International students comprise a significant portion of our applicants and our graduate student body. At the Fall 2011 census, international students representing 107 countries made up 20% of our total graduate enrollment.
While many aspects of the application process are the same for all students, applicants from outside the U.S. have a few additional application requirements. Our international applicants come from a wide variety of linguistic and educational backgrounds and are affected by U.S. immigration regulations.
If you are not a U.S. citizen or you have been educated outside the U.S. you may be asking yourself these questions:
- Is my degree equivalent to a U.S. bachelor's degree?
- Will I have enough money to support myself and my family?
- Am I prepared for graduate coursework taught in English?
- Am I allowing enough time to meet deadlines and to schedule my visa appointment?
- Will I need a form from UNL for a visa interview?
- How should I prepare for arriving in the United States?
These resources will help you answer your questions.
When reviewing academic records from a school outside the U.S., we assess whether the applicant has reached an academic level equivalent to a U.S. bachelor's degree. Our admissions staff is proficient in reviewing academic records from different educational systems around the world.
In rare instances when our admissions staff is unable to verify the nature or authenticity of foreign academic documents, the applicant may be asked to provide supplemental information or to obtain an evaluation from a foreign credential evaluation service.
In some educational systems, the first university degree may be obtained after three years of post-secondary study. Holders of such degrees may be eligible for graduate admission depending upon:
- Evaluation of the degree by admissions staff in the Office of Graduate Studies
- Recommendation regarding degree equivalence and evaluation of the application as a whole from the Graduate Committee of the academic program in which the applicant is applying
- Bachelor's degrees based on at least 4 years of study from Japan, Korea, People's Republic of China, Taiwan, and Thailand.
- Bachelor's degrees representing 4 or more years of study, such as the B.Eng. or B.Tech. degrees from Bangladesh, Burma, India, Nepal, Pakistan.
- Honours bachelor's degrees from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and British-Style schools and universities.
- Bakalar, Diplom or Diploma, Inzenýr, Licenta, Magister, or Oklevél from East European states.
- Bakalavr, Inzenýr, Magister, or Specialista requiring a minimum of 4 years of study from former Soviet republics.
- Diplôme, Maîtrise, or a professional title such as the Ingénieur from France or French-style schools and universities.
- Diplom or Magister Artium from Germany.
- Licenciado or Titulo degrees from Central and Latin America, Mexico, Portugal, Spain.
Deadlines are departmentalFind the deadline for your program of study by locating it in the list of programs offered. Some departments recognize the complexity of applying as an international student and set earlier deadlines for international applicants. We recommend submitting all materials to Graduate Studies at least one month before the department deadline.
For departments with "Rolling Admission" or with no specific deadline, we recommend submitting all materials no later than:
- January 7 to be considered for financial support in the coming academic year
- March 1 for Fall (August start)
- September 1 for Spring (January start)
- February 1 for Summer (May, June, or July start)
Plan aheadApplicants from outside the U.S. should be strategic and apply early. In some parts of the world, you may experience delays for steps like:
- Obtaining official academic records from the schools you attended
- Obtaining financial documents from your bank or sponsor
- Having your non-English documents translated into English
- Mailing your academic records and other application materials
- Taking the GRE or TOEFL and having ETS send your scores
- Getting an appointment for a visa interview at a U.S. Embassy or consulate
Any applicant who is recommended for admission and expects to hold an F1 (student) or J1 (exchange visitor) visa should submit the Financial Resource Certification (FRC) form.
When to submit the FRC
The FRC and supporting documents are necessary only after you are recommended for admission and only if you must provide some or all of the required amount of funding.
If you are being offered a University of Nebraska assistantship sufficient to cover the costs outlined on the FRC, you do not need to submit the FRC.
The FRC lists estimated costs of attendance and living expenses, as well as optional costs such as summer tuition and supporting a spouse or dependent. Additional information on costs is available on our tuition and fees page and from UNL's Student Accounts.
Why this is necessary
For your visa interview and to enter the United States, you need a Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
SEVIS allows UNL to create your I-20 or DS-2019 only after we confirm with documentation that you will have sufficient funds available for the first nine-month academic year.
Typical sourcesFunding for graduate study typically comes from one or more of the following sources:
- graduate assistantship
- scholarship from a university or government agency in the student's home country
- personal or family sources
If your native language is not English, you will be required to demonstrate your ability to undertake advanced academic work in an English-speaking institution through English language proficiency tests such as the TOEFL, the IELTS, and UNL's English Placement Exam (EPE).
Exemptions for the English proficiency requirement are granted for non-native speakers who have received a bachelor's or more advanced degree either from an accredited U.S. institution or from a university outside the U.S. at which English is the official language of instruction.
TOEFL and IELTS
When applying to graduate programs, English proficiency is demonstrated by providing either TOEFL or IELTS scores. Scores must meet minimum requirements for both Graduate Studies and the student's intended academic department.
Send your official TOEFL scores to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln by going to the TOEFL website and following the instructions for score reporting. The institution code for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is 6877.
TOEFL and IELTS scores are valid for two years. If your scores are more than two years old, you may be required to retake the test.
Minimum Scores Required for Admission
- Required by Graduate Studies:
- 79 on Internet TOEFL
- 550 on Paper TOEFL
- 6.5 on IELTS
- Required by your academic department: Minimums vary by department; refer to your department's program summary or website for details. Some departments require scores higher than Graduate Studies minimums.
English Placement Exam (EPE)
As a new international student, you may be required to take the English Placement Exam upon your arrival in Lincoln. Check your Certificate of Admission from the Office of Graduate Studies to confirm whether you are required to sit for this exam.
Test dates and times are listed in the EPE Registration Form. You are encouraged to sit for the English Placement Exam at the earliest test date, depending on your arrival schedule and any department commitments. The sooner you complete the exam, the sooner you may finalize your registration for the semester.
Based on your English Placement Exam score, you may need to register for one of these courses:
- English 886 — 3 credit hours — Instruction and practice in listening comprehension and speaking skills and an introduction to paragraph and essay writing.
- English 887 — 3 credit hours — Instruction in English communication skills with an emphasis on writing complete essays, including research papers.
- English 888 — 3 credit hours — Instruction in speaking and pronunciation skills. Your department may require you to take this course. (Enrollment is contingent upon ESL department permission.)
Exemptions from the EPE requirement are granted for non-native speakers who have received a bachelor's or more advanced degree from a U.S. university or a university outside the U.S. at which English is the official language of instruction. Also, if a student has an IBT score of 100 or higher with a Writing score of 25 or higher, no further English tests are required.
For new students with TOEFL scores of at least 100 on the IBT but with a Writing score less than 25, or with a score of at least 600 on the PBT, only the timed writing section of the EPE is required. The timed writing section can be completed in one hour.
All other newly admitted non-native speakers of English must sit for the full English Placement Exam.
Intensive English ProgramThe UNL Intensive English Program (IEP) welcomes students from all over the world who want to devote themselves full time to learning English. Applications are encouraged from those who are seeking regular academic admission to Nebraska and feel that they are not yet ready to enroll in coursework with English as the medium of instruction.
The IEP offers five 8-week sessions per year (25 hours per week) to students and their family members over 18 who hold high school or college diplomas.
The program offers instruction at several levels of language proficiency. Students who place below the IEP's Advanced level (below TOEFL 500 or IELTS 6.0) may need more than one 8-week session to be prepared for academic work. In addition, students who need TOEFL scores above 550 may need more than one 8-week session to meet their TOEFL requirements.
Immigration and Student Visas
- The process from application to admission is described in Steps to Admission.
- At the time of admission, the Office of Graduate Studies will ask you to complete the online Visa Data Form, which confirms, completes, and updates the information necessary for your immigration forms.
- After you submit the Visa Data Form, UNL will create your Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 and express-mail it to you with your Certificate of Admission.
- If you are not currently in the U.S., take the I-20 or DS-2019 with your Certificate of Admission to the U.S. embassy where you will apply for a visa. For the best available information and advice on applying for a student visa, consult the Education USA resources from the U.S. Department of State.
Transferring in SEVISIf you already hold an F1 visa and are studying at another U.S. school or have recently graduated from another U.S. school (within the last five months), notify the Office of Graduate Studies. SEVIS requires that you ask your current or recent school to "release" your record to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Only then can the University of Nebraska-Lincoln process a new Form I-20. For more specific information and instructions, contact .
After you get here: Maintaining legal immigration status
All international students on F-1 or J-1 visas must be enrolled full-time (9 or more credit hours per semester) during the academic year (fall and spring semesters) in order to maintain legal immigration status.
- What about summer? Summer enrollment may be optional depending on when you start or complete your program.
- What if I want to enroll for fewer hours? If you plan to enroll for less than 9 credit hours in a fall or spring semester, first discuss your plans with the International Student and Scholar Office and the relevant Program Specialist in Graduate Studies.
Arriving in the United States
Jump over to our New Students section and check out the Arriving in the United States page for information about transitioning to the US, cultural differences, transportation, living arrangements, and more.