is a very time consuming and important process not only from the
admission point of view but also because applying to universities is
very expensive by Indian standards. Hence, the number of universities
applied to has to be restricted to around 10 or 15 that best match your
The best university for
you may not be the famous ones, but those that offer you your field of
study as well as meet the other criteria important to you. The range of
academic options as well as available universities are so wide that it
is not possible to select the best in one go and it may take some time.
The basic steps involved in
the process of selecting universities are :
|Self Evaluation (Level-I)
The first step is
identifying your goals and needs which can be done by self evaluation.
Identify your reasons for pursuing higher education abroad
- Are you motivated by career goals, job prospects,
academic interest, personal satisfaction?
- What particular specialization are you interested
It is important to
match your objectives with what the universities offer. If your aim is
research in some particular field, you should apply to universities
with specialized departments in that field. If you are interested in
practical experience, you should apply to universities located close to
the commercial centers and important cities.
Realistically assess your academic and professional background
- Are you a competitive student?
- Are you dedicated and hardworking?
- How good is your academic record?
- Do you have any work experience or research work
related to your field of study?
- Do you have any credentials in extracurricular
Only if you have a good
academic background, you should apply to highly ranked universities. If
you feel you are moderately placed, you should apply to mid ranked
Get an academic focus
- Do you have a relatively clear idea of your field
- Have you spoken to your professors, read journals
to know more about your field and other new fields?
Education abroad is very different from education
in India. Most universities abroad have a very flexible system where
you can select your courses and focus more on your field of interest.
There are also many specialized courses which may suit your needs.
D - Realistically
assess your financial abilities
- Will you get a financial assistance from the
- Can you or your family finance your education and
- Do you have an overseas sponsor?
- Are you eligible for funds from educational trusts?
The application process
itself costs about Rs. 25,000 - Rs. 30,000/- towards examination fees,
postage, university application fees etc. Tuition and living expenses
are also high and depend on the country you wish to study in. For a
visa, you must be able to demonstrate your ability to fund your
education and stay abroad.
It is best to narrow down your choice to 25 - 30 universities after
this stage by looking at the following :
- Program Offerings (BA, BS, BE, MS, MBA, DA, Ph.D.,
- Specialization, faculty, thrust of the programs
- University Rankings
- Program Length
- Cost -- Tuition, living expenses etc
- Availability of Financial Assistance to
- Entrance Requirements (Bachelor degree in same
field, work experience etc.)
- Tests ( SAT, GMAT, TOEFL etc and minimum scores)
- Accreditation status (Professional accreditation
for some programs)
- Student Profile ( Percentage of international
students, average work experience levels, etc)
- Enrollment -- Total available seats and the size of
- Location ( Country, climate, semi-rural,
metropolitan city etc)
- Facilities -- Library, housing, student
- Type of Institution -- Public or Private
These are the usual
criteria. You could prioritize your criteria out of this list and
shortlist the number of universities on that basis to about 30. You
could further shortlist your choice on basis of specific issues like
tuition fees, availability of financial etc.
Here we give
some details of most important criteria for selecting universities
-- academic eligibility, standardized tests, Grade Point Average and
Each university and college has its own requirements for admission.
There is considerable flexibility in the acceptance policies of most
schools. The requirements are different for different countries. We
list here the most common requirements :
Programs (BE, BS, BA etc.)
U.S.A., AUSTRALIA & NEW
Most Universities all over the world require a
minimum of 12 years of formal education. In Indian context, it implies
qualifying in class 12th examination or junior
college as applicable. The acceptable degrees include :
Indian School Certificate, Intermediate Certificate, Higher School
Certificate, Higher Secondary Certificate, All India Senior School
CANADA & U.K.
Some Universities in Canada and U.K. may ask for 13
years of education for entry into their bachelor degree
programs. This would mean one further year of education after high
school or taking up of some exams for eg. “A” level exams conducted by
the British Council.
Many universities also accept the Indian system of
12 years schooling.
For more details, check out: Education in Canada
& Education in U.K. section
& Postgraduate Programs (MA, MS, MBA etc.)
Most Universities require qualifications comparable
to a U.S. Bachelor’s degree (Four Year Degree Program). A minimum of 16
years of formal education. In Indian context, it implies
either qualifying in professional 4 years course like engineering or
other such courses.
If you have completed a 3-year degree program in
India, the advisable plan of action to maximize eligibility for U.S.
and Canadian graduate schools is to apply for a Post Graduate degree
here in India. A one-year university affiliated program will make up
for the fourth year of a U.S. Undergraduate degree.
For more details, check out: Education in Canada
& Education in U.S.A. section
& NEW ZEALAND & U.K.
New universities accept the Indian graduation
system of three years for entry into most postgraduate courses. An
Indian bachelor degree like B.A., B.Com. or B.Sc. is equivalent to a
Bachelor (Ordinary) Degree.
some courses and universities may require a qualification equivalent to
Bachelor (Honours) Degree in these countries, which require 16 years of
formal education, which would mean another year after graduation or a
four year degree course like B.E., B.Tech or other such courses.
can only be obtained by either writing directly or formally applying to
the universities concerned. However, for most Universities, a good
first degree from a leading university in India or its equivalent is
Record and Grade Point Average
Your past academic record is one of the most important deciding factors
in getting admission to a college abroad. Most schools require you to
have a reasonably good academic record especially for programs and
courses offering a master’s or doctoral degree. Each university has its
own minimum requirement for its programs, which are flexible depending
on the candidate profile.
Universities in each
country have their own marking and evaluation systems, which are
considerably different from the Indian system. For e.g., U.S. follows
the GPA (Grade Point Average) system which are based on 5 points scheme
- A,B,C,D & F.
It is advisable not to
convert your marks in the Indian system of grading to the American
Grade Point Average system or any other system since the conversion may
not be accurate. You may attach an explanatory note from your college
to indicate your rank in your class and/or university. The letter may
also indicate your place as compared to the class and the university
average and the number of students in the class and the number of
colleges and students in the university. You may also provide any other
information or documents that you feel may help you in the admission
Every university has its own minimum requirements and scores with
respect to standardized tests. Check out the requirements of the
universities and short-list the ones that will accept your scores.
English Proficiency Tests
Fluency in English is
mandatory for education abroad whether in U.S., U.K. or any other
country. You would be required to take tests like TOEFL, IELTS, TSE or
other tests depending on the country, university and program you are
applying to. The minimum scores required in these tests vary
depending on the college and program. Individual departments
and colleges usually set their own minimum requirements for admissions.
Different programs and colleges require you to take
certain standardized tests for admission and there is a certain minimum
that you have to score in those tests to get admitted to those
universities. For a management graduate course, you are supposed to
take GMAT and similarly for a graduate course in engineering, you are
supposed to take GRE. For undergraduate courses, one has to take SAT.
For complete details on various tests, test
preparation, reporting additional scores, test charges etc., check out
the section on Tests To Be Taken
Most Indians are concerned about the high cost of education abroad and
seek information on opportunities for financial assistance. The
expenses for education abroad include tuition fees, living expenses,
health insurance, transportation etc. This is an important criterion
for selecting the courses as well as universities.
It is important to
understand that most universities offer financial assistance to
international students based primarily on merit and rarely on need. The
amount, and type of assistance offered varies based on the university,
department and level of study. Assistance of funds is more
likely in Graduate studies and less in Undergraduate courses.
Similarly, chances of assistance are more in specific countries like
U.S.A. and U.K. Also funds are more likely to be available in
fields like Engineering, Physical Sciences and Biological sciences,
rather than in courses like Humanities, Social Sciences and Management.
For more details on
financial aid, types of aid and aid available in various countries,
check out the section on Financial Aid
|Application Stage (Level
Once you start receiving application forms and material, go through in
detail for the various requirements and deadlines like the application
deadline, minimum scores required in the standardized tests,
recommendation letters needed and other such information.
Tabulate all these
requirements and compare them with your objectives and group the
universities under three categories :
- Schools that seem to match your requirements
- Schools that are not suited to your needs
- Schools that do not completely fit in any of the
above two categories
Eliminate schools in
Group 2 and check out in detail again the universities in Group
3. You can try and focus on departments that you would most
like to attend and the school rankings in that field. And any special
facilities that the school may offer you in that field. Try
and make a list of schools on basis of fresh and more specific criteria
- Objectives of the
program and kind of methodology as well as approach
- Admission / Entrance
- Availability of
assistantships and funds in the field of your choice
- Research facilities
- Profile of students
Narrow down your list
to about 8-10 universities to whom you intend to apply.
can help you select universities that are best suited for your
requirements. To find out more, click
|Admission Stage (Level IV)
Universities usually inform students of their admission decisions well
in advance of the beginning term. If you have received admission in
more than one university, you will have to decide which one you want to
attend. At this stage, you should compare a few objective and mostly
more subjective criteria. The points you should focus on :
- Best program
curriculum, length of program, choice of courses
- Best funding offer or
best program with respect to costs
- Cost of living
- Strength of related
- Overall reputation of
- Location-region, safety
- Social life
- Facilities available
- Accommodation &
Basically the decision
factors at this stage would be mainly three points :
- Best program
- Best funding offer
- Best for your personal goals and needs
It is essential to do a lot of research on the
universities and their offerings. Colleges and universities offer
varied educational packages. You will have to find out which of these
are likely to meet your goals by spending time in the reference
library. The more time and effort you put in and the better you utilize
your researching skills, the greater are your chances of achieving your
What to do
once you have been accepted :
Each college will tell
you exactly what steps to follow to confirm your acceptance of their
offer of admission and how to prepare for your first term.
This information will be included with the letter of admission or in
materials that will be sent to you shortly thereafter. You must respond
with a "Yes" or "No" for each offer of admission. You may also be
required to submit a financial deposit to the institution that you plan
to attend. This is to guarantee your place in the class. Make sure you
do not miss any deadlines.
If you are in
the waiting list :
You may receive a letter that informs you that you
are on a ‘waiting list’. This generally means that the admission office
determined that you were qualified for admission but there was not
enough room to admit all qualified applicants. If you are placed in the
waiting list of a college you wish to attend, you will be asked whether
you are interested or not. If you say yes, you may be offered admission
if space becomes available.
If you are placed in the waiting list of your first
choice college and confirmed in the second choice college, you may do
the following steps to remain on the safer side :
- Accept the offer of the second choice school and
pay the deposit
- Accept the offer of remaining in the waiting list
of the first choice school
If you get admission later in your first choice
school, you can join that but you will have to forfeit your deposit
(usually around US $50-$500) otherwise you can decide to study in the
second choice school.
Infozee can help you
select universities that are best suited for your requirements. To find
out more, click