Application Timeline


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Application Timeline


When should you start preparing your US university or colleges application? When should you register for admission test, such as GMAT, GRE, or MCAT? When should you register for English tests, such as TOEFL and IELTS? Below you will find an application timeline designed to help you plan and organize your admission application for study at universities & colleges in the USA.


Applying for admission to a US university or college is not complicated. The application process is actually straight forward but what tends to confuse prospective international students are the new terminology and the lack of understanding of what is required when applying to a university or college in the USA. In this section we will focus on the different stages of the application process and list all the major things you should consider completing during each stage.


We have created a timeline to help provide an overview of the entire application process so you know what and when US universities and colleges expect international students to complete the different parts of the application. Regardless if you are applying for an undergraduate (bachelor's) or graduate (master's or PhD) program, below is an overview of key milestones you will progress through when applying for admission to US universities or colleges. Knowing the application process and have a good understanding of the timeframe will allow you to better plan your admission application and not be at risk of missing any deadlines.


We advise you to also see Admission Requirements to learn more about terminology and for further information directly related to the application process. For instance, you will find the official links to the more popular admission tests and official links to organizations you can contact to have your transcripts evaluated and translated.

Use our custom-built and original University Finder that is only available at This is the first university finder defined by international students just like you. The result is a university finder containing only "real" (traditional) US universities and colleges that accepts international students. Find your US university or college today and start preparing your application. Below is what your application process might look like.




Exploration Stage

(18-12 months before deadline)

  • Identify potential universities/colleges, based on
    • Geographical location
  • Proposed field of study (major)
    • Finances (Tuition Fees + cost of living)
    • GPA
    • Standardized Admission Tests
    • Start date (fall or spring semester)
    • Available financial aid (scholarships, grants etc.)
    • Other program specific requirements
    • Personal preference
    • Identify funding opportunities (private, scholarships, loans etc.)
    • Identify admission policy (rolling, open, early decision, regular decision etc.)


    Pre-Application Stage

    (12-8 months)

    • Request/download application package or create user account at universities/colleges of interest
    • Review application form and requirements (both general and program specific)
    • Register for English proficiency test
    • Register for standardized admission test
    • Secure references/recommenders
    • Translate transcripts & degrees
    • Secure funds
    • Collate information related to:
      • Education history
  • Work history
    • Family members
    • Write essay/personal statement


    Application Stage

    (2-0 months)

    • Complete and submit the application form
    • Pay application fee
    • Submit references or letters of recommendations
    • Submit proof of funds
    • Submit unofficial or certified translated transcripts
    • Submit any supplemental material


    Pre-Application Stage

    (6-2 months)

    • Take and submit standardized test scores
    • Take and submit English proficiency test scores
    • Make final preparation for completing the application form


    Note that the above timeline is of a general nature intended to provide an overview of the process. Depending on institution, the order in which items have to be completed may vary. For instance, some universities/colleges will allow for the submission of standardize test scores and English proficiency scores after the application deadline. Always follow the instructions given by each individual program.


    Although it is possible to complete and submit a complete application in less than 12 month, you are advised to start preparing at least one year before the application deadline date. We say the application deadline date and not the semester start date. The fall semester normally starts in either august or early September depending on university/college, however, the application deadline for the fall semester is typically in early January. As an example, if you want to start studying at a university in the USA in the fall of 2019, then you are advised to start your preparation and application in January 2018. Technically this means you should start the application process 1 ½ year before the semester start date. There are many time-consuming aspects of the application, such as preparing and registering for the English test, writing the essay/personal statement, getting your transcripts certified and translated, and registering for and taking one of the admission tests. Collecting all the information you need to simply filling in the application form can also be time consuming. We strongly recommend that you start preparing early.


    Post-Application stage


    • Receive offer of admission
    • Confirm attendance
    • Receive the I-20 form, (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Status)
    • Apply for student visa (F-1 or J-1)
    • Pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee
    • Fulfill any potential admission conditions, such as:
      • Submit certified translated transcripts, if applicable
  • Submit proof of health insurance, if applicable
    • Submit school report or mid-year school report
    • Submit test scores, if applicable




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