EducationUSA

For students around the world, studying in the United States provides a lifetime of benefits and rewards:

  • Quality facilities, resources, and faculty;
  • Opportunity to become highly skilled and competitive leaders within the global community;
  • Choice of different types of institutions, programs, subjects, academic and social environments;
  • Value for the money invested in higher education, and
    Knowledge of American customs, culture, and history.

To learn more about studying in the United States, including details about the application process and a general timeline, please see:

Studying in the United States Fact Sheet:

For more information or assistance, email to:

EducationUSA Iraq organizes university fairs and events that bring Iraqi students together with representatives from U.S. universities.  Learn about EducationUSA Iraq events and other useful information about studying in the United States.

On our primary website http://www.educationusa.state.gov you will also find a wealth of information designed for international students.

EducationUSA advises students on accredited universities in the United States. When a U.S. university or program is “accredited” means that the institution or program has been reviewed by an external group of reviewers against a set of criteria designed as measures of quality assurance. There are many types of accrediting agencies in the United States with “regional accreditation” being the most highly regarded form of institutional accreditation.

Below is a list of regionally accredited U.S. universities as of March 2013. For an updated list of U.S. universities accredited by regional, national, and other accrediting agencies, please check the U.S. Department of Education website: http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation/. If you have questions, please email BaghdadEducationAdv@state.gov and we are happy to help you.

The United States provides many advantages for international students who want to learn English or improve their English skills.  More than 400 educational institutions across the United States offer English language programs. These websites can help narrow your search:

If You Want to Study in the USA:  Short Term, ESL Distance Education, and Accreditation handbook helps to explain the selection and application process to English as a Second Language programs.

There are more than 4,000 higher education institutions in the United States, reflecting several different types of educational organizations.

Colleges, Universities and Institutes

Degree-granting institutions in the United States can be called colleges, universities, or institutes.  Colleges tend to be small and offer only undergraduate programs, while universities also offer graduate degrees and tend to be larger.  An institute usually specializes in degree programs in a group of closely related subject areas such as institutes of technology and institutes of fashion.

Public or State Universities

These are founded and subsidized by U.S. state governments (for example, California, Michigan, or Texas) to provide low-cost education to residents of that state. Public universities tend to be large and tuition costs are generally lower than those of private universities. Also, in-state residents (those who live and pay taxes in that particular state) pay lower tuition than out-of-state residents.  International students are considered to be out-of-state residents, and they may have to fulfill higher admission requirements than in-state residents.

Private Universities

These schools are funded by a combination of endowments, tuition fees, research grants, and gifts from their alumni. Tuition fees tend to be higher than at public universities, but there is no distinction between state and non-state residents. Colleges with a religious affiliation and single-sex colleges are private.

Community Colleges

There are more than 1,700 two-year colleges that provide associate degree programs, as well as technical and vocational programs. Community colleges can be public or private institutions and are sometimes called junior colleges or two-year colleges. Tuition costs are often lower compared to four-year institutions, and many have agreements that allow students on transfer programs to move easily into the third year of a bachelor’s degree at the local state university. For more information see American Association of Community Colleges

Short-term University Study

This includes programs such as intensive English Language instruction, summer session studies, and student exchange programs. These programs are short, ranging from a few weeks to a few months, and they do not lead to a degree. For more information see EducationUSA

Beware! Not all colleges, universities and distance learning programs advertised in newspapers or provided in online databases are accredited by one of the regional or national accrediting associations recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. The goal of accreditation is to ensure that the education provided by institutions of higher education meet acceptable levels of quality.

When researching colleges and universities in the United States, you should always verify accreditation.   If you are unfamiliar with an American college, university or distance learning program, go the U.S. Department of Education and follow the instructions below.

  1. Go to the homepage of the U.S. Department of Education:  Office of Post Secondary Education website and click to the right of the first paragraph, on ‘click here to begin your search’
  2. Enter the name of the institution and then click ‘search’. Be sure to spell the university name correctly.
  3. If the university is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, it will be listed on this page. Click on the university to find details of its accreditation status.

If you are not able to check the accreditation status of a U.S. university or have questions, email to:  BaghdadEducationAdv@state.gov

Associate Degree – usually takes two years to complete and is awarded by community colleges.   Associate Degree programs may be “terminal” programs, which lead to specific careers upon graduation or “transfer” programs, which allow students to transfer into a four-year bachelor’s degree program as a third-year student.

Bachelor’s Degree – typically takes four years to complete and is awarded by four-year colleges and universities. The most common are a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and a Bachelor of Science (B.S.).

Master’s Degree – provides additional education or training in the student’s specialized branch of knowledge beyond the level of a bachelor’s degree. Master’s degrees are offered in many different fields and are either a one-year or a two-year program.

Doctoral Degree – trains research scholars and future college and university faculty members.  The doctoral degree certifies that the student has demonstrated capacity as a trained research scholar in a specific discipline.  For more information see EducationUSA

The Application Process:  Each American college and university has its own requirements for admission.  Generally, they require an application, standardized tests, transcripts from your previous academic institution, letters of reference, and essays.

  1. Getting Started
  2. Research
  3. Iraqi Student Advisers
  4. Application Steps

Getting Started

Before you start to research possible schools, ask yourself a few questions:

  • What do I want to study?
  • Do my second school coursework (if you are applying for a undergraduate program) or my undergraduate studies (if you are applying for a master’s program) prepare me for the demands of this major?
  • Can I meet admission requirements?
  • What kind of environment do I want to live in? (large city, small town, cold climate, close to family, etc.)
  • Do I want to go to a small school (less than 5,000 students), medium school (5,000 to 20,000 students), or a large school (more than 20,000 students)?
  • What is my budget and how much can my family afford?
  • Do I want to go to a private or public university?
  • Is it important for the university to have services for international students?

Research

There are more than 4,000 accredited higher education institutions in the United States.  Iraqi students should start their research at the EducationUSA website.  This website provides accurate, objective, and comprehensive information about U.S. educational institutions and guidance on how to access those opportunities.  The EducationUSA website provides information about applying to a U.S. university, selecting universities that match a student’s study goals, and applying for financial aid.

Iraqi Student Advisers

The U.S. Embassy has trained more than 100 university professors and staff, high school teachers, and government ministry employees across Iraq as Student Advisers.  These Student Advisers are familiar with the U.S. university system and are trained to help students research and apply to universities and colleges.  Working as volunteers, Iraqi Student Advisers are committed to helping students pursue educational opportunities in the United States and Iraq.

U.S. Embassy Baghdad supports the Student Advisers and also works directly with Iraqi students to answer questions, find resources and provide support.

If you would like counseling from an Iraqi Student Adviser in your area, please contact us.

For information or help, email to:  BaghdadEducationAdv@state.gov

Application Steps

  • Students should follow these steps to apply to a U.S. university:
  • Start the research and  application process at least 18 months before you want to attend a U.S. university;
  • Be aware of the time schedule. Most universities accept new students for the Fall Semester, starting in August or September.  Some universities will accept new students for the Spring Semester, starting in January.
  • Select 5 to 10 universities that match your interests and needs;
  • Applications are usually submitted online.  Follow the application process step by step as outlined on the university website.  Completing the application can take quite a bit of time; make sure you have enough time to do a good job!
  • Fill out the application for Financial Aid and submit with the application;
  • Provide official copies of transcripts for all courses attended; be prepared to submit the original version (in Arabic or Kurdish) and an official translated version (in English);
  • Many universities require foreign students to have their transcripts evaluated by an independent reviewer.  Follow the directions on the Application.
  • Submit official copies of all English language and academic testing; you should request that the testing organization (for example ETS) send the official scores to the universities directly;
  • Provide personal and academic references; you should choose teachers, professors, or community leaders who know you well and can give strong references with specific examples and details;
  • Write a personal essay (or essays) as part of the application.  Follow the instructions carefully.  U.S. universities take these essays very seriously because they provide personal information about students that may not come through in the regular application.  You  should answer the questions directly, give specific examples and help the university get to know you as a individual;
  • Submit an application fee in U.S. dollars; usually this must be paid online with a credit card; most universities WILL NOT accept an application without the application fee;
  • Submit the completed application, including all other documents such as transcripts, test scores, etc.

There are more than 3,600 colleges and universities in the United States that offer undergraduate or bachelor’s degree programs in a wide range of fields of study.  Use the links below to learn more about the standardized tests you need to take, the admissions procedures, and techniques so you can find the right university for you.

There are more than 1,700 universities, colleges and institutes that offer graduate degree programs in the United States.  The links below can help you find the right program for you and give you information on admissions procedures and guidelines.

As technology improves, U.S. higher education institutions can effectively deliver classroom instruction to learners around the world.  More than 90 percent of all accredited U.S. colleges and universities with 10,000 or more students now offer distance education programs.  With distance education programs, the students and instructor are not in the same place.  However, students must meet school admission requirements and the coursework is as demanding as in-classroom instruction.

Here is some helpful information about getting a U.S. degree or certificate without leaving Iraq.

What to Know:

When you start to research distance learning programs, there are some key questions that you will want to ask of a program.  Dr. Amy Kirle Lezberg, accreditation expert, gives some tips in her article below, What To Know Before Enrolling in Distance Education©.

  • What Program are you thinking of enrolling in?
  • Are there any residency requirements?
  • What other institutions offer similar programs and do they grant the same credential for similar work?
  • How does the variety of courses offered compare with similar on-site programs?
  • How are the course materials made available to students?
  • What arrangements have been made for you to complete any required laboratory requirements?
  • Who Designs, Delivers and Monitors the Program?
  • Who designs and delivers the program (and if they are different, how is the delivery controlled)?
  • Where can the qualifications and current professional activity of the faculty be found in writing?
  • What arrangements are made to ensure faculty-student and student-student interaction?

Other Expectations of the Institution and Available Student Services

  • What academic, linguistic, and technical skills does the institution require for students enrolling in this program?
  • What equipment must I have access to and how will the institution help me in any problems that arise concerning the interface between my equipment and their offerings?
  • What counseling, career, financial aid, or other non-classroom services are provided for distance education students?
  • Is there a student handbook for distance education students?  If not, where are these issues addressed?  What is the process for filing complaints?
  • What is the institution’s refund policy if I should have to withdraw from this program?

Final Check on the Integrity of the Degree

  • How can I assure outsiders that the degree represents an assessment of my work rather than that of someone else?
  • Where is there official representation of faculty qualifications, the program’s course sequence and requirements, the nature of student/faculty interaction and assumptions about technical skills?

Finding a Program

With so many distance programs to choose from, it can be difficult to find the right program for your specific needs.   Here are some search engines that can help you narrow your options.  Remember that you may want to think about accreditation, method of delivery, cost, type of program, and residency requirements (time that you must be at the U.S. campus for specific instruction or testing).

Resources

If You Want to Study in the USA:  Short Term, ESL, Distance Education and Accreditation Click here for English (PDF 1.06 MB) and Arabic (PDF 2.96 MB)

Studying in the United States can be expensive, so you should look carefully at the total cost of study for each year.  At public (state) universities, you will pay a higher fee than American students because you are not a resident of that state.  At private universities, you will pay the same price as all the other students.

If you attend a public two-year undergraduate program, you will need at least $12,000 per year to cover the cost of tuition, room, food, books, and personal expenses.  If you attend a four-year public university, you will need at least $25,000 per year.  Some private universities cost more than $50,000 per year, so check the university website for those details when you are doing your research.  Remember also that you will need funds for transportation between Iraq and the United States.

Masters and PhD students can expect to pay about $25,000 per year at a public university and $50,000 per year at a private university.   Many universities have more scholarship funding for graduate students.

In general, most international students pay themselves to study in the United States through family savings and loans.  U.S. Government Student Loan Programs are not available to international students studying in the United States.

The EducationUSA website has information about sources of funds to study in the United States.

Government Scholarship Programs

Government scholarship programs are one way that Iraqi students can fund their studies.  Programs require that students have good grades and promise to return to Iraq for at least two years after completing their degree.

Scholarships are available for students through several programs in Iraq.  For information about these programs and to see if you are eligible to apply, please go to these websites.

Government of Iraq Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research Scholarship Program
Funded by the Government of Iraq, this scholarship provides funding for masters and PhD studies at universities in the United States and the U.K. http://mohesr.gov.iq

Iraq Education Initiative (IEI)
Funded by the Prime Minister’s Office, this scholarship provides funding for undergraduate, masters and PhD studies at selected universities in the United States and the U.K.
http://www.hcediraq.org

Kurdistan Regional Government Human Capacity Building Scholarship Program
Funded through the KRG Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, this scholarship provides funding for masters and PhD studies at universities in several countries around the world, including the United States.
http://www.mhe-krg.org

Fulbright Foreign Student Program
Funded by the U.S. Government, this scholarship provides masters studies at a selected U.S. university.  The application process is very competitive.

University Scholarship Programs

Students can also receive scholarships and financial aid from the university they will attend.  There is not much funding for undergraduate (bachelor’s degree) students.  But, masters and PhD students have a better chance of receiving funding from the university.  Remember to fill out the Financial Aid Application as part of your Application Package.

Some university scholarships require that you submit a separate scholarship application to be considered for the funding.  Do your research online and learn which scholarships you are eligible for, so you can apply.  These scholarships will have an application deadline.

Only a very few universities offer full scholarships, where all the costs are covered for international students.  Even if the university provides some financial aid, you will be expected to contribute the other funds that are needed to study.

Student Loans

International students are not eligible for student loan programs funded by the U.S. Government.  However, international students can be eligible for private student loans IF they have a family member living in the United States who will co-sign a student loan from a private bank.  These loans will be more expensive than a U.S. Government-funded loan, with a higher rate of interest and loan fees.

The International Student Loan program matches students to loans from banks in the United States.  Students must have someone in the United States who will co-sign on the loan.
http://www.internationalstudentloan.com/index.php

Private student loan programs are also available through U.S. universities.  Once you have been accepted at a university, you will receive information about private loans that you may be eligible for, but most will require a co-signer living and working in the United States.

For information on the U.S. university system, finding a school, applying to a school, obtaining financial aid, and many other questions you have about studying in the United States go to  EducationUSA

To ask questions about studying or be connected to an Iraqi Student Adviser, please contact the Education Adviser at U.S. Embassy Baghdad BaghdadEducationAdv@state.gov

Publications

If You Want to Study in the US – Pre-Departure : English (PDF 2.10MB) – Arabic (PDF 2.28 MB) 

If You Want to Study in the US – Short Term, ESL, Distance Education and Accreditation Handbook:   English (PDF 1 MB) – Arabic (PDF 2.96 MB)

If You Want to Study in the USA, Undergraduate Handbook:  English (PDF 1.06 MB)  – Arabic (PDF 2.5 MB)

If You Want to Study in the USA, Graduate Handbook:   English (PDF 2.33 MB) – Arabic (PDF 4.01 MB)

E-Journal:  See You in the USA:  English (PDF 1.60 MB) –  Arabic (PDF 1.64 MB)

E-Journal:  Colleges and Universities:  English (PDF 2.35 MB) – Arabic (PDF 2.99 MB)

E-Journal:  Campus Connections:  English (PDF 3.29 MB) – Arabic (PDF 1.80 MB)

Useful Websites

The U.S. Embassy has trained more than 100 university professors and staff, high school teachers, and government ministry employees across Iraq as Student Advisers.  These Student Advisers are familiar with the U.S. university system and are trained to help students research and apply to universities and colleges.  Working as volunteers, Iraqi Student Advisers are committed to helping students pursue educational opportunities in the United States and Iraq.

U.S. Embassy Baghdad supports the Student Advisers and also works directly with Iraqi students to answer questions, find resources and provide support.

If you would like counseling from an Iraqi Student Adviser in your area, please contact us.

For information or help, email to: BaghdadEducationAdv@state.gov