How to Study in the United States

Elementary, Middle School, or High School

Find information on studying in the U.S. as a foreign student in primary or secondary school:

Learn more about the education system in the U.S.

College or University (Postsecondary)

These five steps explain the process an international student can follow to study in a university or college in the U.S.:

1. Research Your Options. Postsecondary education includes six degree levels: associate, bachelor, first-professional, master, advanced intermediate, and research doctorate. The U.S. system does not offer a second or higher doctorate, but does offer postdoctoral research programs.

2. Finance Your Studies. The U.S. government does not provide loans, grants, or general scholarship assistance for international students. As an international student, you will have to find alternative sources of funding such as:

  • Your Home Country  Education Authorities - Many countries offer foreign study funding for their own nationals who are admitted to an approved program or institution abroad and who qualify for the assistance program.
  • The International Admissions Office - Many U.S. academic institutions assist international students. Contact the international admissions office at the schools you are interested in to learn if you may be eligible for assistance.
  • Scholarships and Grants - Private foundations, businesses, and nonprofit organizations offer scholarships and grants for study and research. Use the U.S. government’s free online scholarship search tool.
  • Exchange Programs Administered by the U.S. Government - These exchange programs, including the Fulbright Program and others at all education levels, provide assistance to qualified international students.

3. Complete your application. In the U.S., colleges and universities establish their own admission requirements, including third-party standardized tests. Follow the application requirements set by the admissions office of the institution in which you are interested.  

  • Foreign Diploma and Credit Recognition - Higher educational institutions and licensing boards in individual states evaluate academic coursework, degrees, and professional licenses. The U.S. has no single authority to evaluate foreign credentials.
  • Standardized Tests - As part of the application process, some programs require students to take one or more standardized tests. Plan to take your tests in advance so your scores are available when you submit your application.
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) - Many colleges and universities require this test to measure your English language skills.

4. Apply for your visa. Before you can apply for a student visa, you must first be accepted by a U.S. institution of higher education that is certified by the SEVP.

5. Prepare for departure. Consider exploring these resources while you plan your move to the U.S.

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Last Updated: November 14, 2016

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