How to study abroad in America

Students out in Chicago

The United States of America is known for welcoming and hosting a huge number of international students. Many of the world’s finest universities are located in the US, and students can choose from a wide variety of programs to match their interests and career goals. American colleges are experienced in hosting international students and provide top-class orientation programs, training, and workshops. For information about how to study abroad in America, please read on.

How does the American university system work?

American universities

The US education system is among the world’s largest, with over 4,500 institutions. Universities are split into two main forms:

Public colleges – these are large, state-funded institutions that are cheaper than private colleges but typically have a higher number of students.

Private colleges – these are privately funded universities that may be smaller than public colleges.

Degree courses in America

In the US, there are two types of undergraduate degree available:

Associate degrees – These are two-year programs and are generally studied at technical, community or junior colleges. You can study for an associate degree in a variety of fields, and then enter a bachelor’s degree program.

Bachelor’s degrees – These are four-year degree programs. US bachelor’s degrees allow students to study a range of subjects before selecting a ‘major.’ You can also choose to gain a ‘minor’ qualification in an additional subject alongside your ‘major.’

What are the requirements to study abroad in America?

Education – You will need to prove that you have completed your Grade 12 or international equivalent and that your grades meet the entry requirements for your chosen US program. You will also need certification of your English language proficiency, such as scores from TOEFL or IELTS.

Finance – You will need to know you have sufficient funds to sustain your entire program including your college fees, accommodation and living costs.

Visa – To study in the United States, you will need an F-1 visa. Once you confirm your place at your chosen university, you will be issued an I-20 document to take with you to your visa appointment.

How to apply to university in America

Direct with university

All American colleges set their own admission standards, and these vary widely, so make sure you have thoroughly researched different colleges and programs before you apply. Once you have selected your ideal colleges, most allow you to apply directly via an online application form. You will need to provide your academic transcripts and English language proficiency scores, and you may need to prepare a personal statement (essay) or personal recommendations.

Through an International Study Center

Many international students choose to start their US education with the support of an International Study Center. You will need to submit all the same items as if you were applying directly to a university, but you will receive additional support as you do so.

Course fees

Depending on your chosen university, tuition fees in the US can vary. Check the university's website to make sure you know all of the tuition and fee costs.


International students are often self-funded or helped by family members. However, depending on your home country’s government schemes, you may be able to apply for funding or scholarships to study for your degree in the US. Furthermore, many US institutions offer scholarships that you can apply for.

Start your journey today with DePaul Global Gateway Program

DePaul University's Global Gateway Program (GGP) is based on the University’s ‘Loop’ campus in downtown Chicago. The GGP is designed especially for overseas students who meet the academic requirements but need to improve their English language proficiency. While studying the GGP, you’ll take a range of modules in English language and study skills, as well as subject-specific courses for your degree. Upon successful completion of the GGP, you’ll continue your studies in your chosen degree program at DePaul University.