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2. Shortlist Universities

After you get to know about school rankings, the next most important step is to shortlist the right schools. This is by far the most neglected step by the majority of students.

You need to see the schools ranking and note down the schools where you want to apply, and then go to the main page of university/school to explore more details.

Check each and every detail on the university (department) page. We recommend to check the following details, if they are available on university website:

Eligibility Criteria

  • Admission Requirement

  • Application Requirement

  • Class Profile

  • FAQ

  • Curriculum

Please note that all schools or universities might not have the same headings or titles as mentioned above but try to explore all pages.

Its very important that you get yourself familiar with the following university requirements for the particular program such as follows:

  • 16 years of Education (Minimum)

  • GRE/GMAT Requirements

  • CGPA

  • IELTS/TOEFL (International Students)

  • Personal Statement/Essay Questions

  • Deadline/Last Date to Apply

  • Application Fee

  • Employments Rate

  • Letters of Recommendation

By checking all the details on the university website, you would get an idea what sort of profile do they prefer for admission and hence the scholarships.

We would recommend creating a spreadsheet/excel document and mentioning all schools where you want to apply based on your profile and the profile university prefers to admit. Moreover, it’s also very important to note down the deadlines dates, so you can prepare your applications accordingly.

The recommended approach is to shortlist schools. While shortlisting, your profile should be better than the average profile mentioned on the website. Definitely there are exceptions too in case if you have exceptional extra-curriculum activities, vast experience etc. and the entire profile counts, so definitely its worth applying.

Detailed Shortlisting checklist

We have seen students get overwhelmed by doubts and uncertainty related to US admission process. There are two broad reasons why they don’t understand the overall admission process.

  • Lack of Awareness

  • Their inability to ask for help and guidance from a mentor which consequently results in partial research.

We have prepared a checklist document so that the students can use it to make their short-listing process far simpler and easier.

Pre-Admission Checklist:

  • Program Requirement:

  • Decide which program you want to pursue.

  • Determine from various specializations, one you want to choose.

  • Courses offered (Core Courses, Elective Courses, free electives, out of department).

  • Prerequisite courses, if any (this is required if you change branch, say from ECE to CS)

  • Total credit hours (Semester or Quarter credit hours System)

  • Degree Requirement:

  • Academic/Traditional Degree (With Thesis) or Terminal/Professional Degree (without thesis and with project or scholarly paper or coursework only.

  • 16 years of education is required for MS and PHD programs

  • CGPA Requirement

  • GRE/GMAT Score Requirement

  • TOEFL/IELTS Score Requirement

  • Experience required or not? If yes, how many years is minimum required?

  • Check application deadline and documents submission deadline

  • Cost of Living.

  • Do you research on the cost of living where you are going? A general tip, schools based in the big cities are very expensive and it’s tough to manage the cost in those cities. If you are looking to do some saving or going to live with family, then best is to look for universities that are based in small towns also known as college towns.

Admission Checklist:

  • Admission Requirement:

  • Application Form

  • Test Scores (Institutes GRE Code/TOEFL code, they want Official or unofficial)

  • Statement of Purpose or Personal Statement or Goal Statement or Essay (Format, word limit and the questions to be answered).

  • Resume

  • Letters of Recommendations (LOR) (Number of LOR, its requirements and how to send it)

  • Publications (If applicable)

  • Research (If applicable)

  • Admission Type

  • Application fee and waiver policy, if any.

  • Transcripts to be sent (Upload scan copies of transcripts and degree certificate in online application).

  • Online application process checklist OR application process (PDF).

  • Check whether schools require your degree evaluation by WES.

  • Financial Aid (Application for financial aid, Financial aid policy, Deadline for Financial Aid, policies for RA/TA/GA, working hours, Summer internship, Graduate Co-op Program).

  • Supplemental Information (check for writing samples, diversity essay, creative work, portfolio, if any, and extracurricular activities).

  • Mailing address for couriering Application Packet; Paper Copies (DHL Etc.).

Graduate Admissions Costing Overview

Financial constraints usually preclude students from pursuing higher education in United States or in any other country for that matter. It affects their ability in selecting the school and consequently the respective state. Therefore, it is imperative to start financial planning for your graduate studies as early as possible. If you have decided to study abroad, you should immediately begin a thorough research of university tuition fees, living expenses and relevant funding opportunities at home and abroad. Refer to the information listed onthe university websites – costsvary across the universities and across thegraduate programs. Moreover, costs may also vary for international students. Don’t hesitate to contact the funding office at the university to clarify any confusions or to elicit more details.


The next step in the process is to assess personal funds. Have you been saving your earnings? Do you have ample family income to support your education? Can you make use of your family assets? These are some of the questions you should begin seeking answers to once you start financial planning for graduate studies. If you have sufficient personal resources, then you may require little or no financial assistance from universities or other external sources. However, if you do require financial assistance, then only the difference between what you and your family can afford and the actual cost of studying would be covered by the financial aid. Universities assess your financial situation before offering any financial assistance. Most scholarship or financial aid awards may only cover a part of your expenses, so you need to have resources to help you cover the remaining expenses.


To reduce your educational costs, following factors should be considered:

  • Don’t just limit yourself to private universities. Private universities in the US are much more expensive than public universities. Expand your scope by applying to several of both private as well as public universities

  • Remote areas in the US, such as the Midwest or the south west do not only have lower cost of living, but are also home to numerous low cost and decent universities.

  • Most universities – especially for PhD programs – offer on-campus jobs such as fellowships, graduate teaching or research assistantships and administrative assistantships. Contact the admissions and funding offices to explore whether your tuition fee can be waived in exchange of such jobs.

  • Faculty members play a significant role in selecting students for grants and funding in their department. Therefore, before you submit your application and make sure you contact professors in your department of interest.

  • Please note that international students are not eligible for federal loans and scholarships. Apart from the options discussed above, before you submit your application,search for external sources of scholarships, and identify universities with financial aid in your field of study.

  • Never leave for tomorrow what can be done today. Always plan well ahead – this can not be stressed enough. The earlier you begin planning, the better your chances of making wise decisions would be.

The mentors at Scholar Den are always available for further assistance. Feel free to reach out to them if you require guidance customized to your case.


Optimizing your finances is an important part of your application process.

  1. GRE registration = 205$ + (4 free score reports can be sent only on test day)

  2. TOEFL registration = 180$ + (4 free score reports can be scheduled to send only before test day)

  3. GRE additional score report fee = 27$ each Universities want you to send score reports directly from ETS. Some universities in US may relieve you from sending official GRE score report but they will surely ask for them after admission. You have to ask admissions department/coordinator if you can send score reports after admission decision. You will have to upload the soft copy of your score report in that case.

  4. TOEFL additional score report fee = 19$ each Universities want you to send score reports directly from ETS. Some universities in US may relieve you from sending official TOEFL score report but they will surely ask for them after admission. You have to ask admissions department/coordinator if you can send score reports later. You will have to upload the soft copy of your score report in that case.

  5. Application fee for university = ranges from 30$ to 150$, very very few universities have no application fee

  6. Sending your transcripts to universities where you are applying –Universities will ask you to send photocopies of transcripts and degrees directly from your controller/registrar of past/current institutions. Attestation from them may cost from Rs. 200 to Rs. 1000 per transcript/degree page (depends on what your university charges for it). You will request your controller/registrar to attest photocopies of your transcripts and/or degrees and seal them in an envelope and stamp the envelope.Some universities in US may relieve you from this process and they may ask official transcripts after admission. You have to ask admissions department/coordinator about this if you can send transcripts later.

  7. Sending your supporting materials to university – put all transcripts and required materials in one envelope and send via DHL. DHL student rates are Rs. 1600 per post.


Now if you want to apply in 4 universities and let’s assume each university demands everything (score reports, transcripts), the estimated cost of your application will be:


Basic cost – GRE + TOEFL = 205 + 180 = 385$ (I am assuming that you have wasted all free score reports; plan ahead so that score reports are not wasted)


Score reports cost per university -GRE + TOEFL = 27 + 19 = 46$


Score reports cost for 4 universities = 4 x 46$ = 184$


Application fee for 4 universities = 4 x 90 = 360$ ( I am assuming application fee of 90$ for all universities)


Transcripts + Degree attestation cost for each university = 500×2 = Rs. 1000 ( I am assuming that your university takes 500 per page to attest, UET Lahore takes Rs. 200, PIEAS also takes Rs. 200) Transcripts + Degree attestation cost for 4 universities = 4 x 1000 = Rs. 4000 = 40$ Postal DHL charges for 4 universitie s = 4 x 1600 = Rs. 4800 = 48$ TOTAL COST FOR FOUR UNIVERSITIES = 385$ + 184$ + 360$ + 40$ + 48$ = 1017$ = 1 lac one thousand seven hundred rupees


Above estimate is worst case estimate, as I have already said, some universities might relieve you from sending score reports and transcripts at the time of application. They may accept soft copy. Not all universities have application fee of 90$. I have also assumed that you wasted free score reports. This post aims to give you an idea of application cost.


PS. You can call graduate coordination/admission cell free of cost via Google Hangouts!! Always call them for getting information! Email takes more time and they may give some extra info on phone.


PS. Ideal university selection will save you the cost. Choose universities very wisely.