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Frequently Asked Questions About International Students

As an international student, are there special steps or requirements for me to be admitted to a graduate program?

Yes, international students applying to graduate programs must submit, in addition to the materials required of U.S. students (i.e., application fee, official degree-bearing transcripts, test scores and letters of recommendation required by the graduate program-see application information), must also:

  1. Provide evidence of English Language Competency by completing:
    • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) Score
      Arrange for an official Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score to be sent directly to the School of Graduate Studies if English is not the native language. A TOEFL score of 550 paper, 213 computer, or 79 internet-based is required for admission into some degree programs and is strongly recommended by others.
    • Wisconsin English Second Language Institute (WESLI)
      Arrange for admission into the Wisconsin English Second Language Institute (WESLI) in Madison, Wisconsin. Students must complete the institute's 700 level, including academic reading and writing, and academic listening and speaking skills, with a rating of "very good" or higher (3, 3+, or 4). Students must arrange to have these results and a recommendation from WESLI forwarded to the Graduate Office.
    • Madison as a Second Language School (MESLS)
      Attend the Madison as a Second Language School and substitute an acceptable score from MESLS in lieu of the currently required TOEFL score. Students would need to successfully complete MESLS's advanced-level (level six) Speaking and Grammar, Reading & Writing, and Speaking & Listening courses, earning, at least, an "AB" average overall, and no lower than a "B" in any single course.
    • An official International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score is acceptable. The minimum required score is 6.0.

    Applicants are exempt from the TOEFL requirement if they:

    • have earned a bachelor's degree from an English-speaking country
    • have attended a U.S. college or university continuously for more than one year or have a completed U.S. undergraduate degree.
    • have received an undergraduate degree from a foreign institution where English is the language of instruction.
    • have resided and worked in the U.S. for more than one year without being a student.
  2. Send a completed certification of finances form to the Graduate Office to demonstrate that there is adequate financial support available during the planned period of study. Certification of Finance Form
  3. Have a former professor send a letter of recommendation directly to the Graduate Office attesting to the student's ability to pursue graduate study in the United States.
  4. Credential Evaluation Requirement

All international applicants to graduate programs must submit an official course-by-course evaluation of all foreign education credentials. Acceptable international credential evaluation agencies include:

  • Educational Credential Evaluators, lnc.(414) 289-3400 (
  • World Educational Services, 212-966-6311 (
  • or any NACES accredited evaluation service (

Can I turn in my Certification of Finances Form after I'm admitted?

No. A completed Certification of Finances Form is a portion of a complete application file. No application will be considered without a completed Certification of Finances Form.

I am an international student applying for a graduate assistantship and/or a nonresident fee remission. Do I still have to fill out the certification of finances?

Yes. A Certification of Finances affirms that the student has the financial resources to complete a master's degree without additional fiscal support. Graduate assistantship and nonresident fee remissions are not guaranteed programs as their availability is determined by appropriations from the State of Wisconsin.

As an international student, what financial assistance is available to me?

International students, typically, have three potential sources of financial assistance: graduate assistantships, nonresident fee remissions; and "regular student payroll" opportunities made available by the campus. Financial Aid Office.

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