Meeting USA University Requirements: Your Guide to Success
US universities have a reputation for global excellence, offering world-leading programs and academic pathways across every discipline. By deciding to study in America, you will be joining more than one million international students on their higher education journey.
With such a vast array of institutes (over 4000 universities and colleges), no matter what your ambitions, there will be a degree and university that’s a perfect fit for you.
Taking into account factors such as ranking, location, size and tuition fees, you may already have narrowed down which universities you want to apply to.
As an international student, the next step is to familiarize yourself with the admission process, and any other application requirements. Especially for schools with competitive admissions, the application process takes a significant amount of time and effort, so it’s a good idea to start well in advance.
From academic tests, language requirements and more, we have created a useful guide to help ensure a successful application.
Table of Contents
USA University Requirements 101
While many parts of the college application process are similar for all students, there are several specific considerations for international students applying for an undergraduate degree in the US.
To begin applying for a program at an American university, your application can be completed online either through each university’s own website or through a third-party system like the Common App, which is accepted by almost 900 colleges and universities. No matter which method you choose, you will be required to submit specific documents listed by the university.
While every US university has its own admissions criteria (available on each university’s website), there are several common admission requirements for prospective students they share, which we look at further below.
As part of the admissions process, the following are generally required:
- Many universities require your high school or secondary school transcript. This shows whether you have the necessary academic foundation to enroll in your chosen degree program.
- US universities often ask that your high school transcript be submitted in English, so you may need a certified translation if the original is in another language.
- If you are applying from a school which follows the US curriculum, then the basic academic requirement will be your Grade Point Average (or GPA). If your school doesn’t use GPA, it’s possible to convert your academic grades using a variety of online calculators.
Personal statements or essays
- One of the ways colleges and universities get to know you as a student is through your personal statement or essay. Your application essay contains information such as why you want to study in the US, your goals and plans, and your reason for choosing the degree program.
- Some schools allow you to answer a common application essay question, or one that’s used for multiple US college applications. Others require you to answer a unique question.
Letters of recommendation
- Most colleges require you to submit letters of recommendation as part of the application process. A letter of recommendation is written by someone with authority and highlights your personal qualities, strengths, skills and academic abilities from another person’s perspective.
- Letters of recommendation should come from people who have experience teaching you, and - because they are usually confidential - people you trust will present you in a positive light.
- Bear in mind that your recommendation letters will need to be in English, or translated into English, before they are submitted.
Most US universities require applicants to take either the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) or ACT (American College Test). The SAT consists of reading, writing, essay, and math sections, while the ACT contains reading, writing, essay, math, and science sections.
While both measure a student’s college readiness and academic performance, there are some key differences: the SAT places more focus on analytical skills such as mathematics, while the ACT focuses more on verbal skills.
An important change during the Covid pandemic means that colleges have now introduced more flexibility and choice into the admissions process with regards to testing. Many have decided to adopt a “test-optional” policy regarding college entrance exams, either temporarily or permanently. Most colleges still encourage students to submit their scores when they can, but they don't require all students to do so in every instance.
To ensure that you are able to effectively learn and participate in your classes, you will need to demonstrate your English language proficiency to apply for admission to a US university. The minimum scores will depend largely on the program and the university.
The most common English language tests you can take are:
- International English Language Testing System exam (IELTS)
- Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
Each evaluates your English reading and writing skills, along with measuring your speaking and listening abilities. These tests are usually available in your country at centers certified for English language testing.
Other English language tests that are also commonly accepted by US universities are:
- PTE Academic (Pearson Test of English)
- C1 Advanced (formerly known as Cambridge English Advanced)
There is no ‘best’ option for English exams — most US universities accept them all, but it's always best to check before you decide on which to take.
Those students looking to prepare for an English language proficiency test can do so with Kings. Preparation programs for IELTS, TOEFL and Cambridge English exams are extensively available at Kings centers in both the US (Boston, Los Angeles and New York) and the UK (London, Brighton, Oxford and Bournemouth).
Other admission criteria
The following items may also be requested by US universities alongside your application.
A copy of your valid passport
Without a valid passport, you will not be able to enter the US. In addition, if your passport is not up to date, then the school you are applying to will not be able to issue your I-20 form, which you need before you can get your student visa. If you do not have a passport, or your it has expired, make sure to start the renewal process straight away as in some countries it can be a lengthy process.
Depending on the program you have chosen, your university may require you to document your extracurricular, volunteer or work experience in the form of a resume. Some programs include a mandatory internship, which generally require you to have a cover letter and resume.
Proof of financing
Some colleges and universities may also require international students to provide proof of financing, such as a bank statement.
As an international student, you may not have access to some forms of financial assistance, such as Federal Student Aid. However, you may still qualify for other financial aid options such as grants or scholarships, based on your academic performance and area of study.
How Kings Education Can Help You Study in the US
With Kings Guaranteed Outcome (GO) programs, you can graduate from a Top 100 US university.
First you’ll enroll at one of our partner institutes, which generally offer a small, friendly campus environment. It’s the perfect starting point for your degree, and we'll be there on campus to support you all the way.
Current locations include New York, Boston, California, Wisconsin and Oregon.
When you are ready, we’ll help you transfer to a Top 100 university. You’ll join as a second or third year student. You can transfer to any Top 100 university. Or, you can follow one of our dedicated transfer pathways, for example to top 50 ranked The University of Rochester or UW-Madison.
Guaranteed Outcomes: The Kings Difference
1.Your degree will be from the Top 50 or Top 100 university, not where you started.
2.You’ll graduate from a top university, which would probably have been extremely difficult to enter directly from home.
3. You’ll still complete your degree in just four years even when you transfer — the same as any American student.
Enrolling on a Kings Guaranteed Outcome program is straightforward. Students complete an application form, and supply the following additional items:
- Payment of Registration Fee
- Proof of English level
- Copies of all High School Transcripts and Diploma if received (see country specific requirements for details)
- Explanation of any gaps in study for more than 6 months
- Certified translations required if documents are not in English
- Optional Personal Statement and Academic Letter of Recommendation (required for borderline students)
- Copy of Passport
Any student who needs additional language preparation and support prior to starting their Guaranteed Outcome program can complete the GO: Prepared course.
Through our Guaranteed Outcome programs, students have gone on to complete their bachelor’s degree at many of the top US universities, including Cornell University, John Hopkins University, UCLA, USC and UC - Berkeley.
Below are just a few of our recent alumni and their final university destinations.
"Kings helped me along the way; with the application process, with the essays, with choosing the right school for myself. It’s a great pathway to any university you want to go to in the US.”
Chen-Hsi (Steven) from Taiwan was accepted to Boston University for Hotel Administration.
"The US University system is very different from what we have in Ukraine. When I had some kind of issue or problem I came to Kings staff on campus and they told me what to do, who to talk to at the University."
Davyd decided to major in Computer Science. He did his first year with us and is now at Rice University.
"I am a transfer student at Cornell University thanks to Kings. I’ll always be so grateful. I made so many connections with well-known people in the industry that will be so useful for my career. My counsellor did a great job in helping me with my application for transferring. I told him all of my goals and dream Colleges and he was able to help me narrow down the colleges. I had great support from Kings."
Kelly is from Vietnam. She did Years 1 and 2 with us and was accepted at Ivy League Cornell University. She is majoring in Hotel Management.
"I came straight from Russia to the US and I was a bit scared. Kings want to make sure you have a successful future. This is what I wanted from them and they gave me this! After two years I can see I have more experience and knowledge about what I can do with my future."
Evgeniia rom Russia did Years 1 and 2 with us and was accepted at UCLA, UC Santa Barbara and UC Riverside. She is majoring in Political Science.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about university application and admissions requirements in the US.
1. What are the requirements to study it in the USA?
To study in the USA all students must submit an application, and provide the following as a minimum:
- a personal statement
- transcripts of academic records
- recommendation letters
- admission exam scores (most universities require students to sit SAT or ACT exams)
All students applying direct to universities must pay an application fee to each university, usually $50 to $100.
2. What is the minimum GPA requirement for admission in the USA?
The minimum GPA varies; each university or college has their own requirements. Generally speaking, the more prestigious the institute, the higher the GPA required. Generally speaking, anything above 3.75 is good, anything between 2.75 – 3.75 is average.
3. Where can I learn more about university entry requirements in the US?
All US universities have information about their admissions procedures and requirements on their website. If you have a particular university in mind, the best idea is to look directly at the website to get the most accurate admissions information.
We hope that this article has helped clarify the requirements of applying to a US university, and how Kings Guaranteed Outcome programs can help you get to the top ranked universities in America.
If you would like to receive more detailed information about our programs and locations, please get in touch with us at email@example.com.