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Getting Started

Be prepared!

If you are applying for undergraduate study at a two- or four-year U.S. university, you must have completed at least 12 years of school and obtained the equivalent of a U.S. high school diploma. If you are considering graduate study at the master's or doctoral level, you will need an academic credential equivalent to a U.S. bachelor's degree.

Test Your English

It is an advantage to have a good command of written and spoken English at the beginning of the application process. Whether you are applying to an undergraduate or a graduate program, the majority of colleges and universities in the United States require you to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), which assesses your English language skills. Some colleges do not require the test if you already hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college in the United States.

Taking the Tests

Most U.S. schools require the TOEFL exam for non-native English speakers, while many undergraduate institutions also require you to take the SAT or the ACT Assessment. Visit our testing page for more information on the examinations required for undergraduate and graduate study.

Get a Student Visa

If you are coming to the U.S. primarily for tourism, but want to take a short course of study of less than 18 hours per week, you may do so on a tourist visa. Otherwise, you will need to obtain a student visa. In most countries, first-time student visa applicants are required to appear for an in-person interview.

Each embassy and consulate sets its own interview policies and procedures regarding student visas. Consult the U.S. Embassy website for your country for specific application instructions. June, July, and August are the busiest months in most consular sections, and interview appointments are the most difficult to get during that period. Plan ahead to avoid repeated visits to the Embassy.

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