Applying to Graduate School as an International Student

On Tuesday, November 9, 2021, we hosted a pre-graduate school panel for prospective applicants on applying to graduate school as an international student. International applicants face unique challenges navigating the application process in an already stressful and complicated system. The panelists gave advice based on their own experiences applying to graduate school (or faculty positions) as an international student and answered applicants' questions. Important to note, not all international students share the same experiences or challenges. Therefore, although our panelists represented a wide range of types of international applicants, they were in no way fully comprehensive of every type of international student and answered questions based on their own experiences.


Panelists: Edan Daniel, Neeraj Nainwal, and Dr. Sarah Gerson

Moderator: Emily Bibby


​​Panel Recording: Click here!


Panel Closed Captioning File: Click here!


Addressing Being an International Student in the Application

  • Personal statement can speak to one's personal background/diversity experiences
  • Some diversity statements are optional at schools so if you want to include information about how you can contribute to diversity at a school it’s a great place to do so!
  • It might not be helpful to include information about being an international student in your research statement unless it’s directly related to your research


Funding Considerations

  • Talk to your faculty member of interest or the department about tuition waivers and stipends for international students
  • Look into options you might have for getting funding from your home country for graduate school!


English Proficiency Tests & Waivers

  • There are multiple choices of tests you can take - TOEFL might be the best for the US however, NO test is harder or easier than another
  • Make sure to read the department/university website to see what they recommend or require for the test type and the score ranges
  • Take the test before applying to graduate school


Overcoming Language Barriers During an Interview

  • Anticipate what types of questions might be asked and prepare how you might respond to them
  • It’s okay to pause and take your time to answer questions!
  • Interviews are about learning who you are as a person, not testing your English knowledge


Translating & Evaluating Transcripts into English

  • The best advice the panelists had was if you need to have your transcript formally translated, do it early
  • Avoid bad, expensive, and scam websites for translating/evaluating transcripts (don’t recommend WES)
  • Use free online translators from 100 scale to 4 scale (if needed) and look for a consistent number to report on your application
  • Sometimes you can wait to have your transcript translated/evaluated after you are accepted into a program so ask your universities about this!


Applying for a Visa

  • First step is to receive a form from the university to then apply for a visa in your home country. You need to have an offer in hand before applying for the visa.
  • In the US you might apply for a F or J visa

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