, while for MA, a bachelor’s degree in any field is accepted.

Q. Which specialisation is best for MA in USA?

A. The best specialisation for MA in USA is the field that best matches the future goals of the student. There are many specialisations available for international students for MA in USA, including History, Architecture, Philosophy, Astrology, Archaeology, Economics, Creative Writing, Classical Dance, Music, Fine Arts, Journalism, etc.

Q. Which universities offer a Professorship after completing MA in USA?

A. A number of universities worldwide offer a Professorship after completing MA in USA. Universities globally accept MA graduates from USA as faculty members, including Oxford University, University of Birmingham, Australian National University, University of Montreal, Simon Fraser University, etc. US universities, like Ivy League, Rice University, New York University, to name a few, also offer faculty-based jobs to MA graduates.

Q. Can I apply for an online MA course in USA?

A. Yes, you may apply for an online MA course in USA. The only condition is that the university you are applying to offers the degree in online mode only in chosen specialisations. For an online MA in USA, you do not need to apply for a student visa as your physical presence is not required to complete the course.

Q. Is the tuition fee for full-time and part-time MA in USA the same?

A. No, the tuition fee for full-time and part-time MA in USA is not the same. The majority of US universities use course credits as cost drivers to decide the tuition fee of the course. In case a student is enrolled has paid for a full-time course but has only been able to complete less than nine credits, then the outstanding credits fee is considered accrued.

Q. I applied for a full-time MA course in USA, but I have completed only seven-course credits. Can I continue as a full-time student?

A. If you applied for a full-time MA course in USA but have only completed seven-course credits then you shall be considered a part-time student. You will have to complete the remaining two-course credits along with the minimum nine-course credits in the next academic year to get a full-time MA degree.

Q. My two-course credits for a full-time MA in USA are pending from the previous academic year. How can I maintain my MA degree as a full-time course?

A. If your two-course credits for a full-time MA in USA are pending from the previous academic year then you will have to complete them in the following academic year, along with the nine-course credits of next year to maintain your MA degree as a full-time course. Hence, you will have to complete at least 11-course credits in the next academic year to obtain a full-time MA degree.

Q. Can I stay back after completing my MA in USA? How?

A. Yes, you can stay back after completing your MA in USA. You can apply for a Post Study Work (PSW) Visa, like a non-immigrant H-1B, with or without a job offer, and continue to stay in USA as a skilled worker. In cases where you are applying for a PSW visa without a job offer, you will have to submit proof that you can get a job as a skilled worker in the US.

Q. What is the starting salary after MA in USA?

A. The starting salary after MA in USA depends on the specialisation and the job profile they have applied for. Most often, it also varies depending upon the location of the job. However, in general, the starting average salary of a MA graduate in USA can range anywhere between USD 50,000-70,000. 

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