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THE USA: Applying to University - Must read

Nigerian students applying to a US university

Practical advice for Nigerian students applying to study in the United States


The United States of America is among the top three study destinations for Nigerian students. America is famous for its sense of adventure and schools and colleges with cutting edge technology. Read our guide on how to apply and you'll be studying there in no time!


Which US Degree Course to Choose?


The US is a different continent and to move there for studies can be stressful and complicated. Start to research American schools which accept international students at 18 months before the term starts to gain a timely entry and visa from Nigeria. One of the The EducationUSA Advising Centers (EAC) in Abuja or Lagos can provide a Nigerian student with accurate and clear information about all accredited US higher education institutions. In order to qualify for a US study visa, Nigerian students must search for schools certified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Programme (SEVP).


Community Colleges Admission


These are two-year programmes leading to the Associate of Arts (AA) or Associate of Science (AS) degree. There are technical and vocational programs at Community Colleges with close links to secondary/high schools. Community colleges and universities have special agreements for the transfer of credits and degrees between the institutions which allow students from Nigeria to earn a bachelor’s degree with two years of community college, followed by two years of university. Standardized tests are normally not required but the college’s website will have their specific testing requirements.


US Undergraduate Programme Requirements


In order to gain entry for undergraduate programme in the US, Nigerian students are expected to pass standardized tests.

English Language Ability tests include TOEFL, IELTS, MELAB and the PTE. If you are accepted into a SEVP certified US university or college degree programme a separate Intensive English Programme (IEP) may not be required.


Standardized Admission Tests

If you are planning to apply to a college or university from Nigeria, be prepared to take a SAT (multiple-choice test of mathematics and English) and ACT (multiple-choice test of English, mathematics, reading, and science reasoning, plus an optional writing component) test.


US Postgraduate Programme Requirements


There are over 1000 universities in America offering postgraduate master’s and doctoral degree courses available to Nigerian students. Usual application deadline is 1 January with certain dates for the final chance to take SAT and ACT tests. You can also opt for a ‘single choice early action’ before 1 November, which will help to get admitted earlier and compare the results with other schools before making a final decision. Every school has their internal deadlines on the website and it is wise to check these so that you don’t miss out a year at your dream uni!


Standardized Admission Tests


  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
  • Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) for liberal arts, science, mathematics
  • Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) for business schools and study for MBA programmes
  • Law School Admission Testing Programme (LSAT) for law schools
  • Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) for medical schools
  • Dental Admission Testing Programme (DAT) for dental schools
  • Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT)
  • Optometry Admission Testing Program (OAT)


Credential evaluation is typically used by schools in the US and offers three types of verification: course by course, document by document and by professional work experience. There are many Credential evaluation agencies in America and Nigerian students should have a simple checklist handy before selecting one.


Tip: Use materials available on each test page and don’t forget to pay the fees which usually range from $22.50 to $160 and are subject to change each year.


Supporting Documents


Depending on the university’s profile and requirements, the list of supporting documents for undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in the US may vary. Check the list with the International Admissions Office at your future university:

  • Completed application including a CV
  • Application fee (normally between $50-$70 with some exceptions)
  • Academic records with official transcripts and certified English translations (if applicable) for each secondary institution attended
  • School reports and teacher evaluations
  • Standardized test results
  • Two academic letters of recommendation
  • Demonstrated English proficiency test
  • Completed Certification of Finances form
  • Bank letter showing required level of finance for the first year of study and living expenses dated within the past three months
  • Optional items (artwork or scientific research)
  • Two or three essays depending on the subject and programme


Application Essentials


Once accepted onto a SEVP programme, the school will issue a I-20 paper record of your information which is needed to pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee. These are among the key documents students rely on when applying for their US visa after school admission. Learn more about study experience in the US from international students like you and get ready for your once in a lifetime university experience in America.

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About Author

Elena Sikorsky is an entrepreneur in e-commerce and digital marketing. She has degrees in Entrepreneurial Management and PR and Broadcast Journalism. Elena is a contributing writer on culture, art, education, fashion, business and travel in British and international media.


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