Requirements for University Admissions in the USA – Mackenzie Zak


We’ve all seen it… the typical US university experience. Whether it be through movies, social media or first-hand experience.

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Movies tend to show the frat parties and sorority girls, but it’s much more than that. I’m sure you’ve seen picturesque images of red-brick buildings and strong, white pillars. Students gathering on the quad to throw around a Frisbee or play guitar. Huge lecture halls with wise professors instilling knowledge.. It really is 4 years of pure magic.


The great thing about the US is that there are SO MANY different options. Public vs. Private, Big vs. Small, University vs. Community College, Liberal Arts vs. Specialized.. We’re not going to talk about those different options today, but stay tuned, because we will eventually! Right now, let’s stick to the basics:

What are the requirements for admission to a US University?

  1. Passport… You WILL need a valid passport in order to study in the US.
  2. TOEFL or IELTS… If you are from a non-English speaking country, you will need to prove that you have a high level of English proficiency. The TOEFL and IELTS are two very common examinations that measure your English level. Remember, when you are at your future University, you’ll need to give presentations, write papers, take exams, make friends, etc. all in English. It’s a good idea to study and prepare for these exams, so we recommend doing a preparation course abroad so that you can achieve a high score on your first try. Don’t worry though, you can always retake these exams if necessary. When looking for your English or TOEFL/IELTS prep course, check out
  3. SAT… The SAT is a standardized examination that most US students take as a requirement for University admissions. Lucky for you, many universities are removing this requirement for international students. However, we still recommend that you take it, as many universities do still require it for scholarships (Sometimes it’s not required, but you can receive more scholarship money if you do have an SAT score). The SAT has a very specific strategy, and covers a variety of subjects and skills. It’s a good idea to do a preparation course. We recommend this 3-month online course, which is delivered by US teachers, and you can do at your own pace/schedule from anywhere. To get our special price, click on ‘Select an Agent’-> Select the USA -> Select ‘Mackenzie Zak’ from ‘Ustudy Global’-> Fill out your information and register! If you’d prefer my assistance with registration, send me an email:
  4. Transcripts… This is the official grade report, provided by your high school. US Universities require the transcripts in the primary language of your home country, as well as a translated English version.
  5. Diploma… This is your graduation certificate. This also needs to be in your home-language, as well as translated to English.
  6. Letter of Recommendation… It’s a great idea to get a recommendation from your college counselor or favorite teacher. You need someone to speak on behalf of you as a student, and give reasons explaining why you are an ideal candidate for that university.
  7. Essay… Each university will have different criteria or prompts for the essay (although some may not require an essay at all). For example: Why is ____ University your top choice? or What is a challenge you have had to overcome? When writing your essay, be yourself. Don’t try to write what you think they want to read.
  8. Financial Statement… In order to obtain your student visa, you will need a bank statement or a sponsor that can show the total cost of 1 year of study and expenses. This amount varies from University to University.
  9. Completed Application… If you need assistance completing an application, our US Academic Advisors are always happy to help.

Hopefully you now have a clearer idea about what you need to be able apply to a University in the USA. If you’re interested in receiving free assistance from one of our US Academic Advisors, send an email to or contact us here.

Make studying in the USA not only a dream, but a reality.

Mackenzie Zak
Director of Academics LATAM