Tips & Tricks: Study USA

The USA – the land of opportunity – is for many the main destination for a longer stay abroad.Unlimited are the possibilities indeed, but thereby correspondingly extensive, decentralized and uncoordinated. The following tips should help you to shed some light on the situation.

The universities in the USA

Central rules do not exist in the education sector. Each university decides for itself who is admitted, what is recognized and how it is taught. Unlike in Germany, the universities are not recognized by the state, but are accredited by private organizations. Accreditation is given to those who implement certain standards. Study achievements and degrees of non-certified institutions are often not accepted, so be careful! The selection of the university is therefore decisive. There are currently approx. 4500 accredited universities, 2500 of which are privately run. The latter usually have higher tuition fees, but also offer better financing options in the form of scholarships.

The types of universities

Not least because of the American film industry, confusion often arises regarding the terminology: A college is not a university! Here are the main types of universities:

The degrees

Bachelor Degree: In contrast to the German Bachelor, the American Bachelor does not choose a specialization right at the beginning. The first two years initially provide a sound general knowledge of the humanities and natural sciences. In this respect, it can be equated with our upper secondary school education. Only then do students choose their majors to determine the focus of their studies. Additionally, minor subjects are often offered (minors).

Master Degree: The Master consists of subject-oriented courses as well as own research. In principle, there is an Academic Master, which focuses on scientific, research-related work, and a Professional Master, which provides career-oriented training.

Doctoral Degree: As in Germany, there is the possibility to add a doctoral program to the Master's degree. However, there are professional doctorates that are awarded without additional doctoral work (e.g. Doctor of Medicine).

Associate degree: With the associate degree, a bachelor's degree can be taken up in a roundabout way.

Furthermore, diplomas and certificates can be acquired through various subject- and topic-specific continuing education programs. Since they are not recognized as a degree in their own right in Germany, they are merely useful additional qualifications.

The academic year

Most universities offer a fall semester (August to December) and a spring semester (January to May). Occasionally, however, universities divide the academic year into 3 or 4 subsections.


  • The tuition fees in the USA are between US$ 2.000,- (community collge) and US$ 33.000,- (graduate study/university) per year. (© Depending on the university, the study program and the origin of the students, these figures can vary considerably.
  • In addition, there are registration and service fees as well as costs for study materials.
  • Often international students have to insure themselves through the respective university. An additional health insurance is nevertheless advisable.
  • A major cost factor is the cost of living, which is highly dependent on local conditions. In any case, one should consider costs for rent (+additional expenses&) Internet use), meals, possible excursions, transportation and communication costs

Possibilities of financing

For 1 or 2 semesters (from the German side):

  • Abroad Bafog: The Abroad Bafog is measured differently than the domestic Bafog. Accordingly, students who do not receive Bafog in Germany also have the opportunity to be supported abroad. Here you will receive a subsidy for tuition fees, travel expenses and health insurance abroad.
  • PROMOS: Short scholarships are awarded by the DAAD for a stay of 1 to 6 months. The funding here is channeled directly to the participating universities. How much support you receive depends on the partial scholarship rate, the travel allowance for the respective study location and the upper limit of the tuition fees.
  • Fulbright scholarships: The German-American Fulbright Commission awards scholarships primarily to graduate students (at least one year). 5 semesters completed, graduated no more than a year ago). Here the costs for tuition fees, living expenses, travel and insurance costs are covered completely or proportionately.

For an entire course of study (from the American side):

  • Sports Scholarships USA: Sports scholarships are awarded in the USA for a maximum of 4 years and are aimed at both national and international students. However, the subject of study does not necessarily have to be sports o.a. its. Depending on the athlete's level of performance, full or partial tuition is covered, as well as any costs for meals and living expenses.
  • Lump sum scholarships for international students: Lump-sum scholarships are aimed exclusively at international students and are not awarded on the basis of merit. Depending on the university, about half of the tuition fees, rent and living expenses can be covered.
  • Scholarships: Scholarships are awarded by American universities and are performance-related. The sponsorship usually eliminates the tuition fees. However, foreign students are usually at a disadvantage here.

There are also numerous foundations in Germany that award scholarships, including the Stiftung der deutschen Wirtschaft, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes. You should also consider the possibility of an educational loan.

Helpful tips on financing and cost calculation can be found here:

The Amerikahaus also offers you information on funding programs: www.amerikahaus.en


In addition to a valid passport, you will need a student visa for your study visit to the U.S. The F visa entitles the student to study at an accredited U.S. college or university, or includes language and science programs. For university exchange programs, internships or programs like Fulbright you need the J-Visa, the Student and Exchange Visitor Visa. For non-academic and work-oriented programs there is also the M-visa. Caution: Student visas do not include a work permit! Only employment of up to 20 hours is allowed on campus.

Requirements: For the F and J visas, the applying student must have a permanent residence outside the U.S. and may only enter the U.S. with the intention of leaving after the stay. Furthermore, you must have proof of funds to finance your stay and sufficient English proficiency.

Application: F and J visas are applied for directly at the U.S. Consulate. The applicant must be present for a visa interview. The visa should be applied for accordingly early, ideally two to three months before the start of the program.

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