Study in the U.S.A: Admission Cycle, Requirements, Admission Process, University Transfers

    Applying to a university or a college in the USA is undoubtedly a daunting process. Keeping a track of application timelines, choosing the right university, preparing for standardized tests, obtaining letters of recommendation can be a nerve wrecking experience for anyone!

    Before applying to a university to study in the U.S.A, a little research about application cycles available, requirements and the process is mandatory.

    Study in the U.S.A: Admission Cycle 

    Applications to different courses and universities in the U.S.A can be made 3 times a year. It depends upon students’ preferences which admission cycle they want to choose.

    Applications for Fall Semester 

    • The semester starts in late August and ends in December or early January.
    • Many selected courses are offered only in the fall semester.
    • A lot of scholarships and jobs opportunities are also available during this semester.

    Applications for Spring Semester 

    • Spring semester starts in January and ends in early May.
    • Since it starts later, it is considered less than fall semester.
    • Spring applicants lack the required experience for most of the internships and jobs.

    Applications for Summer Semester 

    • Summer semester is the shortest of all.
    • It starts in June and ends in July.
    • Some special programs are taught in this semester and there are a considerable amount of scholarships given to study in the U.S.A.

    Application Requirements to Study in the U.S.A

    Along with academic excellence, English language proficiency is also one of the deciding factors in the selection process at any college or university in the USA.


    There are different test requirements to study in the U.S.A. Some of them are mentioned below. 

    Minimum TOEFL Score 80 IBT
    Minimum IELTS Score 6.5
    Minimum PTE Academic score 60


    Different academic requirements to study in the U.S.A are: 

    • ACT / SAT scorecard
    • Official Transcripts issued by previous school or college.
    • 2-3 Letters of Recommendation from teachers or professors.
    • Statement of Purpose (SOP)
    • Proof of funds availability for 1 year of tuition fee.
    • Other documents

    How to Apply to Top Universities in the U.S.A? 

    Ideally, the Application process should start 1.5 years before the enrollment. For undergraduate admission, students start preparing for application in the winters of grade 11.

    Students can use Common Application Portal used by 450 universities in the USA to apply for undergraduate programs.

    The application is made for the University and not a specific department of the university. The field of study will be decided after the admission.

    Application Timeline to Study in the U.S.A

    The timeline that is followed for fall semester can be changed accordingly for the spring semester.


    Contact the universities for application and financial aid forms and also register online for the standardized tests that need to be taken such as TOEFL, SAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT etc.

    September- December

    Narrow down your choice of schools. Arrange for your official transcripts and letters of recommendation. Submit the completed application forms and take the standardized tests.

    January- April

    University deadlines for different universities are different. Make sure all the deadlines are met. Deadlines in January fall for regular admissions. Early admission deadlines come sooner.

    April- May

    Letters of acceptance or rejection arrive by this time. Notify the university whose offer you accept. Complete and return the admission forms. Send letters of regret to universities you turn down.

    May- June

    Organize your funds. Make arrangements for the transfer of funds to banks in the USA. Finalize your living arrangement and Health insurance with the university.

    Post offer acceptance

    Fill SEVIS form I-901 using the Form I-20 or DS-2019 and pay $200 SEVIS fee. After receiving the payment receipt, apply to your nearest US embassy for Visa. This should be done 120 days before your planned departure to the US.

    Contact the international student office at your university with details of your arrival plans, and confirm details of any orientation for new students held by the university.

    Study in the U.S.A: University Transfer 

    Besides Fresh admissions, International students can also transfer from their Home country to an institution in the USA. The application process for the same shall start 12 months before you wish to enroll.

    Application Timeline

    • Transfer students applying for autumn entry should submit their application by early spring i.e. February or March.
    • Similarly, transfer applicants for spring entry should submit their application by early autumn i.e. October
    • Some institutions have priority dates instead of deadlines, so individual research about such dates in mandatory.

    Application Process

    • In addition to the documents required in fresh admission, transfer students also need to submit a transfer application form.
    • Transfer students are required to write a personal essay outlining their reasons to wish for transfer.
    • Mostly, transfer students do not need to take admission tests. But there are institutions that might want to give the admission test. Accommodation options to stay in the U.S.A depends upon the admission tests (if taken)
    • Besides these above differences, the rest of the application process is more or less the same.

    Admission Criteria

    • Students should have completed at least 1 year at their previous institution.
    • This criterion varies from university to university.
    • Transfer students need to perform academically well in their previous school.
    • Transferring should not be mistaken as an easy entry to the competitive colleges in the USA.
    • Most of the universities set greater admission standards for transfer students than fresh admissions.

    Once a student is through with understanding the application process, he can start applying for a visa to study in the U.S.A.