Study for a graduate program in Virginia
Officially known as the Commonwealth of Virginia, this is a popular state among international students that offers a little bit of everything. From coastal towns to the wilderness of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Virginia has a lifestyle to suit all types of international students.
Virginia has a long and distinguished history, being the birthplace of eight US presidents, stage for the American Civil War, and home to the second oldest higher education institution in the US – the College of William and Mary.
Studying a graduate program in Virginia will allow you to straddle the border between America’s north and south – never has the divide felt more exciting than here in Virginia.
Virginia is home to more than 150 colleges and universities, many of which are high ranking. For example, Virginia Commonwealth University is ranked as the top public graduate school in fine arts in the US, while the University of Virginia was ranked the second best public college by the US News and World rankings.
You can study a graduate program in Virginia at the following institutions:
- Virginia Tech
- Virginia State University
- Virginia Commonwealth University
- James Madison University
- George Mason University
- Washington and Lee University
- University of Richmond
- The College of William & Mary
Professional, or ‘terminal’, masters are designed to lead to employment rather than further study. Popular courses include: Master of Business Administration (M.B.A) and Master of Library Science (M.L.S.).
Academic masters, however, are generally designed to lead the way into doctorate/PhD study. Popular courses include: Master of Education (M.Ed.), and Master of Engineering (M.Eng.).
Both last between one and three years, depending on the subject.
Doctoral degrees are the most advanced level of higher education, and usually take between four and eight years to complete, which includes the time it takes to write and present a dissertation.
Immigration and visas
You will need to apply for a non-immigrant visa before travelling to the US to study a graduate program in Virginia.
The most common kind of student visa is the F-1 visa, which entitles the holder to study at any US accredited college or university.
To apply for a student visa for a graduate program in Virginia, you will need to fill out an application form (found on the US Embassy website) and send appropriate documentation, such as evidence of financial standing and proof of university acceptance and academic qualifications, as well as possibly attending a visa interview at the US Embassy in your home country.
Life in Virginia
Virginia is a state that reeks of American history. The Jamestown, Yorktown and Williamsburg historical triangle is located in Virginia and students can get their Civil War fill through numerous museums, re-enactments and the 23-mile scenic Colonial Parkway.
If the outdoors are more your thing, then there are plenty of reasons to study in Virginia. The state’s Virginia Beach coastline has more than 35 miles of coastline to enjoy, with Chesapeake Bay being an ideal hideaway for when you want to escape the ocean’s waves.
Virginia also has thriving cities, with the popular student city of Fairfax being just minutes from America’s capital Washington DC.
Working in Virginia
Virginia is one of the few American states to use the employment-at-will doctrine, meaning an employer or employee can end their working relationship without notice or severance pay. Despite this, Virginia has a diverse economy with one of the lowest unemployment rates in the US.
Particularly thriving industries in Virginia include the service sector, agriculture and communication technology. Virginia has the highest concentration of technology workers of any state in the US, and the fourth most technology workers of any state after the big three of California, Texas and New York.
Virginia also invests heavily in defence spending, providing the state with more than 900,000 jobs.
Most international graduate students coming to Virginia for a postgraduate course choose to live in university halls of accommodation on campus. This allows them to settle into life easily, meet fellow students and get support from the university.
If you prefer to live in private accommodation, most universities in Virginia will help you be providing contact details for estate agents and contractors as well as suggesting good areas to live.
Weather and climate
Virginia has a variable climate depending on where in the state you plan on studying. Head to the south east and expect warmer, more humid weather. Summer runs from June to August, when temperatures can hit highs of 30C. The main winter months are from December to February where the average low is around -3C.
Virginia is prone to thunderstorms and significant snowfall near its mountains.
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