Bachelor’s Admission Requirements


Connecting the World to U.S. Higher Education ™

Bachelor’s Admission Requirements


Here are 12 admission requirements that many universities and colleges in the USA require international students to fulfill when applying to a degree program. Many of these are not clearly listed on university websites. Knowing what is expected of you will greatly help you when applying for bachelor's admission to a US university or college.


Based on our experience as former admission officers and international recruiters, we know you are likely to encounter the majority of these, regardless if the university/college is listing them initially on their website or not. In fact, you will not become aware of many of the requirements until you start filling in the actual application form


The basic undergraduate requirement at most US universities/colleges for even considering an admission application is that the applicant have completed at least 12 years of elementary through secondary school, culminating in a certificate or external examination. Generally this means that a prospective international student must have successfully passed the equivalent of high school (12 years of schooling) and received preparations in areas such as mathematics, basic sciences, social sciences, and humanities.


Note that we have not listed GPA as a requirement for Bachelor’s admission, even though it does carry some value. Most universities or colleges do not state a minimum GPA but instead speak of “academic performance.” This means institutions are not solely looking at GPA, even though it factors in, but are looking at your transcripts for overall level of achievements, enrollment in honors, IB-level courses, and your individual academic strengths (challenging courses taken). Depending on university/college, this could benefit prospective international students that do not have outstanding grades.


A degree from a US university or college can open many doors for you. Use this section to familiarize yourself with the requirements you are likely to encounter as you are applying for admission to a US university/college.


Admission Requirements

It will take time to fill in the application form, much due to the time spent on collecting information before being able to start completing the actual form. Typically, time consuming areas of the application form involve gathering information pertaining to family members, writing the short essay, confirm academic references, and complete the English and admission entrance tests. Below are examples of information you can expect to complete on an application form:

  • Basic information (Full name, Home address, Date of Birth etc.)
  • College and/or major of interest
  • Entry term (when do you want to start studying?)
  • Do you intend to apply for grants, scholarship, or other financial aid?
  • Do you intend to live in the dorms (on-campus housing)?
  • Your highest degree earned
  • Demographic questions (citizenship, birthplace, first language etc.)
  • Family information (mother, father, siblings, legal guardian details)
  • Your education history
  • Academics (class rank, sat, TOEFL, current classes)
  • Essay (topics are typically provided, choose one and write approximately 250-500 words)
  • Extracurricular activities and work experience
  • Academic references, Secondary School Reports (SSR), Mid-Term Report

Today most applications are submitted online either via 1) the Common Application (, 2) the university's or college's main admission page, or 3) through the individual program's admission page. You will find clear instructions on how and when to submit your application on each institution's admission page.

Prospective international students will generally pay a non-refundable application fee when submitting the application. It is very common to both apply and pay the application fee online via the institution's website. Although there is no set amount and each US university/college has its own application fee, the fee generally ranges from $50 to $100. The exact application fee is prominently displayed in the same area where you find the other admission requirements.

Typical ways of paying the application fee:

  • Directly on the institution's website with a debit or credit card
  • Sending a check with your application
  • Sending an international money order with your application
  • Pay by phone

Many US universities/colleges accept translated unofficial, scanned or faxed transcripts during the initial applications period, but some do not. Since having your academic documents translated and certified could take weeks or even months, it is strongly recommended that you give yourself ample time to ensure that the documents reach the university/college ahead of any potential deadline.

Ask the university/college if it requires the translated and certified documents to be sent directly to them from the translating institution (e.g. your high school or translation service provider), or if you can send them personally. Failure to comply with university/college guidelines could delay your application or, even worse, have your application denied. Be aware that some institutions require students to upload certified translated transcripts at the time of submitting the online application. This means you need to organize to have the transcripts translated before you can complete the online application.

Ask your high school if they offer a translation service. If they do, then ask the university/college in the USA if it accepts a certified and translated transcript directly from our high school. By doing this, you could save both time and money. Alternatively, ask if the US university/college you are interested in has a preferred translation service provider. If they do, then use that translation provider.

Most US universities/colleges accept and recognize the following translation agencies and organizations:

International applicants must generally also submit official evaluations of all degrees earned from outside the United States. This is an evaluation of the courses making up the degree and not just a translation of the transcript (grades and course names). Most universities/colleges recognize the following organizations:

By far the two most common and accepted English tests are TOEFL and IELTS. Each university/college will have its own minimum acceptable scores, which you will find on their respective websites, typically under a menu labelled "Admission," "Applying for Admission", or something to that effect. A good starting point is always to explore the International Student Office homepage for information on English requirements.

For more information about TOEFL and IELTS in your country, go to:

The proof of English proficiency requirement can potentially be waived under certain circumstances. It is likely that you do not have to submit a TOEFL or IELTS score if you are a first-year applicant that has had your entire schooling in English or attend a U.S high school. The English proficiency requirement can potentially also be waived if you as a transfer-student has studied for at least one full academic year at a U.S university/college and you have strong academic performance. Finally, some universities/colleges might also waive the English proficiency requirement if you have strong SAT critical reading and writing scores.

It is strongly recommended that you ask your university/college of interest if the TOEFL/IELTS requirement can be waived and under what conditions.

According to U.S. federal law, any international student aiming to enroll at an U.S. higher education institution is required to submit proof of sufficient funding to meet the cost of all first-year expenses. What this means is that you have to show proof that you have enough money to cover you FIRST year of study. The cost varies greatly from one university to another, much due to variation in tuition fees and cost of living. Each university will stipulate the exact amount required. Remember that the required amount varies depending on your major (field of study) as well. Just as the admission requirements vary depending on if you are applying for the School of Business or School of Engineering, so will also the cost of attending these programs. You will typically find the information on each respective program's website - this means the website of each individual program (such as College of Nursing or School of Business) and not the website of the larger university/college or the International Student Office. Email or call the university/college if you are not sure.

Common ways to demonstrate that you have sufficient funds include:

  • Paying by yourself: Submit a certified bank statement demonstrating that you have enough funds. Keep in mind that the bank statement does not need to show the total amount of funds in the account. It only has to show at least the amount required by the university/college for you to support one-year of study.
  • Privately Sponsored: (e.g. family member or company is paying) - submit a signed letter of support from the bank that states the amount (in U.S Dollars) that is sponsored + a bank statement (same as above).
  • Government Sponsored: Submit a certified copy of the award letter that includes the amount awarded per year. The award letter should also state the duration for the award and list the expenses it covers.
  • Scholarships: Submit a certified copy of the award letter that specifies the annual award amount. The award letter should also state the duration for the award and list the expenses it covers.

The above is for guidance only. Always check with each specific university/college on what they deem as acceptable proof of funds.

SAT and ACT are two standardized undergraduate admission tests that are used by many (but not all) US universities/colleges as part of the admission process. They are designed to test a student in primarily three areas; mathematics, critical reading, and writing.

Although the SAT and ACT are popular among US universities/colleges, some institutions do not require neither test and there are even high ranked universities/colleges that have them as optional. If your university/college of interest requires you to take the test as part of the application process, then, you must take the test.

However, there are ways to “avoid” taking the SAT or ACT, but it strongly depends on your individual circumstances and aspirations. A prospective international student could:

  1. Simply apply to a US university/college that does not require the test or only has it as optional, and earn you degree that way.

  2. Since the SAT and ACT requirement typically only applies when applying for freshman entry (i.e. the first year of university/college study), a student could first apply to a university/college or a community college that does not require the tests and then transfer to the preferred university/college after one or two years. Rarely is SAT or ACT required when you transfer from one university/college to another. You would then complete the final two or three years at your preferred university/college and receive your Bachelor's degree. You are wise in choosing a school in the same state that has a transfer agreement with your preferred university/college, if you opt for this option.

Keep in mind that SAT is administered approximately six times per year and the ACT even less. Hence, it is crucial that you make early arrangements to take the test.

For more information regarding the SAT and ACT, go to:

Since SAT and ACT are new to you, do not let it deter you from attempting to take one of these tests. Do not let the "fear" of the tests alter your educational dream and maybe even your future. Millions of students have taken one of the tests and passed, so why can't you? The answer is: You can, and you should.

A US university/college may require you to submit one or more short essays and/or a personal statement (a personal statement is generally a longer essay about one topic), but far from all universities/colleges require it. Most of the times the university/college will give you a topic to write about, some even give you four or five topics to choose from. Here is the good news; it is truly not difficult to write an essay or personal statement. After all, you are writing about yourself and your experiences.

It is important to stay on topic and write about what they specifically ask you to write about. If you are asked to write about a significant work experience or which extracurricular activity was most meaningful to you, then write about that and not your childhood (unless it is directly related).

Remember that you are writing the essay for an admission officer to review and you are not writing a letter or email to a friend. The university/college is looking to get insight into your values, your thought process, you sense of responsibility, how you cope with stress, your critical thinking, your determination, your logic etc. Regardless what you write about, the university/college expect you to explain what you learnt from the experience you are discussing.

Writing a short essay can be time consuming but there are many online sources giving good advice and instructions to help you get started.

Let a friend with a good level of English proofread the essay for you if you are worried about your English level. Alternatively, go to a university in your home city and ask a professor or an English student to help you. The short essay play a crucial role in the admission process, so make sure it is free from grammatical errors and flows well.

References or recommendations are used to give a university/college the opportunity to get to know you better and determine if you have the necessary skills to complete a degree at their institution. Universities//colleges are looking for qualities and experiences that will demonstrate to them that you are ready and prepared. You can demonstrate this by:

  • Academic rigor (high grades or test results)
  • Having a keen interest and intention to pursue a degree in an underrepresented major
  • Extracurricular Activities & Leadership
    • Emphasize activities or events you have been involved with in the community, school, sports club, or family that illustrates your skills (such as leadership, organizational, or multi-tasking skills), your achievements, and determination/commitment.
  • Compelling background
    • Highlight your background or any past experience that will set you apart from the typical student. Demonstrate how it influenced you, made you grow as person, and helped you set your current goals. Emphasize how your background has prepared you for success at their specific university.

Universities/colleges love diversity and they want to see that you have learnt something (positive or negative) from your experiences and that it has prepared you for the future (= pursue a degree at their university/college). Most institutions will have their own forms/templates that you can access online.

Some universities/colleges will only ask you to provide the name and email address of your recommenders on your online application. The university/college will then contact your recommender by email asking the person to return the recommendation within a short period of time – sometimes within 24 hours. You are wise in informing your recommenders in advance that they can expect an email from a certain university/college.

Speak with the person that will serve as your reference and make sure that they know you well enough to write a compelling reference or letter of recommendation.

This is applicable to high school students and is a report on a student's academic performance. Ask your high school counselor or other school official to complete and submit the form. The school report is used by counselors to submit an applicant's grades and other information such as class rank and disciplinary history. The mid-year report is basically a matter of submitting final grades that may not have been available when submitting the application - such as the grades from your final high school semester.

As neither the US federal government nor state governments bear the cost of health care for its residents, any person in the USA must cover their own health expenses. As such, international students are required to maintain adequate health insurance while attending a US university/college. Generally, this means that F-1 and J-1 students are required to have medical health insurance in addition to both evacuation and repatriation coverage. It is common for US higher education institutions to require international students to purchase health insurance from a partnering insurer. However, sometimes this requirement can be waived if the student has a comparable insurance, either from its native country or from the US.

In addition, some universities/colleges, such as in the State of New York, require students to be immunized against measles, mumps, and rubella. Generally this can be done once you have arrived on campus, but always double check with the institution and make sure to follow any direction carefully. You will not be able to register for classes before you have complied with this requirement. Not all universities/colleges have immunization as a requirement.

This part is really not that difficult. Some universities/colleges will ask you to submit a photo of yourself with the application. There might be some predetermined photo specification that you have to follow, such as the photo must be in a US passport format, color photo only, or that you have to type and sign your name at the back of the photo. Always double check with the university/college if you have to submit a photo and if they have any particular photo requirements or specifications.

Some universities/colleges require you to submit a color copy of your passport during the initial application period. However, most universities/colleges wait to request a copy until you have accepted their offer of admission and you have been granted a student visa. The university will clearly state on their website or application material if you are required to submit a photocopy of your passport and visa. Call or email the university/college if you are not sure.

© 2017 Study Destination USA. All Rights Reserved.