It will take you about a year to complete your application to an American university. The following page contains an overview of all necessary documents, along with some tips and examples.

Application requirements can vary greatly from one institution to another. Every university uses its own application forms and deadlines. Sometimes you have to submit your form at a central department, other times you apply directly to the faculty itself. In both cases, your application will be judged by a central body as well as the faculty itself.



All aspects of your application need to be submitted before the final deadline. Every institution uses a different deadline, although most of them fall somewhere between November and April of the year prior to your intended start date. Always check the website of all institutions on your shortlist for the exact deadlines, so you can create a timeline with all application due dates as well as deadlines of any funding programs you’re applying for.

A complete application to an American graduate school usually contains the following:


Application form

Nearly 700 schools use the Common App. Information entered here can be used to apply to several universities. Other universities use their own online application system or application form. Some State universities use an application system that can be used to apply to other universities in the same state.


Original transcripts

An overview of all courses taken from high school until now, including your grades, complete with official school stamp and signature. If you already graduated, a copy of your diploma will suffice.


Translation of transcripts

An official translation of your diploma, complete with an official school stamp and signature. You are usually allowed to translate the diploma yourself – a translation by a sworn translator is not required.


Statement of Purpose

Your written statement of purpose is a vital part of your application. You state why you wish to enroll in a graduate program, and why you chose this particular institution. In the statement of purpose, you can let your personality shine and show the school what makes you stand out from the other applicants. Every application requires a new statement of purpose. More information and tips about writing a statement of purpose can be found on our website.


Recommendation letters

Most applications require three recommendation letters. These should be written by professors who have gotten to know you and your academic skills. If you are applying for a Master of Business Administration, or another program that asks for work experience, you also have to include a recommendation letter written by a (previous) employer. The letters can be sent directly to the institutions, or you can add them to the sealed envelope with the rest of your application forms.


Admission exam results

Future graduate students need to take several admission exams. Most university require you to attach the results of one or more of these exams to your application forms. The testing facility can forward your results to the universities to complete your application. Your choice of university and program determine which exams you are required to take. The required results may also differ. Some examples of admission exams are the TOEFL, the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) and – if available in your field – the GRE Subject Test. Consult the page about English language exams and admission exams for further information.


Application fees

Most institutions require you to pay an application fee upfront. This can be any amount between $25 and $90 for one application, and you will not be refunded, even if rejected. You can pay this fee by credit card.



Some universities offer the opportunity to schedule an interview..