What is the Application Process like?

Many international students come to the United States to receive a higher education. However, before that can be done, an international student must first be admitted into a United States program. To be admitted, the application for that program must be accepted. For the most part, every university and program has a different application, but most require the same basic materials. This includes standardized test scores, transcripts, a statement of purpose, letters or recommendation, and sometimes essays.

Standardized Test Scores

Depending on the program you are applying for, the tests required may differ. For example, if you are applying for an MBA program, you will most likely have to submit a GMAT score, and for an MS program, you will most likely have to submit a GRE score. For international students, there may or may not be a minimum score that you must achieve on the tests in order to be considered for admission. A great place to find this information is on your prospective school’s application page. You can also look up the current class profile to see the averages and range of previously admitted students’ tests scores.

One almost near constant for international student applications, however, is a TOEFL or IELTS score. If you are trying to study in the United States from a country where the native language is not English, you will almost always have to provide one of either a TOEFL or IELTS score. There may also be a required threshold for a TOEFL/IELTS score for international students, so please check with your prospective school so you can make sure you meet that required.


Another almost universal application requirement for international students is to provide a transcript. For the most part, this details your academic and course history throughout your academic career. It is important to note that some schools and programs may require international student transcripts to convert their GPA if it is not on the United States four-point scale. Also, if you are studying abroad in the United States from a country where the native language is not English, you may be required to have the transcript officially translated into English. Please double check with your prospective school and program to see if these conversions are necessary for you.

Statement of Purpose

An international student’s statement of purpose can be a crucial part of their application package. Essentially, the statement of purpose is a long essay, somewhere around 1,000 words (unless there is a school sanctioned word limit), where an international student describes themself to the admissions committee. The statement of purpose allows an international student an outlet to describe their personal and professional goals, and how admission into this specific university and/or program will help them achieve those goals. An international student’s statement of purpose allows the admission committee to see who they are as a person instead of evaluating them solely on test scores. Nomad has an SOP expert to help you edit your statement of purpose. 

Letters of Recommendation

Depending on the school and program, it will vary how many letters of recommendation you may need to provide, if any at all. Like a statement of purpose, a letter of recommendation allows the admission committee an insight into who you are as a person. Usually, it may be required that a former employer, supervisor, or professor write these. It depends by application though, so please make sure to double-check this with your prospective school. Usually, the admission committee is looking to gain some knowledge on how you perform in a professional and/or academic setting.

Miscellaneous Requirements

There are other materials that a school may ask you to provide. A school or program may require additional essays, where they will provide you with prompts and a word limit. Depending on the program, you may also be asked to provide a resume detailing your professional experience.

Please remember that these are general requirements, and each school and program requires different materials from their applicants. Please make sure to note what is required of you, and give yourself plenty of time in advance to prepare these materials and make sure they are of the highest quality.

Understanding the application requirements and admission requirements for international students can be tough, but Nomad’s admissions team will help you prepare your applications. 

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