Requirements for studying in the United States

International students need to consider several requirements for their application to universities in the United States. Most often, international students underestimate the amount of time necessary to complete these requirements. To help interested international students in applying to universities in the United States, we have compiled some of the most common requirements for you to take note of.

1.Admission requirements

Universities oblige foreign applicants to pass an English language test, such as TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System), and SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) for undergraduates or GRE (Graduate Record Examination) for postgraduates. Passing these exams permits international students to apply for universities in the US and should be targeted a year before applying in the university with courses usually starting in August.Along with English language test and SAT/GRE, universities also require (1) an application fee of US $41 on average, (2) application form, (3)official transcript of academic record, (4) personal essay, (5) character references, and (6) current financial statements.For most universities starting in August, the application deadline is from January to March of the current year. However, there are some universities with early decisions requiring applicants to submit their documentsten months before the course starts. If you have applied and was accepted in a university by an early decision process, you are bound legally to attend that institution. Thus, you should only opt for an early decision once you are confident with your chosen university.

2. Funding for your study

This could be a non-issue if you were able to prove through your financial statements that you will be able to personally finance your studies and living expenses while in the US. However, for some international students, universities offer two types of funding which are (1) financial aid based on needs assessment, and (2) scholarship based on academic excellence. Funding for international students is very competitive since most study funding are reserved for domestic applicants. Moreover, it is common for international students to obtain university funding after a year in college which seldom covers full tuition cost, and possibly require the student to work for the university as part of the agreement. For financial aid applications, this takes into consideration your family’s capacity to pay for your university fees. Besides, some universities only consider financial necessities once you were accepted instead of being part of the overall university application process. On the other hand, scholarships are significantly based on your college or school grades which should be notably beyond average. There are also scholarships reserved only for people with particular qualities such as ethnicity, academic interests, and country of origin.

3. Student visa application

For international students, there are three types of visas in the United States: F1, J1, and M1. The first type, F1 visa, is the most common visa for international students taking up an academic degree. F1 visa requires an international student to return to his/her home country within 60 days after the degree has been obtained. Also, F1 visa is only valid at your chosen university, so it is not recommended to transfer to another institution since there are more forms and processes you need to undergo. The second type, J1 visa, is for special programs and projects that are not available in your home country which includes internship and physician program as well as business trainee program. The third type, M1 visa, is for vocational studies and students are only allowed to work part-time or undergo training relevant to their studies. These three types require similar application procedure. First is to pay for the visa application fee, second is to complete the Non-immigrant Visa Electronic Application form (DS-160), then schedule an appointment at the US Embassy using your passport number, MRV payment receipt number, and ten-digit barcode from your accomplished DS-160 form. You need to visit the US Embassy on your scheduled appointment with (1) a printed copy of your DS-160 confirmation page and appointment letter, (2) recent photograph, (3) current passport and (4) all your old passports. Applicants missing at least one document will not be accepted.


Apply for a U.S. Visa. (n.d.). Retrieved March 31, 2019, from
College and University Application Process | Study in the USA. (n.d.). Retrieved March 31, 2019, from
Hoping to apply to a US university as a foreign student? (2018, September 07). Retrieved March 31, 2019, from

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Requirements for studying in the United States