Proficiency in English is an important prerequisite for U.S. academic programs. Most U.S. degree programs require a minimum TOEFL iBT score somewhere between 79 and 90, or similar demonstration of advanced English proficiency. Even to grant admission conditional on further English language study, U.S. universities typically require reaching at least a high intermediate level of English.
Because of the cost for U.S.-based study and what often proves to be greater difficulty in obtaining a visa for English language study only, it is recommended that students begin their English language training at home.
Most AMIDEAST offices offer English language programs. Our programs provide excellent preparation for academic or professional goals that require proficiency in English.
Find AMIDEAST English language training near you.
In general, when trying to determine English language training quality, look for--
Realize that the people who work in admissions offices must read many, many essays. You want yours to stand out and get their attention, not bore them!
Understand the purpose of the essay–basically, it is your chance to communicate who you are and what you are all about to the admissions committee. This is one way they can get to know you as a person. Think about what makes you unique, different from other candidates.
This is also your chance to sell why you would be a good match for their program. You will want to customize essays to fit each school to which you apply.
Make sure you answer the question you are being asked.
Most essays follow a formula: an introduction, a body, and then a conclusion. Create an introduction that grabs their attention, and a conclusion that sums it all up and ends on a positive note.
Pay attention to how long the application form says that the essay should be, and don’t go over that limit.
Use examples and details from your life–has there been a research project or some other relevant activity in your life that you’ve particularly enjoyed? What was it, what did you contribute, and what was the result? What have teachers or others said about you as a student or a human being? What are you most proud of? What is motivating you to pursue this degree? What do you consider your greatest accomplishment? Failures are also something you could write about if there was an important lesson you learned from the experience. These are all examples of things that could possibly be woven into your essay to make it come alive.
Below are links to some additional useful sources for additional information on U.S. undergraduate study. Also check our Fields of Study section for additional links for students interested in particular fields of study.
Different U.S. undergraduate institutions vary in their admissions policies and practices. Below some terms are defined that tend to be particularly confusing to international students.
There’s an old saying that “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Getting a diploma saying that you’ve earned a Ph.D. for a few hundred dollars, within thirty days, and with little or no work on your part may sound great—but such a diploma is a worthless piece of paper that could cost you your career.
Any degree-granting U.S. institution of higher education that you are considering attending should be accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and/or the U.S. Department of Education. You can find a free, searchable database listing all institutions with recognized accreditation here.
(You will also want to check with the ministry of education, licensing authorities, etc. in the country where you plan to work regarding any additional requirements that they may have for degree recognition.)
Accept no substitutes for CHEA/U.S. Department of Education recognized accreditation. “Incorporated,” “legally operating,” “approved,” “state-approved,” “authorized,” “registered,” or “member of” are not the same and are not sufficient to ensure minimum educational quality. Being “accredited” by an organization that is not recognized by CHEA or the Department of Education may prove to be completely meaningless.
Don’t trust a beautiful Web site, misleading advertising, or persuasive salespeople. Legitimate degree-granting institutions that are not accredited are rare. Fake universities that will provide “degrees” for a summary of life experience, review of your resume, completion of a test or research paper, or even simply for a credit card payment….these are common, because running such a “diploma mill” is a profitable if fraudulent business.
Start with our pages on Choosing and Applying to U.S. Colleges and Universities and Testing, which cover the most frequently asked questions on this subject.
Also visit the Fields of Study section to learn more about particular majors in which you are interested.
Below are the additional questions that we’ve researched so far related to U.S. undergraduate admissions and study. Each month, we add any new questions we’ve responded to on this subject, so check back for more.
If you have questions not currently answered on our site, please write us.
What’s a “liberal arts education”? A “liberal arts college”?
What are the different types of U.S. university scholarships for undergraduate students?
I’ve heard that it’s less expensive to attend a community college for my first two years of undergraduate study. Can you tell me more about this?
What are some ways that I can earn credit toward an undergraduate degree before I actually enter a U.S. college?
When can I expect to hear back from universities to which I have applied, and what are the next steps
Letters of recommendation, most commonly written by professors (sometimes also by employers or others who know you well), are required for almost every U.S. graduate school application and are an extremely important part of the application process. Strong letters can improve your application significantly.
Generally three letters of recommendation are required per application (schools will specify). When deciding who to ask to write your letters of recommendation consider how well the letter writer knows you, as well as how effective a writer he or she may be.
A clever strategy you can use to get a good letter of recommendation is to provide your letter writer with information about yourself along with your request for the letter. This way, you can get a letter that includes specific details that you want mentioned, not just a general report on your grades.
When getting a letter of recommendation, look for a person who—
These articles for students from the Middle East/North Africa focus specifically on undergraduate study in the United States and the U.S. application process for undergraduate students.
Be sure to also visit our Fields of Study section and see what information we have related to your planned career and study area.
We will be updating and adding material to this web site so be sure to visit regularly.
If you have questions not currently answered on our site, please contact your nearest AMIDEAST office.