Language admission requirements for studying in the USA
Regardless of the type of study, the following applies: applicants whose mother tongue is not English almost always have to prove their knowledge of English to study in the USA. The majority of American universities and colleges require participation in a standardized language test.
Most applicants have the choice between the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Depending on the type and subject of study, applicants must achieve a certain minimum number of points in order to qualify for the degree.
Those who do not achieve the required number of points still have the option of taking an on-site placement test for some semester and summer programs. It may then be necessary to take an additional language course in the USA. Learn more about USA and North America on areacodesexplorer.
Alternatives to TOEFL and IELTS for a semester or summer sessions
When applying for a semester abroad or a summer school in the USA, applicants often have alternatives to IELTS and TOEFL. For example, some universities accept the DAAD language certificate. Many students prefer this language test because it is usually carried out at their home university and is cheaper than other language tests – sometimes even free of charge.
At some colleges and universities it is also possible to submit a certificate from the home university confirming the required language level. Sometimes a certain grade in the Abitur is sufficient as proof. There are also universities which, for example, completely waive a formal language certificate for summer session applicants from the German-speaking area.
Typically USA: Academic admission tests
What seems unfamiliar to applicants from Germany is widespread in the USA: academic admission and study aptitude tests. In the undergraduate as well as in the graduate area, there are a number of standardized tests, which are used by US universities to test applicants’ analytical skills and professional suitability.
- SAT and ACT: If you want to start a bachelor’s degree in the USA, you need a certain test result in the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) or American College Test (ACT) at some universities. Both tests consist of linguistic and mathematical tasks, with the ACT being more scientifically oriented. Transfer students are usually exempt from taking the test.
- GMAT: The Graduate Management Admission Test, or GMAT for short, is probably the best-known aptitude test of American origin. In the meantime, it is an integral part of the admission requirements for an MBA degree in many countries. In the GMAT, mathematical thinking as well as linguistic-analytical skills are to be demonstrated.
- GRE: As an alternative to the GMAT, the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is partially accepted, whereby the GMAT is mainly used in the business sector. Similar to the GMAT, the GRE is used to test the academic skills of prospective Masters and PhD students.
- MCAT and LSAT: In addition to the general study aptitude tests, there are various subject-specific aptitude tests in the USA. In these, the suitability of applicants for a certain degree is explicitly checked: in the case of the MCAT for a medical degree, in the case of the LSAT for a law degree.
Good to know: Students from Germany with a high school diploma can be exempted from the SAT or ACT at some universities in the USA. It is therefore advisable to consult the host university in advance about the extent to which it is necessary to take a test.
Further admission requirements for studying in the USA
In addition to the educational qualification, the language and aptitude tests, other factors often determine admission at US colleges and universities. Very good to good grades are often required, especially for graduate studies.
For Transfer Students who move during a bachelor or master degree at a university in the United States, some other application requirements as for new students apply. For example, in addition to the professional requirements, some universities value a specific GPA. For other universities, it is sufficient if transfer students have already studied at a university for a certain period of time or have a minimum number of credits.
In addition, letters of motivation and / or recommendation are very often part of the application documents for Bachelor and Master applicants. Essays are typical for the USA. At Bachelor level, these usually have the function of drawing a personal picture of the applicant. In the case of transfer students, on the other hand, the letter of motivation usually serves to justify the change of university and the choice of the future university. Master and Ph.D students, on the other hand, mainly deal with technical aspects in an essay.
There are colleges and universities in the USA that also request a letter of motivation and recommendation in the semester area. However, the majority of universities do without it. This is one of the reasons why a semester abroad as a free mover is so popular in the USA.