US Universities Spring admission advantages and disadvantages compared to Fall admission

There are many myths regarding Spring admissions and most students accept them at face value and do not enroll in Spring intake of US Universities. This article tries to give an explanation about Spring admissions in US and will help you solve a lot of your doubts if you are considering to wait till next Fall instead of applying for Spring.

US Universities Spring intake
Earlier, the Spring admission was actually offered to deserving students who had applied for Fall, but the capacity was full. Many Universities, especially for undergrad, still offer Spring admission to only such students. Hence, you can find that there are no official announcements on University websites regarding an application to Spring admission. However, with increase in the number of students, many Universities have officially started a Spring intake and courses are designed in such a way that the Spring admitted student gets the same education as the Fall admitted student. 

Internship and CPT requirement for Spring admissions
The biggest misconception regarding Spring admissions is that Spring admitted students are not eligible for internship. For international students, there is a rule that you are not eligible for CPT unless you complete one academic year(typically 3 quarters or 2 semesters). However, there is an exception to this rule if you are a Grad student. If you are enrolled in a Graduate program which require immediate participation in CPT, you can go for an internship immediately after completing one semester in US. Most of the admissions in Spring to top Universities in US have this requirement. Hence, you are allowed to go for an internship during Summer, even if you started during Spring. You just need to confirm this with your department official.

Internship/Co-op for Spring admitted students
Internships/ Co-ops are available all throughout the year and not just during summer. Many Universities allow students to go on a co-op, which is nothing but an internship during Fall or Spring semester. You can take a course and work simultaneously. It is true that there will be much more openings in summer compared to other semesters. But then, during other semesters, there will also be much less competition. 
The only consideration would be if you are planning to do an internship immediately after Spring. For summer internships, you must start your applications as early as March. You will not have your grades by then, so your interviews need to be very good to prove your technical skills. Also, it takes time to get accustomed to the US education system, courses and structure. Hence, it will be a little difficult to manage the applications and coursework. But it is definitely not impossible. If your profile is good and your basics strong, you will definitely get an internship/coop opportunity.

Courses offered in Spring 
Some of the courses offered in Fall are typically not offered in Spring. The University and your department will make sure that you get into the core courses that are required to complete your Masters when you are admitted in Spring. As far as the optional courses are concerned, you can always take them in Fall. Think of the courses offered in this way: Every Masters student has to complete a minimum of 3 semesters - Fall, Spring and Summer, irrespective of when they come or how fast they plan to complete their Masters. Hence, overall, the Fall applicants will have the same set of courses that Spring applicants have.

RA/TA, Scholarships and financial aid for Spring applicants 
Another myth regarding Spring admissions is that they are not eligible for assistant-ship, scholarships or financial aid. This is completely false. A Spring admitted student has the same chance of getting either an RA/TA or a scholarship or a financial aid as that for a Fall admitted student. The scholarship or assistant-ship depends on your research experience, your skills and it has nothing to do with your timing of admission to a University. You must be proactive and approach the Professor in your field of interest if you wish to get some form of financial assistance during your Masters. Read this article for information about getting RA/TA in US University: What are assistant-ships and how to apply for RA and TA in US Universities?  

On campus jobs for Spring students
Most of the on campus jobs are filled up by Fall students. There will be a few openings during Spring semester, but the chances of getting an on-campus job is less compared to Fall. But if you are planning to take summer courses, all these jobs will be available to you because most of the Fall students go for an internship during summer. Hence, it all evens out eventually.

US F1 VISA for Spring admitted students
The US F1 VISA does not depend on when you apply or when you get an admit. Your chances of getting a US VISA are not increased or decreased if you are a Spring student. 

From our experience as a team, we feel that Spring Vs Fall admissions in US is highly over-rated. You will have to study and work hard irrespective of when you enroll in the US University. By the time one completes his/her Masters, everything evens out.  
If you have completed your Bachelors and want to come to US for higher education, do not wait for the Fall term admissions. Take your GRE, TOEFL and apply for Spring. You will save 8 months of precious time if you do so. And this time is much more valuable than the minuscule advantages of Fall admission compared to Spring. 

You can find the Spring 2014 deadlines in this article: List of SPRING 2014 application deadlines for top 25 US Universities