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

Updated on 15 April, 2024

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad abroad Editorial Team

Computer Science is a vast area that includes computational systems, data structures, algorithms, networks, software designs, security, human-machine interaction, bioinformatics, etc. The United States of America (USA) is home to some renowned colleges and universities that provide higher education in Computer Science (CS).You should fulfill certain criteria to secure admission to top global educational institutions. The eligibility for MS in computer science in the USA or for a bachelor’s program include an impressive academic background, an admission offer letter, English language proficiency test scores, a letter of recommendation, a valid passport, and a visa. Furnishing valid documentation is important for international students to prove their purpose for visiting and staying. 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 must write an English language proficiency test before seeking admission to US colleges and universities. It is a compulsory requirement that needs to be fulfilled by international students to evaluate their  language proficiency and communication skills. Students applying for a degree to study computer science in the USA can check the requirements of the respective universities and take the test accordingly. Since the English language is the only medium of instruction in the US, without a stronghold over the language, international students will not be able to comprehend studies, communicate, and settle down in an English-speaking environment. It is thus important for educational institutions to evaluate the language proficiency of international students before granting admission. You can take the IELTS or TOEFL English language tests which most US academic institutions accept. 

IELTS examination:

IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is the world’s most popular English language proficiency test required for higher education. The IELTS is valid for both PG and UG level Computer Science courses in the US. International students from all parts of the world need to take the test and then apply for their preferred university and visa with an IELTS score. The score requirement will differ for every university and college, depending on their rank and reputation. The students will be evaluated based on writing, reading, speaking, and listening skills. The application cost for IELTS (pen-paper based & computer-delivered) in India is INR 15,500.

TOEFL examination:

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is another standardized test to measure the English language ability of non-native speakers. International students seeking admission to UG and PG computer science courses in the USA can apply with a valid TOEFL score. The Government of the US, immigration services, and the education system need a valid English language proficiency test for those who do not have English as a first language; TOEFL is accepted all over the country. The students will be tested on four aspects: writing, speaking, reading, and listening. The 2023 TOEFL exam cost in India is $190 (i.e., nearly INR 15,706 when $1=82.66). It is available in offline and online modes. There is no fixed minimum accepted TOEFL score; it generally depends on the choice of course or the university to which you are applying.

GRE Exam:

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is an international test measuring the readiness of graduate students preparing for admission to PG courses in the US. The test evaluates 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 to masters and doctorate programs. It is a compulsory requirement for all Computer Science graduates to take this test for admission to PG courses in the US. The minimum test score requirement generally depends on the course and rank of the educational institutions. The top-ranked ones will always have a high score requirement. One should keep themselves updated on the score requirement by visiting the official websites of the respective universities. 

ACT:

ACT, or American College Testing, is a prerequisite entrance test to be taken by all international high school graduates to secure admission to undergraduate Computer Science programs in the US. The 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. High school graduates willing to study computer science in the US have a valid ACT score. The ACT contains four multiple-choice tests—English, mathematics, reading, and science—and an optional writing test.

SAT Exam:

Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) 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 programs in the US. It can also be taken by those appearing for the final graduation examination. A qualifying SAT score is an official requirement to study computer science in the USA 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.

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad abroad Editorial Team

We are a dedicated team of study-abroad experts, ensuring intensive research and comprehensive information in each of our blogs. With every piece written, we aim at simplifying the overseas education process for all. Our diverse experience as journalists, content writers, editors, content strategists, and marketers helps create the most relevant and authentic blogs for our readers.

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