How to apply to a US university as a foreign student?

All over the U.S. students find some of the best, most reputable universities in the world. But, how can you make sure that you will be accepted to one? Below I will run through some of the steps and approaches to selecting a university, and making sure that you have what it takes to be admitted.

1. Choose the right degree subject in the U.S.

At every university in the U.S., you can find the degree programs that suit your needs or that you’re most interested in. 

2. Choose the right U.S. University

Here are some top U.S. universities you should consider for your study in USA

3. Consider funding

American universities offer two types of funding: financial aid, which is needs-tested, and scholarships, which reward academic excellence. Much of this funding is reserved for domestic students and is very competitive for internationals.

Nonetheless, it is more common for international students to secure university funding after their first year of study at the college. Funding will rarely cover the full costs of tuition, and may oblige the student to work for the university as part of the funding agreement.

For merit-based scholarships, your school or college grades and test results need to be significantly higher than average. Needs-based financial aid takes into account you and your family’s ability to pay tuition fees.

Some universities offer full needs-based scholarships that cover any cost of tuition that your family cannot demonstrably pay, and only consider financial needs after you have already been accepted, rather than as a detail of your application.

4. Prepare to apply

As an international student, there are so many different processes you’ll need to understand and navigate when applying to universities or colleges in the United States.

  • Most universities give you the option to apply directly through their websites.
  • Be sure to read the requirements carefully when applying to American universities.
  • We advise students should apply to 5-10 universities to increase their chances of being admitted.

Students should apply directly through the university. Follow the links on the university websites, and make sure to follow the instructions carefully.

5. Language requirements for U.S. university applications

Most universities in the US require foreign applicants to take English as a second language test, such as the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), the minimum scores will depend largely on the program and the university. Most U.S. universities will accept one of these two tests:

Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) exams for undergraduates or the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) for postgraduates for merit-based scholarships.

Double check the university and program requirements to the minimum score they expect from their applicants.

6. Required application documents

Different universities and programs will require different documents. However, these are the items you are most likely to need if you apply to a university in the U.S.

  • Online Application
  • Transcripts or records of grades (high school and/or university)
  • Resume/CV
  • Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) exams for undergraduates or the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) for postgraduates.
  • Proof of English-language proficiency (IELTS, TOEFL)
  • Motivation letter or Statement of Purpose
  • Recommendation letters
  • Application fee ($60-$120)
  • Writing Sample
  • Passport photo
  • financial statements

You should aim to complete these exams Test scores and Proof of English-language proficiency a year before you want to start university, usually in the month of August.

7. University application deadlines in the U.S.

If you are applying for an undergraduate (Bachelor’s) degree in the U.S., universities will typically offer two application deadlines – early admission and regular admission.

  • If you’re applying for admission for Fall, early admission deadlines will be between October and November, the previous year.
  • If you’re applying for admission for Fall, regular admission deadlines will be between February and March, the same year.

If you are applying for a post-graduate (Master’s or Ph.D.) degree, your American university application deadline will depend on the semester in which you are enrolling (Spring intake or Fall intake).

  • If you are applying for admission for the Fall, your deadline can be anywhere from January to March.
  • If you are applying for admission for Spring, your deadline is probably anywhere between July and September of the previous year.

These deadlines can vary considerably depending on which program you are applying for or which university you wish to attend.

8. Final steps after receiving your acceptance letter

You will need to use your acceptance letter to apply for the F-1 student visa. The visa is only valid to study at that specific university, so, while it is possible to transfer to another university, there are more forms to fill out and steps that you will have to take. You will have a visa interview and will be required to prove that you have sufficient funds to support your stay, and that you have strong ties to your home country through family connections, assets, bank accounts or some other means. If you want to stay in the US for up to 12 months after your studies, the Optional Practical Training (OPT) Program allows international students on F1 visas to do so if they gain employment in their field of study. Graduates of science, technology, engineering or mathematics can extend their OPT by a further 17 months, and stay for just over two years to work in these areas. You must apply for OPT before completing your studies.

More about the U.S. student visa based on your nationality. Here is detailed information about the student visa application process for students going to the US: