Keystone logo

The Ultimate Guide to Getting a Bachelor’s Degree in the USA

This guide will cover application requirements, funding, and tips for success for international students who want to get a Bachelor's degree in the USA.

May 30, 2024
  • Education
  • Study Abroad
  • Visa
Bachelor's students in the USA

Bachelor's degree in the USA: key info

💰 Study cost

On average, a Bachelor's degree in the USA costs $23,630 per year at a public university and $42,000 at private colleges.

Read the full cost breakdown ▼

📋 Scholarships for studies in the USA

See more scholarships ▼

✈️ Visa requirements

The most common student visas are F-1 (academic studies) and M-1 (vocational study).

US student visa application requires the DS-160 form, a photo of yourself, Form I-20, and the $185 application fee.

More on student visas ▼

If you are an international student planning to pursue a Bachelor's degree in the United States, you are joining a vibrant and diverse community of learners from around the globe.

The prospect of studying abroad is thrilling but can also present challenges, particularly when navigating the admissions and application processes. This guide provides essential insights and tips to help international students successfully embark on their academic journey in the US.

About Bachelor's degrees in the USA


  • Bachelor's degrees in the USA typically require 120 credits and take 4 years.
  • The USA provides a world-class education to prepare you for a successful career, with many funding opportunities and extensive support.

How are Bachelor’s programs structured?

Bachelor's programs in the US are structured around a course credit system. To graduate you'll usually need around 120 credits.

These credits are earned through a mix of core curriculum courses, major-specific courses, electives, and sometimes research projects or internships.

How long does it take to get a Bachelor's degree in the USA?

Getting a Bachelor's degree program in the United States typically takes four years for full-time students.

Is a Bachelor's degree worth it?

Here are some of the benefits of getting a Bachelor's degree in the US.

Access to world-class education

Universities around the globe are renowned for their commitment to high-quality education, which is recognized internationally.

According to the Top 10 Countries to Study Abroad list, United States is #2 study abroad destination in the world, and one of the main reasons is the quality of education. These institutions are celebrated for their rigorous academic programs, distinguished faculties, and state-of-the-art research facilities, providing a solid foundation for students' future endeavors.

Prepare for a prosperous global career

Many top academic destinations are also the hubs of major global industries, offering students unparalleled opportunities to gain work experience and build professional networks. As of February 2024, the United States is the country with the highest number of unicorn companies in the world.

Additionally, universities in the US facilitate internships, co-op programs, and other paid experiential learning opportunities. These experiences can help you develop essential skills and gain a competitive edge in the global job market.

Explore extensive scholarship and funding opportunities

The US offers many scholarship opportunities for international students. These include merit-based scholarships provided by universities and various externally funded awards.

Want to make your studies in the US more affordable?

Browse dozens of scholarships for international Bachelor's students in the US!

Build a vibrant international network

Studying in multicultural environments like the US allows you to interact with peers from diverse backgrounds, enriching your educational experience and broadening their cultural understanding.

English is a global language, and getting to practice it day in and day out will help you communicate with people around the world.

Moreover, the US is known for being welcoming to international students and providing extensive support to help them adjust to life in a new environment.

How to choose the right Bachelor's program in the USA


  • Determine what your interests and strengths are, and how you'd like to integrate those in your career.
  • Research universities in the USA, particularly their curriculum, faculty expertise, and program accreditation.
  • Try to find students' testimonials about their education experience.
  • Organize key information in a detailed list.

Step 1. Define your goals

First, you should reflect on your interests, strengths, and career goals. Determine how your passions can be explored and nurtured during your Bachelor's degree in the USA.

Step 2. Research your options

You should spend enough time on research – find as many available programs as you can. Focus on these important characteristics:

  • University-industry collaborations: Look for universities that have established partnerships with the top corporations or research institutes.
  • Relevance of curriculum: Check the list of courses and make sure that it aligns with your career goals.
  • Faculty achievements and qualifications: Research the faculty's publications and achievements in your field and what kind of mentorships they can offer you.
  • Program accreditation: Review the program's accreditation and look for student testimonials to assess the quality and reputation in the academic and professional community.

Step 3. Organize your findings

Write down all your findings and emphasize the important details of the potential universities and their Bachelor's programs:

  • Tuition fees
  • Funding opportunities
  • Application deadlines
  • Required documents
  • Unique features (courses, facilities, internships, etc.)
  • Application fees

Not sure where to look for a perfect program?

We have thousands of Bachelor's programs in the USA for you!

Browse programs →

How to apply for a Bachelor's degree in the USA?


  • Check the requirements and make sure you meet them all.
  • Prepare necessary documents: academic transcripts, exam scores, a motivation letter, recommendations, and an application form.
  • Highlight your academic achievements, interests, and strengths.

You should prepare several essential documents. The specific requirements might differ from one university to another, but generally international students aiming to study in the USA should be ready with the following documents:

  • High school diploma and grade transcripts: Get official transcripts from your high school education, detailing your courses and grades.
  • Standardized Test Scores: Many universities in the US require standardized test scores such as the SAT or ACT as part of the admissions process.
  • English Language Proficiency: As courses in most US universities are in English, you'll need to demonstrate proficiency by taking standardized tests like TOEFL or IELTS.
  • Motivation letter and application form: Write a compelling letter to the committee highlighting why and what you want to study, and complete an application form.
  • Proof of finances: As an international student, you'll need to provide evidence that you have the financial resources to cover tuition and living expenses in the US.


  • Start early! Check the application deadlines and plan accordingly.
  • Focus on academics during your high school years.
  • All your documents should have a certified English translation.
  • Highlight your interests and accomplishments.
  • Tailor each application to a specific university.
  • Seek advice and guidance from trusted sources.

USA student visa requirements

After you're accepted to your desired university, you have to apply for a US Student Visa. It is important to determine which visa you should apply for:

  • F-1 visa is for full-time international students in academic study programs.
  • M-1 visa is for students pursuing vocational studies.
  • J-1 visa is for exchange students.

If you need any help, you can contact your local U.S. embassy.

M-1 and F-1 visa requirements

Look at the full list of requirements for M-1 and F-1 visas.

J-1 visa has a different set of requirements.

Note: Although you can submit your application up to 12 months in advance, a student visa doesn't allow you to enter the USA more than 30 days before the program starts.

How much does getting a Bachelor’s in the USA cost?

The range of Bachelor's degree costs in the USA is quite wide. The exact amount you pay can be higher or lower than average depending on your specific circumstances. However, education in the USA is generally known to be significantly more expensive compared to other countries.

As an undergraduate international student in the USA, you can expect to pay on average:

  • $23,630 per year at a public university
  • $42,000 per year at private colleges

Source: U.S. News

There are several types of institutions available for undergraduate students in the USA, each with different annual costs. Community colleges are the cheapest among all kinds, but international students tend to prefer public and private colleges over them.

That being said, the college's location, and status can also significantly impact the costs.

This year, the Ivy League Yale University in Connecticut announced their cost of attendance would exceed $90,000. Shockingly, it's only the third most expensive private college there and Connecticut is not even the priciest state! According to NCES, out-of-state public university students are charged the highest in Vermont – about $42,000 for tuition and fees. Massachusetts – the home of MIT, Harvard, and Boston University – is the most expensive state for private school attendees: students pay around $71,500 only in tuition per year.

As for the cheapest places, South Dakota and the District of Columbia are reported to charge out-of-state students an average of $13,000 in public 4-year universities. Public 2-year colleges can be even cheaper – for students in Nebraska they cost only $4,300 annually. And if you prefer private universities, check out Utah – tuition and fees there amount to about $17,000 per year.

So it's important to do thorough research on tuition fees before you decide where you want to study.

Scholarships for Bachelor's students in the USA

You can find many scholarships in our Scholarships for Bachelor's Studies in the USA directory. Here are three noteworthy scholarships:

🗽 Study a Bachelor's in USA Scholarship

$5,000 scholarship for undergraduate studies in the United States.

🔬 Undergraduate in STEM Scholarship

$5,000 scholarship for students of any undergraduate STEM degree around the world.

👩‍🎓 Women Scholarship for International Students

$5,000 scholarship for women who plan on studying abroad at a college or university, including the USA.

University scholarships

Many universities in the USA offer merit-based scholarships to international students based on their academic achievements and other criteria. Here are a few examples of these merit-based scholarships for Bachelor's students:

  • State University of New York - #YouAreWelcomeHere Scholarship
  • Tulsa University - Presidential Scholarship

Career options after getting a Bachelor's degree in the USA


  • You can choose to continue your education and pursue a graduate degree.
  • To start working in the USA, make sure to check if you need to change or extend your visa.
  • A Bachelor's degree can open the doors to higher-paying jobs.

Bachelor's graduates who have obtained their degrees in the USA have many career options available to them. You can choose to pursue further education – a Master's degree or PhD in your field of study or related areas. Alternatively, you can look for employment opportunities.

Whichever option you choose after getting your degree, you should check if you need to extend or change your student visa. Read the official US Department of State website to get relevant information on the visa regulations for your specific situation.

Continue your education

If you want to pursue a graduate degree, the USA has a lot to offer you. The relationships you established during your Bachelor's can help you decide on the university and get an excellent recommendation.

A Master's degree can potentially result in a more senior position and increase your starting salary by 8-18% on average, according to NACE. Further education can be especially great if your field values thorough theoretical knowledge over professional experience.

Look for a job

Georgetown University report claims that 35% percent of jobs in the US require a Bachelor's degree or higher. Also, graduates with a US Bachelor's degree often have access to higher-paying job opportunities compared to those without a degree.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary of someone with a Bachelor's degree is around $78,000, which is 66% higher than for high school graduates. Here are a few careers in the US that require a Bachelor's degree and are particularly in demand:

  • Actuaries: Actuaries analyze the economic costs of risk and uncertainty at insurance companies. They earn around $120,000 annually and the employment is projected to grow 23% by 2032.
  • Coaches and scouts: Coaches train athletes for scouts to later evaluate them as possible recruits for their teams. This job can earn you on average $46,000 per year and 38,400 openings for these positions are projected each year over the next decade.
  • Computer and information systems managers: Computer and information systems managers earn around $170,000 annually by planning and coordinating all computer-related projects within a company. About 46,900 openings are projected each year by 2032.
  • Data scientists: In this position, you'll analyze data to extract insights and earn $108,000 annually. About 17,700 openings for data scientists are projected each year.
  • Film and video editors: By filming and producing videos you can get an annual salary of $67,000. This job is projected to have a 7% growth over the next 10 years.