Pre-requisites for Studying in the USA

Embarking on an educational journey in the United States can be transformative, but it requires careful preparation. This article details the essential prerequisites that international students need to fulfill to study in the U.S. From academic qualifications and standardized tests to visa requirements and financial proof, understanding these elements is crucial for a successful application and subsequent study experience in the U.S.

Academic Qualifications

High School Diploma or Equivalent:
Most undergraduate programs require applicants to have completed secondary education with official transcripts, and sometimes a translated version, depending on the institution’s requirements.

Undergraduate Degree:
For graduate programs, a degree equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s degree is typically required. An evaluation from a credential evaluation service may be necessary to determine equivalency.

Standardized Tests

Proof of English proficiency is required if you are from a non-English speaking country. Minimum score requirements vary by institution.

These tests are standard for undergraduate admissions. Check the latest requirements as some universities may have waived these exams.

Required for most graduate programs depending on the field of study. Each program will specify which test scores are necessary.


Must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the US.

Letters of Recommendation:
Generally, two to three letters are required, often from academic advisors, professors, or employers.

Statement of Purpose/Essays:

“These documents are crucial for both undergraduate and graduate applications, outlining your academic interests, professional goals, and reasons for choosing the specific program.”

Visa Requirements

Student Visa (F-1 or J-1):
After securing admission, you will need to apply for a student visa and will receive either Form I-20 (for F-1) or Form DS-2019 (for J-1) from the institution, which are necessary for the visa application.

Visa Interview:

“A successful interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate is required to obtain a visa. Applicants must demonstrate strong ties to their home country and intent to return after their studies.”

Financial Requirements

Proof of Financial Support:
Evidence of sufficient funds to cover tuition and living expenses for at least the first year is mandatory. This can be shown through bank statements, financial guarantee letters, or scholarship awards.

Cost of Tuition and Living Expenses:
Be prepared for significant expenses. Tuition can range from $20,000 to $50,000 per year for public universities and $30,000 to $75,000 at private institutions.

Health Insurance

Mandatory Health Coverage:
Most U.S. universities require international students to have health insurance. It is advisable to check if a policy from your home country provides adequate coverage in the US.

Age and Legal Restrictions

Minimum Age:
There is generally no minimum age to attend university in the US, but additional requirements may apply if you are under 18.

Background Checks:
For certain fields of study, especially those involving security clearances or working with children, a background check may be required.

Cultural Preparation

Adjusting to the U.S. Education System:
Understanding the U.S. classroom culture, academic integrity standards, and student-professor relationships can help you adapt more quickly.