How to Apply to an International University in the U.S. in 2020

According to BBC, U.S. universities are among the most-searched institutions on Google. Similarly, 6 of the top-ranking higher education institutions in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings are U.S. universities.

All over the U.S. students find some of the best, most reputable universities in the world. But, how can you make sure that you will be accepted to one? Below I will run through some of the steps and approaches to selecting a university, and making sure that you have what it takes to be admitted.

Find Masters in the U.S.

1. Choose the right degree subject in the U.S.

At every university in the U.S., you can find the degree programme that suits your needs or that you're most interested in. Here are some of the many options you have to choose from:

2. Choose the right U.S. university

Here are some top U.S. universities you should consider for your study abroad adventure:

You can pick an online Master's degree from universities based in the US:

students in usa.jpg

3. Prepare to apply

  • Most universities give you the option to apply directly through their websites.
  • Be sure to read the requirements carefully when applying to American universities. Some will require standardised tests (GRE, GMAT, MCAT, LSAT), and others will ask for different materials (writing sample, portfolio, list of patents) as part of the American university application process.
  • Most students apply to 3-5 universities to increase their chances of being admitted.
  • University application fees are usually between $75-$100, depending on the university. If you have trouble paying your admission fee, contact the university or programme directly.
  • Non-U.S. students may be required to supply proof that their English-language skills are proficient enough to attend classes. Be sure to have your TOEFL, IELTS, or C1 Advanced certificates available.

The U.S. doesn't currently have an application system for all universities. Local and foreign students should apply directly through the university. Follow the links on the university websites, and make sure to follow the instructions carefully.

4. Language requirements for U.S. university applications

To ensure that you are able to effectively learn and participate in your classes, you will need to show that you have good enough English-language skills to apply for admission to a U.S. university. The minimum scores will depend largely on the programme and the university. Most U.S. universities will accept one of these two tests:

  • IELTS (International English Language Testing Service)
  • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)

Double check the university and programme requirements to the minimum score they expect from their applicants.

Find Masters in the U.S.

5. Required application documents

Different universities and programmes will require different documents. However, these are the items you are most likely to need if you apply to a university in the U.S.

  • Transcripts or records of grades (high school and/or university)
  • Resume/CV
  • Test scores (SAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT)
  • Proof of English-language proficiency
  • Motivation letter or Statement of Purpose
  • Application fee
  • Writing Sample
  • Passport photo

6. University application deadlines in the U.S.

If you are applying for an undergraduate (Bachelor's) degree in the U.S., universities will typically offer two application deadlines - early admission and regular admission.

  • If you're applying for admission for Fall, early admission deadlines will be between October and November, the previous year.
  • If you're applying for admission for Fall, regular admission deadlines will be between February and March, the same year.

If you are applying for a post-graduate (Master's or Ph.D) degree, your American university application deadline will depend on the semester in which you are enrolling (Spring intake or Fall intake).

  • If you are applying for admission for the Fall, your deadline can be anywhere from January to March.
  • If you are applying for admission for Spring, your deadline is probably anywhere between July and September of the previous year.

These deadlines can vary drastically depending on which programme you are applying for or which university you wish to attend. Be sure to contact the programme itself if you're not sure of the correct deadline.

university in usa.jpg

7. Final steps after receiving your acceptance letter

Congratulations on getting your acceptance letter!

  • If you aren't a U.S. citizen, you will need to use your acceptance letter to apply for the F-1 student visa.
  • Be sure to take the time between your admission letter and the time you apply for funding and scholarships. You can also check out the Studyportals Scholarship to get some help on financing your studies abroad.
  • Check whether the university you applied to requires an enrolment fee to secure your spot there.
  • Celebrate your victory of being admitted to the university of your dreams!

More about the U.S. student visa based on your nationality. Here is detailed information about the student visa application process for students going to the US:

Explore more than 60000 Master's programmes from all around the world with Studyportals.

All disciplines
United States


Hey there 👋🏼

We are Studyportals, the #1 education platform to find your best matching studies for free.

What are you interested in studying?