STEP 1: Find the Right Graduate Programs

The success of your admissions efforts depends on the compatibility between you and the U.S. university where you are planning to pursue your Master or Doctoral program. Basically, you need first to become aware of your needs and expectations, and then to identify the U.S. institutions where they will be best met. As there is no official ranking system for graduate programs in the USA, the best program for you will be the one that meets your requirements that encompass academic development, financial support, and personal growth. For additional information please read on and also visit the dedicated section on the U.S. Department of State’s EducationUSA website.

With over 2,000 universities in the USA offering graduate degrees in a wide range of fields, you will certainly need plenty of time to research the graduate study programs and institutions where you may decide to apply. That is why you need to begin your search for the right program at least 12 to 18 months before the academic year in which you plan to become a graduate student in the USA.

The major graduate degrees at U.S. institutions are the master’s degree and the doctoral degree and they combine research and coursework. As with graduate study in Romania and the Europena Higher Education Area in general, graduate education involves in-depth training and specialized instruction, with massive self-directed study and learning.

The quick survey below of the main features of Master and Doctoral programs will help you develop a clear understanding of the program type that is adequate for you.  The survey below, adapted by EDMERICA for Romanian student purposes,  was originally developed by EducationUSA.

 Master’s Degree:

  • Provides instruction, education, and training in a specialized branch or field of study.
  • May have an academic focus, as is the case with the master of arts (MA) or master of science (MS), or a professional focus, e.g., the master of business administration (MBA), master of fine arts (MFA), master of social work  (MSW), or master of education (MEd).
  • Generally requires one to three years of additional study beyond a bachelor’s degree.

Doctoral Degree:

  • Prepares students for a teaching career at university level or for research, as well as for other careers requiring advanced knowledge and research skills.
  • May be academic, e.g., doctor of philosophy (PhD), or professional, e.g., doctor of education (EdD), or doctor of business administration (DBA).
  • Requires successful performance in a comprehensive examination and completion of original research leading to a dissertation.

The U.S. graduate system appears to be uniquely flexible to Romanian students as admission to a number of graduate programs does not require a bachelor’s degree in a specific field. Which means that a college graduate with a BA in English can enroll on an MBA program and then develop a successful career in business.  Similarly, professional degree programs that leading to licensure in specialized fields such as law or medicine are also available in the United States and  most programs do not require a bachelor’s degree in a specific field, but some programs may require pre-requisite coursework. Good reminder at this point that Law and Medicine are studied only at graduate level in the USA.

The U.S. universities offer a huge range of graduate programs. The main types are highlighted  on the EducationUSA site, here.

So how to choose the right program for you, with so many appealing options? You are clear at this point about your priorities, but the wealth of educational choices looks overwhelming. In principle, you could further your search for the best graduate study programs for you by visiting university website, by using search engines, by attending educational fairs like RIUF, by visiting the EducationUSA center at the Romanian-American Fulbright Commission in Bucharest or by connecting with EDMERICA. We can provide essential information and guidance to navigating the online educational ocean: U.S. university has an informative website with all the data you need about their degree programs, the application procedures, the professors you may work with, the assistantships available, the research focus of each department, and more.

Two independent websites are particularly helpful for college students and graduates interested in furthering their education in the USA. They allow you to search for institutions by your subject of interest, geographic preference – attend EDMERICA’s free info sessions to get good tips as concerns geographic options – or by other criteria that you specify.

We particularly love the Petersons Graduate Programs data, beautifully comprehensive, with information the faculty members, their research interests, their publications, and everything you need for you to begin to explore building a professorial link. More in our info sessions.

Until then, please remember that the U.S. graduate study opportunities are so wide and diverse, and the standards – academic, professional, logistic – so high, alongside generous financial aid for deserving applicants, that you will be enriched in multiple ways by attending such a program. Talk to EDMERICA to learn about Romanian students thriving in their U.S. graduate programs.