US develops MA programme based on NEP What this means for Indian students

US Develops MA Programme Based on NEP: What this Means for Indian Students

In a bid to deepen the knowledge partnership and align with India’s New Education Policy (NEP), the United States (US) State Department has launched an innovative educational programme.

This initiative aims to provide Indian students with a unique opportunity to pursue a one-year specialised, professional master’s degree with a focus on industrial specialisation in American universities.

This move holds significant promise, not only for Indian students but also for strengthening the ties between the two nations and fostering collaborative growth and advancement.

Akhilesh Lakhtakia, a Jefferson Science Fellow at the State Department’s South and Central Asia (SCA) bureau, was entrusted with the task of designing this pioneering programme.

Lakhtakia, who temporarily moved from his academic position as a professor of engineering science and mechanics at Penn State University, was given a simple yet crucial mandate — to create a programme that benefits both the US and Indian governments, as well as American universities and Indian students.

In an interview, Lakhtakia expressed his enthusiasm for India’s NEP, which he perceived as a departure from the traditional Indian education system, drawing inspiration from the pedagogical models of American universities.

The student-centred, flexible, multidisciplinary, futuristic, and international approach proposed by the NEP resonated with him. He believed that its successful implementation would revolutionise education at both school and higher levels.

Lakhtakia’s role was to explore ways in which the two countries could collaborate in alignment with the NEP, with a particular focus on benefiting Indian students.


The emphasis on knowledge partnership between the US and India was evident during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to the US.

His first engagement in Washington took place at the National Science Foundation, where he interacted with students and college administrators, highlighting the significance of educational ties between the two nations.

The formation of a working group on education and skill training in April 2022, initiated by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken, further underscored the commitment to enhancing educational collaboration.

This working group has established four committees, two led by each country. Among them, the US-India higher education partnership committee, led by Lakhtakia on the American side, stands out as a key player.


The programme’s structure and offerings were carefully designed to cater to the diverse needs of Indian students. Out of the 280,000 Indian students studying in the US, the majority pursue master’s degrees in STEM subjects.

“The educational trends for Indian students in the US have shown a consistent pattern. During the academic year 2020-21, 78% of Indian students in the US pursued STEM subjects,” says Amit Singh, Founder of UniScholars.

The fields that garner the most interest were business and management, engineering, mathematics, and computer science, he adds.

Recognising this trend, Lakhtakia collaborated with American universities to develop a set of specialised courses that span a wide range of disciplines, including wireless technology, artificial intelligence (AI), quantum engineering, cyber security, and more.

Unlike traditional two-year master’s programmes, Lakhtakia’s initiative focuses on providing a comprehensive master’s degree with 30 credits within a span of 12 months. This condensed format ensures that students can quickly transition to the industry and become effective contributors.

Moreover, students enrolled in this programme will be eligible to stay in the US for three years under the optional practical training (OPT) mechanism, allowing them to gain valuable work experience and repay their student loans to a great extent.

A key feature of the programme is its emphasis on university-to-university collaboration. This collaboration facilitates the upgrading of Indian university courses and equips students with essential skills even before they embark on their master’s journey in the US.

Lakhtakia provided an example of how this collaboration works in practice.

By connecting American and Indian universities, students are given the opportunity to express their interest in pursuing specialised master’s degrees in the US. Universities can collaborate to create application forms and select students from bachelor’s degree batches.

Additionally, Indian universities can offer relevant electives to students during their final semester, building their knowledge base before they join the specialised master’s programmes based in the US.

The creation of this programme not only enhances educational ties between the US and India but also elevates the influence of India’s NEP on a global level.

By aligning with the NEP, the US State Department demonstrates its commitment to improving education and establishing global educational standards.

“The programme represents a significant step towards modernising India’s educational system and has a wide range of potential advantages for learning, job development, and future possibilities for Indian students,” says Amit Singh, Founder of UniScholars.

“The fact that NEP is getting such global recognition speaks volumes about India’s impact on the global education community; expect to see more countries follow suit soon,” says Akshay Chaturvedi, Founder and CEO, Leverage Edu & Fly.

“Should this innovative endeavour unfold for the public, it has the potential to bolster the United States’ status as the preferred destination for international education, presenting enhanced opportunities for both nations and students to foster collaborative growth and advancement,” says Amit Singh.

He notes that the number of Indian students going to the US to study had declined in the wake of the pandemic but saw an uptick in 2022.

“According to the annual report from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, India sent 64,300 students to the United States in 2022,” Singh says.

“The US has been taking the right steps to rebuild its higher education brand,” says Akshay Chaturvedi.

Indian students make up the majority of international students in US, working in some of the most difficult professions including medicine, engineering, and construction.

“As per our 2023 estimates, we expect 350k+ Indian students to head to the US this year and that number to grow by 30-40% every year thereafter,” Chaturvedi says.

The innovative initiative orchestrated by the US State Department holds immense promise for both nations. As the educational ties between the US and India deepen, Indian students gain a novel avenue to enhance their skills, knowledge, and earning potential.

The collaboration is not only a testament to the evolving nature of education but also reinforces the significance of knowledge partnerships between nations.

Courtesy : India Today

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