What are the requirements to study computer science in the USA?

Computer Science is the study of computer and computational systems and the United States of America (USA) is home to some of the renowned colleges and universities that provide higher education in Computer Science (CS). To secure admission to such educational institutions, certain criteria should be fulfilled. An impressive academic background, admission offer letter, English language proficiency test scores, letter of recommendation, valid passport, and visa are some of the requirements. Documentation is important for international students to prove their purpose of visit and stay. This article will give you an insight into the requirements to study computer science in the USA.

English Language Proficiency examination requirements to study computer science in the USA

As per the US Government and education system, every non-native English-speaking candidate needs to write an English language proficiency test before seeking admission to US colleges and universities. It is mandatory to evaluate English language proficiency and communication skills before allowing anyone to study in the US. The English language is the only mode of communication and medium of instruction in the US. Students applying for a degree can check with the requirements of the respective universities and take the test accordingly. Therefore, it is important to understand the language proficiency of international students before granting admission. This is because, without a stronghold over the language, the international students will not be able to comprehend studies, communicate and settle down in an English-speaking environment. It is mandatory to take an English language test – either IELTS or TOEFL. 

  • IELTS examination: IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is the world’s most popular English language test for higher education. The IELTS is valid for both PG and UG level Computer Science courses. It is a standardized test that is accepted by the US. International students from all parts of the world need to take the test and apply for the university and visa with the IELTS score. The score requirement will be different for every university and college, depending upon the rank and repute they hold. The students will be evaluated based on writing, reading, speaking, and listening skills. The cost of application for IELTS is INR 14,700. It is a compulsory requirement that needs to be fulfilled by international students. 
  • TOEFL examination: The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is a standardized test to measure the English language ability of non-native speakers. It is valid for both UG and PG courses in computer science. The international students seeking admission in computer science courses for both UG and PG in the USA, need to have a valid TOEFL score. It is a compulsory prerequisite that needs to be fulfilled by international students who do not have English as a first language. The Government of the US, immigration services, and the education system need a valid English language proficiency test and TOEFL is accepted all over the country. The students will be tested on all the four sections like writing, speaking, reading, and listening. The cost of the application is INR 13,780. It is available in both, offline and online modes. There are no eligibility criteria in terms of score, but students must check the individual score requirement of various colleges and universities. The TOEFL score requirement criteria of the university will vary with rank and reputation. 
  • GRE: Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is an international test that measures the readiness of graduate students who are preparing for admission in PG courses. The test is used to evaluate the aptitude of graduates in the areas like mathematics, vocabulary, and analytical writing. The GRE score is popularly used in US educational institutions for admission in masters and doctorate programs in Computer Science. It is a compulsory requirement for all Computer Science graduates to take admission in PG courses in the US. The test score requirement will depend upon the type and rank of the educational institutions. The top-ranked ones will always have a high score requirement, so be updated on the score requirement by visiting the official website of the designated university. 
  • ACT: ACT or American College Testing is an entrance test taken by high school graduates to secure admission in undergraduate Computer Science courses and programs in the US. The ACT examination is owned and managed by ACT, a non-profit organization. It is a curriculum-based entrance test that evaluates the readiness of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) background students from all over the world to take admission in US colleges and universities. The high school graduates who are willing to study computer science in the US need to attempt the ACT and get a valid score. The ACT contains four multiple-choice tests—English, mathematics, reading, and science—and an optional writing test. This is an official prerequisite for all international students who are planning to take up CS in the US. 
  • SAT: SAT or Scholastic Aptitude Test is an examination that tests the mathematics, reading, and writing skills of high school graduates. High school graduates from STEM backgrounds need to take this test to assess their eligibility and readiness to get admission to the top UG courses and programs in the US. It can be taken by the high school graduates and those that are taking the final examination soon. A qualifying SAT score is an official prerequisite and requirement for undergraduates, as set by the US Government and education system. 

Documents requirements to study computer science in the USA

Different universities and programs will require different documents. The documentation is an important step for immigration and college admission. Validation of all the information is a must for every international student who is willing to study in the US. Here is a complete list of all the documents that you will need during the application process. 

  • A duly filled up application form for universities and colleges
  • Bank account statement for the last three months converted into US dollars. The statement should indicate a good source of funds that will be adequate to meet all the academic, living costs, and personal expenses.  
  • The test scores of TOEFL or IELTS to prove English language proficiency. The Certificate of English language proficiency test is an official prerequisite. 
  • Completed application form proof of secondary school completion. It should be 12 years of total schooling. All the academic records and transcripts for both Undergraduate and postgraduate students. 
  • All academic transcripts (Bachelor’s degree transcripts for PG admission)
  • Evidence of financial support, important for the i- 20 form
  • A valid passport
  • I-20 and copy of the visa 
  • Study permit
  • Passport size photograph
  • Test scores (SAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT)
  • Updated Resume
  • Writing sample
  • Statement of purpose

Cost of study in Computer Science in the US

The average tuition fee for Bachelor’s in computer science in the US is approximately INR 26.94 lakhs per year. The fee will vary from one university to another, and it depends upon whether you choose a public or a private university. 

For postgraduate degrees in computer science, the average fee is something around INR 23 lakhs to 55 lakhs. Master’s in computer science is a reputed and renowned degree that is accepted worldwide. The tuition fees will be expensive for students of Ivy League universities and private universities. The public universities for master’s in computer science are very affordable but have high eligibility criteria due to the rank and competition. 

Careers after UG degree in Computer Science

Computer Science is one of the most lucrative and promising fields of study for international students in the US. The average salary for a Computer Science bachelor’s degree holder is around USD 65,000 (INR 48,77,275) annually. The job prospects and opportunities for Computer Science are expected to rise in the US job market by 11% between 2017 and 2024. It is the third most renowned field of study in the US, as the country is home to top-ranked IT colleges like MIT. International students can either opt for a Master’s in computer science after completion of a Bachelor’s or go for employment opportunities. The exceptional job prospects and careers in computer science drive students from all over the world for undergraduate courses after completion of high school. Here are some of the lucrative choices with a handsome annual salary package: 

  • Software Developer: $80,500 (INR 60,40,317)
  • Web Developer: $58,000 (INR 43,52,030)
  • Information Technology Specialist: $64,200 (INR 48,17,247)
  • Application Support Analyst: $69,000 (INR 51,77,415)
  • Computer Systems Analyst: $68,300 (INR 51,24,890)
  • Database Administrator (DBA): $85,100 (INR 63,85,478)
  • Systems Administrator: $62,900 (INR 47,19,701)
  • Systems Engineer: $83,300 (INR 62,50,415)
  • Systems Analyst: $81,900 (INR 61,45,366)
  • Network Administrator, IT: $59,000 (INR 44,27,065)
  • Network Engineer, IT: $83,900 (INR 62,95,436)
  • Java developer: $81,000 (INR 60,77,835)
  • Python Developer: $69,000 (INR 51,77,415)
  • Software Architect: $116,000 (INR 87,04,060)
  • Programmer Analyst: $74,800 (INR 56,12,618)
  • Systems Developer: $93,800 (INR 70,38,283)
  • Business Analyst, IT: $81,500 (INR 61,15,352)
  • Program Manager, IT: $111,000 (INR 83,28,885)
  • Software Development Engineer, Test (SDET): $82,000 (INR 61,52,870)

Career prospects and opportunities for Masters in Computer Science

A master’s degree in computer science from a reputed university in the US is a lifetime return on investment. Students applying for a computer science course in the US must have a good hold over Science and Mathematics, as the standard and eligibility criteria requirements of the US universities are always competitive and top-notch. To opt for an MS (Masters of Science) degree in computer science, students need to have a relevant full-time graduate degree in computer science from a recognized board or University. A report depicts that by the year 2021, there will be 1.4 million computer science jobs with the eligibility of Master in Computer Science. It is one of the highest-paying jobs in the global market, with an average salary of USD 85,000 (INR 63,779,75) annually. The computer science industry is one of the fastest-growing fields in the US, and postgraduate students are gaining a competitive edge to bag some of the top-paying job opportunities in the developing economies of the world. Here are some of the career options with the yearly package to take up, after a master’s degree in computer science. 

  • Big Data Analyst: USD 62,644 (INR 47,00,525)
  • Machine Learning Specialist: USD 93,450 (INR 70,12,020)
  • Data Scientist : USD 95,296 (INR 71,50,602)
  • Blockchain Developer: USD 75,234 (INR 56,45,212)
  • Full-Stack Developer: USD 1,06,331 (INR 79,78,567)
  • Network Architects: USD 84,691 (INR 63,54,853)
  • Software Architect: USD 125,328 (INR 94,03,986)
  • Software Developer: USD 107,510 (INR 80,67,01)
  • UNIX System Administrator: USD 103,273 (INR 77,49,089)
  • Security Engineer: USD 130,000 (INR 97,54,550)
  • DevOps Engineer: USD 99,604 (INR 74,73,786)
  • Computer Scientist: USD 138,000 (INR 1,03,54,830)
  • Mobile Application Developer: USD 140,000 (INR 1,05,04,900) 
  • Software Development Engineer: USD 143,000 (INR 1,07,30,005)
  • Senior Software Developer: USD 139,000 (INR 1,04,29,865)

Conclusion

In the US, to secure admission to an educational institution in computer science, students of both UG and PG levels must meet the minimum eligibility criteria and entry-level requirements based on academic, language proficiency score, entrance examination, and documents. Typically, every international student applying for a degree in computer science in the US needs to meet certain official prerequisites. 

Every university and college in the US has set its admission criteria and prerequisites, which are important for the applicants to meet. It is important to meet the qualifying scores of entrance examinations to take admission in UG and PG level Computer Science courses. Once you fulfill all the prerequisites and arrange enough funds to manage all the expenses of the first academic year, you can get a student Visa ( F1, J1, or M1) as applicable, based on purpose and course type to start your study abroad experience.

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