Frequently Asked Questions

Individual institutions set their own admission requirements and application procedures.  Check college/university websites and/or printed application materials for details. You may be required to submit the following items before universities evaluate your application:

  • A completed application form
  • An application fee
  • Official copy or certified copies of your academic transcripts stamped by the university or school. If the transcript is not in English, then it needs to be translated by a certified translator. You would need to submit both Arabic and English copies
  • An application essay
  • Two or three letters of recommendation.
  • Certification of finances: financial documents proving you have adequate funds, or a scholarship, to study in the U.S.
  • Official standardized test scores sent directly to the university from the testing company (TOEFL/SAT/GMAT/GRE, etc.)

Community colleges provide two-year associate’s degree programs as well as technical and vocational programs. They can be public or private institutions and are sometimes called junior colleges or two-year colleges. Tuition costs are often lower at two-year than at four-year institutions, and many have articulation/twining agreements to allow students in transfer programs to move easily into the third year of a bachelor’s degree at a university. A growing number of international students choose to study at community colleges.

Degree-granting institutions, accredited by a U.S. Department of Education-approved accrediting organization, can be referred to by any of these terms. Colleges and institutes are not inferior to universities.  As a general rule, colleges tend to be smaller than universities and usually only offer undergraduate degrees, while universities offer graduate degrees.  Institutes often specialize in certain fields e.g. engineering, art, etc.

Each institution/program has a different deadline. Deadlines can range anywhere from 3 to 9 months before classes start. In general, to apply to an undergraduate program of study, you should submit your application and materials by January 1st before the fall term of enrollment. Graduate deadlines will depend upon the program and department. Please note that it will take some time for materials to reach the USA, so you should send supplemental materials at least 2 weeks before the deadlines.

The cost of study in the United States varies widely among universities and the cost of living from one location to the next.  Comprehensive costs can range from US$15,000 per year to over US$50,000 per year. The figures listed below are designed to provide some indication of how much students can expect to pay for 12 months of study in the U.S.

Finances per Year

Tuition                         $3,000-$35,000
Room-board                $10,000-$15,000
Books-supplies           $400-1,000
Health Insurance        $500-$1,000
Personal Expenses     $1,200-$3,000
Travel to USA              $1,200
Total                           $15,000-$55,000

Scholarships are limited, which means that they are very competitive and are awarded to the students with the highest grades, strongest standardized test scores, strongest essays, recommendation letters, extra curricular activities, and work experience. There are very few scholarships available from external organizations, so scholarships must typically come from universities themselves. The total cost of attendance per year (tuition+ housing, living costs, health insurance, books, and travel) ranges from $25,000- $50,000 per year. Living costs alone can range from $10,000-$15,000 per year. It is very rare to find full scholarships that cover everything. Partial scholarships are more common. On the graduate level, it might be possible to find an assistantship depending on the university department and field of study.

Some universities are offering scholarships specifically for Syrian students. These universities are members of the IIE Syria Consortium for Higher Education in Crisis. Although the cycle for this fall 2014 semester is currently closed, it will re-open in the future. Students should check the online portal for updates at:

In the USA, medicine, pharmacy, dentistry and law school are all professional degrees that are NOT offered on the undergraduate level. Because of this difference in educational systems, it is not possible to transfer into medical, dental, pharmacy or law school. It might be possible to transfer to an undergraduate program, and complete a different major in another (similar) field. It is not likely that many credits would carry over, and this is something that would need to be discussed with the individual universities. Please note that there are no scholarship opportunities available for medical, dental, or pharmacy school for international students.

After you apply, and if you are admitted, then each university will determine how many credits if any will transfer over by carefully looking at your transcripts. Sometimes, institutions might require you to get your transcripts evaluated by an outside agency. Providing the universities with a syllabus or course descriptions in addition to your transcripts could also be helpful.

The purpose of these tests is for the university to be able to evaluate your English language proficiency before admitting you. Universities need to make sure that your English is good enough in order for you to succeed in a U.S. classroom.

For Syrian students currently residing outside of Syria: These exams are available year-round in countries outside of Syria. You should register to take the next available TOEFL or IELTS exam in the country where you are currently residing. You can find information about test dates and registration info at: or

For Syrian students currently in Syria: The TOEFL PBT is offered in the ALTC in Damascus several times per year. To register for this exam, please contact the

ALTC at: 333-7936. Only the PBT test is available in Syria and universities in the USA will accept it.

If you completed any post-secondary work on the university level, you should apply as a transfer student.

Some universities may initially accept scanned copies of your transcripts. However, an original or certified copy of your transcript will most probably be required from universities in order to make an official admissions decision and send you the appropriate forms for a visa. You will need at least scanned copies of your documents. You should work on obtaining these documents right away as this can take some time.

In order to apply for the student visa, you must first have received an official admission letter from the university as well as the official I-20 form. Students living outside of Syria can apply in the US Embassy or consulate where they are currently residing. Students inside Syria can apply at the U.S. Embassies in Lebanon or Jordan. If you have received your I-20 form, and need guidance on the U.S. student visa application process, feel free to contact the EducationUSA Advisor for Syria at: