Study in the United States - The Basics

The Fulbright Finland Foundation provides accurate, unbiased information about all accredited U.S. higher education institutions.

Is It Too Late to Apply?

The application process for U.S. colleges and universities should begin approximately a year and a half before studies begin. Students at the graduate level should allow even more time. One year is often the absolute minimum for requesting and filling out applications, obtaining the necessary attachments, and taking the required tests. Application deadlines vary widely among institutions: to be considered for a fall term, some deadlines are scheduled as early as the previous November while others are as late as the summer. Application forms are ordered directly from the institutions.

Who Is Eligible To Apply?

Applicants who wish to study in American universities or colleges must demonstrate satisfactory English-language skills and have completed Finnish secondary school (or at least 12 years of basic education). The applicant does not need to be currently enrolled in a Finnish university, college, or other institution.

Is It Difficult to Gain Admission?

Selection criteria vary widely, depending on the institution and the educational program. Some U.S. institutions are extremely selective, while others endeavor to offer everyone an opportunity to study. Additional information on selection criteria is available from college catalogues, which are usually available on university websites.

What Subjects Can Be Studied in the United States?

The selection of major subjects available in American colleges and universities is exceptionally wide. While the majority of students from Finland are interested in subject majors in business, the social sciences, arts and the humanities, it is also possible to earn a degree in such areas as ballet, wine production, or boat building. The range of available subjects may be extended even further if a student is interested in non-degree, short-term study. Certain fields, however, such as medicine, are very difficult for international students to enter.

What Are the Costs of Studying in the United States?

Costs vary considerably, depending upon the institution, its location, and a student's personal habits. Tuition fees can range from a few thousand dollars to over $30,000 USD yearly. In addition the student should consider the costs of housing, clothing, food, books, study materials, health care, insurance, and travel as well as personal and vacation expenses.

Do U.S. Institutions of Higher Education Require Entrance Examinations?

Normally, U.S. colleges and universities do not require program-specific examinations. Instead, applicants must complete certain standardized tests as part of the application process. The TOEFL, SAT, GRE, and GMAT tests are the most frequently required. Each institution sets its own minimum score criteria for admission.

What Is TOEFL iBT?

TOEFL iBT is a standardized Test of English as a Foreign Language. It may be used as one of the selection criteria in the United States. TOEFL iBT scores range from 0 to 120. There is no minimum score that must be passed, since each institution defines its own score limits. However, these limits may be stringently applied. Usually, only applications with test scores higher than the limit set by the institution are taken into account in student selection.

How Can I Tell the Quality of a University or an Educational Program in the United States?

There are thousands of colleges and universities in the United States. In order to evaluate an institution's educational quality, the applicant should first ascertain whether the institution is accredited (see the next question). It is also important to obtain information about the institution from reliable sources in addition to the institution's own publications and recruitment brochures.

What Does Accreditation Mean?

In the United States, the Federal government does not supervise education as does the Ministry of Education in Finland. Instead, non-governmental organizations are responsible for creating and maintaining educational standards. A college or university is accredited when the institution voluntarily fulfills fundamental requirements (including those governing the structure and content of degrees). There are nearly 4,000 accredited colleges and universities in the United States. Accreditation is used as an evaluation criterion by many official agencies. In Finland, the KELA Center for Student Financial Aid considers accreditation when providing financial aid to Finns studying in the United States.

I Have Been Admitted - What Do I Do Now?

Once admission to an institution is secured, the student must send a letter of confirmation by the date specified in the institution's acceptance letter. Before departure, matters such as insurance and visa must be arranged.