Study in the USA FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The U.S. university system is very extensive and admission requirements vary greatly. Highly selective private universities and liberal arts colleges may receive enormous numbers of applicants and accept only a small number, while other colleges may accept all applicants who meet their admissions standards. Some of the assessment factors that are considered in the selection process are the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) or the American College Test (ACT) score, grade point average (GPA), as well as a variety of other factors, including essays, prizes, community service, work experience, hobbies and special talents as admissions officers review applications to determine your potential for success at their institutions. EducationUSA’s website leads you through the start of your search via Your 5 Steps to U.S. Study.

Accreditation is the approval of colleges and universities by regional accrediting bodies and/or nationally recognized professional associations, to ensure quality and continuous improvement. There are usually two very important steps to make sure that the college or university that you have chosen is accredited regionally and professionally in the United States:

Step One: the college or university should, most importantly, be recognized regionally by the regional accrediting bodies, which are members of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) .

Step Two: the program that you are interested in should also be professionally accredited. In addition to the information on our Finding the Right School page, EducationUSA provides more additional information on accreditation.

Many ranking lists are created by magazines and other publications; however, no list has official status or is endorsed by the U.S. government. Rankings are likely to be subjective, and they are generally based on a wide range of criteria that do not necessarily include academic standards. The “best” college or university for you will be based on many other factors, including how you feel about a program’s potential to meet your needs.

Colleges and institutes are not inferior to universities. As a general rule, colleges tend to be smaller than universities and usually only offer undergraduate degrees, while universities offer graduate degrees. Institutes often specialize in certain fields e.g. engineering, art, etc. Americans tend to use the words interchangeably in casual conversation.

Community college provides two-year associate’s degree as well as technical and vocational programs. They can be public or private institutions and are sometimes called junior colleges or two year institutions, and many have articulation agreements to allow students to transfer programs to move easily into the third year of bachelor’s degree at a university. A growing number of international students choose to study at community college.

It is recommended that you begin your search 12-18 months before your intended departure date. See a recommended timeline in our Undergraduate Education page.

The cost of study in the United States varies significantly among universities with tuition and fees playing a major factor in determining cost. The main types of costs involved in studying in the United States are tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, transportation, and other personal expenses.

Approximate Costs per year

Tuition & fees $43,620
Room $9,670
Board $6,430
Books & Supplies $1,970
Miscellaneous & Personal Expenses $3,660
Transportation $1,780
Estimated Total $67,130


Grants are usually “need-based” and given to students with financial need. They do not have to be repaid. Scholarships, or “merit-based aid,” are awarded for academic excellence or other special talents or abilities. Repayment is not required. Many students in the United States borrow educational loans, from a variety of sources, that do need to be repaid.

For more information about financial aid, you can visit the following links:

If you are an Emirati national or foreign student aiming to come back to work in the UAE, you will want to make sure that the colleges/universities that you apply to are recognized by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, which provides more information on its website. The Cultural Division of the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Washington D.C. also makes additional information available for students, including a university database.

The consular sections of U.S. Embassy Abu Dhabi and U.S. Consulate General Dubai are NOT able to authenticate/attest documents from schools in the United States. We recommend that documents be authenticated/attested in the United States before returning to the UAE. The embassy’s consular section and the Department of State’s Office of Authentications make more information available about the process.

Got more questions? The EducationUSA website offers thousands of answers!