Step 1: Define Your Goals
Step 1: Define Your Goals

Defining the goals for your education and career will help you select the most appropriate graduate programs and will help motivate you through the application process. It will also assist you in writing the application essays in which you often will be asked to explain your career goals and how they relate to your application for graduate study. Lastly, defining your career goals will lead you to find out exactly what qualifications are required for that career and whether or not U.S. credentials are recognized in your home country.

To help define your education and career goals, ask yourself these questions:
  • What career do I want to pursue? Is employment available in my country in this field? What advanced degree is required to enter this profession?
Speak to people already working in the field and to representatives of professional associations. Educational advisers or career advisers in your country may also have information about the skills and background required for various professions, as well as knowledge of the need for professionals in different fields in your country.
  • How will study in the United States enhance my career? Will a graduate degree help me earn a higher salary?
Consult educators, government officials, and working professionals in your country about the value of U.S. study for you at this stage in your career, including any increased earning potential. Take into account in your planning any revalidation or certification requirements for employment in your particular field when you return home.
  • What is the system of recognition for U.S. degrees in my country?
In many countries, a U.S. degree is highly valued, and recognition of degrees is straightforward. However, in some countries, particularly those with educational systems markedly different from that of the United States, graduate degrees from the United States may not be officially recognized, or they may be recognized at a different level. If this is the case, you may still wish to consider U.S. study to gain knowledge and experience. Check on the situation in your country with your nearest EducationUSA information and advising center or with the ministry of education or other appropriate authority before you begin your applications. Refer to the section on accreditation. This step is especially important if you are planning to undertake a professional program in the United States, because requirements for professional education usually are rigorously upheld and vary greatly from country to country.