Study in Baltimore
Updated 2021-08-02 15:00

Baltimore may not be as famous as neighbouring Washington, New York and Philadelphia; however, it provides many benefits for international students looking for a coastal way of life. Besides its posh areas, you will also enjoy a low cost of living, the peaceful atmosphere of the Chesapeake Bay and, of course, quality higher education.

Universities and programs for international students in Boston

On its own, Maryland hosts around thirty universities including Johns Hopkins University which is the most prominent one in Baltimore. In fact, Johns Hopkins University is one of the world's best universities. You could also opt for the University of Maryland which counts international students from 150 different nationalities. Both of them offer many programs in various fields.

Johns Hopkins University

Founded in 1876, Johns Hopkins University was one of the first research institutions in the US. Today, it is still leading the scientific research field, which makes it the 3rd best US research university.

Undergraduate students can choose from 52 different programs. Note that Johns Hopkins University is the world's 25th best university according to QS World University Rankings 2021, which is proof of its academic excellence. Its School of Medicine is world-famous following those of Harvard and Stanford.

The admission rate at Johns Hopkins University currently stands at 11.2% and there are over 5,200 international students on campus. John Hopkins University is known for its succeeding graduates: one of them was Woodrow Wilson, the 28th president of the United States.

Find more information on the university website.

University of Maryland, Baltimore County

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) is a public university, founded in 1966. Today, it provides 48 programs for undergraduate students and 60 others for postgraduate students. While it's not as famous as Hopkins, UMBC is the 87th best US university according to QS World University Rankings 2021.

Since UMBC is a public university, tuition fees are more affordable compared to most private universities. It's, therefore, an excellent choice for students on a limited budget.

UMBC offers a vibrant student life with 250 student organisations and some twenty brotherhoods. With an admission rate of 44.2%, the university counts over 11,000 undergraduate students.

Find more information on the university website.

Enrolment fees and scholarships in Baltimore

While the US can boast about having some of the world's most prestigious universities, the higher education system is quite costly compared to many European countries. For example, count at least $55,000 per year in tuition fees at John Hopkins University. Public universities, however, are generally more affordable. At UMBC, for example, you will need an average of $36,000 for out-of-state tuition.

If you're moving to Baltimore on a budget, there's nothing to worry about. Regardless of their background, students are eligible for scholarships provided they have an excellent academic record. High performing students who do not have the means to finance their studies can apply for social scholarships while students having the best records are eligible for merit scholarships regardless of their family revenue. Note that these scholarships are subject to a quota that usually varies from one university to another. You only have to make sure that the university you have chosen provides these scholarships and that international student are eligible for these.

Hopkins University provides social scholarships to international students. In fact, every year, around 10% of them benefit from an average of US$ 25,000 each. However, only US students are eligible for merit scholarships. At UMBC, international students can only apply for social scholarships. However, international students can pay their tuition fees via the Monthly Payment Plan, so they don't have to pay the total amount at once for the whole semester.

Academic calendar and courses in Baltimore

Courses are quite similar to those in most US and European universities and are either taught in small groups in a classroom or an amphitheatre with dozens of students. You can also take part in seminars where students are allowed to speak out and exchange their views and opinions. Exams can take the form of classwork or homework.

However, the academic calendar can take two different forms. The quarterly model goes from September to June and divides a school year into four semesters with an average of ten weeks each. The semester model divides a year into two parts, each with fourteen to twenty weeks, and is more common in the USA. At Hopkins, for example, the first semester starts on August 31st. However, dates can vary from one university or department to another.

Types of diplomas in US universities

The US rating system may seem complicated at first since it differs from that of many European countries. Teachers give notes in percentage form which are converted to letters A to F. The Grade Point Average (GPA) is the official US rating system. Your homework will thus be rated from A to F, A being the best rate with 4.33 points and F being the worst with 0 points.

Higher studies in the US are on three levels: undergraduate where students obtain a Bachelor's degree following (following four years of studies), graduate where students receive a Master's Degree (following six years of studies) and postgraduate where students obtain their Doctorate or PhD. You are advised to check whether your home country has signed an agreement with the US regarding the equivalence of diplomas and degrees.

Student visas and admission criteria

Information regarding student visas for the USA is available on the website of the US Embassy in your home country. In all cases, you will need a visa if you're looking to study in Baltimore. Most students apply for the F1 visa which is delivered to full-time undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate students. Those opting for technical or vocational studies including hotels and hospitality, automotive, information and communication technology and gastronomy, can apply for an M1 visa. However, this visa is only valid for one year and is renewable three times. The J1 visa is issued to international students taking part in an exchange program following an agreement between their university and a US university.

While enrollment criteria vary from one university or department to another, some procedures remain compulsory for international students. First of all, you must have been accepted by the chosen university to be eligible for a visa. You also have to prove your language proficiency via a TOEFL or IELTS test. International students also have to pass the Scholastic Assessment Test or the American College Testing like American students before getting enrolled. These tests are conducted in English to test your level in general subjects (mainly mathematics, writing and text analysis). Find more information on how to prepare for the SAT and take part in the official exam on the College Board website. US universities also require their students to say more about them and their motivations through a Personal Essay that has to be submitted at the same time as the application.

Graduate students looking to study in a US university have to take part in the Graduate Record Examination which will determine whether they have the required level.

How to enroll into a university in Baltimore?

Contact the chosen university's International Office to learn more about legal administrative procedures regarding enrolment. Universities like John Hopkins and UMBC provide an exclusive portal to international students. Note, however, that admission fees are your responsibility. As an international student, you will also need an average of US$300 in visa fees.

It's compulsory for all students to have subscribed for health insurance before enrolment since the US health system is quite costly. Universities also offer their insurance scheme to students, but it remains expensive even though it's cheaper than private health insurance. Some universities accept international insurance and private US insurances while others don't. At UMBC, for example, all students have to subscribe to the university insurance scheme.

Study and work in Baltimore

Many students choose to work part-time during their studies in the USA. As an international student, however, you will have to comply with certain conditions depending on your visa. F1 and J1 visa holders, for example, are allowed to work for a maximum of 20 hours per week and a maximum of 40 hours a week during vacation.

Students having an F1 visa are allowed to work off-campus from their second year under specific conditions. In all cases, your university has to provide you with an authorisation letter thanks to which you can obtain a social security number. Note that the social security number is compulsory for working in the US, even if you have a student visa.

M1 visa holders are not allowed to work on or off-campus. However, they are allowed to do a one-month internship, provided they have completed four consecutive months of studies. Students holding an M1 visa can do six non-successive months of internship provided they have the authorisation of the US government.

Student cost of living in Baltimore

The cost of living in Baltimore is slightly lower compared to other major cities on the East Coast. Accommodation will probably be one of your most significant expenses. The average rent for a Baltimore apartment is $1,330 — naturally, it varies, depending on what neighborhood you want to live in and how much space you need.

Fell's Point and Butcher's Hill are the most expensive neighbourhoods regarding rent. However, flat-sharing is quite common as it's quite easy to find two-bedroom apartments.

Also, keep in mind that restaurant and coffee shop bills do not include tips. As a result, you are required to leave an additional 15% to 20% of the bill as tip. Moreover, shop and supermarket prices do not include taxes so be careful when doing your shopping. You might have to pay a few dollars more than expected.

Transportation won't be a significant expense for students in Baltimore as the city has an extensive transportation network, so you might not even need a car. In any case, it is not recommended to walk around the city's outskirts. Since Baltimore counts a single subway line, most people prefer the Charm City Circulator which connects the different neighbourhoods to one another thanks to its five lines, free of charge.

Cultural institutions, including cinemas, museums and art galleries, offer reduced rates to students holding their student card. The same applies to some shops and restaurants. Find a comprehensive list of student benefits and preferential rates in Baltimore on the StudentRate website.

Where to live when studying in Baltimore

Once you have received your admission confirmation, you can request accommodation on the university campus. Make sure, however, to send your request well in advance as the number of rooms can be limited. Besides sparing you from visiting dozens of apartments before finding the ideal one, university residences will allow you to enjoy student life on campus in full. In fact, you will be able to meet other students and take part in activities. Also, you won't need to use public transportation to go to university. You can find more information on student residences and rates applied in the student housing section of your university's website.

Keep in mind that the crime rate in Baltimore is still high even though the city is less dangerous than it was a decade ago. Avoid wandering around the city's outskirts. Fells Point, Federal Hill, Inner Harbor and Mount Vernon are some of the safest neighbourhoods where you can easily find an apartment for rent. Charles Village which is close to Hopkins is primarily a student neighbourhood. You can browse for apartment rental and flat-sharing options close to Baltimore universities on the StudentRent website.

Living like a local in Baltimore

Only forty minutes away from Washington, Baltimore is, in fact, part of Washington's outskirts. With some 2.8 million inhabitants, it's the biggest city in the State of Maryland, but not its capital city, which is Annapolis.

Baltimore is a historical city due to its position during the American Civil War. You can find out more about its historical heritage by visiting the Civil War Museum and the Fort McHenry built in 1812 during the Anglo-American war. You will also find many art institutions such as the Walter Arts Museum which has one of the country's most impressive art collections. At the Baltimore Museum of Art, you will be delighted by the works of famous artists like Picasso, Matisse, Cezanne and Van Gogh.

Nestled in the heart of Chesapeake Bay which is the largest estuary in the US, Baltimore is a place where you can enjoy a walk along the shore and eat crab cakes which is a local speciality served in most restaurants. When looking for a getaway, you can choose from a range of options that will take just a few hours by train or by car. Annapolis, St. Michaels and Bethesda are some of the most beautiful cities in Baltimore. Also, keep in mind that you're just a few kilometres away from major US metropolises like Washington, Philadelphia and New York, so you're not likely to get bored in Baltimore

Useful links:

Baltimore Collegetown
Scholarships in Maryland

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