With more than 4,000 colleges and universities, the United States has the largest and most versatile higher education system in the world. Choosing the school that is right for you and navigating the application and admissions processes can lead to many questions.

+ How do I know which colleges and universities are right for me?

Identifying the right school is a process. So, start early and do it yourself. 
  • Review independent rankings and guides to understand the college landscape, but don’t make your final decision based only on rankings.
  • Narrow your selection based on factors that are important to you – your chosen field of study, desired geographic location, school reputation, budget, student demographics, etc.
  • Visit each school’s website to gather more information, and contact the international admissions office for specific questions before applying. 
Read more from an admissions officer here.

+ What is the application process like for international applicants?

Check with each college for its own application requirements.
  • Get your transcripts ready: Obtaining a credential evaluation that explains your foreign education takes time. Start gathering application materials 12 months in advance from your desired enrollment date.
  • Most universities require you to submit an application form (usually online) with your school transcripts, credential evaluations, test scores, essays and one or more letters of recommendation from former teachers. An application fee is also usually required. 
Read more about international graduate admissions from an admissions expert here.

Read more about international undergraduate admissions from an admissions expert here.

+ What standardized tests are required? How should I prepare?

Standardized tests are usually a requirement for higher education admissions. The tests required will be listed within the application information that each university provides.
You can also find many free tools and resources for standardized test preparation. Take a few practice tests to familiarize yourself with the language and question formats. You can find a few practice tests for SAT, ACT, and GRE, as well as online practice sessions.

+ What are the admissions requirements? How are applications reviewed?

Admissions requirements vary by school and program.
  • Your educational qualifications, including degrees and diplomas and the corresponding transcripts (detailed records of the subjects studied and grades) are the most important.
  • Take great care in gathering required documents as anything overlooked may delay your application.
  • If you have a degree earned overseas, you will usually need a credential evaluation, sometimes done by schools or and outside service.. Documents that are not in English must be translated
You are responsible for sending all necessary application materials to the university’s admissions office for review. Once it is received, the admissions office will review the applications. For graduate admission, applications are referred to the applicable academic department to be reviewed by professors. 

An application is reviewed in stages:
  1. Credentials are examined to determine whether you meet minimum requirements and deserve further consideration.
  2. Grades, test scores, essays and letters of recommendations are also reviewed to determine the quality of the application and how it compares with other applicants. 
Read more about the admissions process from admissions officers here.

+ Are there scholarships or financial assistance available for international students?

Financial assistance does exist but it will take time do to the research.
  • Know your budget. Have a very serious and open discussion with your family about how much you can spend each year.
  • Check if the school provides merit-based or need-based aid for international students. 
  • Check with your local and government offices for scholarships in your home country.
  • Check with an EducationUSA center or U.S. embassy for any additional scholarships for students within your country. 
Read more about tips for financial aid here.

+ What can a credential evaluation report do for me?

Having your credentials professionally evaluated is one of the first steps toward studying in the U.S. and will:
  • Verify your international education.
  • Compare your academic studies to the U.S. education system.
  • Provide an equivalency.
  • Enable you to prove to educational institutions what your education is worth in U.S. terms.
Before choosing a credential evaluation service, always check with the academic institution and program you are applying to for their requirements.



General Advice for International Students in the U.S.
EducationUSA – U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA)
A network of hundreds of advising centers in 170 countries, where millions of international students each year find accurate, comprehensive and current information about how to apply to accredited U.S. colleges and universities.

eduPass: The SmartStudent Guide to Studying in the USA 
Provides information for international students who are thinking about pursuing an undergraduate, graduate or professional education in the United States.

Study in the USA
For international students looking for top programs in the U.S.

National Association for College Admission Counseling
International student resources on advising centers, visas, financial aid and admissions/language testing.

College Search
Contains information on accrediting agencies and the institutions, programs, internships and residencies that they accredit.

Tools for looking up specific institutions and listing all institutions in a particular classification category.

Consists primarily of the latest data from the Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

Online resources for students transitioning to college, graduate or other higher educational programs.

College Board Online
Database of two- and four-year colleges, along with information on college entrance exams.

English as a Second Language (ESL) Programs
Interactive database that international students and educational advising centers can access to find intensive English programs throughout the United States.

Includes over 330 accredited programs in university, college or city center locations across the U.S.

Provides a directory of accredited intensive English programs in the U.S.

The CEA list of accredited programs and schools on this website links to each program’s web site.

English Proficiency Tests

Undergraduate Admissions Tests

Graduate Admissions Tests

Financial Aid
NAFSA: Association of International Educators
Financial aid information for undergraduate international students.  

IEFA: International Education Financial Aid
Comprehensive database of international education financial aid information.

NASFAA: National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators
A post-secondary education association, offering conferences, workshops, student aid tools, publications and links to financial aid administrations.

Printed comprehensive directory on finding funding for study in the United States.

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