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.

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

Along with your application form, you are required to submit an overview of all  grades received during at least three past years of high school (for example: vwo 3, 4, and 5 if you’re in year 6), and your diploma (if you have completed high school by the time you’re applying for college). You will need to submit an official copy of all forms containing a school stamp and signature. Your dean can upload the necessary documents. You can find more information about the requirements, as well as some examples, in the section about school documents.

Transfer students (students who have completed at least one year of higher education and wish to continue their education in the US) are also required to submit an academic transcript through their current institution. This is an official overview of all courses taken thus far, including awarded credit (ECT) and grades.


School profile

The school profile will be submitted by your dean, together with your transcripts. The school profile can tell the American university more about the school and the Dutch school system. You can find more information, as well as an example, in the section about school documents.



Most universities require you to submit one or more essays. These can be autobiographical, but could also concern other topics. Most universities will give their applicants a list of topics to choose from. See our essay writing tips for help on how to write a good essay.


Two to three recommendation letters

Some universities require you to submit recommendation letters. You can find tips and examples on the page about school documents.


Admission exam results

Your admission exam results are an important aspect of your application. 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.


Application fee

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.


Scholarship application forms

A university that offers funding to its students will usually require an additional form to fill out and submit alongside your application. Make sure you know what forms the institution expects you to submit, and when your deadlines are. Some universities use their own forms, others a generic pdf or an online form.

Make sure that you are aware of your deadlines. The deadline for your application and funding can differ! Application deadlines are often early in the year (starting at November 1st of your final year) and inflexible, so make sure you are on time.


Writing portfolio (optional)


Interview (optional)

Some universities offer interviews. You can find tips and information on the page about interviews.