Study in Atlanta

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Updated 2021-08-02 14:37

The capital of Georgia, Atlanta is located in the southern state of the United States. It has the country's 9th biggest GDP. This vibrant city is nicknamed the "City in a forest", which makes it a popular environment in which to study. Students appreciate this lively atmosphere giving them access to the advantages of a big city while enjoying an abundant and ubiquitous nature.

Where to study in Atlanta?

If you are planning to pursue your studies in the United States and precisely, to live in Atlanta, here is some essential information to plan your stay. Do not hesitate to continue your search by asking your questions or sharing your experience on the Expat.com Atlanta forum or by downloading the expat guide in the United States.

Atlanta is home to more than 30 institutions dedicated to higher education. These universities bring together about 80,000 students. Two of Atlanta's universities appear in the top 150 of QS Top Universities Ranking: Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University,

Georgia Institute of Technology

Founded in 1885, the Georgia Institute of Technology (informally known as Georgia Tech) is a public establishment located not far from the centre of Atlanta. This research institute is specialised in technology and science. It is particularly renowned for the excellence of its computing and engineering programs. Very often, the institutes regularly rank among the best universities in the world in these fields. Georgia Tech is the 80th best university in the world according to QS 2021 rankings.

Of the 21,000 students attending Georgia Tech at the graduate and postgraduate level, more than 3,000 are from abroad.

In 2020, the Georgia Tech admission rate was 20.6%.

The institute is becoming more and more popular with students with the number of applications for 2019-20 admissions cycle reaching over 22,000.

Find out more on the university website.

Emory University

Emory University (or simply Emory) is a private university founded in 1836. It is the second-oldest higher education institution of Georgia State.

This university attracts many students mainly for its arts and economics programs, which particularly makes it stand out. Also renowned for the quality of its research, Emory devotes an annual budget of approximately $570 million to research programs. And last but not least, the establishment has an excellent reputation in medicine, and even has a medical centre named 'Emory Healthcare'. It has six hospitals, no less than 16 000 employees, and leads in 70 different sectors.

In 2021, the university received a record-breaking number of undergraduate applications — 33,780.

The university is the alma mater of many important figures, including politicians such as the 35th Vice President of the United States Alben Barkley, as well as five winners of the Pulitzer Prize. Its current admission rate stands at 15.6%.

Click here to learn more.

Tuitions fees and scholarships

Whether you are studying in a private or a public university, the education cost in American institutions is much higher than in Europe and anywhere else in the world. For instance, the average cost of a year of out-of-state tuition at Georgia Tech is close to $34,000.

Emory University's fees per year amount to $53,804.

American universities offer several types of financial scholarships (with quotas) to those who do not have the financial means to pay for courses. This measure aims to make sure that everyone will have access to higher education and to emphasize that higher education is not a privilege for the wealthy. The merit scholarship is awarded to the brightest students, regardless of the income of their family, while the scholarship is based on social criteria, for students whose financial means are limited but who can prove a school path without fail. Applications for scholarships must be submitted with the enrolment application form. After that, your university will inform you if you are eligible or not.

However, make sure that these financial aids and scholarships are also available to international students since it is not always the case. As an example, the scholarships offered by Georgia Tech are only accessible to American students. As an international student, you must be able to prove that you have the resources to finance your studies. Meanwhile, the University of Emory does indeed provide financial support to its international students by offering them both the scholarship based on merit and scholarship based on social criteria, with quotas of course.

Academic calendar and courses

There are two types of academic calendars in American universities: the quarter system, which divides the year into four terms of 10 weeks each (on average) and for which the academic year runs between September and June. And the terms system, which divides the year into two terms that can last from 14 to 20 weeks. The last one is the most commonly used in the United States, and it also applies to some European universities. The 'six-monthly' semester system is used in Georgia Techainsi and Emory University, where the official 'back-to-school season' is set in the last days of August. Nevertheless, note that the beginning of the academic year varies according to the university but also according to the department.

Regarding classes, they are conducted in small groups in a classroom or an auditorium with dozens of students. It is also possible to take part in seminars, which give the floor to students and focus on communication, togetherness, and sharing opinions. Exams are done in the form of both tests and homework assignments.

Grades and diplomas at an American University

The grading system used in American schools is entirely different from the one used in Europe, and it may seem complicated at first but here is an explanation of how it works. First of all, grades are assigned by teachers, by percentage; then they are converted into a letter from A to F, based on the US Grade Point Average (GPA) system, which serves as the overall average. Every homework is given a score between A and F. A is the highest score (4.33 points), and F is the lowest (0 points).

There are three levels of study in American universities: the undergraduate student working to obtain a Bachelor's degree; the graduate student studying for a Master's Degree; the postgraduate student who is called a postgraduate student until the end of the PhD. Note that just because American diplomas are closer to European diplomas, doesn't mean that there is an equivalence of diplomas between Europe or the rest of the world and the United States (except if the two universities are involved in an exchange program abroad).

Student visa

If you want to have access to complete and up-to-date visa information for studying in the United States, visit the website of the United States Embassy and select your country. Be aware that any foreigner wishing to study at an American university must have a valid student visa. Usually, it will be the F1 visa, which is granted to full-time students doing their full-cycle (as an undergraduate, graduate or postgraduate) in an American university. Another possibility is the M1 visa, which is intended only for students in technical and vocational studies (also includes the fields of hospitality, automobile, computer science, cooking, etc.). It is only valid for one year but can be renewed up to three times. Finally, the J1 visa is granted to students who participate in an exchange program with an American university while remaining registered in their home university.

If entry requirements criteria vary by university and department, some steps are mandatory for international students. First of all, to be accepted into the university of your choice and obtain your visa, you must pass an official English test (TOEFL or IELTS) proving your English level. The other step for graduates students is to take the SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) or ACT (American College Testing). They are conducted in English and allow you to assess your level in general subjects (mainly maths, writing and text analysis). Visit the College Board website to learn more about SAT, prepare for it, and register for the official exam. Finally, to determine more about the student and their motivations, American universities generally require the writing of a 'Personal Essay', to hand in at the same time as your application.

Students seeking a Master's degree will have to pass an official English test and the GRE exam. Other requirements may be expected. Thus, to complete a Master in Bioethics at Emory, students will have to provide three letters of recommendation, pass a test, and introduce themselves through a personal statement.

Paperwork and health insurance

All the administrative procedures, as well as the costs, are held upon the responsibility of the student. For example, visa-related fees for international students amount to about $300. The university you will attend may, however, support you and give you the necessary information on the steps to be taken. Schools typically have an Internet portal dedicated exclusively to international students, as it is the case for Georgia Tech and Emory University.

Regarding health insurance, be aware that medical coverage is mandatory for all students in an American university, including foreigners. It can be your national health mutual if it covers you internationally, or an American health mutual. This is an expense to take carefully into account because health insurance is costly in the United States, including for students. Each university offers its own health insurance, which is cheaper but still can be quite expensive.

Work in Atlanta

In the United States but also in other countries, many students work part-time while studying. As an international student, you can work in the US but under certain conditions depending on your visa: holders of F1 and J1 permits are allowed to work on campus for up to 20 hours per week during classes and up to 40 hours during holidays. Students who have the F1 visa may work off-campus from their second year of study. In any case, your university must provide you with a letter of approval that will allow you to obtain your US social security number, which is necessary for all work paid with a student visa.

Those who have an M1 visa are not allowed to work on or off-campus. On the other hand, it is possible to do an internship of one month after completing four back-to-back months of studies. In total, the student can benefit from a 6-month internship. In this case, you must apply for a work permit from the US government.

You can find job offers in Atlanta and around on the Expat.com's forum or via the network expats in Atlanta. Here and as elsewhere, word of mouth and networking are great ways to find a job.

Cost of living in Atlanta

The United States is a vast country, and the living cost varies significantly from state to state. In Atlanta and Georgia, prices are slightly lower than the national rate when it comes to food, transport and clothing for instance. Concerning housing, it will cost you an average of $1,180 to rent a studio in the city. Prices vary a lot depending on housing type and neighborhood.

As a student, there is no need to rent a car in Atlanta to get around the city. Indeed, if you live on campus, your going outs will be limited, and if you live in the town, know that Universities are well connected to the centre by bus and subway. The MARTA network manages public transport. If you use public transportation on a daily basis, the best option is the unlimited MARTA monthly card, available at $68.50 for students instead of $95. Your student card will also give you access to discounts on many cultural outings (museums, shows etc.), in some stores in Atlanta and throughout the United States.

Student housing in Atlanta

Living on campus is probably the most recommended type of accommodation. Thus, you will live your studies experience to its fullest. In fact, being on campus will allow you to be in the heart of student life, participate in all kinds of activities on campus, and you won't need to take public transport to get around. Private rooms, dormitories or flatshare, all types of accommodation exist on American university campuses so you will be more likely to find the one that suits your needs. For foreign students, Georgia Tech offers the possibility of staying in an international residence called "i-House" (International House).

While living on campus may seem like a good idea from a useful and social point of view, living off-campus in a private apartment may be appropriate for some students who want to keep their independence or want to be at the heart of the city. In this case, having a flatmate is a smart way to save money while living in a nice neighbourhood and perhaps get to know locals outside the university. The most vibrant districts in Atlanta are Little Five Points and East Atlanta Village.

If you want to live near Georgia Tech, explore Midtown and Home Park. Emory University, Druid Hills Road, and Virginia Highlands are places filled with students and overflowing with excellent budget-friendly bars, restaurants, pubs, etc. Visit your university website, which most likely has a dedicated portal for students who want to live off-campus. It will provide you with all the necessary information, the same way Georgia Tech and Emory University do.

What is student life like in Atlanta?

With close to 500,000 inhabitants, Atlanta is a vibrant metropolis with year-round activities. It has a subtropical climate, with mild winters, and hot, humid summers. As a southern city, its inhabitants are very warm, cordial, and will not fail to help you if you get lost! With their charming Southern accent and their friendly attitudes, who would not want to meet a few locals and explore Atlanta?

On the cultural side, you will soon discover that the 'child' of Atlanta is none other than Martin Luther King Jr, a historical character whose actions and battles are captured through many sites and monuments around the city. Art also occupies a prominent place in Atlanta, and the High Museum of Art is the museum not to be missed by amateurs. Birthplace of Coca-Cola, headquarters of the popular CNN news channel, and the setting for the legendary novel Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, pop culture is ubiquitous in the capital of Georgia.

You have a wide range of ideas for 'get away' weekends, especially when you feel like you're too caught up in the big city life. Regarding nature, there are plenty of national parks, like the Blue Ridge Mountains Park and the Great Smoky Mountains Park, where you can hike, camp, and fish, in a word, get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Both a theme park and a natural site, Stone Mountain Park, is just a 30-minute drive from Atlanta.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.