04 April 2022 14:48:24 IST

A management and technology professional with 17 years of experience at Big-4 business consulting firms, and seven years of experience in high-technology manufacturing, Rajkamal Rao is a results-driven strategy expert. A US citizen with OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) privileges that allow him to live and work in India, he divides his time between the two countries. Rao heads Rao Advisors, a firm that counsels students aspiring to study in the United States on ways to maximise their return on investment. He lives with his wife and son in Texas. Rao has been a columnist for from the year the website was launched, in 2015, and writes regularly for BusinessLine as well. Twitter: @rajkamalrao

How expensive is pursuing an MS in the US?

US colleges charge their fees based on credit hours | Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

I am planning to do my masters in the US. Please help me understand, on average, what the cost of education is for STEM courses in the US. I am looking at second rung engineering colleges, and not Ivy Leagues. I have a GRE score of 290. - Shiksha

The two largest components of US college education are tuition fees and living expenses (housing and food).

Colleges charge their fees based on credit hours. A credit hour simply represents one hour of class per week for one term or semester. Most MS courses are three Semester Credit Hours (SCH), meaning, students take a three-hour class per week for the entire 17-week semester. A minimum of a nine-hour course load (three MS courses) is required of international students per semester.

A typical MS degree requires 36 credit hours, or 12 courses, which students complete over four semesters (or two years). For instance, at the University of Oklahoma, an international student pursuing an MS degree would pay about $36,000 for 18 hours of instruction.

This translates to $72,000 for 36 hours. Add living expenses of $15,000 per year and the total is about $102,000.

Graduate schools in the US generally require at least a 300 on the GRE and a 100 on TOEFL. While some schools may make exceptions, it may be in your best interest to retake the GRE and improve your score.