American colleges and universities do not have different requirements from non-English speaking countries for each degree. Whether you want to apply to astronomy, business, psychology, physics, or public relations program, the admission criteria will be the same for undergraduate and graduate applicants.
According to the information posted by the University of Winnipeg in Canada, there are 142 countries where English is mandatory for public education. This statistic refers to the educational system of grades one through twelve. However, we can surmise that the English speaking requirement extends to the university level.
With countries like Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand wanting proof of English, what about attending a foreign university? Perhaps surprisingly, there are foreign schools that are predominantly English speaking. Stockholm University in Sweden, for example, with its 29,300 student population, offers programs in English. Three universities in The Netherlands welcome international students as most of the country speaks perfect English.
Stockholm University has a 120-credit Master’s Programme in Astronomy for international students. Without undergraduate courses in astronomy, applicants will have to take compulsory classes in Cosmology and Stellar Structure and Evolution. Like American schools with international applicants, the university requires international students to prove proficiency in the English language. American applicants can submit documents supporting their completion of four years of high school in English.
Stockholm University, as with many schools overseas, accepts the IELTS or International English Language Testing System. Generally, the test results are valid for only two years, but older scores might be permitted. This test is another avenue to provide proficiency in English.
Therefore, as stated above, requiring proof of English speaking and writing abilities is not strictly an American admission need – it also applies to students studying abroad in English. The preferred test for international students applying to colleges and universities in the United States is the TOEFL or Test of English as a Foreign Language. Over 11,000 institutions in more than 150 countries use this standardized test administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS).
The language requirement is crucial because you cannot apply for a Student Visa in the U.S. until you receive acceptance by a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). The Department of Homeland Security oversees SEVP schools that have the authority to allow non-immigrant students to attend. Most international students fall into the F-1 category designated as the principal, according to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) list. The letter ‘F’ refers to academic studies while in the U.S.
A student may only attend the institution that granted the visa, although there are steps to transfer to another school within the United States. The process of obtaining a student visa can be long and complicated. Application begins at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over the location of the college/university. You will need a valid passport whose expiration date extends at least six months beyond your intended years of study.
Once accepted into a SEVP school, they will send you Form I-20, the Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status. The same form is used for M-1 students – those entering non-academic vocational or technical schools. You may also need to complete form DS-157 required by all men between 16 and 45 from any country. You will need to present Form I-20 to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer, and it will need to be on your person.
There is an extensive 185-page list of SEVP approved schools by ICE in pdf format. All learning institutions on the list have been certified by the Department of Homeland Security, which requires recertification every two years. Eligible academic institutions include all colleges and universities awarding bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate, or professional degrees, seminaries, community and junior colleges, high schools (grade 9-12), and private schools (kindergarten to grade eight).
Again, the same rules apply to a master’s degree in astronomy or a bachelor’s degree in biology. Some regulations require arriving at the school no later than 30 days before the first day of class and then reporting immediately to your international advisor. You must maintain passing grades; you are not allowed to work off-campus; you must leave the U.S. within 60 days of completing the degree. Your application process may also require proof of financial support while a student in the U.S. Providing approved loan details, family income, cost of tuition, and bank account statements are possible demands by the U.S. Embassy.
Despite the challenges of English proficiency, grades, and visas, more than one million international students attended American colleges and universities in the 2019-20 school year. According to Statista, the most were from China (372,532), followed by India (193,124).