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FAQ

US System of Higher Education

  • 1. WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A COLLEGE AND A UNIVERSITY?

    The terms, college and university, are used interchangeably and mean the same thing in the U.S. As a general rule, colleges tend to be smaller and usually offer only undergraduate degrees, while a university also offers graduate degrees. Within each college or university you will find schools, such as school of arts and sciences or the school of business.

  • 2. WHO CAN BECOME A COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY STUDENT? ARE THERE AGE LIMITATIONS TO ATTEND U.S. COLLEGES & UNIVERSITIES?

    A high school education is usually required to become an undergraduate university student. Many institutions will not accept international students who are younger than age 17. There are sometimes exceptions to that general rule.

  • 3. WHAT IS THE ACADEMIC CALENDAR FOR COLLEGES & UNIVERSITIES IN THE U.S.?

    The Academic year will be slightly different for each university but normally runs from end of August/early September to the end of May. It may be divided into two terms of 18 weeks called semesters. Alternatively, the university may have “quarters” or “trimesters”, which are about 12 weeks in length. In addition, universities very often provide six to eight week summer terms. These are optional and students attend if they wish to get through their degree faster, to decrease their course load during the regular terms, or to make up for courses not completed successfully during the regular academic year. There are at least two main holidays during the academic year: a two to four week break over Christmas and a one week “spring break” sometime between early March and mid April.

  • 4. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN “UNDERGRADUATE” AND “GRADUATE” DEGREES

    UNDERGRADUATE: A program leading to an associate (2-year) or a bachelor’s (4-year) degree; generally following high/secondary school.

    GRADUATE: A program leading to a master’s degree or doctoral degree; advanced study generally following a bachelor’s degree.

  • 5. WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT UNDERGRADUATE DEGREES?

    Associate Degrees

    Degree granted by a college or university after the satisfactory completion of a two year full time program of study or its part time equivalent. The associate of arts (A.A.) or associate of science (A.S.) degree is granted after students complete a program of study similar to the first two years of a four year college curriculum. The associate in applied science (A.A.S.) is awarded by many colleges on completion of technological or vocational programs of study. Associate degree programs may be “terminal” programs, which lead into specific careers upon graduation, or “transfer” programs, which correspond to the first two years of a bachelor’s degree and tend to be more liberal arts based. Under the latter option one could then transfer into the third year of a four-year bachelor’s degree program.

    Bachelors or Baccalaureate Degree

    Degree received after the satisfactory completion of a four or five year full time program of study or its part time equivalent at a college or university. The Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Science (B.S.) are the most common baccalaureates. There is no absolute difference between the degrees, and policies concerning their award very from college to college. International students cannot generally study part-time and must maintain full-time status during the academic year. One of the most attractive features of the bachelor’s degree program in the United States is that it is highly flexible. You can usually choose from a wide variety of courses and create your own unique program of study. The degree is awarded after you complete a specified number of credits. The first year of study is called the freshman year; the second is called sophomore; the third, junior; and the fourth, senior.

  • 6. WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT GRADUATE DEGREES?

    Master’s Degree

    A master’s degree is designed to provide additional education or training in the student’s specialized branch of knowledge, well beyond the level of baccalaureate study. Master’s degrees are offered in many different fields, and there are two main types of programs: academic and professional. A person who finishes graduate school in the U.S. earns an M.A., M.S. or Ph.D. degree (Master of Arts, Master of Science or Doctorate of Philosophy). The Ph.D. is the highest scientific degree in the U.S. This degree usually requires at least three years of study and a dissertation defense. M.A. or M.S. degrees are awarded after two years of graduate studies.

    Academic Masters: The Master of Arts (M.A.) and Master of Science (M.S.) degrees are usually awarded in the traditional arts, sciences, and humanities disciplines. The M.S. is also awarded in technical fields such as engineering and agriculture. Original research, research methodology, and field investigation are emphasized.

    Professional Masters: These degree programs are designed to lead the student from the first degree to a particular profession. Professional master’s degrees are most often “terminal” master’s programs, meaning that they do not lead to doctoral programs. Such master’s degrees are often designated by specific descriptive titles, such as master of business administration (M.B.A.), master of social work (M.S.W.), master of education (M.Ed.), or master of fine arts (M.F.A.). Other subjects of professional master’s programs include journalism, international relations, architecture, urban planning, public administration (M.P.A.), and public policy (M.P.P.).
    Doctoral Degrees

    A doctoral degree is designed to train research scholars and, in many cases, future college and university faculty members. Receipt of a doctoral degree certifies that the student has demonstrated capacity as a trained research scholar in a specific discipline.

    At the doctoral level, the Ph.D. (doctor of philosophy) is the most common degree awarded in academic disciplines. Other doctoral degrees are awarded primarily in professional fields, such as education (Ed.D. or Doctor of Education) and Business Administration (D.B.A. or Doctor of Business Administration). Doctoral programs involve advanced coursework, seminars, and the writing of a dissertation that describes the student’s own original research, completed under the supervision of a faculty adviser.

    The Ph.D. degree is awarded to those students who complete an original piece of significant research, write a dissertation describing that research, and successfully defend their work before a panel of faculty members who specialize in the discipline. This may take an additional two to three years. To earn a Doctoral Degree it may take anywhere from five to eight years beyond the bachelor’s degree, depending on the field of study.

  • 7. EXPLAIN THE TRANSFER PROCESS TO A U.S. COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY FROM A UNIVERSITY OUTSIDE OF THE U.S.

    Students transfer every year from other countries into U.S. degree programs and successfully complete their degrees. However, the structure of degrees in other countries rarely matches the structure of U.S. degrees, making the transfer process more complicated. The types of institutions in other countries also vary from those in the United States.

    The transfer institution needs to consider a number of factors when granting credit for the courses you have taken at a non-U.S. institution. You may consider the following factors on which U.S. colleges & universities typically make decisions:

    Is your university or college recognized by the ministry of education in your country?

    U.S. colleges are looking for institutions that are recognized by a ministry of education; however, if some other authority approves your college, it may still be acceptable. Decisions vary from college to college and often depend on what the situation would be for a similar college in the United States.

    How similar is the nature or character of the courses you have taken to those offered at the transfer institution?

    U.S. schools usually assess similarity by looking at information from course descriptions, syllabi, or catalogs. If your institution is not well known in the United States, the college may have to do a more detailed evaluation with you when you arrive, and only then decide whether and how to grant transfer credit.

    How applicable are your courses toward the degree, and in particular the major, that you wish to pursue?

    This will often involve evaluation of the courses by both the admissions office and the academic department to which you wish to be admitted. They will look at whether courses can be accepted for transfer credit first, and then at whether they can count toward the requirements for a specific major.

    Applying courses toward a particular major is most difficult for professional programs such as engineering, architecture, or journalism, where course requirements are carefully structured and often dictated by accrediting bodies for the profession.

    To make the transfer process run as smoothly as possible, you are advised to make sure all academic records provided are official and bear the original stamp or seal of the issuing institution. Submit course descriptions in English for all post-secondary courses taken. They should also include:

    Summaries or outlines of the major topics covered in each course (If an outline is not available, write a summary yourself and have it certified by your school as accurate.)

    The number of units or hours required in lecture and laboratory for each course on a weekly basis.
    The length of the term or academic year, and, if it is not given elsewhere, the year in which you took the course.
    Prepare a list of textbooks used in each course as this will help in any decisions that are made after you arrive at the campus about whether to grant credit for particular courses.
    Provide information on the total number of courses, credits, or units required for the diploma or degree program from which you are transferring.
    Students who transfer into a U.S. institution may also be able to receive credit for their secondary school work if it is considered to be comparable to introductory college-level work in the United States. Ask each college about its own policy on this issue.

  • 8. WHAT IS A COMMUNITY COLLEGE AND WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF ATTENDING?

    Community colleges are sometimes called junior or two-year colleges and there are more than 1,700 such colleges in the U.S. Most community colleges are state-supported. A few are independent or under private control.

    In addition to academic programs leading to college degrees (e.g. associates degrees), community colleges offer vocational education and technical training. Community colleges also usually have strong ties with their state’s universities. This makes it easier for the student to transfer to one of these universities to complete the last two years of a four year Bachelors Degree after completing an Associates Degree at the Community College. The cost of a Community College is significantly less than a four year university and although they are less expensive you can still receive an excellent education there. Many American and international students attend the first two years of study in a community college with lower costs and easier admission policies to take many of the required subjects connected to their degree and then transfer for their last two years to a four year university.

  • 9. EXPLAIN THE TRANSFER PROCESS FROM COMMUNITY COLLEGE TO A FOUR YEAR UNIVERSITY.

    A smooth transition from a community college to a four-year institution depends on the strength of the articulation agreement between the two schools. These contracts specify which courses transfer automatically from one institution to the other and, therefore, can be counted toward the four-year degree. Public community colleges work closely with the public universities in their state to develop transfer guidelines. The transfer of credits involving a private or an out-of-state institution may not be as well defined.

    If your ultimate goal is to earn a Bachelor’s Degree, then as early as possible you should:

    Declare your intent to pursue a transfer Associate Degree.
    Confer with the academic/transfer counselor at the Community College to identify a major.
    Select a four-year institution and seek out the latest information on its transfer policy and its programs of study.
    One reason for planning carefully is that schools do not have the same course requirements for identical degrees. By targeting the four-year institution early and determining what is needed to transfer, then following a carefully designed program, you can avoid unnecessary work and expense.

    Because of accreditation or university requirements, some four-year institutions cannot accept certain courses from other schools. Before taking a lot courses in one field of study, students should talk to their academic/transfer counselor, who will be familiar with any restrictions.

    Some institutions have worked together to establish “dual admissions” policies whereby students are admitted to both the two-year and the four-year schools at the same time. Immediately after completing an Associate Degree, the student may transfer directly into the bachelor’s program at the cooperating university.

  • 10. DO STUDENTS HAVE TO STUDY A FIXED SET OF SUBJECTS OR CAN THEY INDIVIDUALLY FORM THEIR MAJOR?

    There are certain required subjects all students must take when studying for a degree. Also there are required core subjects you will be expected to take to complete your major. You will have the opportunity to also choose a list of electives. Degree programs in some subject areas are highly structured, and universities dictate exactly which courses a student must take and when they must take them in order to graduate with a major in that area.

    It is important to check the requirements of any majors you may wish to pursue. There is also great variation between course requirements in liberal arts colleges. Some colleges require students to take a certain number of classes in each of the broad subject groups, while other liberal arts colleges have no such requirements, merely making “strong recommendation” that students complete a well rounded education.

  • 11. WHAT IS GPA AND WHAT IS THE U.S. GRADING SYSTEM?

    Schools, colleges and universities in the U.S. commonly use letter grades to indicate the quality of a student’s academic performance. Each letter grade has a numeric value which is used to establish a grade point or quality point average (GPA/QPA).

    Each student completes his or her degree with a grade point average (GPA). A cumulative grade point average is the GPA for all courses taken throughout the degree program. Most colleges and universities use a GPA scale of 4.0. To work out your GPA, take the numerical value assigned to the letter grade you achieve for each course then multiply this number by the number of credits each course is worth. Finally, add these numbers together and divide by the total number of credits for all courses.

    100-90 = A = 4 (excellent)
    89-80% = B = 3 (good)
    79-70% = C = 2 (average)
    69-60% = D = 1 (below average)
    59-50% = E or F (failing)
    Work rated C or above is usually required of an undergraduate student to continue his or her studies. Grades of P (pass), S (satisfactory), and N (no credit) can also be used. In percentage scales, 100 percent is the highest mark, and 65-70 percent is usually the lowest passing mark. Your GPA may be interpreted differently by each college and university in the U.S. based on their review of your mark sheets/transcripts.

  • 12. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN STATE AND PRIVATE COLLEGES & UNIVERSITIES?

    State colleges and universities, also called public universities, are founded and subsidized by U.S. state governments to provide low-cost education to residents of that state. These universities tend to be very large and generally admit a wider range of students than private universities. State university tuition costs are generally lower than those of private universities. International students, as well as those from other states, are considered out-of-state residents and therefore pay a higher tuition than residents of the state in which the institution is located.

    Private colleges & universities are funded by a combination of endowments, gifts from their alumni, research grants, and tuition fees. Tuition fees tend to be higher than state universities, but there is no distinction made between state and non-state residents. Private universities are usually smaller and can have religious affiliation or can be single-sex schools.

Admissions Process

  • 1. WHAT ARE THE STEPS AN INTERNATIONAL STUDENT MUST FOLLOW TO APPLY TO A U.S. UNIVERSITY AS AN UNDERGRADUATE?

    Step by Step Guide to Application Process

    The application process may seem like a very complicated process, with a mountain of paperwork to complete and deadlines to follow. Here are a number of things to remember about the application process for international students. It is advisable to start this process approximately 18 months before you plan to begin studies in the U.S. The American academic year begins between August and September, and a majority of students generally request admission for this term. Most colleges & universities accept applications between November and January for the August-September entry period.

    Obtain information about institutions that offer the program you want to pursue. Review the section of our site to locate specific institutions that offer the degree you are seeking or consult an USIEC advisor.
    Communicate directly with the admissions offices of the U.S. educational institutions to obtain information and application forms. Indicate the major academic area of interest to you. Make sure that you have your name printed clearly on all correspondence as it appears in your passport.
    Read all materials received carefully to determine: whether the program you want is offered; whether you meet the minimum academic requirement; if you require financial assistance; whether your proposed program is available; and whether you can meet the application deadlines.
    Apply to at least three to five institutions. U.S. institutions receive many applications and often cannot accommodate all qualified applicants. You may decide which institution to attend after you have received your letters of acceptance.
    Complete the admission application carefully and thoroughly. Be consistent when giving your name and contact information on the application and in all correspondence.
    If some of your records are under a different name, be sure you indicate that on the application. Complete all items on the application and submit all items requested.
    Submit the appropriate application fee in U.S. currency with your application (bank cheques, money orders or by credit card). Most institutions will not process an application without the fee.
    Provide official academic records from local secondary and/or tertiary level in both your native language and in English translation. Official documents must bear the seal of the school and authorized signature. Photocopies are not usually acceptable unless they are officially attested as exact copies of the original document.
    Non-native English speakers are usually required to take an English proficiency exam, either Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Register early for and request that the Educational Testing Service forward your scores to the institutions to which you are applying.
    Register for the tests required by the institution to which you are applying for example: SAT and SAT subject tests, or ACT tests are typically suggested for undergraduate applicants, and GRE or GMAT are accepted by graduate admission programs.
    Request letters of recommendation as required by the program/institution. Teachers and guidance counselors, professors, mentors, and supervisors generally write these letters.
    Submit verification of scholarship or other financial support.
    Note the deadlines for application. Allow time for mail delays, application consideration, and for obtaining passport and visa when you are admitted. Apply early.
    Allow 6 to 8 weeks after sending your complete application to the institution of your choice for an admission decision. Many schools and departments, however, send admission offers around March and April for the semester beginning in August/September.
    It is courteous to notify an institution if you will not accept their offer of admission.
    Remember: Institutions will only forward the Certificate of Eligibility (I-20 or DS-2019) after you have been accepted, your level of English proficiency has been determined, and your funding has been established as sufficient to meet the institution’s expenses.

  • 2. WHAT ARE THE ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS FOR AN UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAM IN THE U.S.?

    To be eligible for admission to a U.S. college or university, you must meet certain minmum entry requirements. These include a secondary school diploma or examination results, English language ability, and in many cases a score from one of the U.S. aptitude tests either the SAT or ACT. Each university will have their own requirements for admission so it is important to research what the universities may require that you are interested in attending. It is important that your secondary school study has included a variety of subjects such as English, Mathematics, natural sciences, humanities or social sciences, and foreign language.

    WHAT ARE THE STEPS AN INTERNATIONAL STUDENT MUST FOLLOW TO APPLY TO A U.S. UNIVERSITY FOR A GRADUATE PROGRAM?

    If you have completed or are in the final year of a bachelor’s degree, you can apply for a masters program at a US university. The university you apply to will assess the degree you have and the scores you received on these exams. These exams are typically mandatory for all US universities.

    U.S. graduate schools are all independent, and each sets its own requirements for admission. Within each school individual programs may often have different requirements. It is advisable to start this process approximately one to one-and-a-half years before you hope to begin studies in the U.S. The American academic year begins in August or September, and students should generally request admission for the “fall”or “autumn” term.

    Obtain information about institutions which offer the program you want to pursue. Use reference or contact one of our USIEC advisors, to locate specific institutions which offer the program at the degree level (masters or doctorate) you are seeking.

    Write directly to the graduate admissions offices of the institutions to obtain information and applications. Indicate the major academic area of interest to you. Carefully print your name and address on all such inquiries. You should also write to the department. Stress field of specialization, professional background, reasons for choosing particular faculty and ask for information on financial aid possibilities. You do not need the name of the department chairman or a professor to obtain an application. Advise each office that you have contacted the other.

    Read all materials thoroughly that you receive to determine whether the program you want is offered; whether you appear to meet the minimum academic requirement; if you require financial assistance, whether it is available for your proposed programs; and whether you can meet the application deadlines.

    Apply to more than one institution. U.S. institutions receive many applications and often cannot accommodate all qualified applicants. You may decide which institution to attend after you have received your admission offers.

    Complete the admission application carefully and legibly. Always give your name in exactly the same way on the application and in all correspondence. If some of your records are under a different name, be sure you indicate that on the application. Complete all items on the application and submit all items requested.

    If an application fee is required, submit the appropriate amount in U.S. currency with your application. Most institutions will not process your application without the fee.

    Request your official academic records from your schools in both your native language and in English translation. Official documents must bear the seal of the school and authorized signature. Photocopies are not usually acceptable unless they are officially attested as exact copies of the original. Records should be submitted for all post-secondary schools attended and should provide a list of courses taken, yearly examination results, and conferral of degrees. If your native language is not English, register as early as possible for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and request that Educational Testing Service forward your scores to the institutions to which you are applying.

    Register for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT), or other tests if required by the program/institution to which you are applying. Request letters of recommendation written by professors with whom you have studied as required by the program/institution.

    Submit verification of scholarship or other financial support.

    Note the deadlines for application given in the institutional information you receive. Different institutions/programs have different deadlines. Allow time for mail delays, application consideration, and for obtaining passport and visa when you are admitted. Apply early. Stated application deadlines are generally the final date for receipt of applications and all supporting credentials. Additional time is required to process applications from international students.

    Allow 6-8 weeks after your application file is completed with an institution to receive their admission decision. Many schools and departments, however, send admission offers only in March and April.

    It is courteous to notify an institution if you will not be accepting their offer of admission.

    Remember: A Certificate of Eligibility (I-20 or DS-2019) cannot be issued until you have been admitted, your level of English proficiency has been determined and your funding has been established as a sufficient amount to meet the institution’s expenses. A Certificate of Eligibility is valid only for study in the institution which issued it – and only for the starting dates.

  • 3. WHAT ARE THE ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS TO APPLY TO A GRADUATE PROGRAM IN THE U.S.?

    No uniform procedure exists for graduate admissions in the U.S. The graduate admissions office usually shares the responsibility for admissions with the academic departments and most commonly there is a graduate admissions committee for each department made up of faculty members and graduate admissions office staff. It is a good idea from the beginning of the process to network with both the graduate admissions office and your specific department of interest.

    In addition to the match between the strength of your application and the admissions standard of a school or department, two other factors may influence your chances of admission. First, graduate student research may be highly specialized and dependent of the availability of a faculty member who shares a student’s interest and on resources available in the department. A department may suggest that you be admitted because your research interests match well with those of a particular a faculty member, or may advise against admission because faculty members and resources for your research are lacking. Secondly, sine faculty members review applications to decide who should receive any available research or teaching assistantships, departments often look for applicants who can teach or do research in particular areas.

    To be eligible to apply for a graduate level program, you should have completed, or be about to complete, a first academic or professional degree. In the U.S. this typically takes four years of university study to complete, giving U.S. students 16 years in total at secondary school and college/university. If your first academic degree required only three years of study, or if you have completed only 14 or 15 years of school and university study combined, or if your degree study involved courses in only a single technical field, it will be up to the university you are interested in as to whether you will be eligible for admission to a graduate degree program. Although all U.S. universities follow the same general guidelines, they may differ in the level at which they recognize a particular degree from your country.

    Graduate school applicants should also have excellent grades, particularly in the chosen field of study. Most graduate departments require, at a minimum, the equivalent of a U.S. “B” grade average in undergraduate work. Staff at USIEC advisor will be able to tell you the equivalent to this grade average in your own educational system. Proven research ability or relevant work experience also increases your chances of admission at the graduate level.

    To complete graduate study in the U.S. successfully, you will need to be able to read, write, and communicate orally in English with a high degree of proficiency. English language proficiency will also help you to achieve your academic and personal goals while in the U.S.

  • 4. WHAT ARE THE ADMISSIONS REQUIREMENTS FOR ATTENDING AN MBA PROGRAM IN THE U.S.?

    Admissions procedures differ somewhat and not all programs require the same criteria. However, there are some common elements that admissions committees are looking for .It is always best to get your specific information from the business school itself. Usually the school’s website will give you ample information. Your task is to put the pieces of the puzzle together so you can verify that you meet the MBA admission requirements.

    Business prerequisites can be part of the admission requirements. Some programs require you to have a certain “body of knowledge” in business subjects before you can start. If prerequisites exist, the school should specify the way (or ways) to satisfy prerequisites.

    Some or all of the items below will be needed to create an application package:

    Application Form – There is usually some sort of application form that you submit. Most schools charge a non-refundable fee for each application submitted. These days, most applications forms can be submitted online.

    Official Transcripts – Because the MBA is a master’s level degree, you are required to have a bachelor’s degree before you enter the program. Therefore, you need to send official transcript copies from each college you attended. This will be used to verify degree and prerequisites completion as well as Grade Point Average (GPA).

    Work Resume – Many MBA programs recommend or even require you to have a certain number of years of full-time work experience. The rule of thumb is two years for full-time programs and much more for executive programs. You should submit a work-related resume to verify work experience requirements if applicable.

    Admissions Test Score – An admissions test may be required to be admitted to a program. The GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test) is by far the most common. Occasionally you might be allowed to use previous GRE (Graduate Records Examination) test results. Test scores must be sent to each MBA school applied to and are good for 5 years.

    Letters of Recommendation – Business schools usually want to know how you work with others in both a business and academic environment. Therefore, two or three letters of recommendation will be required. These recommendation letters usually come from people like previous professors, employers, and other associates.

    Application Essays – Most schools want to know about you and why you want to pursue an MBA at their school. This means that one or more essays are required. This gives you an opportunity to portray yourself and express your goals.

    International students will have a few requirements in addition to those listed. For example, international students will need to verify they have an acceptable bachelor’s degree. Also, where English is a second language, English proficiency will have to be verified by an English proficiency test.

    It should also be noted that some schools require interviews in one shape or another. This is another great way for you to show why you belong in the MBA program you are applying for. If applicable, this would usually take place after you have submitted your application package.

    There are a huge number of MBA programs in the U.S. For more information please refer to: www.mba.com.

  • 5. WHAT ARE THE ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS AND STEPS ONE MUST FOLLOW TO APPLY TO A COMMUNITY COLLEGE IN THE U.S.?

    Community colleges operate an “open” admissions policy. This means anyone who wishes to enroll and meets the minimum entry requirements can do so.

    Each institution will have its own set of admission requirements, but the minimum usually includes the following:

    Completed application form
    Proof of secondary school completion, usually 12 years of schooling
    Certification of English language proficiency “TOEFL” or IELTS
    Evidence of financial support
    The English language proficiency requirement is often lower for a community college than it is for a four-year institution. In addition, if your score is a little below the entry requirement, the community college may still admit you into the English as a Second Language (ESL) program. Successful completion of all the prescribed ESL courses will open the door to the wider academic world of the community college.

  • 6. WHAT ARE THE RULES FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS WHO WANT TO ATTEND HIGH SCHOOL IN THE U.S.?

    The U.S. has placed restrictions on foreign students in U.S. Public elementary (kindergarten through eighth grades) and secondary (grades nine through twelve) schools. Secondary school is also called high school. The restrictions are given below:

    prohibits foreign students from attending public elementary schools or publicly-funded adult education programs
    limits secondary school attendance to twelve months
    requires secondary school students to pay the school the full, unsubsidized per capita cost (cost for each student) of education
    restrictions Are for F-1 Students Only
    restrictions apply to these foreign students:
    foreign students in F-1 status who need an I-20 to study in the United States;
    foreign students in F-1 status in Public schools who leave the United States and want to return to continue their studies; and
    foreign students in F-1 status who want to transfer from a Private school or program into a Public school or program.
    restrictions do not apply to the following foreign students:
    foreign students in another visa status, such as J-2, L-1, M-2, or G-4.
    foreign students in F-1 status who attend Private Schools or Private training or Language Programs.
    Foreign students who want to attend Public high school must pay the full, unsubsidized per capita (for each student) cost of education. The full, unsubsidized per capita (for each student) cost of education is the cost of providing education to each student in the school district where the public school is located. Costs normally range between $3000 and $10,000.

    Source: http://www.travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1269.html

  • 7. CAN ONE BE ADMITTED TO A UNIVERSITY IN THE U.S. WITHOUT TAKING A TOEFL OR IELTS TEST?

    If you are a non-U.S. citizen and a non-native speaker of English but you have been educated in English for most of your school life, your test for English language proficiency requirement may be waived. Allow time in the application process to correspond with U.S. institutions about this issue. American colleges & universities are unlikely to accept secondary school English language examination results as proof of your language ability.

  • 8. WHAT DOCUMENT IS NEEDED AS PROOF OF FINANCES FOR ADMISSION TO A U.S. COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY?

    Most colleges & universities include a form called a Declaration and Certification of Finances or Affidavit of Financial Support in their application packets. This must be signed by your parents or whoever is meeting your college expenses, and must be certified by a bank or lawyer. Keep a copy of this form since you will also need it to apply for your student visa. Schools usually need to know that you have at least the first year’s expenses covered, although many may also ask you to indicate your source of income for the entire period of study. If you know when you apply that you will need some form of assistance from the college, indicate how much you plan to request from the university. Do not wait until you have been accepted into a university to request assistance as it will be too late in most instances. Please note that the university will issue the relevant certificate of eligibility for a student visa only if you are able to document fully your source(s) of income.

  • 9. IS IT POSSIBLE TO TRANSFER TO ANOTHER UNIVERSITY ONCE I HAVE BEEN ADMITTED TO A COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY IN THE U.S.?

    Yes. The application process as a transfer student takes time, and you should begin to plan your transfer at least 12 months before the date you wish to start studying at the new institution. Carefully study the section in each college catalog on transferring. Often this will include information on the college’s policy on transfer of credit.

    The application process for transfer students differs slightly from that of first-year applicants. Transfer students often fill out a separate application form, and the new college usually wants to know the following main things:

    Why do you want to transfer to this institution? You will be asked to write a personal statement outlining your reasons for wishing to transfer. This is probably the single most important part of your application and it should be a statement of why the new school will better suit your academic needs.
    What courses of study have you taken, or are you currently taking?
    What has been your college experience so far? Transfer applicants are expected to have performed well at their current institution and to have proven themselves in higher education.
    In addition to the above, you will also need to provide the same items as freshman applicants to the college, including recommendations, transcripts, admissions test scores, and an application essay.

    Transferring is not an easy way into the more selective universities; in fact, many of the more competitive colleges have even more demanding admissions standards at the transfer level than at the freshman level. Many colleges provide statistics on the percentage of applicants accepted for both freshman and transfer admission, which allows you to get a better idea of how competitive the entry is to a particular institution as a transfer student.

    Because general education requirements are similar at many U.S. colleges, students who transfer from one U.S. institution to another are likely to find that their courses are recognized and transfer easily. Transferring courses you have taken as requirements for a particular major may be more complicated. Sometimes the courses taken for a certain major may not meet the requirements for the same major at the transfer institution. When you are discussing with a college how many transfer credits you will receive, it is important to check and understand the distinction between a general acceptance of credit for transfer purposes, and acceptance of credits to meet the requirements for graduation with a degree in a certain discipline.

    You may consider the following suggestions for ways that students can maximize their transfer credits:

    Take any required general education courses during your first two years of study.
    Take any prerequisites for your major at your original institution, as these will help you get accepted into another college, particularly if your major is highly competitive. Prerequisites are preparatory courses that are required before you can start studying for the major itself.
    Plan to take the majority of the courses required for your major after you arrive at the transfer institution as these are more difficult to transfer.
    If you are studying at a community college, work closely with your academic adviser in planning your course schedule and take courses designated as “transfer courses”.
    You can ask a college to reconsider its decision about transfer credit. Sometimes a transcript or course description provides insufficient information to enable a college to grant credit; further information may allow them to make a decision in your favor.

  • 10. CAN I ENTER A U.S. COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY MID YEAR?

    Many colleges or universities will accept enrollment for any of their terms. For schools that operate on a semester calendar mid-year admission is sometime in January. Colleges that use the quarter system (three terms) may offer admission both in the winter term (January) and the spring term (March). The precise date differs for each institution. Deadlines for mid-year admissions are usually six to nine months in advance of enrollment. If you are applying for admission in January, you should take any admissions tests at least six months beforehand. Please note that most undergraduate students enter in the fall term (August/September).

  • 11. WHAT ARE EARLY DECISION AND EARLY ACTION ADMISSIONS?

    If you find a college that you’re sure is right for you, consider applying early. Early decision and early action plans allow you to apply early (usually in November) and get an admissions decision from the college well in advance of the usual spring notification date. You should know by December or January whether you’ve been accepted at your first-choice college.

    Sometimes, students who apply under these plans have a better chance of acceptance than they would through the regular admissions process. These plans are also good for colleges, because they get students who really want to go to the school to commit early in the process.

    Early Decision vs. Early Action
    You should be aware of the differences between early decision and early action before sending in your applications. The exact rules may vary somewhat by college. Check with your counselor to make sure you understand your rights and obligations.
    Early decision plans are binding. You agree to attend the college if it accepts you and offers an adequate financial aid package. Although you can apply to only one college for early decision, you may apply to other colleges through the regular admissions process. If you’re accepted by your first-choice college early, you must withdraw all other applications. Usually, colleges insist on a nonrefundable deposit well before May 1.
    Early action plans are similar but are not binding, unlike early decision. If you have been accepted, you can choose to commit to the college immediately, or wait until the spring. Under these plans, you may also apply early action to other colleges. Usually, you have until the late spring to let the college know your decision.
    Single-choice early action is a new option offered by a few colleges. This plan works the same way as other early action plans, but candidates may not apply early (either early action or early decision) to any other school. You can still apply to other schools and are not required to give your final answer of acceptance until the regular decision deadline.
    Early Action

  • 12. WHAT STANDARDISED TESTS ARE REQUIRED FOR ADMISSION TO GRADUATE PROGRAMS?

    Besides tests of English language proficiency (TOEFL or IELTS) the other standardized tests are:

    GRE: Graduate Record Examination, often required of applicants to graduate schools in fields other than professional programs such a medicine, dentistry, or law. Both a GRE general test and subject tests for specific fields are offered.
    GMAT – Graduate Management Admission Test: The GMAT exam is a standardized assessment, delivered in English, which helps business schools assess the qualifications of applicants for advanced study in business and management.

  • 13. WHAT STANDARDISED TESTS ARE REQUIRED FOR ADMISSION TO UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAMS?

    Besides tests of English language proficiency (TOEFL or IELTS) the other standardized tests are:

    SAT I– Scholastic Assessment Test – The SAT I – a measure of the critical thinking skills you and assesses how well you analyze and solve problems. The test entails critical reading, mathematics and writing.
    SAT Subject Tests – The SAT Subject tests measure knowledge in specific subject areas. Many U.S. colleges and universities either require or recommend one or more SAT Subject test scores for admission. Some colleges specify which subject tests you must take while others leave the option up to you.
    ACT – American College Testing Assessment – The ACT measures English, mathematics, reading and science reasoning.

  • 14. WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF THE PERSONAL STATEMENT IN THE APPLICATION PROCESS?

    Many schools ask applicants to submit a written personal statement or essay as part of the admissions process. When university admissions officers read this part of the application, they may look to see whether the student can contribute to the school and if the school can meet his or her needs. The personal statement gives universities a chance to get a personal glimpse of you, an insight that is not possible in the grades and numbers that make up the rest of your application. In general, essay questions either require a specific response or are open-ended. Colleges look for certain qualities for their student body and tailor their essay questions accordingly.

    Application essays also allow admissions officers to assess your writing skills, academic ability, organizational skills, purpose in applying to a U.S. institution, and your reasons for your chosen field of study. Admissions officers look for strong writing skills, as well as a demonstration of intellectual curiosity and maturity. Write the essay far enough in advance so that you have time to put it aside for a week and then read it again to see if it still makes sense. This shows through in your essay, and tells admissions officers that you are a good writer, that you care about the essay, and that you are willing to take the time to prepare it well.

    Some general tips:

    DO:

    Answer the question asked.
    Focus on a specific incident or event you remember well – details are important.
    Consider explaining anything unusual that has influenced your school or home life.
    Get others to proofread it for grammatical and spelling errors.
    DO NOT:

    Be dishonest.
    Choose a topic merely to look good.
    Say what you think the college wants to hear; just tell the truth about your reasons for applying to the school.
    Turn down the college’s invitation to write more about yourself.
    Write the essay (or any other part of your application) the night before it is due.
    Make sure that your essay is a true representation of yourself and your abilities. The most important part of the essay is to be genuine and honest – admissions officers read several hundred essays each year and have become experts in picking out fake essays or those written by parents. The essay is your opportunity to tell the college why they should accept you over other students.

Student Visas

  • 1. WHAT TYPE OF VISA DO I NEED TO BECOME AN ACADEMIC STUDENT IN THE UNITED STATES?

    Most non-U.S. citizens who wish to study in the United States will seek an F-1 (non-immigrant) student visa, but there are other visa types that are sometimes authorized for those who study in the U.S. Here is a short description of the different visa types that involve study:

    F-1, or Student Visa: This visa is the most common for those who wish to engage in academic studies in the United States. It is for people who want to study at an accredited U.S. college or university or to study English at a university or intensive English language institute.
    J-1, or Exchange Visitor: This visa is for people who will be participating in an exchange visitor program in the U.S. The “J” visa is for educational and cultural exchange programs.
    M-1, or Student Visa: This visa is for those who will be engaged in non-academic or vocational study or training at an institution in the U.S.

  • 2. WHAT IF I RECEIVE AN I-20 FROM MORE THAN ONE SCHOOL IN THE US?

    Prospective nonimmigrant students who have been accepted by more than one school must use the Form I-20 from the school they intend to attend to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee and to apply for a visa.

  • 3. SHOULD I PROCEED WITH MY TICKET RESERVATIONS ONCE I HAVE SUBMITTED MY APPLICATION TO THE US EMBASSY?

    No one can promise a visa will be issued before the embassy has fully processed the visa application. Therefore, do not make final travel plans or purchase nonrefundable tickets until a visa has been issued.

  • 4. WHEN WOULD BE THE BEST TIME TO APPLY FOR MY STUDENT VISA?

    Once you have all the required documentation, you may apply for the visa, even if you do not intend to begin your program of study for several months. It is best to apply early for the visa to make sure that there is sufficient time for visa processing.

  • 5. HOW EARLY SHOULD APPLY FOR MY STUDENT VISA?

    You should bear in mind that the U.S. Embassy/Consulate cannot issue a visa more than 120 days before the actual start of the program in the United States. However, visa applicants are encouraged to apply for their visa as soon as they are prepared to do so. Thus, if the college or university to which you have been admitted states on the I-20 or DS-2019 that the program will start on September 1, a visa cannot be issued before May 1.

  • 6. WHEN CAN I ENTER THE US WITH MY STUDENT VISA?

    Even if you have been issued a visa to enter the United States and it is your first entry as a student to the United States you will not be allowed to enter the country more than 30 days before the start of your program, Returning students do not have this requirement. Using the earlier example, if the program of study starts on September 1, you will not be permitted to enter the United States until August 1 or later.

  • 7. AS A STUDENT WHAT DO I NEED TO BRING TO A VISA INTERVIEW?

    An interview at the U.S. consular section is required for almost all visa applicants.

    All applicants for an F or M student visa must provide:

    Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1), Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (M-1) Student Status for Vocational Students, or DS-2019 if coming on an exchange program or U.S. government-sponsored program.
    A completed application, Nonimmigrant Visa Applicant, Form DS-160 must be completed and signed .
    A passport valid for at least six months after your proposed date of entry into the United States.
    One (1) 2×2 photograph ( see embassy website for specifications).
    A receipt to show payment of the visa application fee, a visa issuance fee if applicable.
    SEVIS I-901 fee receipt.
    Also all applicant should be prepared to show if asked:

    Transcripts and diplomas from previous institutions attended.
    Scores from standardized tests required by the educational institution such as the TOEFL, SAT, GRE, GMAT, etc.
    Financial evidence that shows that the student or sponsoring parents have sufficient funds to cover tuition and living expenses during the period of intended study. If the student is receiving a scholarship for his studies a letter to that affect from the sponsoring agency would be required.
    If traveling with dependents (i.e. children, spouse) must also provide: Proof of the student’s relationship to his/her spouse and/or children (e.g., marriage and birth certificates.)

  • 8. WHAT HAPPENS AT THE INTERVIEW?

    Because each student’s personal and academic situation is different, two students applying for the same visa may be asked different questions and be required to submit different documents. For that reason, the guidelines that follow are general and can be changed by consular officers overseas, depending on each student’s situation.

    Usually at the interview, a quick ink-free fingerprint scan will be taken. Some applicants will need additional screening, and will be notified when they apply.

  • 9. WHAT IS THE U.S. CONSULAR OFFICER IS LOOKING FOR IN THE INTERVIEW?

    Firstly, that you are a bona fide student. He or she will look at your educational background and plans in order to assess how likely you are to enroll and remain in college until graduation. Be prepared to discuss the reasons you chose a particular college, your major and career plans.

    Secondly, that you are capable of financing your education. Provide solid evidence of your sponsor’s finances and if receiving a government scholarship a document to that affect will be necessary.

    Thirdly, that your ties to your home country are so strong that you will not want to remain in the United States, that your reasons for returning home are stronger than those for remaining in the U.S.

  • 10. CAN I WORK IN THE U.S. WHILE IN COLLEGE ON A STUDENT VISA?

    According to the current immigration regulations, international students can only work part time – up to 20 hours per week – on campus while school is in session during the required academic year, and up to 40 hours per week during school vacation periods. Students working 10-15 hours a week can earn enough to pay for incidentals such as books, clothing and personal expenses, but cannot pay major expenses such as tuition or room and board.

  • 11. DOES THE I-20 FROM A REPUTED UNIVERSITY IN THE U.S. GUARANTEE ME A STUDENT VISA?

    No. the I-20 only allows you to begin the visa application. The consular officer after the interview decides whether to approve or deny a visa.

  • 12. HOW LONG WOULD MY STUDENT VISA BE VALID FOR?

    It is valid for the duration of your course of study. Keep in mind that your visa stamp in your passport must only be valid when you are entering or re-entering the country.

  • 13. I RECENTLY RECEIVED MY I-20 (OR DS-2019) FORM DO I NEED TO MAKE AN APPOINTMENT FOR THE STUDENT VISA?

    You should check the website of the US embassy in your country for student visa application procedures.

  • 14. HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO RECEIVE A STUDENT VISA?

    This can be different in each country and each student’s situation. Refer to the website of the US embassy in your country for more information.

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223 E. Garvey Ave. Suite 268
Monterey Park, CA 91755 USA