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Application & Admission

for International Students

International Applicants

American University is a microcosm of the world's diversity. Our community includes students from across the United States and international students from more than 134 countries, all sharing a desire to shape the world for today and tomorrow. AU actively promotes international understanding--this is reflected in the breadth and depth of our curriculum, the research and teaching interests of our faculty, the regular presence of world leaders on campus, and our academic partnerships with institutions around the world.

The School of Public Affairs (SPA) works closely with AU's International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) to offer resources and programs that support international students' academic success and help them acclimate to the university, the Washington area, and life in the United States.

While much of the application process remains the same for international and domestic students, below we've provided information specific to international applicants. This list details the documents and records you will need to submit with your SPA application file.

Materials & Documents

All applicants to SPA graduate degree and certificate programs must possess a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution by the date of anticipated enrollment at SPA.

Applicants are required to submit transcripts from all institutions attended. For admissions review purposes, SPA allows applicants to upload unofficial transcripts (documents that you may secure on your own by downloading from your prior/current University for free). You are asked to upload these documents through the online application.

Prior to enrolling, all admitted students are required to submit official transcripts. Official transcripts (documents that normally cost a nominal fee to obtain and are secured through a University Registrar site or mailed to you in a sealed envelope post-graduation) must be sent directly from the institution to American University. All admitted students must submit an official transcript prior to entering any graduate degree or certificate program. Official transcripts should be sent to American University using one of the following modes of transmission:

Via Email (Preferred):
Note: Please do not send questions to the above e-mail address. It is for document submission only.

Via Courier Service (FedEx/UPS/DHL, etc.)
SPA Graduate Admissions
Office of Enrollment
4801 Massachusetts Ave NW
Room 218
Washington, DC 20016

Via U.S. Mail (U.S. Postal Service)
SPA Graduate Admissions
Office of Enrollment
4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20016-8001

If your transcripts do not indicate the title of the degree and the date it was conferred, an attested copy of your original diploma is also required.

If your original transcripts or degree confirmation are not in English, English translations must be provided. Translations must come from recognized bodies such as a university, an embassy, overseas EducationUSA Advising Centers, or other certified translation agencies. Translations alone or unattested copies of any document will not be accepted.

If you attended a non-U.S. institution, one of our evaluators will do an assessment of your foreign transcript(s) and credentials. External credential evaluations from World Education Services (WES)Educational Credential Evaluators (ECE), or the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (ACCRAO) are welcome, but not required.

English Language Proficiency Requirement

Submit official test scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), the Pearson Test of English (PTE), or the Duolingo English Test(DET). English proficiency test scores are valid for two years; scores more than two years old are not accepted. We strongly recommend that international applicants arrange to take the TOEFL, IELTS, PTE, or DET at least one month prior to the application deadline. Be sure to inform us if the name on your application is different from the name on your score report. Applicants should follow the direction offered in the table below for submission of official score report(s). Unofficial scores will not be considered for admission consideration. Applicants must meet or exceed the following minimum test thresholds for English proficiency:


Minimum test thresholds for English proficiency
Test Minimum Required Score How to Send Scores
Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) 100 on internet-based tests, 250 on computer-based tests, 600 on paper-delivered tests using the older scoring method, or 75 on paper-delivered tests using the revised scoring method Request Educational Testing Service (ETS) send official TOEFL score report to American University's institution code 5007. No department code required.
International English Language Testing System (IELTS) 7.0 Request scores to be sent to American University.
Pearson Test of English (PTE) 68 Request official PTE scores be sent to American University School of Public Affairs via the university code X1Q-K6-10.
Duolingo English Test (DET) 120 Request scores to be sent to American University Graduate Programs.


*Exchange student applicants from the Hertie School of Governance partner university may submit the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations (Cambridge ESOL) in lieu of the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE. The minimum score requirement is Grade C on the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) or Grade B on the Cambridge Advanced Certificate (CAE).

Applicants who hold a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited university located in one of the following English-speaking countries (where the primary language of instruction is English) may waive the English proficiency requirement.

  • Anguilla
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Bermuda
  • Botswana
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Cameroon*
  • Canada*
  • Cayman Islands
  • Cook Islands
  • Dominica
  • Gambia
  • Ghana
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Hong Kong
  • India
  • Ireland
  • Jamaica
  • Kenya
  • Kiribati
  • Liberia
  • Malawi
  • Micronesia
  • Montserrat
  • Namibia
  • New Zealand
  • Nigeria
  • Philippines
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis
  • Saint Lucia
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Sierra Leone
  • Singapore
  • Saint Maarten
  • South Africa
  • Tanzania
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Turks and Caicos Islands
  • Uganda
  • United States
  • United Kingdom
  • Zimbabwe

* Applies to applicants whose post-secondary degree is from a university in which English is the language of instruction.

Prior to enrolling, all admitted students are required to submit official transcripts confirming degree conferral. If the transcript that you submitted with your application did not include your final semester(s) of coursework, our Office of Graduate Admissions will need a final official transcript (showing your final grades for these courses) prior to your first semester as a SPA graduate student.

Successfully complete American University's Master's Accelerator Program with an overall GPA of 3.25 or higher.

For many international students who are studying for a master's or postgraduate degree, adjusting to life in the U.S. can be challenging. To make your transition as smooth and productive as possible, consider the Master's Accelerator Program (MAP). MAP is a pre-master's program that sets you up for success by blending graduate coursework with professional, English-language, and cultural development.

MAP offers three tracks: Advanced MAP (one semester), MAP (two semesters), and Pre-Sessional English (three semesters). Upon successful completion of the MAP program, you may progress into a participating AU master's degree program. Participating master's programs in the School of Public Affairs include the Master of Arts in Political Science, the Master of Public Administration (MPA), the Master of Public Policy (MPP), the Master of Arts in Political Science, and the Master of Science in Data Science.

Immigration Process & Requirements

If you plan to study at American University on an F-1 student visa, you will need the I-20 form, issued by American University’s International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS). To study on a J-1 visa, you will need the DS-2019 form issued by your financial sponsor. If your sponsor does not issue DS-2019 documents, it will be issued by ISSS. Admitted international students who want to obtain an I-20 or DS-2019 document from American University may visit the ISSS Immigration Process web page for instructions.

The following is a brief overview of the process and requirements:

  1. Pay your enrollment deposit online.
  2. Submit the following documentation to the School of Public Affairs Office of Graduate Admissions via your online application account or by e-mail to
    1. A completed Certification of Finances for International Students (CFIS) form. Clearly indicate on the form which type of visa you plan to obtain for your studies with American University (F-1 or J-1) and your current visa type, if applicable. If you are pending U.S. permanent resident or asylum status, please indicate on the form accordingly.
    2. Supporting financial documents demonstrating financial ability to pay for at least one year of tuition, fees, and living expenses according to the current International Student Cost Guide. These financial documents will also be required at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate when you apply for your visa. All financial documents must show available funds and must be dated within the past three months in order to be considered valid. Appropriate documents reflecting financial ability are listed here.
    3. Scanned passport copy (biographic page only).
    4. A completed F-1 Immigration Transfer In Form to release your immigration record to American University (only required of international students who currently hold an I-20 from a different U.S. institution). This form must be completed by both the student and the student's current international student advisor.

Other Helpful Resources

Financial assistance for international students at American University is available in the form of merit-based financial awards only. International students seeking merit awards are encouraged to submit a complete application for admission by the appropriate deadline in order to receive merit award consideration.

The School of Public Affairs encourages all prospective students to seek out other sources of financial assistance from organizations or sponsors, such as:

Since 1954, International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) has welcomed thousands of students and scholars to American University. Their diverse staff is dedicated to a single notion: all world-minded students deserve a global education, and that education exists here at AU. If you're a student or scholar coming from outside the U.S., ISSS staff are here to support you, your transition, and your academic work.

ISSS provides services including counseling, advocacy, outreach, and assistance with immigration issues. It runs programs such as International Student Orientation, cross-cultural training, ethnic and nationality club advising, and the Language Exchange Program.

ISSS offer events, activities, and workshops throughout the year to help international students get involved and adjust to life in the United States.

ISSS is authorized by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and the U.S. Information Agency to issue and sign the I-20 or DS-2019 forms.

International Student Orientation is a day-long cross-cultural event that eases your transition to American University and the United States. It takes place during the week immediately before the start of each semester. Orientation covers important immigration, employment, and cross-cultural topics, as well as providing academic information targeted to all international students entering American University. Newly-admitted international students will receive a preliminary schedule with their immigration documents, and a final schedule will be given to all students on the first day of Orientation.

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Please contact the Office of Graduate Admissions (OGA) at 202-885-6230 or We're here to help!