College of Arts and Sciences

International Graduate Students

International students find the city of San Francisco a cosmopolitan and welcoming place to live and study. International students are an essential and valuable part of the richly diverse community at USF. Of the 10,200 students at the university, approximately 1,600 students are international students.

How to Apply

For application instructions unique to your graduate program, please read the "How to Apply" section on your individual program's website.

As an international applicant you need to submit the same items as a U.S. applicant, and these additional items:
  • Certification of Finances form or Letter of Support from your sponsor(s). Download the Certification of Finances form and instructions. Complete the appropriate sections of the Certification of Finances form, sign it, and upload it to your application. 
  • Bank statement(s) that indicate funds for the total costs (or more) of your graduate program for the first year as detailed on the Certification of Finances. The Certification of Finances or Letter of Support, and bank statement(s), must be uploaded before your application will be reviewed by your graduate program.
  • Official TOEFL, IELTS or PTE English language exam scores that are less than two years old at the time of admission review. Additionally, upload a copy of your score report to your online application. This will help us match your official score. Please see more details on score requirements below.
  • Copy of Passport Photo/Information page.
  • Copy of your transcript(s) (record) from your university, with English translation. Also, please upload a copy of a diploma or diploma certificate (with proof of graduation) that indicates a Bachelor's Degree was completed, unless the conferral date for your Bachelor's Degree is posted on your transcript/university record. Three-year Bachelor's Degrees are accepted for admission review. An official, sealed transcript is required only if you are admitted to USF.
  • An international address must be provided on your application form.

Where to Send Application Documents?

Upload all of the requested documents in the appropriate sections of the online application. You must upload a copy of each of the documents listed above. DO NOT mail or email any documents to us at the time of application unless you receive an email requesting specific documents.

Certification of Finances

  • Certification of Finances form or Letter of Support – Please complete this form with your name and contact information. If you have a sponsor they need to complete and sign the "Sponsor's Funds" section. Or, they can submit a short Letter of Support where they indicate the following: your full name; their full name and signature in English characters; that they are willing to provide financial assistance for your first year of studies; and a copy of the supporting bank statement(s).
  • Bank statements – Submit a bank statement(s) that indicates enough financial funds for the total costs of the first year of studies in your graduate program. Please download the Certification of Finances form below for first-year costs (both tuition and living expenses). Bank statement(s) must show money held in checking, savings, certificates of deposit, or money market accounts. Stock/investment accounts and lines of credit cannot be used. Scholarships provided by your government or other agencies can be used for the Certification of Finances (include scholarship document or letter provided by your government or other agency).

Download the Certification of Finances form and instructions >>

Test Scores

The TOEFL/GRE school code for USF is 4850.

The chart below shows the minimum English proficiency test scores required for each program.
100 - TOEFL
7.0 - IELTS
65 - PTE
90 - TOEFL
6.5 - IELTS
61 - PTE
79 - TOEFL
6.5 - IELTS
53 - PTE
Asia Pacific Studies
Public Affairs
Urban Affairs
Collegiate Athletics
Environmental Mgmt
International Studies
Museum Studies Programs
Computer Science
International and Development Economics
Sport Management

TOEFL iBT section scores for Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing must be 17 or higher, unless an individual graduate program grants an exception.

In addition, the Economics, International and Development Economics, International Studies and Sport Management and other programs require that students with scores between 79 and 100 on the TOEFL iBT or IELTS scores under 7.0 complete an ESL Graduate Writing/Speaking course at USF in the first semester of graduate studies at USF. This information would be included in the admission letter.

All international applicants must request that their testing agency send an official test score to USF's Office of Graduate Programs in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Exception Policy for English language test scores. PLEASE NOTE that Exceptions for English language test scores are decided by each graduate program, which may have their own individual requirements or policies pertaining to Exceptions for English language test scores:

  • Applicants who have completed a Bachelor's Degree, a Master's Degree or two years or more of studies in a degree program in English at a higher education institution in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia or New Zealand.
  • Applicants who completed a Bachelor's Degree or a Master's Degree at an institution where the institution's medium of instruction is English. Documentation of English instruction needs to be provided to the Office of Graduate Programs in the College of Arts and Sciences. The student's official academic record from the university must indicate that all classes were conducted in English.
  • Students from countries where the government requires 11 years of mandatory English instruction may be exempt from providing English language test scores according to the discretion of an individual graduate program. These countries include Norway, and may also include Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland and the Netherlands.
  • Exceptions for English language test scores are decided by each graduate program. If an exception is granted, students may be required by their graduate program to successfully complete an ESL graduate writing/speaking course or other Intensive English Program at USF.
Countries of Bachelor's Degree Institution Exempted From English Proficiency Tests

American Samoa
Grand Cayman

Marshall Islands, Republic of the
Micronesia, Federated States of
New Zealand
Northern Mariana Islands
Palau, Republic of
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Turks and Caicos Islands
United Kingdom
United States of America

F-1 Visa Information

Students who require an F-1 student visa must demonstrate that they (and/or other sponsors in their home country) can fund all or a significant amount of their educational and living expenses in the United States. To verify this requirement, the Certification of Finances form and supplemental bank statements must be completed and uploaded with the online application to the program. Even when a graduate program awards financial assistance, students still must verify the remaining funds of their own in order to qualify for an F-1 student visa.

Scholarships and Financial Aid

At the time of admission review, all international students are considered for scholarships, fellowships or teaching assistantships offered by each graduate program. There is no separate application for these scholarships and teaching assistantships, except for the Ferlinghetti Fellowships offered by the MFA in Writing program.

International Student Services at USF

The Office of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) is an excellent resource for international students. ISSS provides valuable information and advice to international students who are admitted to the university, and to international students currently enrolled at USF. This information includes the visa application process, immigration documents, immunization requirements, pre-departure information and orientation for international students each spring and fall.

Health Insurance for Students

International students who enroll at the university for classes will also be enrolled in a university-sponsored health insurance program. For details about student health insurance, visit the Student Health Insurance office website. Student Health Insurance can be contacted by email at or by phone at 415.422.6809.

International Student Orientation

New international students are required to attend the International Graduate Student Orientation in spring (late January) or fall (late August). Please visit for the latest details. International students are highly recommended to arrive at USF at least 10 days before the first day of classes in the fall and spring to finalize housing arrangements and attend International Student Orientation. Contact International Student and Scholar Services for details and dates about International Student Orientation at .

If your graduate program begins in June, July, early August or at another time that differs from the regular start of classes at the university, then contact the Office of International Student and Scholar Services to arrange an individual International Student Orientation upon your arrival at USF.

In addition, most graduate programs also hold an orientation/advising session for the individual program. All new students are required to attend their program orientation as well as the International Student Orientation.

Arrival at USF for F-1 Visa Students

International students should note that the earliest arrival in the United States that an F-1 visa allows is 30 days before the start date on the I-20 form issued to you.

Contact Information
Office of International Student and Scholar Services
Phone: +1 415 422 2654
Location: University Center, 5th Floor