Frequently asked questions about studying in North America
Find answers to questions you have about going to university in the USA or to university in Canada on this page. Read frequently asked questions about:
- How can this website help me apply to a university?
Study Group has an unrivaled expertise in the North American education system. We will be your team in America or Canada, helping you both before and during your time here. You will benefit from:
- simplified application to a North American university
- alternative assessment of your English language level - no TOEFL or IELTS required
- conditional admission based on your completion of a pathway program
- all medical, housing, and insurance arrangements organized for you
- no application fees
- confirmed decision within three weeks, in most cases
Read more about how we support you with university admission.
- How will you help me once I am at university?
- Universities in the USA and Canada will continue to support your progression toward your degree with services that include dedicated on-campus support, academic advising on pathway programs, access to internships and work/study options, and a 24 hour emergency hot line to resolve non-medical problems and issues.
- Why should I apply through this website rather than directly to a university?
- If you do not meet the English or academic entry requirements to direct entry to a North American university, Study Group's academic and English language pathway programs for international students may allow you to gain conditional admittance to a university degree program. Choosing this service and a program designed for international students ensures you have the very best chance of success at a North American university.
- How are universities chosen for this website?
- The universities featured on this website offer outstanding international student programs and international student support. Our partnership with them gives you preferred access to these excellent academic institutions.
- Do you offer financial aid?
- No. We are unable to offer any form of financial aid. When applying, you must prove (with a sponsorship letter or bank statement) that you have enough money to cover the cost of your university study, as well as living expenses in the USA or Canada.
Applying for university
- What is the application fee?
- There is no application fee to apply through us to the universities we work with in the USA and Canada. You can apply to three universities with our online application form.
- How long does it take to apply through Universities in the USA and Canada?
- Universities in the USA and Canada has developed a simplified application process which focuses on helping you achieve your goals as quickly and easily as possible. Our application form allows you to apply to up to three universities at the same time. We can confirm a decision within three weeks in most cases - much faster than via the traditional process. Find out more about the application process.
- What is the deadline for applications?
- There is no deadline - we offer rolling admissions. There are two intakes per year for the vast majority of programs. However, we do recommend that you apply as early as possible, and at least ten weeks before your program starts, because the visa application process may cause delays to your admission.
- When can I start at university?
Universities accept new students into bachelor's and master's degrees at the start of the fall semester, and at the start of the spring semester. ESL and university preparation programs usually have three intakes each year - fall, spring and summer.
- Who will help me with my application?
- One of our team of expert International Student Advisors will support you with your application and with the visa process right up until you arrive at the university.
- Can I transfer credit from my previous university to a university in the USA or Canada?
- If you have been a student at an accredited higher education institution in your home country, you may be able to transfer to one of our partner universities. The number of credits eligible for transfer will be determined by the university. Your application must be accompanied by an official transcript in your original language and accompanied by certified (English) translation. A certified evaluation of your transcript may be required upon request.
- I have a question that is not answered here. How can I ask a question?
- If your question is not answered in our FAQ, contact our Student Enrollment Advisors. They will be happy to help you. They are experts in North American university admission and entry requirements for international students.
- Who will answer my questions?
Our team of expert Student Enrollment Advisors will assist you with any questions you have, and will help and support you through the application process, until you arrive at the University.
Do not worry if your English is not very good - we are experienced in communicating with non-native English speakers, and we will do our best to understand you. Our advisors speak many languages between them, including English, Chinese, Spanish and German.
- I am trying to use your inquiry form but it does not work.
Apologies! We try to avoid errors on our inquiry form but sometimes they can occur. You may wish to contact us by email, phone or fax instead:
Location Tel: Fax: Email: USA office: +1 919-999-2420 +1 415-373-9374 firstname.lastname@example.org Canada office: +1 250-391-2600
+1 250-410-0331 email@example.com China office: +86 10-85911295 +86 10-85910922 firstname.lastname@example.org Vietnam office: +84-8-38-277-666 - email@example.com
- How can I contact students at universities in the USA and Canada?
- You can contact international students at university in North America through Facebook. There are also opportunities for contacting students through blogs. Details are on our Social media page.
- How do I find out more about Study Group?
- The Universities in the USA and Canada website is run by Study Group, a leading international education specialist. Find about more about us.
Fees and costs at US universities and Canadian universities
- How much does it cost to go to university in North America?
- In 2012-13, at the universities we work with, undergraduate degree tuition price is between $16,000 and $31,202 per academic year, and master's degree tuition price is between $26,220 and $64,080 for the entire program. You will need extra funds for accommodation, meals and other living expenses. Tuition fees in US dollars (USD) or Canadian dollars (CAD) are shown on the fees page. Tuition fees are likely to rise each intake.
- How can this website save me money?
At all universities we work with
You never have to pay an application fee. We also occasionally offer early payment discounts, academic scholarships or other bursaries. Check international student news regularly to find out about special offers.
At James Madison University and Widener University
By enrolling on the International First Year, you improve your English while acquiring all your first year degree credits, saving yourself time. The International First Year tuition fee is less than James Madison University or Widener University's freshman year, so you also save money.
- Can I get a scholarship?
At Widener University, we offer a grant of more than $10,000 per year for undergraduate students enrolling through the International First Year. The fees shown on this website include that grant.
There are no other scholarships available by applying through Study Group to a university in the USA or Canada. Our prices already offer great value to international students. Study Group cannot offer you any further discounts. We encourage you to contact your relevant government agency to inquire about international study scholarships or student loans. Find out more about scholarships and other aid for international students.
- Can I split the cost of my tuition into more than one payment?
- Yes. Both undergraduate and graduate students can choose to pay by semester, to spread the cost of tuition over a longer period, or for the full year in advance.
- Which universities have lower prices?
- The price of a North American education varies according to particular university you study at. Public universities generally charge lower fees than private universities. Use our interactive map tool to search for universities by price.
- When are the fees payable?
- Once you accept an offer of a place, we require a deposit (varies by country from $300-$3,000) in order to release your immigration documents. The remaining fees are due: 1 July for the Fall semester, 1 November for the Spring semester, and 1 April for the summer semester. Delayed payments incur a $500 late fee. Find out more about fees.
- How can fees be paid?
We accept payment by Visa, Mastercard, or American Express credit cards, by check or bank draft drawn in US dollars, or by bank transfer t
Bank name: Bank of America
Address: 1185 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, USA
Account name: Study Group
Account number: 9417-201482
ABA Routing number: 0260-0959-3
Swift code: BOFAUS3N
Payments made by credit card after the due date will be subject to a fee of 2% of the total invoice amount.
- Do I get a refund if I cancel my place?
- If possible, we strongly recommend that you defer to the following semester rather than cancel. If you do need to cancel, you will be subject to the university's refund policy. If you are denied a visa, you will receive a full refund, on submission of official visa refusal documentation.
- What is the cost of living in North America?
- The cost of living varies widely throughout the United States and Canada. Read our guidance about cost of living and additional expenses.
- Am I eligible to apply for a place at a North American university?
To qualify for an undergraduate degree program, you must have a Diploma or acceptable certification of graduation from a High School or Secondary School in your home country. To qualify for (post) graduate study you must have successfully completed the international equivalent of a US bachelor's degree, or join a qualifying pre-master's program in North America.
All students must prove that they have spoken and written English sufficient for university study, by submitting a TOEFL or IELTS score, or successfully completing a university-based ESL or pathway program. See below for more details of English language requirements.
There are additional eligibility requirements for undergraduate and postgraduate studies. Find out more about admissions requirements.
- What grades will I need for Universities in the USA or Canada?
- You will need the equivalent of a minimum GPA of 2.5 in your previous studies to qualify for an undergraduate degree or master's degree at the universities we work with. Some universities and programs require up to 3.0 GPA. Find out GPA requirements for each university.
- What is GPA?
- GPA means Grade Point Average and it is used in the American education system to indicate the level of a students' academic success. An average score is calculated for each student on a scale of 0-4, with O being a fail and 4 being the maximum academic achievement. World Education Services (WES) offers a free grade conversion guide for more than 120 countries, so you can compare your grades to an American university's GPA requirements.
- Do I need to take a SAT or ACT exam?
International students whose first language is not English are not required to take the ACT (American College Testing) or SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) exam - the standardized testing for US college applicants. If you are an international student from a country whose education system is in English, you may be required to take ACT or SAT for entry to some universities. We will advise you during the application process if this is the case .
- Do I need to take GMAT or GRE graduate admissions tests?
- Maybe. Some of the universities we work with require graduate applicants to take the GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test) for business Master's programs, or the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) for other Master's programs. Check the GMAT and GRE requirements for Universities in the USA.
- How do I get an evaluation or translation of my academic records?
- You will need to provide an official copy of your academic transcripts, translated into English, with your application. Additionally, some universities will require that you provide a professional evaluation of your academic credentials. World Education Service will review your transcripts and prepare a transcript evaluation report for a fee (starting from $100).
English language levels and preparation
- How can I find out my English Language level?
- Contact us to request to take the Study Group English Language test. This free test will indicate your level of English proficiency and is sufficient for admission to most of the universities we work with. Alternatively, the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is an official assessment of your English level. Find out more about the TOEFL and other English Language tests.
- Do I need to take a TOEFL or IELTS exam before submitting my University application?
- Not usually. You do not need an official TOEFL or IELTS score when applying to James Madison University, Roosevelt University, Royal Roads University, or Widener University. At these universities, you can gain conditional admittance without a TOEFL or IELTS score. You must complete the free Password English test instead. At Long Island University you also do not require an official TOEFL or IELTS score to join the undergraduate ESL Transition Program. However, a TOEFL or IELTS score is required for the Graduate ESL Transition program, for direct entry to a degree, and for the Pre-MBA program at Long Island University.
- What level of English do I require to study at an American university?
The requirements vary at each University.
- for direct entry to undergraduate programs, you need a TOEFL iBT score between 68 and 71
- for direct entry to graduate programs, you need a TOEFL iBT score between 79 and 88
- for conditional admission through a university-based ESL program, you usually do not need an official TOEFL or IELTS score, but you'll need a minimum equivalent English level between TOEFL iBT 32 and 52. See detailed English proficiency requirements for all programs.
- What is an ESL (English as a Second Language) program?
- ESL programs are a pathway to university for international students who don't have the required TOEFL or IELTS score for direct entry to a degree program. You must meet all the university's other requirements for degree admission. ESL programs are taught on campus and are designed to improve language proficiency to the level necessary for admission to that university. Read more about university-based ESL programs.
- How long are university ESL programs?
- This depends on how quickly you make progress, and your level of English on entry. Most students reach the appropriate level of English proficiency in one or two semesters.
- Which US universities have ESL programs?
ESL preparation is offered on campus at the following universities:
- Am I guaranteed progression to a degree after an ESL program?
Yes. By qualifying for an ESL program you have the security of knowing that you have satisfied the University's academic requirements and received a conditional offer. When your English language level has reached the required proficiency, you can join a degree program at that university.
US universities and degrees
- Why should I study in North America?
- A North American education is known throughout the world for excellence, flexibility and for the range of opportunities it affords. A degree from one of the carefully selected universities we work with will give you the qualification you need to be internationally successful. Read more about the benefits of choosing a US or Canadian university.
- Colleges and universities: what's the difference?
- In many countries, a college is of lower ranking than a university, and offers only vocational courses. This is not the case in America. In fact, many of the finest private universities in the country are called colleges. Traditionally, only universities offered graduate studies, but today this is no longer the case, and many colleges also offer graduate programs.
- Which universities can I apply for through Universities in the USA and Canada?
You can apply for the following premium universities, selected for their outstanding international student programs:
- What programs can I study at University in the USA or Canada?
- The North American universities we partner with provide a wide choice of degrees at both undergraduate and graduate level. Find out more about academic programs available, including ESL programs and degree pathways for international students.
- Which subjects can I study at University in the USA or University in Canada?
- The universities we work with offer a wide variety of 'majors' - the main subject that you study on your degree. Use our interactive map tool to find universities and colleges that offer majors of interest to you.
- How long does it take to earn a degree from a North American university?
Undergraduate degrees: In general, it takes 2 years to earn an Associate degree and 4 years to earn a Bachelor's degree. Read more about the structure of undergraduate degrees in America.
At Royal Roads University in Canada, international students can complete the BCom Entrepreneurial Management degree in 3 years.
Graduate degrees: A graduate (or Master's) degree is usually studied for 1-2 years, but the length of time varies depending on the number of credits required. Read more about the structure of graduate degrees in America.
- When do I have to choose a major?
- Although some students choose a major before starting their undergraduate program, it is not essential. At most universities, you do not have to decide on a major until the end of your second academic year. Find out more about choosing a major.
- What can I expect while living in America?
- When you first arrive you may notice differences in the way people behave compared to your own country. It is difficult to say what is the 'American' way of life as attitudes and outlooks vary considerably according to where you are in the country. As you become accustomed to living here you may find yourself adapting to all sorts of new experiences. Find out more about adapting to American culture.
- What kind of visa do I need?
- For the USA you will need an F1 Visa, which is for full-time students enrolled in an academic or language program. For Canada you will need a study permit and you may also need a Temporary Resident Visa. Learn more about visas.
- What is the I-20 form?
- The I-20 form allows you to apply for a student visa at the American consulate or embassy in your country. Following university acceptance, a deposit will be required to release the I-20 immigration document. This deposit is refundable in the event of a visa denial. Learn more about the I-20 form and visas.
- How long will my visa be valid?
When you enter the United States on a student visa, you will usually be admitted for the duration of your student status. That means you may stay as long as you maintain full-time student status, even if the F-1 visa in your passport expires while you are in America. However, if you depart the USA with an expired visa, you will need to obtain a new one, applying at an Embassy abroad, before being able to return to America and resume your studies.
When you complete the course of studies shown on your I-20, and any authorized practical training, you are allowed an additional 60 days in the USA, to prepare for departure from the country, or to transfer to another university.
- When will I receive the documentation required for my visa application?
- If your application is successful, we will offer you a place at the University. To accept your place, you must send us a deposit (usually $500). Once we have received your deposit payment we will send you by mail (usually through Fedex) the official I-20 document along with the acceptance letter from the university, and other pre-arrival documentations. You will need to submit this with your visa application.
- What type of student accommodation will I stay in?
When you apply for an undergraduate or ESL program through this website, we arrange your accommodation for you, provide you apply before any published accommodation deadlines. Graduate students who need accommodation should arrange it privately or through the university.
Residence hall accommodation varies, but most are co-educational, meaning that men and women live in the same building, but on separate floors. You will probably live in a room on campus shared with one or more other students. Your room will be equipped with basic furniture like a bed and mattress, a desk and chair, and some storage space for each student. Internet (wireless or Ethernet), telephone, and television connections are normally provided. Bathrooms are usually shared with a number of rooms.
More about university accommodation.
- Can I stay in my room over the vacations?
Most US universities are closed during the Thanksgiving holiday in late November, the Christmas holiday (which normally lasts about four weeks), the Spring vacation in April (approximately 10 days), and the summer vacation. Depending on the university, you might be allowed to stay in your campus accommodation at an extra charge, or you will need to find other accommodation outside the campus while the university is closed.
- When should I arrive at university?
- You should aim to arrive at the university in time to be ready to start the international orientation program at your selected institution. The orientation program will usually take place a few days before classes start.
- What documents should I bring to the airport when traveling to America?
- Remember to bring your University acceptance letter, I-20 and F-1 visa along with you on the plane. You may be asked by an immigration officer why you are in the US, please be clear that you understand where you are going and what you intend to study. Find out more about arriving in the United States.
- Is there an insurance policy offered to international students?
- Yes, our StudyCare plan offers comprehensive insurance and is included in the fee. The insurance has been developed specifically for international students and includes accident and medical insurance. Find out more information about StudyCare insurance.
- When I arrive in the US or Canada, how will I get from the airport to the university?
- You will be met by a private car driver as you come through the arrivals lounge at the airport. They will hold a sign with your name on. The driver will take you straight to your accommodation.
Working in the United States
- Can I work while I am a student in the US?
Yes. The US government allows students on an F-1 visa to work on-campus up to 20 hours a week during the university semester. You can work on-campus 40 hours a week during breaks and the summer vacation. You must apply for US Immigration Department permission before you can work off campus, and again only up to 20 hours per week. There are three types of off-campus work authorizations for full-time students:
1. Unexpected, extreme financial hardship
You must have been studying on an F-1 visa for at least one year to be eligible. You must prove you have less money than expected (e.g because of large currency devaluations or loss of your parent's job).
2. Curricular practical training
If your academic department grants credit for internships, you may be allowed to complete an off-campus internship. Contact your academic advisor for help applying.
3. Internship with an international organization
You must be a full-time student while you do your internship. You may work full-time or part-time for one year. You will need a written offer from an international organization.
Working without following the regulatory guidelines is a serious status violation. Students terminated for unauthorized employment are not eligible for reinstatement and must leave the United States immediately.
Read more about work experience while at university.
- Do you offer job placements?
- International students with an F1 student visa are expected to return to their countries once they have finished their education in the United States. However, you can extend your stay with paid work experience through an Optional Practical Training (OPT) placement in the US. OPT is a temporary employment authorization that gives F1 students an opportunity to use valuable skills gained during their degree studies in a practical work setting. Currently there are more than 70,000 international students taking advantage of this scheme, and getting a head start in the job market.
- What type of degree should I have for Optional Practical Training?
- OPT is available to students with both Bachelor's and Master's level degrees.
- How long can I work on an OPT placement?
- The standard period allowed is 12 months. However, students studying science, technology, engineering or mathematics can extend their program for an additional 17 months making a total of 29 months.