Frequently Asked Questions
- 1. What is the structure of U.S. higher education?
2. Are "colleges" and "institutes" in the U.S. as good as "universities"?
Degree-granting institutions, accredited by a U.S. Department of Education-approved accrediting organization, can be referred to by any of these terms. 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.
3. What is a community college?
Community colleges provide two-year associate's degree programs as well as technical and vocational programs. They can be public or private institutions and are sometimes called junior colleges or two-year colleges. Tuition costs are often lower at two-year than at four-year institutions, and many have articulation/twining agreements to allow students in transfer programs to move easily into the third year of a bachelor's degree at a university. A growing number of international students choose to study at community colleges.
- 4. I am a Qatari and can recieve government scholarship, how do I go about applying to colleges in the U.S.?
- 5. When do I begin my search for universities in the States?
6. How do I begin my search?
Ask yourself a few questions:
- What do I want to study?
- Does my secondary school coursework prepare me for the demands of this major?
- Can I meet admission requirements?
- What kind of environment do I want to live in? (large city, small town, cold climate, close to family, etc.)
- Do I want to go to a small (Under 5,000), medium (10,000+) or large (20,000+) school?
- What is my budget and how much can my family afford?
- Do I want to go to a private or public institution?
- Do I want to attend a university that has services for international students?
There are some excellent websites that can help narrow your search. Information on college/university search engines is available at resources page under Search Options, Colleges and Universities.
7. Can you give me a list of the top schools in business?
Many ranking lists are created by magazines and other publications. 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 more established rankings may give you a starting point for your decision, however, 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.
- 8. How many universities should I apply to?
9. What documents must I submit for admission to U.S. colleges and universities?
Individual institutions set their own admission requirements and application procedures. Check college/university websites and/or printed application materials for details. You may be required to submit the following items before universities evaluate your application:
- A completed application form
- An application fee
- Official copy of your academic transcripts stamped by the Ministry of Education. If the transcript is not in English, then it needs to be translated by a Ministry of Higher Education-approved translator and then stamped by the Ministry of Education.
- An application essay
- Two or three letters of recommendation.
- Financial documents proving you have adequate funds, or a scholarship, to study in the U.S.
- Official standardized test scores sent directly to the university from the testing company (TOEFL iBT/SAT/GMAT/GRE, etc.)
All items must be submitted according to application deadlines set by the college. Deadlines can range anywhere from 3 to 9 months before classes start.
10. Which standardized tests will I be required to take?
Generally speaking, the TOEFL iBT is required of all international applicants, regardless of the intended field or level of study. Undergraduate students are often required to take the SAT Reasoning Test. Some competitive institutions require scores from the SAT Subject Tests. With the exception of GMAT for MBA programs, graduate students are almost always required to take the GRE General Test. A few graduate programs will require scores from the GRE Subject Tests in addition to the GRE General Test.
You need a strong command of both spoken and written English. If an applicant cannot speak English, then that individual would need to enroll in an Intensive English or English as a Second Language (ESL) program and achieve a designated level of proficiency prior to matriculation. Always check university websites for specific details on standardized test requirements.
- 11. I would like to take a preparation course for a standardized test (TOEFL iBT, SAT, GRE, etc). Do you offer these classes at the Embassy?
12. The university, to which I am applying, asked that my transcripts be reviewed by a credential evaluator. What does this mean?
Universities might evaluate your grades and documents themselves, or they might require international applicants to pay an outside company, called a credential evaluator, to evaluate. Follow application directions provided on the institution's website. Some universities will indicate what credential evaluation company they want you to use. For a list of evaluators, go to the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services website at http://www.naces.org/members.htm
- 13. My application requires a notarized signature. How can I get my signature notarized?
14. When are the university application deadlines?
For students interested in starting programs in August/September, deadlines may be as early as November of the previous year. Since every university has its own deadlines, it is best to locate these dates on each university's website. There are also universities that have rolling admissions where applications can be submitted throughout the year and decisions made on a monthly basis.
15. How much does it cost to study in the U.S.?
The cost of study in the United States varies widely among universities and the cost of living from one location to the next. Comprehensive costs can range from US$12,000 per year to over US$40,000 per year. Refer to each university website for costs. The figures listed below are designed to provide some indication of how much students can expect to pay for 12 months of study in the U.S.
Finances per Year
Health Insurance $500-$1,000
Personal Expenses $1,200-$3,000
Travel to USA $1,200
16. How do I find out if a college/university is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education (USDOE)-approved accrediting organization?
The U.S. Department of Education has an online database, which provides the names of postsecondary institutions and programs accredited by a USDOE-approved accrediting organization. The database has multiple search functions, allowing search options by name, location, type of institution, accrediting association, etc. U.S. Department of Education Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions & Programs http://www.ope.ed.gov/accreditation/
In addition, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) is another website that lists postsecondary institutions and programs that are accredited by USDOE-approved accrediting organizations. Council for Higher Education Accreditation http://www.chea.org/
If you have difficulty navigating these websites, contact an Education Advising Office at the U.S. Embassy and an advisor will assist you.
17. Will my degree be recognized/equalized in Qatar?
If you are a Qatari citizen on scholarship program, you will want to make sure that the colleges/universities you apply to are recognized by the Higher Education Institute at the Supreme Education Council. HEI has a list of approved schools by major and degree type on its website. If not on scholarship your degree has to be equalized by the designated office in SEC.
18. I went to university in the United States and I need to have my documents authenticated/attested by the U.S. Embassy or Consulates. How do I get this done?
U.S. Embassy in Qatar does not authenticate any certificates from the U.S. The proceedure for authentication is listed on embassy website. http://qatar.usembassy.gov/document_authentications.html
- 19. I need to get my U.S. degree certified/authenticated by the Qatari Embassy in Washington, DC. How do I do this?
20. I want to earn my degree online because I am unable to leave Qatar to study. How do I begin to search for a U.S. Department of Education-approved college/university?
Distance education is a popular way to study and you will want to make sure that the college/university you enroll in is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education-approved accrediting organization. There are MANY online colleges and universities that are not recognized. If in doubt, contact an Education Advising Office for assistance when selecting programs. If you hope to have your online degree recognized by the SEC, check with them prior to applying to programs.