Frequently Asked Questions
Applying to college or university in the United States can be a bewildering and frustrating experience. The American Center has created this FAQ to answer Burmese students' most common questions.
Entrance Requirements & Study Options
Who is eligible to apply to an American college or university? High school graduates and those students who have completed a high school equivalency, such as GED or GCE "O" level, are eligible to apply for undergraduate study (a Bachelor's of Arts or Bachelor's of Science degree).
Those students who already have a bachelor's degree are eligible to apply for a graduate degree (Master's or doctorate program). Depending on the rigor of your undergraduate program, the graduate school may demand that you take a foundation course to begin graduate study.
Do I need to speak English well before I go? Do I need to take an English competency test? Yes on both counts. All courses require a strong command of written and spoken English. Your coursework will be challenging enough without the extra burden of learning English.
Competitive American universities and colleges require a high score on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).Furthermore, the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), which is often necessary for an application, is given in English.
I want to take the TOEFL. How do I start? Complimentary bulletins with full information are available at the American Center. You may also learn more and register for the test online at (http://www.ets.org/toefl).
How do I get information about and register for the SAT? For information and registration for the SAT, visit http://www.collegeboard.com
I want to know more about the other admission tests. What are they?
Required tests for some graduate and professional admissions are:
Liberal arts, science, math (GRE)
Business schools/MBA (GMAT)
Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)
Dental Admission Testing Program (DAT)
Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT)
Veterinary College Admission Test (VCAT)
Is it expensive? How much money do I need? Yes, higher education in the U.S. is generally expensive. Tuition, living expenses and travel costs for attending a public school begins at around $12,000 per year. Annual tuition, board and travel expenses at a top private university can reach $55,000 per year.
That said, some private colleges and universities offer financial aid packages, including scholarships, loans and work study programs.
How can I get financial aid to study in the United States? For undergraduate study, it is almost impossible to get financial aid from a public university. Private universities are slightly more generous, and sometimes award scholarships to students of exceptional academic ability. You should explore school costs at the beginning of your research, in order to avoid applying to a school it will be impossible for you to afford.
The situation is better for graduate students. Fellowships and financial aid packages can make completing a Master's or Ph.D. degree from an American school more likely.
What is a community college? Community colleges offer an Associate's Degree at the end of a two year term. They are usually less expensive than four year colleges and universities, but the degrees they confer are less prestigious and less marketable than the standard bachelor's degree.
With two years' work from an accredited community college, students can transfer to a four year college and get credit for the work that they have already done. But you will have to research which universities will accept your credits from the community colleges. This can be a more economical means of getting an American degree.
I have a bachelor's degree from a university here. Should I apply for an undergraduate or graduate course? If you plan to continue in the same field you studied here in Burma, you should apply to the graduate program in the same or related discipline in the U.S. If you plan to study something unrelated to what you did here in Burma, you should look into an undergraduate program.
Graduate schools will require considerable information about your undergraduate coursework. They always ask for transcripts and may ask for syllabuses to describe your precise scope of work. This material helps them decide whether your undergraduate study was sufficient to enable you to do graduate-level work.
How do I choose a college or a university? Before you choose a college or a university, you should have a clear idea of the following:
Your field of interest/study
Your family's financial resources or other sources of funding
Your career plan
Then take the following factors into consideration when choosing a college or a university.
- Courses contents: do they match your interests?
- Accreditation Status/ranking
- Tests required/ competitiveness
- Cost/availability of financial aid or scholarships, such as tuition waiver, grants, work-study, teaching assistantships etc.
How can I find out the accreditation and ranking of a University? You can access these at the following web sites:
- For accreditation: http://www.chea.org or http://www.utexas.edu/world/univ/
- For ranking: (http://www.usnews.com/edu/college/rankings)
When should I start the application process? Early! Plan for delays, emails that disappear in space, and snail mail that never arrives. You should begin the application process 12 months before you plan to attend school. This means, for most applicants, that you will begin your research in September.
By November, a student must have taken the TOEFL and she/he should have prepared a rough draft of a personal essay. She/He should also have secured the necessary letters of recommendation from teachers or professors.
Application deadlines can be confusing. Some selective schools offer "Early Action" or "Early Decision" programs, which have specific rules and require students to have submitted their applications by late October. The usual deadline for standard undergraduate and graduate admissions is in November or December. That said, some schools offer "rolling admissions," which means they continue to review applications as they arrive throughout the academic year.
Does the application process cost money? Yes. By the time a student is through with filing applications, getting admitted and securing a student visa, she or he will have spent around $500. These include fees for standardized tests, filing the applications to schools, mailing them, and the application for a student visa.
Do I need relevant work experience to get into an MBA program? MBA programs generally demand that applicants have a few years of work experience, but they will make exceptions. Students should check directly with their chosen university.
What type of visa will I be eligible for? The most common student visa is the F-1, obtained with a "Certification of Eligibility", issued by the college which has admitted you. This form is commonly referred to as the I-20. If you are participating in a U.S. government exchange program, you must apply for a J-1 visa.
If I receive a scholarship to a prestigious university, am I guaranteed a visa? No. All students must prove that their social, financial and/or professional ties to Burma will bring them home after receiving a degree in the U.S.
How long does it take to get a student visa? You should pay your (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) SEVIS fee of $100 after you receive your I-20. For more information on SEVIS fee and form of payment, visit (http://www.fmjfee.com). Then you should apply for a student visa. Be aware that you cannot apply for the visa more than 90 days before you will leave Burma, nor can you enter the U.S. more than a month before your classes begin.
The American Center does not handle visas. Visa forms are available directly from the Consular Section at the U.S. Embassy (95)-(1)-250-240/250-642. For e-visa forms, visit http://evisaforms.state.gov. The Consulate will ask you to submit your documents a week before the interview, (I-20, passport, financial documents and your visa application forms). You are informed of the Consul's decision after the interview.
Where can I get more information on study in the U.S.? You can make an appointment with the Center's Academic Advisor, Ms. Shirley Leik. Each individual advising session costs Kyats 5000 and the advisor will practically work together with the student on choosing schools or the application process. Each follow up session costs Kyats 2500.
For more information, you may visit http://www.educationusa.state.gov. The American Center sells directories with information on U.S. colleges and universities.
The Advising Center at the American Center is the place to get the most accurate, complete and updated information on studying in the U.S.
Contact the center to
Make an appointment with the professional education advisor;
Authenticate copies of academic certificates and transcripts; authentication of each transcript will cost Kyats 5000.
Attend monthly orientation sessions on using the Internet to retrieve information on schools;
Learn about regular presentations on the application and admission process and pre-departure orientation.
Visit our self access center where you can practice your test taking skills for TOEFL, GRE and GMAT tests.
14 Tawwin Rd., Dagon Township
Tel: (95)-(1) 223106, 223140, 221585