International Student Application Requirements

The student community at the George Washington University is diverse and we welcome students from all over the world to join us. If you are an international student interested in applying to a graduate program at GW, you must follow the same application process and submit the same general application materials as your peers, along with some additional requirements. Please note that international students are not generally admitted for our summer sessions.

Application Tips for International Students

  • When completing the application, provide your full legal name, as listed in your passport. If your transcripts or other supporting documents were issued in another name, also include that name on your application and attach a letter of explanation and evidence of the name change.

  • Take standardized tests early enough to ensure that scores reach the admissions office before the application deadline.

  • The $75 non-refundable application fee must be paid in U.S. dollars, by credit card (online only), international money order or check. Your name must be written on the check or money order. Cash, international postal money orders or Eurochecks are not accepted.

  • Include a photocopy of the biographic/identification page of your passport with your application.

  • Submit your visa information with your application to expedite that portion of the process

  • If you have any questions, please contact the admissions office for the program to which you are applying.

English Language Test Requirements

TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), IELTS (International English Language Testing Service) or PTE (Pearson Test of English Academic) scores are required for applicants who are not citizens of countries where English is the official language (PDF).

Exceptions to this policy may be granted to applicants who:

Applicants to the LL.M. or S.J.D. programs in GW Law whose first law degree was taught solely in English are not required to submit TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE scores.

English language test scores may not be more than two years old. To ensure TOEFL scores are sent to GW, use institutional code 5246. An institutional code is not required to send IELTS or PTE scores to GW.

English Language Minimum Scores

To be considered for admission, there are minimum required scores that you need to meet.  Please note that higher minimums are required by some schools and programs; check the admissions requirements for your program.

  • Academic IELTS: an overall band score of 6.0 with no individual score below 5.0.
  • TOEFL: 550 on paper-based or 80 on Internet-based test.
  • PTE Academic: 53.

Applicants with lower test scores may qualify for our full-time Applied English Program.

To be considered for a graduate assistantship or University fellowship, the minimum required scores are:

  • Academic IELTS: an overall band score of 7.0 with no individual band score below 6.0.
  • TOEFL: 600 on paper-based or 100 on Internet-based.
  • PTE Academic: 68.

GW English for Academic Purposes

In your first semester at GW, you are required to register for an English for Academic Purposes (EAP) course, which will be indicated in your letter of admission. In the first EAP class meeting, you will be given the EAP Diagnostic Test to confirm correct EAP placement. You should anticipate additional tuition expenses as well as a possible extended period of time required to complete your degree program.

If you score a certain amount on your English-language test, you are exempt from taking EAP courses:

  • Academic IELTS: an overall band score of 7.0 with no individual band score below 6.0.
  • TOEFL: 600 on paper-based or 100 on Internet-based.
  • PTE Academic: 68.

Elliott School students with certain English-language scores are exempt from taking EAP courses:

  • Academic IELTS: an overall band score of 7.0 with no individual band score below 6.5.
  • TOEFL: 620 on paper-based or 105 on Internet-based.
  • PTE Academic: 72.

Summer EAP Program

If you are admitted in the fall semester, you can complete your EAP course requirements in the summer session that precedes the fall semester. For more information on the Summer EAP Program, please visit the Office of Summer and Special Programs.

International Credentials

A transcript, detailed marks certificate or comparable document showing all course work, grades and proof of earned degrees must be submitted for each institution you’ve attended. This is required for all colleges and universities attended, whether or not credit was earned, the program was completed or the credit appears as transfer credit on another transcript.

Unofficial copies of your transcripts or academic records should be updated to your online application account. Carefully review the admission requirements for your program to determine which specific documents you should include in your upload.

If you are applying to a program in the College of Professional Studies or the Graduate School of Education and Human Development, all international transcripts must be submitted to an approved, accredited independent evaluation agency prior to submission. A list of acceptable foreign credential evaluation services is available through the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services. Credential evaluations are also accepted from AACRAO. Be sure to request a detailed evaluation that includes all course titles, credit hours, grades, recommended U.S. degree equivalency, grade-point average and date of degree conferral.

Visa Requirements

To apply for a visa to study in the U.S., you need a visa-qualifying document, either an I-20 form (for an F-1 visa) or a DS-2019 form (for a J-1 visa). These documents must be generated through the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and issued by a U.S. college or university or a U.S. Department of State-designated sponsor organization.

These policies and processes apply to applicants to graduate programs in the:

If you are applying to these schools, find more information through each of the schools on the requirements for international students to apply.

Visa Process

Step 1: Complete the Visa Request form (PDF) and collect the necessary supporting documents for financial certification.

The Visa Request form (PDF) provides details about your immigration status and funding sources. Before completing the form, carefully review the details about funding amounts and financial support documents under Financial Certification. The “Official Certification by Family of Individual Sponsor” section of the Visa Request form must be completed by your sponsor, and both you and your sponsor must sign the form. If you are planning to bring a spouse or dependent with you to the U.S., you must also complete the Dependent Information form (PDF).  Retain the original copies of all materials documenting financial support. You will need to present the original copies to the consular officer at your visa interview and to the U.S. immigration inspector when you enter the country.

Step 2:  Scan the Visa Request form, financial support documents, Dependent Information form (if required) and all other required documents and upload these materials to your online application for admission.

You will be considered for admission and university funding (if available) regardless of whether you submit your Visa Request form and supporting documents. Uploading these documents to your application, however, expedites the processing of your I-20 or DS-2019 should you be admitted. Scanned copies are typically sufficient to process I-20 or DS-2019 requests. The university reserves the right to request official copies of these documents when necessary.  Please do not submit official copies unless you are specifically instructed to do so by the school to which you have applied.

Step 3: If you are offered admission, promptly submit the Enrollment Decision form (linked from your online letter of admission) to indicate whether or not you plan to enroll at GW. If you accept admission, the admissions office will then review your Visa Request form and supporting documents. The admissions office will contact you if any additional or updated materials are needed. Once the admissions office has received all of your required documents, your file will be forwarded to the International Services Office for review and issuance of the visa forms. As soon as the I-20 or DS-2019 is available, your school’s admissions office will mail the form to you.  

Step 4: Upon receipt of your I-20 or DS-2019, pay the SEVIS fee.

SEVIS is an online system that maintains data on foreign students and exchange visitors before and during their stay in the United States. The SEVIS fee must be paid at least three business days prior to the visa interview if paying electronically, or at least 15 business days prior to the visa interview if submitting payment through regular mail. Be sure to get a receipt. You must be able to prove the fee has been paid when you appear for your visa interview, before leaving your country and when you enter the U.S. Full details on the fees are available from SEVIS.  

Step 5: Schedule an appointment for a visa interview with the nearest U.S embassy or consulate.

An interview is required for almost all visa applicants. To schedule an interview, visit the website for the embassy or consulate nearest you. Review the estimated wait times for interview appointments and visa processing at each location. Be sure to take all required documentation with you to the interview. Your local EducationUSA Center can help prepare you for the visa interview.  

Step 6: Make your travel plans.

As you cannot be assured of a visa before the embassy has fully processed your application, you should not make final travel plans or purchase nonrefundable tickets until a visa has been issued. Please note that your visa cannot be issued more than 120 days before the start of your academic program in the United States. If you are an initial entry student, you cannot enter the country more than 30 days before the start of the program.  

Step 7: As soon as possible upon arriving in Washington, D.C., you must check-in at GW’s International Services Office (ISO).

The staff will collect your immigration documents, confirm that you are legally ready to begin your studies and answer any questions you may have about your visa status.

Required Documents

When requesting an I-20 or DS-2019 from GW, applicants must submit certain materials:

  • A completed Visa Request form (PDF), signed by both the applicant and any sponsor(s).
  • Financial support documents showing proof of sufficient funding to cover all educational costs and living expenses for the full length of your academic program – at least two years for a master’s program and four to five years for a doctoral program.
  • A legible copy of the biographical page of your passport, with the expiration date.

Applicants currently in the U.S. must also submit:

  • A legible copy of the front and back page of your I-94.
  • If you are on F-1 Optional Practical Training, your employment authorization card.
  • If you are or were in F or J status within the past year, copies of your I-20 or DS-2019.

Applicants who will be accompanied by dependents (a spouse and/or children) must certify that you have sufficient funding to cover your dependents’ living expenses. The required amount of additional funding that you must show is detailed on the Visa Request form (PDF), and these amounts must be included for each year of study. Other required documents include:

  • A completed Dependent Information form (PDF), stating each dependent’s full legal name (first, last and middle names as shown on passport), gender, relationship to you, date of birth, city and country of birth, country of citizenship, and country of legal permanent residence.
  • A legible copy of the biographical page (with expiration date) of each dependent’s passport.

Financial Certification

The amount of funding required will vary, depending on the source of your support. An estimate of the minimum amount of funding required per year is listed on the Visa Request form (PDF). As tuition and expenses can be expected to increase yearly, and actual costs may be higher for some GW schools and programs, you should check current tuition rates and estimated living expenses for updated information about the actual amount that must be certified.

When completing the form, you must indicate the required amount of funding for each year of your program. Funding may be from one or more specifically identified and reliable sources. If you are applying to a master’s program, you must indicate the amount of funds for two years (Year 1 and Year 2 on the form). If you are applying for a doctoral program, you must indicate the amount of funds for five years (Year 1 through Year 4 or 5 on the form). An I-20 or DS-2019 will not be approved if you indicate funding for less than the required number of years. Please review the sample Source of Funds charts (PDF).

You will still be considered for admission and any University funding (if available) even if you currently lack sufficient funding of your own. If you will be totally dependent on the University for funding, leave the Source of Funds section blank.

If you have a disability and will require attendant care, you must certify the availability of additional funds to pay for this service. For more information, contact Disability Support Services.

Students holding an F-1 or J-1 visa are required to carry health insurance. Students enrolled in F-1 or J-1 visa status will be automatically enrolled in the GW student health insurance plan and the cost of the plan will be added to the first semester's tuition bill. Students who already hold comparable health coverage may request to opt out of the plan.

Funding Sources

There are various funding sources you can use while you study at GW. Each requires different documents to be submitted and all of these documents must:

  • Be in English.
  • Indicate the currency of the funds.
  • Have an issue date that is no more than 12 months from the time you plan to begin study.

Self-Support

If you are using personal funds as your sole source of support, you must have sufficient funds for the entire length of your program (two years for a master’s program; four to five years for a doctoral program).

Your funds must be in cash (e.g., checking or savings accounts) and not subject to withdrawal restrictions. Funding in stocks and other long term investments will not be accepted. If you do not have sufficient funds for the entire duration of your program, a sponsor must agree to provide support for the remaining amount.

Financial Support Documents

  • Bank statement with the bank’s address and phone number, indicating the date the account was opened and the current account balance.
  • Bank statements may include checking or savings accounts, certificates of deposit or money market accounts. Your full legal name (as listed on your passport) must be included on the document.  

Family/Individual Sponsor

If a family member or other individual will provide your funding, your sponsor does not need to show funding for the entire length of your program. Instead, your sponsor must have sufficient funds for at least the first year of your program. These funds must be in cash (e.g., checking or savings accounts) and not subject to withdrawal restrictions.

If your sponsor currently has funds for just the first year, your sponsor should also submit documents showing the means of support for the subsequent years.

Financial Support Documents

  • For the first year of study, a bank statement with the bank’s address and phone number, indicating the date the account was opened and the current account balance.
  • Bank statements may include checking or savings accounts, certificates of deposit or money market accounts.
  • For each subsequent year, wage statements, statements of the value of holdings of the sponsor, investment account statements or other documents that provide credible evidence of the availability of funds.
  • Sponsors who are living in the U.S. and are not U.S. citizens must provide copies of the immigration papers (I-94 and visa stamp), as well as a copy of the biographical page of their passport, with the passport expiration date.

Government/Agency Sponsor

If your sponsor is your government or an official agency, your sponsor must indicate the exact amount of the funding (including the monthly or yearly amount for living expenses) and the duration of your award. If the amount of the award is less than the amount indicated on the Visa Request form (PDF), you must have your own funding or funding from another sponsor to meet the required amount.

Financial Support Documents

  • Letter of support indicating the dollar amount awarded and the duration and any conditions of the sponsorship.

Funding from GW

If you are offered funding from GW, the university will provide you a letter detailing the exact amount of funding that you are being awarded. If the funding is sufficient to cover all of the expenses for the duration of your program, you will not be required to submit additional proof of funding. If the funding package is less than the full amount, you must have your own funding or funding from another sponsor to make up the difference. Please note that a completed Visa Request form (PDF) is required even if you are being fully funded by GW.

Financial Support Documents

  • Copy of the official letter of support indicating the dollar amount awarded and the duration of the sponsorship.