Warning for Prospective Foreign Graduate Students in the U.S.

By David North on June 30, 2017

Foreign students seeking a master's degree in the U.S. should beware of inferior colleges. Students risk wasting substantial amounts of money if they sign up with universities that can provide only second-rate or third-rate access to the U.S. labor market. Different kinds of master's degrees, from different colleges, provide the alien graduate varying leverage in the U.S. job market, a distinction that the lesser colleges never discuss.

The best of the degrees offer foreign students two chances a year of winning the H-1B lottery (rather than one) and potentially provide three years of legal work without (or before) getting an H-1B job, rather than a single year.

The worst master's degree programs offer only one shot a year at the lottery, and only 12 months employment following graduation.

A three-layer system exists, involving alien students who are studying in one of the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields. The key variables: Is the college a nonprofit one (many are not), and does it currently have an accreditation from an entity that is currently recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (many do not).

The best schools, from this point of view, are nonprofit entities that are currently accredited by a U.S. Department of Education-recognized organization. They produce chances for both the master's and the bachelor's level H1-B lotteries, and the full three years of post-grad employment. Each year there are 20,000 open H-1B slots for those with master's degrees (as described above) and 65,000 slots for those with bachelor's degrees (or with master's degrees who failed to win the first lottery).

In second place are for-profit institutions that are currently accredited; degrees from them can lead to a single shot at an H-1B visa, and up to three years in the OPT program (which allows alien graduates of U.S. schools work legally for three years).

At the bottom are the for-profit entities that lack current accreditation from a U.S. Department of Education-accepted agency. A STEM master's degree (or a STEM bachelor's degree) from these entities offers only one chance in the lottery, and only one year in the OPT program.

The December decision of the U.S. Department of Education de-recognizing an accreditation entity called the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) thrust a number of schools into the bottom category. These colleges can admit foreign students and can grant bachelor's and master's degrees, but they are less valuable than those in the top two classifications. Their only general accreditation had been awarded by ACICS. Many of these schools are seeking other accreditation, but most do not disclose the lesser access to the U.S. labor market provided to their graduates.

U.S. Colleges Accepting Foreign Students That Only Had ACICS Accreditation

  • American College of Commerce and Technology, Falls Church, VA
  • Atlantic University College, Guaynabo, Puerto Rico
  • Bergin University of Canine Studies, Rohnert Park, CA
  • Beverly Hills Design Institute, Beverly Hills, CA
  • Bristol University, Anaheim, CA
  • Brookline College, Phoenix, AZ
  • Brown Mackie College, Cincinnati, OH
  • Bryan University, Springfield, MO
  • California International Business University, San Diego, CA
  • California Miramar University, San Diego, CA
  • California University of Management and Sciences, Anaheim, CA
  • Cambridge Jr. College, Yuba City, CA
  • Charter College, Reno, NV
  • College of Business & Technology, Miami, FL
  • Colorado Heights University, Denver, CO
  • Design Institute of San Diego, San Diego, CA
  • Eagle Gate College, Murray, UT
  • Eastwick College, Ramsey, NJ
  • Everest University, Minneapolis, MN
  • Florida Technical College, Orlando, FL
  • IGlobal University, Annandale, VA
  • International Business College, El Paso, TX
  • Jones College, Jacksonville, FL
  • Jose Maria Vargas University, Pembroke Pines, FL
  • Key College, Dania Beach, FL
  • Kingston University, Norwalk, CA
  • Lincoln College of Technology̅West Palm Beach campus, West Palm Beach, FL
  • Lincoln University, Oakland, CA
  • Living Arts College, Raleigh, NC
  • Marconi International University, Miami, FL
  • MDT College of Health Sciences, Chicago, IL
  • Millennia Atlantic University, Doral, FL
  • National College, aka American National University, Salem, VA
  • Neumont University, Salt Lake City, UT
  • Nobel University, Los Angeles, CA
  • North American University, Stafford, TX
  • Northwestern Polytechnic University, Fremont, CA
  • Pacific States University, Los Angeles, CA
  • Pioneer Pacific College, Wilsonville, OR
  • Sanford-Brown College, Schaumburg, IL
  • Santa Barbara Business College, Santa Barbara, CA
  • Schiller International University, Largo, FL
  • Seattle Film Institute, Seattle, WA
  • Shepherd University, Los Angeles, CA
  • Silicon Valley University, San Jose, CA
  • Southern States University, San Diego, CA
  • Southern Technical College, Ft. Meyers, FL
  • Spencerian College, Louisville, KY
  • Stratford University, Falls Church, VA
  • The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School, aka The DAVE School, Orlando, FL
  • Tysons Institute, Vienna, VA
  • Unilatina International College, Miramar, FL
  • University of North America, Vienna, VA
  • Virginia International University, Fairfax, VA

Source: Center for Immigration Studies, Washington, D.C., June 5, 2017.

Note: The Accrediting Council of Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) was de-recognized by the U.S. Department of Education on December 12, 2016; see Fernanda Zamudio-Suarez, "Education Dept. Upholds Revoking of Embattled Accreditor’s Recognition", Chronicle of Higher Education, December 12, 2016.