The United States is the most popular international student destination in the world. It is home to some of the greatest and finest universities, most of which have consistently ranked high on world university rankings. Not only are these schools known for their high-quality pedagogy and flexible education systems, but they are also known for being very welcoming of international students.
The cultural diversity in the United States ensures there will always be a home for any international student. There are also tons of new things to do and explore! If you’re looking to study for an undergraduate degree in the United States, here is the guide for you.
Application Requirements for Applying for Bachelor’s in the United States
The following is a list of commonly-required admission documents for aspiring applicants who wish to study for a bachelor’s degree in the United States.
An academic transcript is a detailed list of all the classes you took in high school and its corresponding grades that is a common requirement for students who wish to apply for a bachelor’s in the USA. As most universities in the United States will base admissions on GPAs, you must start attaining good grades in high school to increase your chances of getting into a good university.
Depending on the university you’re applying to, minimum GPAs range from 2.5 to 3.6. If your transcripts have a different grading system or are written in a different language, you must provide certified conversions and translations.
In the United States, the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) is a requirement for admission to any university. The purpose of the SAT, and admission tests in general, is to gauge a student’s readiness for university-level education. It measures your skills in science and mathematics, as well as reading and listening comprehension. It provides a common parameter the university can use to judge all domestic and international students fairly.
Commonly accepted SAT equivalents include GCSEs and International Baccalaureates. You can check your university websites to see if they’d accept any other equivalent.
Personal statements, as a general guideline, are essays that demonstrate your skills, values, and motivations in life. They should also explain why you’re applying to a particular course. This is usually done with a bit of storytelling to catch the recruiter’s attention—for the most part, the best college essays are those that either tug on the heartstrings or have a sense of humor.
Over the past few years, universities in the United States have started putting more weight on personal statements as a prerequisite before you get accepted to study bachelor’s in the USA. It lets them know applicants on a personal level. Thus, you should put a lot of time and effort into composing your statement.
Recommendation letters are usually written by teachers, guidance counselors, or other school workers. As the name suggests, they highly recommend the student and encourage recruiters to admit them to their universities.
You will most likely need two of these for admission.
Bachelor’s Degree Language Requirements for the United States
The primary language of instruction in the United States is English. As an international applicant, you are expected to submit proof of your English language proficiency. There are several ways you can fulfill this requirement.
The first method is by taking English language tests like IELTS or TOEFL. English language proficiency differs from university to university, so make sure to check their websites for the minimum score required. Generally, however, you will need a 6.5 overall (IELTS), 80 (TOEFL Internet-based), or 550 (TOEFL paper-based).
The second method is by submitting your qualifying exam scores. Examples of qualifying exams include International Baccalaureates, GCSEs, SATs, or ACTs. You must achieve a certain score in the English language portion of these tests to prove your fluency in the language.
The third method is for citizens of countries whose native language is English. If you come from countries like Australia, the United Kingdom, or New Zealand, you are not required to submit proof. A full list of eligible countries can usually be found on university websites.
How to Apply for Bachelor’s Programs in the United States
You can start planning your college application any time in the year. For international applicants, it is highly recommended that you start contacting universities as early as possible to get more details on prerequisites, documents, and timelines. Entry requirements vary by university, so you’ll need to know your stuff well before you start sending in any application.
Take these four universities as an example:
- Stanford University
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- New York University
- University of Michigan
As you can see, their requirements, prerequisites, timelines, and instructions vary greatly. You should definitely do your research beforehand.
1. Know If Your Grades Qualify
Most universities in the United States will require a minimum GPA. This will be assessed using your grades from secondary and post-secondary school (if applicable). So, before doing anything else, you must check if you meet the minimum GPA requirement of the school you’re applying for.
Most universities will also require minimum SAT scores, and some courses may even require a higher minimum score for certain sections of the test. You can usually find these scores on the university website. Read up on the score requirements and make sure your SAT scores are above that minimum threshold.
Neither of these is hard requirement for many universities, but you’ll really have to submit an outstanding application if your grades fall short of the minimum. Otherwise, applying for universities out of your league can be a huge waste of time and money considering all the application fees you’d have to pay.
2. Submit Your Application
Depending on where you’re applying, there are several ways to apply.
The first method of applying for a bachelor’s degree in the USA is sending an application directly. This will involve contacting the university yourself and reading their official websites. Usually, they will have you register for a new account to access their online application form—here, you can fill in all relevant information and upload the required documents. You may even be asked to submit hard copies of your application and required documents through mail. Pennsylvania State University, for example, allows direct applications.
The second method of applying is through Coalition or Common App. These are platforms that allow students in the United States to apply for up to 20 colleges with one single form. Of course, you should still make sure you’re not just submitting the same application for every university—as was already mentioned, each university will have different requirements and supplementary materials you need to submit!
If you’re looking for the more convenient of the two, we highly recommend Common App. It is quick, simple, and increases your chances of admission. It also covers nearly 800 colleges from all around the States. The coalition, on the other hand, are for underrepresented students or students with financial needs. All colleges covered by Coalition provide scholarships and financial aid to help pay for tuition fees. Ivy League colleges like Yale University accept applications through Common App or Coalition.
The third method of applying is enrolling in a pathway program. These are for students who want to study in the United States but do not have the necessary English skills yet. The program allows international students to take up English as second language courses and other courses that will lead to a degree in select American universities. If they achieve a high enough score, they can shift to an actual undergraduate degree at the same school. Arizona State University, for example, accepts transfers through pathway programs.
Submit your application with the method your university prefers.
3. Process Post-Application Documents
There are three possible outcomes for your application: accepted, rejected, or deferred. If you’ve been deferred, that means you’ve been put on hold. In this case, the university will ask for supplementary documents like letters of intent or interviews to give you an edge over other deferred applicants.
Once you’ve accepted your offer, paid your initial tuition fee deposit, and provided proof that you can pay the remaining tuition fees, the university will give you a visa eligibility document (I-20). This is a requirement for your student visa, so make sure you process this as soon as possible. Student visas can take weeks to process depending on any issues they find with your application.
I hope that this article on Study Bachelor’s in the United States was helpful. If you’re looking to study abroad, make sure to check out the Available Programs for International Students.