First-Year International Applicant Instructions
Apply online using the Common Application or Coalition Application. Your file will not be reviewed until all of the materials below have been received by the International Admissions Office:
- Completed application, including essay and CV/Resume
- Application fee of U.S. $70
- Common or Coalition Application AU Writing Supplement (optional, but recommended)
- Academic records for grades 9-12 with official transcripts and certified English translations (if applicable), for each secondary institution attended
- Two academic letters of recommendation
- Demonstrated English proficiency
- Completed AU Certification of Finances (AU CFIS) form showing at least U.S.$64,707 for first year of study and living expenses*
- Bank letter showing at least U.S.$64,707 for first year of study and living expenses*
- Copy of your passport information page*
- Interruption of Studies Statement if you have already graduated from secondary school at the time of application.
* Only required from students who need a student visa (F or J). Financial documents showing less than U.S.$64,707 will not be accepted. All financial documents must be dated within the past three months to be considered valid. Click here for sample bank letters, the AU CFIS and Transfer-in forms, and AU cost guide.
No SAT or ACT Needed! AU does not evaluate SAT or ACT scores for students (including U.S. citizens) graduating from secondary schools outside the United States.
Your application and all supporting documents must be received by the respective application deadline.
If you plan to begin your studies in August (fall semester):
Early Decision I (ED I): November 15
Early Decision II (ED II): January 15
Regular Decision (RD): January 15
If you plan to begin your studies in January (spring semester):
All spring applicants October 1
For students living outside the United States, we strongly recommend September 1
Submitting Your Application
Important: Please use a courier service (and keep your tracking number) to send your complete application packet to:
Office of Enrollment
4801 Massachusetts Ave., NW STE-218
Washington, DC 20016-8001
Important: You can scan and submit your Bank Letter, AU CFIS form, and TOEFL/IELTS official score report electronically as separate PDF attachments to firstname.lastname@example.org. There is no need to mail hard copies if you choose this electronic option.
Questions? Contact email@example.com.
The Application Form
Complete the application carefully. Please make sure to include your full name exactly as it appears in the machine-readable section of your passport (check the bottom of your passport page). The first three letters stand for your country of citizenship. Omit those three letters when completing the admission application form. Also include date of birth, complete educational history, country of birth, citizenship, current mailing address and a permanent address outside of the United States, even if you currently live or study in the United States.
Your Academic Records
Please have your academic records from each secondary school you attended for the U.S. equivalent of 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grades sent directly from those schools to American University in sealed envelopes. These records should be submitted in their original language and accompanied by notarized English translations if applicable. Include any examination results such as IB, GCSE, GCE, Bagrut, French Baccalaureate, CAPE Units One and Two, Abitur, Attestat or Secondary School Leaving Certificates.
Certain exam results such as, but not limited to, IB, WAEC, GCE, GCSE and CAPE must come directly to our office from the examination board or authority.
Letters of Recommendation
Two letters are required. One must come from a teacher; the second letter may be written by your school's university counselor, your principal or headmaster or another teacher. These letters are confidential. Each letter must be in English. Please have your reference sign or place a school stamp across the sealed flap of the envelope.
AU requires strong English language skills. All freshmen applicants (including U.S. citizens) can prove English proficiency by one of the following:
- Four years of study (grades 9, 10, 11, and 12 or equivalent) in U.S.-accredited or IB, CXC or UK curricula (inside or outside the U.S.), where English is the only medium of instruction AND no ESL courses have been taken;
- Four years of study (grades 9, 10, 11 and 12 or equivalent) in selected English-speaking countries* or in the educational systems of these countries* (regardless of location) where English is the only medium of instruction AND no ESL courses have been taken.
*English speaking countries include: UK, Ireland, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada (except Quebec).
Or via testing:
- TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) - TOEFL code 5007
- Internet based test (iBT) score of 80 or higher. Sub-scores for each section of the TOEFL should be 20 or higher. To be considered competitive, a 90 TOEFL iBT score or above is recommended.
- Paper-based test score of 550 or higher (taken on or prior to May 31, 2017), or all paper-based test sub-scores of 20 or higher (taken after May 31, 2017).
- IELTS (International English Language Testing System): Composite score of 6.5 or higher. Sub-scores for each section of the IELTS should be 6.0 or higher.
- Pearson Test of English (PTE) score of 53 or higher
- SAT Critical Reading score of 530 or higher (taken before 3/1/2016), or SAT Reading Test sub-score of 29 or higher (taken after 3/1/2016)
- ACT English score of 23 or higher
Important: Though English proficiency may be met in one of the above ways, the Office of Admissions may request additional documentation if deemed necessary.
For native speakers of English from the U.S., UK, Ireland, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada (except Quebec) who list English as their first language on the Common Application, proof of English proficiency is not required, but may be requested.
AU Certification of Finances for International Students (AU CFIS)
Applicants who require a student or exchange visitor visa (F or J) must submit to International Admissions the American University, Washington, DC AU CFIS form (completed by applicant and parent) and a letter issued by a bank showing proof of at least U.S.$64,707 for your first year of studies and living expenses. All financial documents must be dated within the past three months to be considered valid and must be submitted by the application deadline date.
Application packets without the AU CFIS form and bank letter will be considered incomplete and will not be reviewed.
Please visit the International Student & Scholar Service's guide on financial documents for the AU Cost Guide, sample bank letters, and Transfer-In forms.
Advanced Credit for IB, AP, A Level, CAPE Secondary Exams
Students may be eligible to receive advanced credit for exams passed during secondary school. If you took IB, A Level, AP, the OIB English, or CAPE Unit Two exams while in school, please visit www.american.edu/admissions/examcredit.cfm for full details on AU exam policies.
Interruption of Studies Statement
If you have already graduated from secondary school at the time of application, please submit a short statement describing your activities since graduation.
Sample College Admission Essays
This section contains two examples of good college essays.
- College Essay One
- College Essay Two
- College Essay Three
College Essay One
Prompt: Please submit a one-page, single-spaced essay that explains why you have chosen State University and your particular major(s), department(s) or program(s).
State University and I possess a common vision. I, like State University, constantly work to explore the limits of nature by exceeding expectations. Long an amateur scientist, it was this drive that brought me to the University of Texas for its Student Science Training Program in 2013. Up to that point science had been my private past time, one I had yet to explore on anyone else’s terms. My time at UT, however, changed that. Participating for the first time in a full-length research experiment at that level, I felt more alive, more engaged, than I ever had before. Learning the complex dynamics between electromagnetic induction and optics in an attempt to solve one of the holy grails of physics, gravitational-waves, I could not have been more pleased. Thus vindicated, my desire to further formalize my love of science brings me to State University. Thanks to this experience, I know now better than ever that State University is my future, because through it I seek another, permanent, opportunity to follow my passion for science and engineering.
In addition to just science, I am drawn to State University for other reasons. I strive to work with the diverse group of people that State University wholeheartedly accommodates – and who also share my mindset. They, like me, are there because State University respects the value of diversity. I know from personal experience that in order to achieve the trust, honesty, and success that State University values, new people are needed to create a respectful environment for these values. I feel that my background as an American Sikh will provide an innovative perspective in the university’s search for knowledge while helping it to develop a basis for future success. And that, truly, is the greatest success I can imagine.
This emphasis on diversity can also be found in the variety of specialized departments found at State University. On top of its growing cultural and ethnic diversity, State University is becoming a master at creating a niche for every student. However, this does not isolate students by forcing them to work with only those individuals who follow their specific discipline. Instead, it is the seamless interaction between facilities that allows each department, from engineering to programming, to create a real learning environment that profoundly mimics the real world. Thus, State University is not just the perfect place for me, it is the only place for me. Indeed, having the intellectual keenness to absorb every ounce of knowledge presented through my time in the IB program, I know that I can contribute to State University as it continues to cultivate a scholarly climate that encourages intellectual curiosity.
At the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at State University, I will be able to do just that. In a department where education and research are intermixed, I can continue to follow the path that towards scientific excellence. Long-mesmerized by hobbies like my work with the FIRST Robotics team, I believe State University would be the best choice to continue to nurture my love for electrical and computer engineering. I have only scratched the surface in this ever evolving field but know that the technological potential is limitless. Likewise, I feel that my time at State University would make my potential similarly limitless.
This is a picture-perfect response to a university-specific essay prompt. What makes it particularly effective is not just its cohesive structure and elegant style but also the level of details the author uses in the response. By directly identifying the specific aspects of the university that are attractive to the writer, the writer is able to clearly and effectively show not only his commitment to his studies but – perhaps more importantly – the level of thought he put into his decision to apply. Review committees know what generic responses look like so specificity sells.
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College Essay Two
Prompt: What motivates you?
For as long as I can remember, I have dreamed of science. Where others see the engineering, experimentation, and presentation of science as a chore, I only see excitement. Even as a child I constantly sought it out, first on television with Bill Nye and The Mythbusters, then later in person in every museum exhibit I could find. Science in all its forms fascinated me, but science projects in particular were a category all to themselves. To me, science projects were a special joy that only grew with time. In fact, it was this continued fascination for hands-on science that brought me years later to the sauna that is the University of Alabama in mid-June. Participating in the Student Science Training Program and working in their lab made me feel like a kid in a candy store. Just the thought of participating in a project at this level of scientific rigor made me forget that this was supposed to be my summer break and I spent the first day eagerly examining every piece of equipment.
Even at first, when the whole research group sat there doing rote calculations and others felt like they were staring down the barrel of defeated purpose, I remained enthusiastic. Time and time again I reminded myself of that famous phrase "great effort leads to great rewards," and sure enough, soon my aspirations began to be met. This shift in attitude also coincided with a shift in location: from the computer desk to the laser lab. It was finally time to get my hands dirty.
Now things began to get really interesting. During the experimentation phase of the project, I spent the majority of my waking hours in the lab – and I enjoyed every minute of it. From debriefing with my coordinator in the morning to checking and rechecking results well into the afternoon, I was on cloud nine all day, every day. I even loved the electric feeling of anxiety as I waited for the results. Most of all, though, I loved the pursuit of science itself. Before I knew it, I was well into the seventh week and had completed my first long-term research experiment.
In the end, although the days were long and hard, my work that summer filled me with pride. That pride has confirmed and reinvigorated my love for science. I felt more alive, more engaged, in that lab than I have anywhere else, and I am committed to returning. I have always dreamed of science but since that summer, since my experiment, I have dreamed only of the future. To me, medical science is the future and through it I seek another, permanent, opportunity to follow my passion. After all, to follow your passion is, literally, a dream come true.
In addition to its use of clear, demonstrative language, there is one thing that makes this an effective essay: focus. Indeed, notice that, although the question is broad, the answer is narrow. This is crucial. It can be easy to wax poetic on a topic and, in the process, take on too much. Instead, by highlighting one specific aspect of his personality, the author is able to give the reader a taste of his who he is without overwhelming him or simply reproducing his résumé. This emphasis gives the reader the opportunity to learn who the writer is on his terms and makes it a truly compelling application essay.
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College Essay Three
The winter of my seventh grade year, my alcoholic mother entered a psychiatric unit for an attempted suicide. Mom survived, but I would never forget visiting her at the ward or the complete confusion I felt about her attempt to end her life. Today I realize that this experience greatly influenced my professional ambition as well as my personal identity. While early on my professional ambitions were aimed towards the mental health field, later experiences have redirected me towards a career in academia.
I come from a small, economically depressed town in Northern Wisconson. Many people in this former mining town do not graduate high school and for them college is an idealistic concept, not a reality. Neither of my parents attended college. Feelings of being trapped in a stagnant environment permeated my mind, and yet I knew I had to graduate high school; I had to get out. Although most of my friends and family did not understand my ambitions, I knew I wanted to make a difference and used their doubt as motivation to press through. Four days after I graduated high school, I joined the U.S. Army.
The 4 years I spent in the Army cultivated a deep-seated passion for serving society. While in the Army, I had the great honor to serve with several men and women who, like me, fought to make a difference in the world. During my tour of duty, I witnessed several shipmates suffer from various mental aliments. Driven by a commitment to serve and a desire to understand the foundations of psychological illness, I decided to return to school to study psychology.
In order to pay for school and continue being active in the community, I enlisted in the Texas Army National Guard as a Medic. Due to the increased deployment schedule and demands placed on all branches of the military after September 11, my attendance in school has necessarily come second to my commitment to the military. There are various semesters where, due to this demand, I attended school less than full time. Despite taking a long time and the difficulty in carving separate time for school with such occupational requirements, I remained persistent aiming towards attending school as my schedule would allow. My military commitment ends this July and will no longer complicate my academic pursuits.
In college, as I became more politically engaged, my interest began to gravitate more towards political science. The interest in serving and understanding people has never changed, yet I realized I could make a greater difference doing something for which I have a deeper passion, political science. Pursuing dual degrees in both Psychology and Political Science, I was provided an opportunity to complete a thesis in Psychology with Dr. Sheryl Carol a Professor in Social Psychology at the University of Texas (UT) This fall I will complete an additional thesis as a McNair Scholar with Dr. Ken Chambers, Associate Professor in Latin American studies in the UT Political Science Department.
As an undergraduate, I was privileged to gain extensive research experience working in a research lab with Dr. Carol. During the three years I worked in her lab, I aided in designing a study, writing an Institutional Review Board (IRB) application, running participants through both pilot and regular studies, coding data, and analyzing said data, with these experiences culminating in my honors thesis. This thesis, entitled Self-Esteem and Need-to-Belong as predictors of implicit stereotypic explanatory bias, focuses on the relationship between levels (high and low) of self-esteem and an individual’s need to belong in a group, and how they predict whether an individual will tend to explain stereotype-inconsistent behavior. Participating in such a large study from start to finish has validated my interest in academic research as a profession.
This fall I will embark on writing an additional honors thesis in political science. While the precise topic of my thesis is undecided, I am particularly interested in Mexico and its development towards a more democratic government. Minoring in Spanish, I have read various pieces of literature from Mexico and have come to respect Mexico and Latin American culture and society. I look forward to conducting this research as it will have a more qualitative tilt than my thesis in psychology, therefore granting an additional understanding of research methodology.
My present decision to switch from social psychology to political science is further related to a study abroad course sponsored by the European Union with Dr. Samuel Mitchell, an Associate Professor in the Political Science Department at UT. Professor Mitchell obtained a grant to take a class of students to Belgium in order to study the EU. This course revealed a direct correlation between what I had studied in the classroom with the real world. After spending several weeks studying the EU, its history and present movement towards integration, the class flew to Brussels where we met with officials and proceeded to learn firsthand how the EU functioned.
My interest in attending the University of Rochester in particular, relates to my first semester at OU and the opportunity to take an introductory course in statistics with the now retired Dr. Larry Miller. Through the combination of a genuine appreciation and knack for statistics and with his encouragement, I proceeded to take his advanced statistics class as well as the first graduate level statistics course at OU. I continued my statistical training by completing the second graduate statistics course on model comparisons with Dr. Roger Johnson, a Professor in the Psychology Department. The model comparison course was not only the most challenging course I have taken as an undergraduate, but the most important. As the sole undergraduate in the course and only college algebra under my belt, I felt quite intimidated. Yet, the rigors of the class compelled me to expand my thinking and learn to overcome any insecurities and deficits in my education. The effort paid off as I earned not only an ‘A’ in the course, but also won the T.O.P.S. (Top Outstanding Psychology Student) award in statistics. This award is given to the top undergraduate student with a demonstrated history of success in statistics.
My statistical training in psychology orientates me toward a more quantitative graduate experience. Due to the University of Rochester’s reputation for an extensive use of statistics in political science research, I would make a good addition to your fall class. While attending the University of Rochester, I would like to study international relations or comparative politics while in graduate school. I find the research of Dr.’s Hein Goemans and Gretchen Helmke intriguing and would like the opportunity to learn more about it through the Graduate Visitation program.
Participation in the University of Rochester’s Graduate School Visitation Program would allow me to learn more about the Department of Political Science to further see if my interests align with those in the department. Additionally, my attendance would allow the Political Science department to make a more accurate determination on how well I would fit in to the program than from solely my graduate school application. Attending the University of Rochester with its focus on quantitative training, would not only allow me to utilize the skills and knowledge I gained as an undergraduate, but also would expand this foundation to better prepare me to conduct research in a manner I find fascinating.
From attending S.E.R.E. (Survival/POW training) in the military and making it through a model comparisons course as an undergraduate, I have rarely shied away from a challenge. I thrive on difficult tasks as I enjoy systematically developing solutions to problems. Attending the University of Rochester would more than likely prove a challenge, but there is no doubt in my mind that I would not only succeed but enable me to offer a unique set of experiences to fellow members of the incoming graduate class.
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