Home Study Abroad How to Apply to Universities Abroad: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Apply to Universities Abroad: A Step-by-Step Guide

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Studying abroad is an exciting opportunity that allows students to gain a global perspective, immerse themselves in new cultures, and receive a quality education. However, the process of applying to foreign universities can seem daunting at first. In this comprehensive guide, we will break down the application process step by step, providing you with all the information you need to successfully apply to universities abroad.

When to Apply

The timing of your application plays a crucial role in the admissions process. In general, applying early gives you a greater chance of arranging everything on time and increases your chances of receiving a scholarship. High-ranking universities often have application deadlines up to a year before the start of the course. For example, the University of Cambridge in England has an application deadline in October for programs starting the following October. Ordinary universities typically have deadlines approximately six months before the course begins, while smaller colleges and low-ranking universities may accept applications up to a month or two before the semester starts. However, it is always advisable to apply early to allow enough time for a complete application submission and to obtain a visa in a timely manner.

How Many Universities to Apply to

It is essential to strike a balance when deciding how many universities to apply to. While it may be tempting to apply to numerous institutions, it is generally better to focus on quality rather than quantity. Submitting one well-prepared application to a highly regarded university increases your chances of acceptance. However, if you are aiming for high-ranking universities, it is advisable to apply to a couple of them simultaneously to enhance your chances of acceptance.

Where to Apply

Nowadays, most university applications are completed online through the school’s website. In the UK and Ireland, applications are usually made through UCAS and CAO, respectively. If you require assistance with your application, there are various resources available to help you navigate the process. Dream Studies Abroad and its partners, for example, can provide guidance and support for applications to many language schools and universities abroad.

Requirements for Admission

The admission requirements for universities abroad vary, and each institution and program has its own set of criteria. You can find detailed information about admission requirements on the school’s website. Generally, to apply for an undergraduate program, you need to have graduated from high school and fulfill the school’s language requirements. For master’s level studies, a bachelor’s degree and/or relevant work experience are typically required. Language requirements are often higher at the master’s level, as academic language becomes more complex. It is worth noting that even if you have bad grades or did not graduate from high school, there are still options available for studying abroad. Seattle Central College, for instance, offers a high school completion plus program that allows you to earn an associate degree and a high school diploma in just two years. Language schools abroad are also open to anyone looking to improve their language skills.

Documents Needed for Application

The documents required for your university application will vary depending on the institution. Most commonly, you will need to submit the following:

  1. The school’s application form: Fill out the form with accurate and complete information, ensuring you sign it.
  2. Grades from high school and college: Have these documents translated into English. Some schools may require your high school or translator to send the grades directly to them.
  3. A copy of your passport: This is necessary for the school to issue a visa letter. In certain countries, such as Japan, you may also need to provide copies of entry stamps and visas from previous visits.
  4. Proof of meeting English language requirements: Schools in the United States often request TOEFL test scores, while English and Australian universities prefer IELTS exams. However, many universities accept both tests, and some also recognize the Cambridge exam. The required scores vary depending on the school and program.
  5. Standardized tests: For degree programs in the United States and some other countries, you may need to take standardized tests such as the SAT for undergraduate studies or the GMAT or GRE for master’s programs.
  6. A financial statement: This demonstrates your ability to pay for your studies and living expenses. The bank statement should be in English and preferably in the form of a letter from the bank, stating the amount of your assets in the school’s currency. The letter must be signed and stamped by the bank. Refer to the school’s instructions for specific requirements regarding financial documentation.
  7. Motivation letters and reference letters: In addition to grades, universities in English-speaking countries often require motivation letters and reference letters to assess your suitability as a student. A well-crafted motivation letter can compensate for lower grades and even help secure a scholarship. Take the time to write compelling letters that highlight your strengths and ambitions.

Assistance with the Application

Dream Studies Abroad, along with its partners, offers assistance with applications to various universities and language schools around the world. Whether you’re interested in studying in the UK, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Italy, Australia, the United States, or selected universities in Korea and Malaysia, there are resources available to guide you through the application process. Dream Studies Abroad’s extensive school database provides additional support and information on specific institutions.

Application Deadlines for High-Ranking Universities

High-ranking universities often have early application deadlines, sometimes up to a year before the start of the course. It is crucial to familiarize yourself with these deadlines and ensure you submit your application well in advance. By doing so, you increase your chances of securing a spot and allow sufficient time for any additional requirements specific to the institution.

Application Deadlines for Ordinary Universities

Ordinary universities typically have application deadlines around six months before the start of the course. While these deadlines are not as early as those for high-ranking universities, it is still advisable to apply as soon as possible to increase your chances of acceptance and secure your place in the program.

Application Deadlines for Smaller Colleges

Smaller colleges and low-ranking universities often accept applications up to a month or two before the semester starts. While the deadlines may be more flexible, applying early is still recommended to ensure you have ample time to complete the application process and obtain any necessary visas or permits.

Application Deadlines for Longer Courses in Japan

For longer courses in Japan, such as undergraduate or graduate programs, it is advisable to apply approximately six months before the start of the course. This timeline allows for sufficient processing time to obtain a student visa, which is essential for studying in Japan.

Application Deadlines for the United States

If you plan to study in the United States, it is important to apply well in advance. Visa interview slots at many US embassies become scarce close to the major starting dates. Applying early ensures you have ample time to schedule and attend your visa interview, increasing your chances of obtaining a student visa in time for the start of your program.


Applying to universities abroad may seem like a complex process, but with careful planning and attention to detail, it can be a rewarding experience. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can navigate the application process successfully and increase your chances of acceptance. Remember to apply early, focus on quality applications, and seek assistance when needed. Good luck on your journey to studying abroad!

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