If you want to study at a college or university in the USA, you usually apply directly to the university in question. The application process in the USA is therefore not centralized and outsourced to a central registration office.
Indeed, with Common Application a unified application form with which prospective students can apply simultaneously for several undergraduate programs at various universities. However, out of more than 4,500 US universities with undergraduate programs, only about 600 use the Common Application. It is therefore not a national standard.
In addition, such a standardized application process has the disadvantage that the application cannot be individually tailored to the target university. Under certain circumstances, this can reduce the chances of getting a place at university.
Clarification of the admission criteria
Since the application for a bachelor’s or master’s degree in the USA is more complex than for a short-term study, it is advisable to contact the US university for the first time around a year in advance. Recruitment agencies take this step for students. You clarify with the university in the USA which admission criteria apply to the individual applicant, for example whether they have to take an admission test. They also provide applicants with the necessary application forms for studying in the USA.
In the event of an evaluation, the equivalence of the bachelor’s degree acquired in Germany is checked on the basis of the courses and achievements of the applicant. Since additional documents are often requested from the home university for this purpose, the process can take up to two months.
Special case: application as a transfer student
The application for so-called transfer students is similar. As a transfer student who is already a certain number of valid credits acquired at a university and continue studies at a US university wants. Different variants can be distinguished here.
Change of university as part of a transfer degree program
Many degree programs at community colleges are designed so that participants switch to a bachelor’s degree at a US university after two years, provided that they meet the academic requirements. The courses can then normally be credited towards the bachelor’s degree without any major inconvenience, as the course content is coordinated with one another.
Change from German to US universities as part of the bachelor’s degree
Students from Germany who want to continue their bachelor’s degree at a US university have to prepare for a thorough examination of their previous academic achievements. Many US universities use the services of a so-called credential evaluator such as WES (World Education Services).
The crediting is sometimes made more difficult by the different course structure in the USA: The bachelor’s degree at American universities in the first two years consists mainly of general education courses. Some of these cannot be replaced by specialist courses taken in Germany. In this case it is necessary for the students to catch up on general studies courses at the US university.
The ” Advanced Standing ” is an exception. For applicants with 13 years of schooling, the upper school courses of the last school year are counted towards the Studium Generale. Conversely, transfer students from the USA may have to attend certain specialist courses if they switch to a German university during their bachelor’s degree.
Registration for language and admission tests
Non-native speakers who want to complete a full degree in the USA usually cannot avoid taking a standardized language test such as the TOEFL or IELTS. In the case of semester and summer programs, other language certificates are sometimes accepted, such as the DAAD language certificate or very good to good English grades in the Abitur.
In addition, many U.S. universities require one of the following academic aptitude tests to be able to take a bachelor’s or master’s degree:
- SAT or ACT
In order for applicants to have enough time to prepare thoroughly for the language and, if applicable, admission tests, it is advisable to register early, preferably around nine to twelve months in advance. The test results for applications for the fall semester should be available by the beginning of the year at the latest. If you apply for the spring semester, you should take the necessary tests six months before the planned start of your studies.
The application process for a semester abroad in the USA is usually less complex. Aptitude tests are unusual in the semester area, for example. Therefore, a lead time of six to nine months is usually sufficient. So there is still enough time to apply for BAföG abroad or a student visa for the USA, a country located in North America according to timedictionary.
Organization of the application documents
Prospective students need various documents for their application, which must be organized in good time. The application form is essential. Furthermore, the transcript of records is one of the classic documents for an application for a degree in the USA, as is proof of funding.
Transfer students must also submit additional evidence such as course descriptions (syllabi) to the target university for the recognition of their achievements acquired during their studies.
In addition, certified translations of German-language certificates from the Bachelor’s and possibly also from the Master’s are required at many universities in the USA. At some institutions, the certificate grades determine admission. In the semester area, however, the certificates mostly only serve to get a better picture of the applicants’ previous knowledge.
All of these documents can be compiled comparatively quickly. Since usually no further forms are required for a semester abroad and summer sessions apart from the documents mentioned, a shorter-term application is often possible.
Letter of motivation and recommendation for Bachelor and Master applicants
The organizational effort for a full-time study is usually somewhat higher than for a short-term study. This is because American universities almost always request letters of recommendation and letters of motivation or essays from bachelor and master applicants.
It can take four to six weeks for a lecturer or professor to issue a letter of recommendation. Prospective doctoral students often also have to enclose a so-called research proposal with their documents, in which they outline their research project.
Good to know: Those who apply for a transfer degree at a community college in the USA are usually assigned a transfer coordinator. When the time comes, he will help the student apply for a bachelor’s degree at a US college or university.
When putting together the application documents, it is important not to lose sight of the application deadline for the US university. The following applies: the earlier the application is submitted, the better. This leaves enough time for further preparation.