How to Research and Apply to an International University

How to Research and Apply to an International University

Applying to an international university as a foreign student does not have to be confusing.  In fact, if you give yourself a sufficient amount of time to research and apply to universities, it can  be a very seamless process. However, as an international student, there may be some additional steps that you may have to go through in order to process your application. The guide below should help to ensure that you are properly prepared:

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Step 1: Do Your Research

Your first step in choosing a destination and program, is to do your research. You must become well acquainted with your choice of destination as well as the international university system. You will find many resources online to help guide you in this endeavor. Once you have an idea of the basics, be sure to read up on the different universities and consider which type of institution and program will best serve your academic and professional goals.

Websites to research international universities, destinations and programs of study:

Times Higher Education – The Times Higher Education World University Rankings give the most reliable indication of the quality of teaching, research, innovation and the global outlook of universities around the world.

TopUniversties.com – Compare universities around the world with TopUniversities.com interactive university search tool. You can also search for universities by location, program type or study level.

Step 2: Familiarize Yourself with Student Visa Requirements

Issues often overlooked by students researching programs overseas are the student visa requirements.  More specifically, each destination country has a “proof of funds” requirement that must be met in order for a student to receive visa approval.  If you are single, this requirement can be easily met with student loans or a combination of scholarships, grants and student financing. However, if you are a graduate student and will be traveling with your family, you will need to have enough funds available to finance your education and to support your family during the duration of your studies.

If cost will be a factor or you will be depending on savings to fund your studies, it is important that you research the “Proof of Funds” needed to fulfill your student visa requirement for your chosen destination.  While you may have your heart set on a particular destination, depending on your finances, you may be better off finding a country with a lower PoF requirement.

If your chosen destination is listed in one of our Destination Guides, you can find “Proof of Funds” requirements listed under Visa Requirements: Austria,  Czech Republic,  France , Germany, Hungary, Norway, Poland, Sweden, United Kingdom

Step 3: Find a Program

There are numerous websites available to help you search for a program of study at an international university. Many websites can found just by searching for English speaking programs in a particular country. However, you can also find several private study abroad websites promoting various universities and programs all over the world.  If you already have an idea as to where you would like to study, you can also go directly to the university websites to find program information.

Some suggested websites for researching programs at international universities around the world:

The three websites provided below are websites that work with over 3,050 universities, business schools, law schools, and pathway providers who are eager to attract  students from all over the world.

Step 4: Keep Track of Application Deadlines – They Differ by Country

Applying to an international university is stressful enough without the worry of missing the application deadline.  Many students are often unaware that application deadlines differ by country. In fact, if you miss the application deadline you may have to wait an entire year to re-apply.  Therefore, it is very important that you keep track of all of the various deadlines when applying to more than one international university. You can find a general guide to application deadlines by country here.

Step 5: Prepare Your Documents – Before You Apply

Once you’ve chosen the programs that you wish to apply to, you will need to begin preparing your documents. It is very important that you review the application requirements and which documents you will need to include with your application.  If you plan to apply to programs in different countries, it’s important that you research the application requirements for each specific country. Both the application deadlines and the application requirements differ significantly among the various host countries.

  • If you are not from a predominantly English speaking country, it may be necessary for you to prove your English proficiency with a TOEFL or IELTS test.  If you haven’t already taken your test, you may want to book a time well in advance of the application deadline so that you can receive your results in time.   We have written an article with some test resources to help you prepare!
  • It may also be required of you to send certified and translated copies of your documents.  If you are not familiar with the Hague Convention and how it may apply to you, read our article on “How to Have Your Academic Credentials Certified, Notarized or Apostilled.”
  • While most foreign universities will not require SAT, GMAT or GRE exam scores like in the US, you will want to verify with the university and your program to determine if these test scores are required in order to apply.  Some foreign universities have started to require these exam scores in their application process.
  • Start working on your Statement of Purpose now!  Most foreign universities will want to know why you want to apply to their program.  If you are applying to multiple programs, you may want to verify the “State of Purpose” requirements as they may differ by program.
  • Do you have a passport?  This will be a required document of most foreign universities, since you will not be able to study abroad without one.   If you do not have a passport, you will need one before you apply! Make sure you apply for your passport in advance of applying so you do not miss the application deadline.

Step 6: Apply to a Program

Once you’ve chosen a few programs, now it’s time to start preparing your applications. Make sure that you set aside a sufficient amount of time to prepare your applications. If you are not sure where to begin, read our article on “How to Apply to an International University” . The article will walk you through the process.

Step 7: Get Your Finances in Order

Your first step to getting your finances in order is to determine how much you can afford and then, how much you will need to study abroad.  Understanding how much a study abroad program will cost is an important part of the process. To get an estimate of the overall cost of your desired program, you can add up the application and administrative fees, tuition, housing and living costs and any additional expenses (such as books, airfare, local transportation, food, excursions, etc.).  Once you have an idea of how much everything will cost, you can start working through all of your options. In order to finance their study abroad experience, many students use a combination of savings, student loans, scholarships and grants, and income from part-time employment while studying.

Step 8: Research and Apply to Scholarships

Many organizations offer scholarships to international students, as do most international universities. If you’re looking for a way to fund your studies, it’s a good idea to start researching scholarship and grant options before you submit your applications. This is because it can take months before being notified of an offer. It is also important to ensure that you do not miss any scholarship deadlines. You may also find that some scholarships are only offered for specific programs – another reason to do your research before applying to universities.

A list of full Study Abroad scholarships that cover both tuition and living expenses.

Step 9: Research Your Housing Options

If you are an international student pursuing a full degree overseas, you may not be guaranteed university housing. It often depends upon your level of studies. Since housing can be one of the most challenging aspects of studying abroad, it is important that you start researching your options early.  Often times the most valuable source of housing information is your university. Depending on where you plan to study, you can also use our destination guides to start researching housing information by country.

Step 10: Apply for Health Insurance

As an international student studying abroad,  you will be required to have international health insurance.  You will not be able to get your visa approved without it. However, depending on your destination, you may have the option of enrolling in a school-sponsored health plan through your university. Alternatively,  you may be able to enroll in a government subsidized plan for international students. Otherwise, you will be required to enroll in private health insurance.

A good place to begin your health insurance research is through your university. Your school will most likely have a section on their website already dedicated to this topic. If not, the school can direct you to where you can find the information. Depending on where you plan to study, you can also use our destination guides to start researching your health insurance options by country.

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