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Guide To Study In The USA From Malaysia


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The American Dream is that anyone from anywhere can make it in the United States. It is exactly why it is a top study destination, especially since it’s the home of many prestigious institutions. In fact, the top 5 universities in the world are all in the land of the free; the United States of America. If you are looking for a guide on how to study in the USA from Malaysia, we at Mayflower have just the right thing for you! Make sure you have everything below prepped before applying for your dream university in the USA.


Why Choose To Study In The USA?


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There are several countries that are known for their prestigious education, but why is it that the USA is constantly the top choice? Well, from the Empire State Building to Mount Rushmore, the US has a lot to offer and even more to see! The sheer size of the country itself opens up a world of possibilities, with numerous cities and even more education options.

Asides from an educational standpoint, the US has always been the global forefront of all things. From business, to politics, and entertainment—the US is where everything happens. By choosing to study in the US, students will be able to experience everything happening in real time! The global influence of the US is no small thing, and studying there is sure to make a difference.


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Malaysian students will also be able to experience the melting pot of culture that is the US. While we are quite used to our blend of Malay, Chinese, Indian, and other minority ethnic groups, the US amplifies diversity to a whole different level. You will be meeting students and people of all sorts of races and religious backgrounds, which will open your mind to accepting others even more than we do back home. Experiencing different cultures is given in the US, considering it is the 4th largest land area in the world, with people from all other the world calling the country home.

The US has thousands of universities and academic programs, most of which have topped several world rankings such as QS World University Rankings and Times Higher Education World University Rankings. Without further ado, let’s get into the top universities to study at in the US!


Top Universities To Study At In The US


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Here’s a fun fact: the top country in the world with the most universities constantly ranking at the top is none other than the US. While half of the top 10 universities in the world are US-based, there are many more US universities that rank in the top 300 globally!

Let’s start with the best—the Ivy League schools. With centuries of tradition and prestige, the US is known for being home to reputable institutions such as Harvard University, Yale University, Brown University, Columbia University, Princeton University, Dartmouth College, Cornell University, and the University of Pennsylvania.


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While this may be the cream of the crop, there still are top universities that are outside of the Ivy League. Check out the top 10 non-Ivy League universities in the US ranked below to decide on your future educational path!


*According to Times Higher Education Rankings 2022-2023:


·  Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

·  Stanford University

·  California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

·  University of California, Berkeley

·  University of Chicago

·  Johns Hopkins University

·  University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

·  New York University

·  Duke University

·  Northwestern University


Now, you can decide to apply to Ivy League universities or equally high ranking universities in the US! Regardless of your choice, your education will be top quality coming from some of the most reputable institutions the country offers.


What Do You Need To Know About US Universities?


The US university application process is quite different from Malaysia, so you must be prepared! Here is a list of all the things you will need before applying for a US university.


1.   Entry Requirements

Typically, each university’s entry requirements will differ based on the selection of your university and course. That being said, here are the minimum qualifications that Malaysian students must have in order to pursue a degree in the US.


-   Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM)/UEC with a minimum of 4 passes

  •   Sijil Tinggi Pelajaran Malaysia (STPM) with a minimum of 2 passes

Malaysian students who possess other forms of academic qualifications, such as O-Levels and A-Levels will require you to have a minimum of O-Level passes and 2 A-Level passes. Do note that while these academic qualifications are British based, there is a high possibility that you will be required to take the SATs in order to further your application.

It is also important to note that Ivy League US universities are extremely competitive to get into and have low acceptance rates. The more elite the institution, the higher the grade requirement.

However, top-ranking US universities outside of the Ivy Leagues that have existing students (especially those who are doing twinning or tertiary programs) are exempted from the requirements above. Make sure to check with your current university if there are any additional academic requirements before completing your final year abroad in the US. 


2.   Language Requirements


Most universities in Western countries require Malaysians to complete a language test, as MUET does not qualify. Therefore, Malaysia students must apply for the following tests below:


-   TOEFL test

-   SAT/ACT test


The grade requirements differ according to universities, so make sure to check beforehand to know what grade level you need in order to qualify!


3.   Application Fees and Visa Requirements


Once you have all your documents ready, it’s time to apply for your dream university! Remember that most universities have a slim acceptance rate, so it’s always good to have a few safety schools in mind as well. The average US student will receive up to 3 to 4 acceptance letters before choosing the university that they would want to attend.


After receiving an acceptance letter, you will also receive Form I-20 or DS-2019. Make sure that your university is certified and accredited by the Student Exchange and Visitor Programme (SEVP).


Next, make a trip to the US Embassy near you for an interview in order to apply for the F-1 non-immigrant visa. The following documents are required:


-   Passport with an expiry date 6 months after the end of your degree

-   Form DS-160 (prepaid all the fees and filled up online with your passport photo)

-   Form I-20 or DS-2019 and any other forms required by your institution

-   Offer letter

-   Proof of finances to support your degree journey

-   Academic transcripts

-   Other forms based on your country’s requirements


And that’s it! Your visa depends on your interviewer, which you will receive within 120 days before your degree begins. Do note that you cannot travel to the US until 30 days before your degree begins.


4.   Tuition Fees


The price you pay for attending the most prestigious universities in the world can be quite costly. However, keep in mind that this is the ultimate investment for your future; as almost every employer would be impressed looking at your academic background!

Here is a rough estimate of what it could cost to study in the US per year:

·  Bachelor’s – 25,000 to 70,000 USD (RM99,000 to 280,000)

·  Master’s – 30,000 to 60,000 USD (RM120,000 to RM240,000

·  Ph.D. – 28,000 to 50,000 USD (RM111,000 to RM199,000)



Make sure to prepare your finances accordingly before committing to education in the US.


5.   Living Costs


Much like living in Malaysia, the cost of living in the US tends to differ based on the area you choose to live in. Whilst being the more popular option, the big cities (such as New York, California, and San Francisco) can burn a hole in your pocket in terms of renting for accommodations and general food expenses.


Therefore, we encourage you to explore the areas surrounding the universities you choose in order to have a good student life without worrying about rising living costs.


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With that, we conclude our list of all you need to know about admissions and studying in the US! We at Mayflower hope that you understand the requirements to study in the US a lot better now and that your application process will be smooth. In fact, we’d like to help you out a little more ;) 

For all students applying to study abroad, flights purchased under Mayflower will be entitled to exclusive perks such as free baggage allowances and complimentary date changes*! This is a special rate for students, but we also offer a special package for parents who would like to accompany their kids! Students struggling with Visa applications may also reach out to us for help as Mayflower is here to make your education journey a lot smoother. 


For any further inquiries, don’t hesitate to reach out to us!