Step 3 : Complete Your Application

You’ve now reached Step 3: Complete Your Application. This step covers the general application requirements for U.S. colleges and universities.

Applying for U.S. study is a task that takes time and concentration as each application is different and involves collecting recommendations, writing essays, and routing the results of required standard examinations. Plan to give this step the time it deserves for a successful result.
Choose your level of study to learn more about completing your application.


An original high school or postsecondary transcript will be required for each institution you apply for so start collecting these materials well in advance of application deadlines.




Applying to U.S. colleges and universities requires preparation and planning. Plan adequately for the time and effort involved in preparing your application package.

In the United States, application requirements can vary greatly from one institution to another. It is important to check the specific requirements on the website of each institution’s international admissions office.

What are some general application requirements for community colleges? 

  • Online application form (including personal information, education history, etc.)
  • Educational credentials. These are typically your secondary/high school diploma and transcripts, translated into English. Final national exams scores from your country are optional at community colleges.
  • Standardized test scores. TOEFL, SAT, and other test scores may be accepted to assess your academic ability and English proficiency level. However, these tests are not usually required for admission to community colleges. Upon arrival, you will most likely take placement tests in the English language as well as in your area of study.
  • Other forms, depending on the institution, such as financial information, proof of health insurance, vaccination records, passport and visa information are often required.

Since community colleges usually have rolling admissions or periodic application deadlines throughout the year, the timeline for applying is more fluid than for a four-year college or university. You should consider your target date for beginning your studies and verify the deadlines on the institution’s website well in advance. It can take a considerable amount of time to fill out application forms, to  request and translate educational transcripts, to order copies of test scores, and to register for classes so plan ahead.




Start early, plan ahead, and know the application requirements. Application packages require a great deal of preparation and planning.

You will benefit by starting this process early. You should plan adequately for the time and effort involved. Make a calendar of deadlines to track what you need to do and when it needs to be completed.

In the United States, application requirements can vary greatly from one institution to another. Check the specific requirements on the website of each institution’s international admissions office. It is typical for U.S. undergraduate applications to be due between November and January for students who wish to begin courses the following September.

Some general application requirements:

  • Educational credentials: This is typically your secondary/high school diploma and transcripts, as well as any final national exams required in your country. Transcripts are certified copies of your educational record, courses, and grades. An original transcript or certified copy sent by your secondary/high school is generally required for each institution you apply to for admission, along with translations into English.
  • Standardized test scores: Scores may be required to assess your academic ability and English proficiency level.
  • Recommendation letters: The head or principal of your school, your school counselor, your personal tutor, teachers, coaches, or supervisors from professional experiences may write recommendation letters. Your recommenders must be able to write about your work and be able to assess your potential to do well pursuing a higher education degree. Be sure to choose someone who knows you well.
  • Essay/personal statement: This is your chance to write about your interests, long-term goals, and strengths – one of the most important aspects of your application.




Application packages require extensive prepation and planning. In the United States, application requirements can vary greatly from one institution to another.

Please check the specific requirements for international graduate admissions on the website of each institution. For graduate study, you are likely to have institutional and departmental application requirements.  Visit EducationUSA’s Your 5 Steps to U.S. Study to review the graduate study application timeline and stay on track.

General application requirements

  • Personal data form: Be sure to keep you personal information consistent and always spell your name the same way on all documents.
  • The personal statement gives you the opportunity to show the admissions committee who you are as an individual. Your statement should be clear, concise,and persuasive. Highlight your unique strengths, skills, or teaching experiences to show the institution that you are a good match with their program and department.
  • Your transcript is a list of classes you completed in your undergraduate studies and the grades you received in each class.
  • Ask past professors, administrators, or employers to write your letters of recommendation. Your recommenders should write in depth about your work and assess your potential to do well as a graduate student.

Tips to prepare a successful graduate school application

  • Do your best to relax as you prepare your applications. As you complete each application, you will engage in personal reflection and self-discovery. Be calm, reflective, and thoughtful.
  • Allow plenty of time to conduct research and complete your applications.
  • Pay close attention to all application instructions, including deadlines.
  • The look and feel of your application is just as important as what you say. Take the time to present a polished application.
  • Be yourself—human and honest. Remember, no one is perfect. When preparing your application, do not  embellish your experiences or make excuses.
  • Provide all materials requested in the format requested by the institution. Each institution’s application may vary.




Plan ahead! Confirm the application and admissions process with the short-term study programs that interest you.

Application and admission procedures vary based on the program. Each short-term program provider will have exact instructions on the institution’s website, including deadlines for application and other requirements.

Before applying to a short-term program, answer the following questions:

  • What are your educational goals for completing the program?
  • Is earning a degree important to you, or do you want to take a few classes to learn a new skill or to complete a certificate program to increase your professional status?
  • What are the total costs of the program?
  • Do the fees include books and shipping, if necessary?
  • Are there any additional expenses?
  • Is there any financial aid available?
  • What academic or technical assistance is offered throughout the program?
  • Where will you live?

Before applying to a distance education program, think about:

  • Do you have a place at home or at work that you can claim as your own for extended periods of study and communication with the program?
  • Is occasional attendance on the campus in the United States possible for you?
  • Do you require a program that can be completed entirely from your home country without traveling to the United States?
  • If the program is given at a particular time, would the time difference between your country and the campus in the United States prevent you from participating?
  • How is the program information delivered, and what equipment will you need to receive it?
  • If it is a computer-based program, does the computer that you use meet the requirements of the program?
  • Will the information be delivered to you in enough time (for example, if it is delivered by mail) for you to complete the course?




When considering an Intensive English Program (IEP) in the United States, the best piece of advice we can offer is to plan ahead!

Confirm the application and admissions process with the IEPs that interest you as each IEP will have specific application procedures and deadlines.
Admission requirements vary, but most IEPs require that students complete secondary school and can prove they have funds to pay the full cost of the program. As part of the application, you may be asked for additional information, such as educational transcripts or documentation of a certain level of English proficiency. You may also be required to agree to devote the majority of your time to language studies while in the program.
What is conditional admission?
Some institutions in the United States offer conditional admission to their academic programs. Applicants whose academic or professional qualifications are very good, but whose English language skills need improvement, may be offered conditional admission. This does not automatically mean they have been accepted into the academic programs offered by the college or university.
Before being granted full admission and being permitted to enroll in academic courses, students who receive conditional admission must complete additional English language courses or submit an acceptable score from a standardized English language proficiency test, such as the TOEFL or IELTS, and submit any other remaining requirements as indicated in the conditional letter of admission. Some international students may also be required to take English language placement tests after they arrive on campus. Based on the results of those tests, students then enroll in their regular programs of study and/or they may need to enroll in additional English language courses.