There are four basic steps you must complete in order to study at a university in the United States.
How do I begin the process of studying in the United States?
Answer: As a prospective international student, there are four basic steps you must complete in order to study at a U.S. university. The first step is to decide which universities to apply to. This is often a complicated task, because you need to know a lot of information to make a good choice. If you have no idea about how to do this, you may consider contacting the closest academic advising center sponsored by your government or by the United States government. Each of these offices can provide excellent advice about schools that you should consider. You should also look at the schools that have links to this site.
After you have decided which schools interest you, the next step is to contact the Office of Admissions at each school and request an admissions application for graduate study. This application will give you details about the process at each school. While you are waiting, it would be a good time to take the TOEFL and any other examinations that will be required by most schools.
The third step is to complete the applications you decide to pursue and to arrange to have all of your records of secondary and post-secondary study sent directly to the schools you have selected. Then send in the applications and the application fees according to the instructions in each application packet.
The final step requires some patience. You must wait until the universities make their admission decisions. This can take some time, so be patient (and apply early!). When you have been accepted, you will be sent a form called an I-20, which is the document you will need in order to get a student visa. Take the I-20 form from the school you wish to attend to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate nearest you. Take your passport and proof of financial support (bank statements, scholarship awards, etc.). You will be requesting student visa status, which is usually an F-1 visa.
After you are interviewed and receive approval, a visa will be stamped in your passport. Then you are ready to come to the U.S. to begin study. Make your travel arrangements early to avoid a last minute disappointment.
It is quite common for students to transfer from one U.S. university to another at the undergraduate level.
Is it possible to transfer from one U.S. university or college to another without starting my program over?
Answer: It is quite common for students to transfer from one school to another at the undergraduate level. In fact, some schools (many 2-year colleges) are designed to be transfer schools and offer only the first two years of undergraduate study. Their graduates often go on to do the last two years of a bachelor’s degree at another school.
The situation regarding graduate programs is more complicated due to the nature of graduate education (see Question #3, above). It is sometimes possible to transfer to another university after beginning a graduate program in the U.S. The policies, however, will vary by individual school; therefore, it is important that you inquire of the university where you plan to transfer as to exactly what courses they will accept for transfer. You should make sure to inquire about the general transfer policy as well as the specific policy that pertains to the school from which you will be transferring. It is likely that some of your previous graduate credit will not be accepted. You should choose the school you are transferring to carefully, and you should probably discuss this with your current graduate advisor.