Office of the University Registrar

International Student Admission Requirements



The following regulations apply to all students who are not citizens or "permanent residents" of the United States of America

All international students applying for admission must submit the appropriate documents well in advance to undergraduate admissions or to the graduate office of the school or college to which they are applying. Photocopied or faxed copies are not accepted for evaluation purposes.

Visa Requirements

Students in nonimmigrant F-1 or J-1 status are required by U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) regulations to enroll for and maintain a full-time course load during the fall and spring semesters. If the student’s first term is a summer session, the full-time course load requirement will apply for that summer. It is the individual student’s responsibility to comply with INS regulations.

To meet the INS full-time course load requirements at American University each semester, undergraduate students are required to register for a minimum of 12 credit hours, graduate students for a minimum of 9 credit hours, and law students in the master’s program for a minimum of 8 credit hours. Any change in registration which results in a course load below these minimum requirements must be authorized by International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) in consultation with the student’s academic advisor.

Students in F-1 or J-1 status who fail to meet these requirements are considered by INS to be "out-of-status" and lose their eligibility for all immigration benefits including on-campus employment and practical training and are subject to deportation.

All students in F-1 nonimmigrant status are required to attend, initially, the educational institution which issued the Certificate of Eligibility (I-20) used to obtain the F-1 status.

Students in F-1 or J-1 status are reminded that a change of school from one U.S. educational institution to another or a change of program within the same educational institution must be made according to INS regulations. At American University such changes are processed through International Student Services (ISS), Butler Pavilion 410.

Students in Exchange Visitor (J-1) status requesting a transfer to American University should consult with ISSS before registering for classes. Transfer from one exchange visitor program to another requires a release from the previous program sponsor and/or the approval of the INS. It is advisable that all students entering the university in J-1 status at the time of admission consult with ISSS before registering for classes.

Questions concerning INS regulations should be directed to International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS), Butler Pavilion 410; telephone 202-885-3350; fax 202-885-3354. Regular office hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

English Language Requirements

All students whose first language is not English, regardless of citizenship, must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) upon applying to American University. Exceptions to this requirement are granted for undergraduates who submit a score of 580 (re-centered) or higher on the SAT I Verbal section; or graduate students who submit a score of 500 or higher on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Verbal section or a score of 30 or higher on the Graduate Management Aptitude Test (GMAT) Verbal section. Students who have graduated from a regionally accredited U.S. college or university with a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree, with all course requirements completed are also exempt from this requirement.