How to Apply to an International University

How to Apply to an International University

 International Application Process

Applying to an international university is really no different from applying to one in your home country.  International schools want to see that you proactively made the most of your time in high school or in your undergraduate program.  International schools are also looking for strength in the curriculum of courses you took as well as the grades you received. While you may be sending the information differently or sending information in a different format, international universities will be looking at the same information as at home.  Therefore, it is important that you dedicate the same amount of time as you would to any college applications you prepare in your home country.

If you are still worrying about the application process, no worries.  We have prepared a detailed guide to help you fill out your study abroad application.

Student Definitions


International Student

If you are not a permanent resident, dual citizen, or citizen of the country of the school where you are applying, you are considered an international student. However, if you have dual citizenship of the country to which you are applying, then you may be able to apply as a resident.

EU/EEA and Non-EU/EEA Definitions

You may have noticed references on various university websites to EU/EEA and Non-EU/EEA students. It is important that when you apply to an international university that you know how to identify yourself on the application.  Moreover, different application deadlines may also apply depending on status.

EU/EEA Student 

If you are from the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, or if you have dual citizenship of an EU/EEA country.

You may also be categorized as an EU/EEA student if you have resided for a certain period of time, have permanent residence or are a refugee of an EU/EEA country.

The EU countries are:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

The EEA countries are:

Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. It allows them to be part of the EU’s single market. Switzerland is neither an EU nor EEA member but is part of the single market and citizens have the same rights to live and work in the EU/EEA as other nationals.

Non-EU/EEA Students

You are a Non-EU (International) student if you are from a country that is not part of the EU or EEA list of countries above.  You can find a list of Non-EU countries here.

Preparing Your Application


Most international applicants will be required to go through a different application process than permanent residents or citizens of the country of the school.

Students may also have to go through a different application process if you are applying to an Undergraduate, Master’s or Doctoral/PHD program. Make sure you follow the instructions for the program to which you are applying.

Application Checklist


Choose a Course or Program to Study

The first step to applying to an international university is to choose a subject to study.

Verify the entry requirements

You will need to make sure that you meet the entry requirements of your chosen program. When doing your research the program information will most likely have the entry requirements listed somewhere on the website.

An example of common entry requirements for undergraduates:

4 units English with a minimum grade C: English IV or Honors or AP English,
2 units Second Language,
3 units Social Studies,
5 units in total Mathematics and Science:
2 or 3 units Mathematics with a minimum grade C: Algebra II or Trigonometry and Precalculus,
2 or 3 units Science with a minimum grade C: Biology, Chemistry or Physics,
2 academic units free to choose.
*GED – high school equivalency exams may not be accepted. Check with the university first before submitting your application.


Check Important Dates


The university to which you are applying will have different application deadlines listed for EU/EEA students and Non-EU/EEA students.  It is important that you mark down the deadlines so that you do not submit your application beyond the deadline.  You can find application deadlines for many countries in Europe here.


Mail or Submit Your Application Online


Different countries have different procedures for submitting your application.  Some countries may require you to mail your application along with all of the required documentation.  While other countries have you apply online and then mail your required documentation afterwards.  Moreover, some countries may have all undergraduate applications go through an online application service, while some allow you to apply directly through the university.  It is important that you determine where exactly you should submit your application, whether it be submitted online or mailed directly to the university.  

Countries with online application portals: 

United Kingdom

All students applying to a Bachelor’s program in the United Kingdom are required to go through UCAS.  You can find the school and program to which you are interested in applying and submit the application directly through the UCAS website.


France requires that all international Bachelor’s and some Master’s applications go through the website.  We recommend that if you are a student from the US and your French is limited, that you use the website.


Most Bachelor’s and Master’s applications must be submitted through the Uni-Assist website.  Uni-Assist verifies the required documents submitted by applicants and sends this information to the universities once all of the information has been assessed and cleared.


The Central Application Office (CAO) processes Bachelor’s applications for Irish Higher Education Institutions.


Required Documentation


It is important that you verify with the university what documents are required as an international student during the application process.  Depending on how you submit your application, you may have to attach electronic copies of your documentation.  Or you may have to mail them after you submit your application electronically. Certain countries may also require that you send in certified copies of your education credentials.

Example of required documentation for undergraduate and postgraduate students:

  • Letter of motivation
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Portfolio (program depending)
  • English proficiency test
  • Education Documentation (proof of graduation from high school or undergraduate program, or postgraduate program)
  • Photocopy of Passport

Track Your Application


Depending on how you submit your application, you will want to track your application.  If you applied through an online application service, a tracking number will most likely be sent to your email account or provided to you after you submit your application.  However you receive this number, write it down somewhere it will not be misplaced.

*If you mailed your application, check with the university to determine how you can track your application and stay abreast of its progress.

It is also important that once you know how to track the progress of your study abroad application, that you regularly check for any updates or requests from the university.  You do not want to miss a request for more documentation or any questions regarding your application, this will only delay the processing of your application or have it cancelled.

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