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International Applicants

Students socializing at International coffee hour

The University of Colorado Boulder welcomes your application for graduate education. As one of the premier research universities in the United States and the world, we value our international students' contribution to our dynamic, innovative, collaborative research environment. We believe you will find we have much to offer in return.

CU-Boulder offers 49 doctoral and 51 master's degree programs. Academic and research opportunities, along with departmental admission requirements, are outlined in degree program academic overviews. Start below, however, with evaluating your level and country-specific requirements, as graduate admission requirements vary widely around the globe.

Step 1: Evaluate your Level

Step 2: Country-Specific Requirements

Step 3: Choose Your Academic Program

Step 4: Learn about Tuition & Monetary Matters

Step 5: Learn about Visa Requirements


It is important to review the following requirements and deadlines prior to submitting an application for admission to any of our degree programs:  

CU-Boulder recommends that students fill out and submit their applications online. Find out how to:

Whew. After you submit your application, you can take a deep breath, but don’t stop there. Learn how to track your admission status, send in your intent to enroll, and get tips about moving to and beginning your studies at CU-Boulder.


Immigration Questions

Who is an international student?

We distinguish international from domestic students based on their immigration status- that is, whether they will be attending CU on a valid visa. Anyone who plans to study at CU while on a valid visa of any sort is considered an international student. Anyone attending without such a visa would be considered a domestic applicant.

I’ve applied for permanent residency, but haven’t yet gotten it. Am I a domestic or international student?

If you (or your family) have a receipt for the submission of your I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence) form, you should indicate “permanent resident” on the application, even if your permanent residency has yet to be granted. You would be considered a domestic applicant. If your application for permanent residency is later denied please let us know immediately at

I’m a dependent of a current visa holder. Am I allowed to study at CU? Do I still need to meet the English proficiency requirement? Do I still need to complete the financial statement?

Generally dependents of most visa types are allowed to apply for and enter full time study at our university- common examples are  E-2, L-2, H-4, and A-2 visa holders. However if you have one of these visas now, you should note that most dependent children age out of their visa status when they turn 21. Therefore, before you turn 21, you would need to change your status to that of a student. This can be done either by exiting the US, applying for and obtaining a new visa in order to re-enter in that status and continue your studies; or by applying for a change of status within the USA.  Please email us at for further details if this might apply to you.

Two exceptions are worth noting- neither F-2 nor B-2 dependents can be full time students. Those dependents can take a class or two in a non-degree seeking capacity if it is “incidental” to their visa, and if they enroll for “vocational or recreational” purposes. Those students would need to work with the Office of Continuing Education in order to take a course:  Students on dependent visas do not need to demonstrate funding in order to finalize their admission if they remain in that dependent visa status, but if they do not qualify for an exemption for English proficiency they do need to demonstrate such based on a TOEFL or IELTS result:   English Proficiency Requirements

Do you require proof of my citizenship and visa type?

We do not require these, but misrepresenting them on your application would be considered a violation of the honor code, and you could therefore be denied or have your admission offer rescinded. Please note that when admitted, International Student and Scholar Services will ask to see a copy of your passport and I-94 for their records.

When do I need to provide my financial statement?

You do not need to provide the financial statement in order for us to determine if you are academically eligible for admission. However you would need to provide this document before we could finalize your admission and issue you the necessary immigration forms.

When do I need to provide my TOEFL or IELTS score?

Some departments require international students to provide these scores as part of the admissions process, and will not consider you until they’ve been provided. Other departments may be able to make a decision about your academic admissibility without them. It is important that you check the requirements of the department to which you are applying to see when you need to submit this score! Also, please note that several departments do not accept IELTS results- these include Economics, Applied Mathematics and Philosophy. In any case you would need to provide these results, and they would need to be the sufficient score, before we could finalize your admission and issue you the necessary immigration forms.

Who can I bring with me as a dependent?

Dependents are limited to your immediate family, which is defined as your spouse and children. Parents, grandparents, siblings, nieces and nephews cannot be dependents.


I-20 Questions

How do I get an I-20?

In order for our office to generate an I-20 for you, you need to complete the online application, submit all required materials, be reviewed for and offered admission by the department to which you are applying, and meet all immigration regulations (which include proof of English proficiency and proof of funding). Our office by law cannot issue I-20s until all of these things have been done.

My department has offered me a Teaching or Research Assistantship. Do I need to complete the financial statement? When your department makes such an offer they send us a copy of the letter. We immediately review it to determine whether enough has been offered to meet the immigration regulation to provide proof of funding for your studies here. If the offer is sufficient for this purpose there is no reason to complete and submit the financial statement. If it is not sufficient, an international admissions officer will send you an email stating how much more needs to be demonstrated in order to satisfy that immigration regulation. In that case please complete and submit the form to indicate where your additional funding will be coming from.

How do you arrive at the estimate for living expenses?

The Office of Financial Aid publishes a Cost of Attendance Budget every year and estimates the rates of room and board, medical and personal costs.

I looked up tuition rates and they appear lower than what’s on the financial statement. Can I only demonstrate tuition for the program to which I’ve applied?

No. We require the baseline rate which appears on the financial statement. At this time we are unable to issue I-20s that are customized to each student’s situation.

I looked up tuition rates and they appear higher than what’s on the financial statement. Will I only have to pay what it asks me to show on the financial statement?

The financial statement is an estimate only. It does not matter if the financial statement’s estimate is lower than the actual tuition- you will still be responsible for the full and actual tuition. Similarly, the figures for living expenses and books and supplies are also estimates- if your expenses go over the estimates they are your responsibility.

If I live off campus do I still need to demonstrate living expenses funding?

Yes. While the estimate for living expenses is based on rates for living in campus housing, you should expect to pay at least a similar amount (if not more) if you’ll be living off campus. So the living expenses line is an estimate for either on or off campus living. If you have family that lives nearby, and if you plan on living with them and getting your meals from them, we can reduce the amount on the financial statement by the living expenses estimate, if they’ll write a letter stating that this is the case.

I will be exclusively buying and renting used text books and my program doesn’t require many extra supplies. Can you reduce the “Books and supplies” costs on the financial statement? I can’t imagine spending nearly $2000 on books in a year…

No. Of course it’s common sense to try and find used books for your studies, but they are not always available. New textbooks can cost several hundred dollars each, and lab fees for certain courses can run similarly high. This estimate is based on Office of Financial Aid assessments, and in our experience, is accurate. So please do be ready to spend at least this much (if not more) if necessary.

My spouse will be looking for a job as soon as they arrive. Can I thereby avoid demonstrating additional funding for them?

No. Holders of some dependent visas are not authorized to work in the US, so they may be ineligible to hold a job. Also, a possible future job is not evidence of current ability to pay. Therefore you must demonstrate the full amount required.

I can meet the immigration regulation to provide proof of funding based on personal or family funds, but I’m hoping to get a Teaching or Research Assistantship (TA or RA), or a student loan, or to find outside scholarships. If I provide proof of person or family funds in order to satisfy the regulation, am I or my family obligated to pay if other funding becomes available?

No. While your family or sponsor is stating that they will support you in your studies when they complete the “Affidavit of Support” on the second page of the financial statement, if additional sources of funding become available they are not obligated to pay anyway. If you won’t find out about such TAs, RAs, scholarships or loans until a later date, we would suggest submitting the financial statement with your family or sponsor’s demonstration of funding. If your funding source changes, we must be notified so we can issue a new I-20. 

I was admitted but the source of funding as stated on my I-20 has changed. Should I get a new I-20 to reflect this? What if I already have my F-1 visa?

Yes, you should get a new I-20 to reflect the funding change. Please let us know this information immediately so we update it in the SEVIS system. If you already have your F1 visa, and there is no time to get the new I-20  to you, you can use the current I-20 to enter the U.S.A. Immigration officials have access to that database, so you should bring the new financial documentation reflecting the funding change with you when you travel, in case they ask for it. Of course we’ll be happy to provide a letter from our office noting the change of funding as well.

If there is time to get a new I-20 to you, we can mail it to you so you have it with you before you travel. Whenever any information that appears on your I-20 changes, please let us know immediately at

How long does it take to get my I-20? Can you send it by express mail?

If it is sent by regular post (which is free) the delivery time on your I-20 can vary greatly. If you’re in Canada it could be there in about two weeks. If you’re elsewhere in the world we’ve found that it typically takes about 4-8 weeks. If we send it by regular post there is no tracking number, and therefore no way to tell where it is, or if it’s been lost. There is an option by which this form can be sent to you by express mail, at your expense, if you’re interested. If you choose this option your I-20 can be delivered to most parts of the world within about 5 business days. If you’re interested in this option you should reply to your formal admission email with a request for information about it- we will not provide this information earlier, in order to avoid having orders placed for I-20s that are not ready.

I’ve been waiting for my I-20, but it hasn’t yet arrived. Can you send me another copy?

If you’ve waited more than 8 weeks (based on the receipt of your formal admission email) for your I-20 and it hasn’t yet arrived, we’d be happy to reprint and resend it to you. Please let us know about this by emailing .

I’ve been admitted, and I’m trying to pay the SEVIS fee online. Can you send me a scan of my I-20? The SEVIS site asking for information from it...

Federal regulations prevent us from scanning and emailing or faxing this document to you. However if you send an email to we’ll be happy to provide you with the information from your I-20 necessary to go online and pay the SEVIS fee.

The major that appears on my I-20 is not the exact name of the major/department to which I was admitted. Is this an error?

Not all majors at CU have their exact names in the federal (US government) SEVIS system, so there’s a chance that the major on your I-20 will not match your major at our school. This is not an issue- visa officers understand that the names of majors may be different from your I-20 and admission letter. It is also OK if your major name appears to be cut off, as the full name will appear in your SEVIS record. If these differences apply to you there is no error on your I-20, and therefore nothing to be fixed.

I received the I-20 but there’s an error on it. What should I do?

It will depend on the kind of error. Your name and birth date need to match your passport exactly (except for accents in your name) so if there are errors there they will need to be changed. (For this purpose it’s a good idea to review your personal information in your MyCUBoulder account, as your I-20 information will be pulled directly from that data.) If your major name appears incorrect, please first check our response to the previous question. If there still appears to be an error in your major name that will need to be corrected. Sub-fields of study will not appear on the I-20.

 If the name of your sponsor is completely wrong that will need to be corrected. If the difference is a matter of spelling, and if the spelling is correct within two or three characters, we’ve found that a letter from our office is sufficient for visa officers who might notice the difference, and the form therefore does not need to be corrected. Lastly, if the form is not signed in blue ink we’ll need to send you another. Please communicate any issues with your I-20 to

I provided a bank statement that demonstrated more funding than what’s required, but my I-20 only shows my sponsor has the minimum amount necessary. Can you change the form to reflect the full amount demonstrated on the bank statement?

The immigration regulation you are satisfying when providing a bank statement is for “proof of funding”. As long as you provide a statement which shows at least the minimum amount, there’s no need to state exactly how much was there. We therefore only state that we received evidence that your sponsor or family has sufficient funding as we require- which is the amount on the financial statement. You’ll need to independently prove to your visa officer that this amount exists, so be sure to bring these statements with you to your visa appointment. They will then see exactly how much funding was demonstrated. We will not change I-20s to reflect the total we saw in your bank statements.

My I-20 lists 36 months as the duration of the master’s program or 78 months as the duration of the doctorate program. I thought the master’s degree program was only 2 years and the doctorate program was only 5.5 years.  Why is my I-20 different?

We always ask for the most amount of time possible on our I-20s per F-1 visa regulations. Many students do complete the master’s degree in 2 years and the doctorate degree in 5.5 years, but some take longer, and some pursue ‘optional practical training’ (an internship or job allowed under F-1 regulations) after the end of their studies. We have found it easiest to ask for the most time we can at the start of your studies here, rather than having to petition SEVIS to extend your program if you take longer than the expected number of years, or if you get an opportunity to stay in the US for a job or internship after you graduate. Due to the volume of I-20s generated, we cannot change the length of study for particular students. 

Requirement questions

Do you offer conditional admission?

At this point we do not offer conditional admission. Some departments do not require you to provide TOEFL or IELTS results as part of the application process, but if you are offered admission you need to have achieved the necessary level of English proficiency (as measured by those tests) before we would be able to finalize your admission. If you are offered admission but have not yet met the English proficiency requirement, you may continue to take the tests and submit results as your attempt to get the necessary score. If you’re not able to obtain such with sufficient time to finalize your admission before a term, you can request an admission deferral from your department while you practice your English and re-take the test.

 If you are offered admission before demonstrating your English proficiency, you are not automatically enrolled in a language program for such. We do have an excellent International English Center at CU, and they could help you study to achieve the necessary score. However they are their own program, with their own admission criteria, tuition and schedule, and they issue their own I-20s (for English study). If you are interested in studying English at the IEC, you should contact them directly:

 Please note that we do not accept completion of an English language program as “proof of English proficiency.” Only scores from a TOEFL or IELTS test (when allowed by the department) will satisfy this requirement.

I am a first name user; my family name does not appear on my passport. OR I am a family name user; no ‘first’ name appears on my passport. How should I indicate this on the application?

In both cases, you should enter a period “.” for your first/given name, and the entirety of your name into the “family/last” name field. We follow the SEVIS Name Standards in doing so. If you registered for a test (SAT, ACT, TOEFL, IELTS, etc.) under a different variation of your name, please provide us with your registration information by email to” 

What is a transcript?

A transcript is a year-by-year academic record which should include ALL post-secondary academic work completed to date, including courses appearing as transfer credit on other transcripts, credits earned in study abroad programs, and courses taken for college credit while in high school.

What is the difference between an official and an unofficial transcript?

  • Official transcripts are those that bear the facsimile signature of the registrar and seal of the issuing institution. Submission of official transcripts is only required if you are admitted.
  • Unofficial transcripts include the same information as official transcripts, but are lacking the signature and seal of the institution. An unofficial transcript may be a transcript that was opened by the student; a copy or a scan of an official transcript; a downloaded copy or one that was not issued directly from the school; or a translation of the transcript by a student or a translation service. 

Do I need to provide an unofficial transcript from every post-secondary institution I have attended?

We require one copy of the scanned unofficial transcript from each undergraduate and graduate institution you attended to be uploaded in the application for admission. This includes community colleges, summer sessions, and extension programs. While credits from one institution may appear on the transcript of a second institution, transcripts must be submitted from each institution, regardless of the length of attendance, and whether or not courses were completed.  Failure to list and submit transcripts from all institutions previously attended is considered to be a violation of academic ethics and may result in the cancellation of your admission or dismissal from the university.

Please contact us at  if you have any questions.

Where can I find instructions on how to upload my transcripts?

Instructions can be accessed in the application on the Upload Documents page, as well as in the Instructions for Uploading Unofficial Transcripts to Your Application.

Do I need a translation of my transcript?

If documents are written in a language other than English, complete and official English translations must be uploaded together WITH the original language records. Each transcript (mark sheet) should contain a complete record of studies at the institution from which it is issued (i.e., the subjects taken and grades/marks earned in each subject), as well as any legend. We will not accept grade reports.

Please do NOT upload your institution syllabi with your transcript(s) or mark sheet(s).

For the following countries, only the English language transcript is required:

Bangladesh, British Commonwealth countries, Egypt, Hong Kong, India, Iran, Israel, Japan, Jordan University of Science & Technology, Korea, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Sudan, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey (for any university if the student’s major is taught in English), United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

For all other countries, all records should be submitted in the native language with original stamps. All credentials written in languages other than English must be accompanied by a literal certified English translation. Some examples are: 

  • China-Every page of each document must bear an original stamp or seal of the institution. Students must submit transcripts and diplomas in both the native language and English and must submit separate diplomas showing every degree awarded.
  • India-Every page of each document must bear an original stamp or seal of the institution showing that it is attested by the registrar or appropriate school official. Students must submit individual mark sheets for each semester or year, and must submit separate diplomas showing every degree awarded.
  • Spain and all Latin American countries-must submit transcripts and diplomas in both the native language and English and, as appropriate, must submit the official Titulo or Grado/Grau diploma for every degree awarded.

If you are offered admission, you will be required to submit official transcripts before you will be allowed to enroll. Official transcripts are those that bear the facsimile signature of the registrar and seal of the issuing institution. The official transcript will be compared to the document you upload. Any alterations or omission of information on the unofficial transcripts submitted to the University of Colorado Boulder could be grounds for cancellation of your application and/or the withdrawal of the offer of admission.

Do I need to submit my diploma showing the award of my degree?

If you have completed a degree program and you have received a diploma, you must submit the diploma.  Where English is not the native language, you must submit the diplomas in both English and the native language.  If you submit only the English language diploma, it will result in processing delays.  Submitting the separate diploma is especially important if you have completed your degree in China or India.  The Provisional Degree Certificate from an Indian University is also acceptable in lieu of a final diploma. 

What kind of translation should I get, and where can I get it?

You will need to get a literal, certified (or official) English translation.  It should not be interpretive, nor should it try to convert the original grades into US-style grades.  A certified (or official) translation will be different depending on what is considered an official translation in your country.  In some countries, official translations are only issued by the school.  In other countries, official government translators issue official translations.  Some countries do not offer translations through a government network, and the student must find a private translation service to issue the translation.  We also suggest that you to visit or consult EducationUSA: to see if this organization in your country offers translations, or can refer you to a service. 

My school will only issue one official transcript. If I have it translated it will be opened and therefore not official. What do I do?

If you are admitted and decide to attend CU-Boulder, you must present the original official transcript immediately upon your arrival to Boulder.

Will you accept a notary public translation?

We do not accept documents from a notary public as official, either the translation or a copy of the transcripts in the native language. They may be used for the unofficial copy.

 What is the “Foreign Transcript Evaluation” item on my checklist? What do I need to do to complete it?

This checklist item prompts us to do an evaluation of your non-US academic work, after your transcripts have been received. It is entirely an internal item- you do not need to do anything to complete it. You do not need to ask a third party credential evaluator to review your transcripts- again, we conduct our own internal evaluation of your non-US work. Whether or not this item is completed, the department to which you’ve applied has access to all of your materials at all times, so this item does not slow down the department’s review of your application.

How do you evaluate my transcript? Should I convert my GPA for you?

We have trained and experienced professional staff in our office who evaluate your records, including converting your GPA as required. There’s no need to try to do this yourself.

Does my GPA qualify me to be considered for a TA or RA?

These offers are made by the departments based on their internal process and needs, and so we would have no way of knowing whether you would be awarded one. If you have questions about whether your academic history will qualify you for a RA or TA you should review the department’s website, where they will most often have information about what it takes to be considered for such.

What kind of transfer credits will you accept from my non US school?

You can view the form and requirements at This process begins in the department to which you are admitted.  Credit may not be transferred until you have completed, at the CU Boulder Graduate School, at least six credits of graduate level coursework as a degree-seeking student on the CU Boulder campus with a 3.0 GPA. Transferred credits do not reduce the residence requirement but may reduce the amount of work to be done in formal courses.

I need a formal admission letter but all I’ve received is an email. How can I get an admission letter?

Email is an official communication method of the university, so the email you received is indeed your formal admission offer. Another printed (on letterhead), formal admission offer will accompany your I-20. Please contact us at if you need a different document.

Other schools are requiring me to have my credentials evaluated by a third party. If that third party sends you their evaluation and my transcripts, would that count as official or unofficial?

It count as unofficial, and we would be willing to use those documents for the application process. If you are admitted we will then ask you to provide the official transcripts, either by having them sent to us directly from your school, or by bringing them into our office in a school sealed envelope when you arrive.

Are international students required to take the GRE exams?

If the department to which you are applying requires applicants to provide a GRE score, then you will need to take the test and provide us with the official score. International applicants are not exempt from this requirement. You can find information about registering to take the GRE outside the US here:

If the department does not offer me funding can I apply for financial aid?

Financial aid is defined in part as US government assistance for US citizens and permanent residents. If you are not one of these you would not qualify for such. You may try to secure an education loan in your home country, but you would be responsible for doing so, and for repaying it appropriately. 

Do you have housing for international graduate students?

There is some housing available to graduate students, depending on their situation, but it is not guaranteed. It is very possible that you will need to seek out off campus housing on your own. You can find information about campus housing options for graduate students here: . If it becomes necessary to find off campus housing the university does have a web site that can help you with this endeavor: .

I received a letter from my department offering me admission, but I haven’t received any correspondence from the Office of Admissions. When should I get this?

While we do our best to process all admissions as soon as we receive them, there might be a delay between an email from the department offering you admission and a formal admission email from our office. We do need to check to make sure you satisfy the necessary immigration regulations, and our volume might be such that we cannot immediately process your admission. Please be patient with us, but if more than three weeks have passed from when you receive an admission offer from your department feel free to inquire about such by emailing .

Does CU-Boulder accept graduate international applications and materials from third-party organizations or individuals?

CU-Boulder does not accept applications or materials from third party organizations or individuals.  Students must submit applications for Graduate School Programs directly to the Office of Admissions using the online application.  Academic documents must be submitted via approved official sources. There are a few exceptions to this, which include (but may not be limited to) IIE, Fulbright, and certain branches of overseas governments.