International Student: Admission Requirements

Most CSU campuses welcome the applications of international students. As an international student you may be interested in starting a bachelor's degree, a graduate degree or in some cases an ESL (English as a Second Language) program.

International students include those who hold U.S. visas as students, exchange visitors, or other nonimmigrant classifications.

The application process for international students is different from U.S. resident students. Be sure to review all of the pages in this section to understand the basics of applying as an international student. Some campuses or majors may restrict enrollment of nonresident students due to heavy enrollment demands.​​​

English Proficiency Requirement for International Students

If English is not your native language or you have not had three years of your secondary education taught in English, you will be required to provide proof of your English proficiency. Since most classes are taught in English, you must demonstrate your ability to read, write, and speak English.

CSU campuses will use the TOEFL test to measure your English proficiency. The TOEFL test is given year-round at permanent testing centers around the world. There are three versions of the test – paper, internet (TOEFL iBT), and computer-based. Some campuses have higher score requirements, and some may require additional examinations.

At the baccalaureate level, a minimum score of 500 on the paper-based exam or a score of 61 on the internet (TOEFL iBT) version is required on most campuses.

At the graduate and postbaccalaureate level a minimum score of 550 on the paper-based exam or a score of 80 on the internet (TOEFL iBT) version is required on most campuses.

If you need to take the TOEFL, we recommend that you take the examination as soon as possible. There are registration deadlines for the TOEFL, and it does take approximately two - five weeks to obtain your results. Each campus will have its own minimum score on either the paper TOEFL or on the computer-based TOEFL. You should have Educational Testing Service (ETS) send your official scores directly to each campus where you are applying for admission. For information about TOEFL, go to www.toefl.org.

Financial Certification

In order to study in the United States as an international student, you must document that you have sufficient financial resources to complete your course of study. You must prove that you have enough funds to cover all the costs associated with your first year of full-time study. Each CSU campus determines the typical costs for international students. This budget includes registration fees, housing, books, other living expenses and miscellaneous costs.

As an international student you will need to have your financial institution provide a certification that you have at least the amount required available, or that funds are available from a reliable source. International students should not expect to work to cover the cost of their education in the United States.

Federal/state financial aid is not available for international students. Campus or private scholarships may be available for international students but are not sufficient to cover all expenses.

Academic Records Requirements for International Students

The CSU campus will evaluate your high school or secondary school work as part of their admission determination unless you have completed 60 semester units of transferable college work (generally, two years of study). You are required to provide all official academic records from any postsecondary institution you have attended and your secondary or high school records if required.

In the United States, the academic record is often called a "transcript." In other nations, these documents may be called by another name — such as a leaving certificate, maturity certificate, bachillerato or baccalauréat.

It is very important that your academic records and examination scores be sent as early as possible. The campus review of your application cannot begin until all of your academic records are received. Official academic records from foreign institutions must be on file at least eight weeks before registration for the first term and, if not written in English, must be accompanied by certified English translations. Many campuses require official records sooner. Contact the campus international admission office to learn about deadlines.

Health Evaluations for International Students

CSU campuses will require you to complete a Health Evaluation Form. Check with the campus for their particular form. Included on most forms is an immunization history. Be sure your medical doctor or health care provider includes the day, month, and year of your immunizations. If this information is provided in a language other than English, then translation is needed.

Medical health insurance is required for international students. Students may be able and may be required to purchase campus health insurance. Insurance must be obtained before registering for classes. Check with the campus for more information.

Application and Related Fees

There is a U.S. $55 application fee for international students. This fee must be received when the application for admission is filed. Your application fee can be paid by international money order or personal check payable in U.S. funds.

If you are admitted, you will be required to obtain a student visa to enter the United States.

Student Visas

If the university accepts you, you will be sent an I-20 form. The I-20 verifies your eligibility for an F-1 student visa. To obtain your F-1 visa, you must take your campus-issued I-20 to an American Consulate or Embassy in your country to apply for the student visa. We strongly advise you to start your visa process as soon as you receive your I-20. All embassies and consulates require interview appointments to issue a student visa. Interviews for a visa may take a long time to schedule. Plan ahead. Bring all important documents with you to the interview. Check with the U.S. consulate for what is required for the interview.

You cannot make your travel arrangements until you have been issued your visa so the earlier you handle this task the better.

For students who are applying for a student visa for the first time or have been absent from the U.S. for more than five months, a Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) payment of $100 is required after you receive your I-20 form (F-1 visa) or DS-2019 form (J-1 visa) and before you schedule an interview at the U.S. Consulate for your visa. Check with the U.S. consulate in your home country for required documents and procedures for your interview.

When you travel to the U.S., you must have your passport, visa, I-20/DS-2019, I-94, confirmation of SEVIS payment, and letter of admission. All international visitors and students go through US-Visit Program where a scanned fingerprint and digital photo is required. You cannot enter until 30 days before the date on your I-20/DS-2019. You must register at the school that is listed on the I-20/DS-2019.

If you are transferring from another U.S. school, you need to request that the international student advisor at your current school release your SEVIS record to the campus where you have been admitted. Your new I-20, endorsed for pending transfer, is created as soon as the release date for your SEVIS record is reached. Your new I-20 will be mailed to the address on your application. Once your new campus has confirmed your registration, the transfer process is complete.