There are thousands of universities in the world that welcome applications from international students. The process of applying to university can take about two years, so it's important to plan ahead.
There are many factors to consider when choosing a university to apply to. The College Board's BigFuture™ website lets you search for universities and make a list of your favorites. With BigFuture you can:
- Search for and compare universities based on degrees offered, academic majors and programs, campus size, and location.
- Get advice from admission professionals on how to prepare for and get into university.
- Plan for university costs and search for international scholarship.
- Watch and share videos from students like you, navigating the application and admission process.
Advanced Placement Program (AP)
The AP Program offers university-level courses and exams where you can earn college credit or placement while still in secondary school. When it comes to the university admission, the enrollment of AP courses and scores of AP Exams are recognized by most colleges and universities in more than 60 countries worldwide. Institutions in many countries give credit and/or placement for qualifying AP Exam scores of 3, 4, or 5. This could allow you to skip some first-year university courses. Read this article from BBC Worldwide to learn more about AP as one of your global credentials.
Policies vary by institution, so you should obtain the AP policy in writing.
- Learn more about the AP Program.
- Learn about the AP Scholar Awards you may qualify for.
- Search for universities in the U.S. that offer AP credit.
- Search for international universities that recognize AP.
AP Around the World
More than 1,000 schools in 116 countries outside the United States participate in the AP Program. If you're a student in India or China, there are some key distinctions in how AP is offered in your country. Learn more.
Taking the SAT
Most four-year universities and colleges require students like you to take an admission test, such as the SAT or SAT Subject Tests™. Each university will list the admission requirements on their website, including required admission tests. Here are three steps you can take to get ready for the SAT:
- Learn more about the SAT and SAT Subject test dates and required fees for international students.
- Register for the SAT. You will need to create an account to complete registration. Tip: make sure you use your name as it appears on your photo identification and register early to secure your seat.
- Practice for the test using free study materials and get Official SAT practice on Khan Academy®.
The best practice for the SAT is the PSAT 8/9, PSAT/NMSQT, and PSAT 10. These tests measure the same skills and knowledge as the SAT, and you can connect your scores to free practice resources at Khan Academy. Talk with your teacher or counselor to find out more about how these tests can help you prepare for the SAT.
8 Steps to Prepare for Studying Abroad
Applying to university as an international student doesn't have to be confusing. Although there are many parts to a university application, we can help guide you through the process of applying to universities around the world.
Two Years Before University
Step 1: Explore universities
Consider the school's location, cost, academic programs and majors, and campus life so that you can narrow the list of universities to which you want to apply. Research thousands of universities by country on bigfuture.collegeboard.org.
Step 2: Take the SAT
Universities look at many factors when making admission decisions, including your SAT score. Many students also take SAT Subject Tests to spotlight their skills in specific subjects.
Tip: When you register for the SAT, sign up for College Board's Student Search Service®. You'll receive mail from universities around the world looking for students just like you.
Step 3: Research admission requirements
Universities look at several factors, including recommendation letters, when making admission decisions. Most require an English language proficiency exam, like the TOEFL or IELTS.
A word about English proficiency assessments
Most colleges and universities require proof of English language proficiency if your first language is not English and if your education was not in English. This proof can be provided by taking an English language proficiency test such as the TOEFL or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) tests.
One Year Before University
Step 4: Make a financial plan
Figure out tuition costs and living expenses before applying. Learn about the cost to attend college and university BigFuture.
Tip: Did you know that 2 out of 3 students raise their scores when they retake the SAT? Practice at Khan Academy to improve your score.
Step 5: Assemble your applications
Every part of an application is important, including essays. Take time to check that everything is filled out before submitting.
- Tip: Application deadlines vary across universities. Learn more about early decision programs.
- EducationUSA: There are EdUSA centers near you that can help you register for the SAT and apply to universities and SAT fee reduction program EducationUSA Opportunity Funds.
Step 6: Apply
Submit your applications. One of the easiest ways to apply to multiple universities is through a service such as Universal College Application, Coalition Application, or Common Application. Learn more about these services on BigFuture.
Step 7: Make your decision
Step 8: Fulfill visa or passport requirements
Learn more about the student visa requirements and how to apply.