International Grad School Applicants: Vocab To Know

Grad School Admissions

Are you an international student seeking admission into a U.S. grad school? The process can be pretty daunting. Just understanding the "application vocabulary" alone can seem like you're wandering through a maze. Here are some of the most common words you'll come across as you apply; leave us a comment if you can think of any others, and we'll add them to the list, and define them!


TOEFL


Test of English as a Foreign Language. This is a test that international students are often required to take in order to demonstrate their proficiency in the English language. It is scored on a scale from 200 to 800. You can read more about the TOEFL here.

GRE


Graduate Record Examination, often simply referred to as “GRE” or “GRE General Test.” This is the test that applicants to most U.S. grad schools must take. The GRE allows schools to compare applicants’ mathematics and verbal skills, which are considered necessary for successful academic performance. The GRE is comprised of three sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. The Verbal and Quantitative sections are graded from 130 to 170, in one-point increments. The Writing section is scored from 0-6, in half-point increments. You can read more about the GRE here.

ETS


Educational Testing Services. ETS creates and administers the GRE and the TOEFL, as well as many others. You can access ETS’s website here.

M.A. (or A.M.)


Abbreviation for Master of Arts, a common post-graduate degree denomination. It is the most basic academic post-graduate degree you can obtain, and it typically takes 1-2 years of study. It is usually awarded in the humanities or liberal arts.

M.S. (or M. Sci., M.Sc.)


Abbreviation for Master of Science, a common post-graduate degree denomination. Along with the M.A., it is the most basic academic post-graduate degree you can obtain, and it typically takes 1-2 year of study. It is usually awarded in the sciences.

For more information on American M.A. and M.S. degrees, check out this publication written by the U.S. Department of Education: Structure of the U.S. Education System: Master’s Degrees

Ph.D.


Philosophiae Doctor. Translated to Doctor of Philosophy, it is the highest academic degree awarded in the U.S. educational system. It does not have a set time frame in which it is obtained, and can sometimes take many years to complete. It is important to note that the Ph.D. degree is primarily a researchdegree, meaning that original research must be done in order to obtain it; in addition, the degree itself is not awarded upon completion of the research, but rather upon a successful presentation and defense of the research report, or dissertation, in which it results.

For more information on the American Ph.D. degree, check out this publication written by the U.S. Department of Education: Structure of the U.S. Education System: Research Doctorate Degrees.

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