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The basics
THE USA: Applying to University

How to apply to study in the USA as a Filipino student

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

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Unlike the UK, the US does not have a centralized university application system, so you will need to apply to each institution you are interested in separately. You’ll need to fulfil each institution’s admissions requirements and sometimes present proof of sufficient financial resources.


As an international student you also need to ensure you choose an institution and programme accredited by the US government’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). You can use the Study in the States website to search for accredited institutions that offer the courses you are interested in.


Accreditation is important as it ensures your degree is recognised by other universities, professional associations, employers and government ministries worldwide. Only SEVP-approved institutions can enrol students in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and provide you with the documents necessary to apply for a US student visa.


The application process to study in the US can be lengthy, so it’s best to begin as early as you can. This could be from six to 12 months prior to study, or even as long as 18 months before.


Timing is an important consideration because the US academic calendar (August/September to May/June) differs from the school year in the Philippines (June through March). Applications to four-year colleges in the US are usually due in early January for autumn (August/September) enrolment.


When choosing universities, a number of factors should be considered. Apart from looking at whether the school offers your desired major, cost and location may be important.



Studying in the US can be expensive. Annual tuition and fees for US universities can range from $17,000 for public four-year institutions to over $40,000 for private colleges. Room and board can add another $10,000 or more.


Scholarships are available to some Filipino students. The International Scholarships website offers a free search function to see if you are eligible.



You may want to consider a university in a city or state where you have family or friends, if they might be able to help you adjust to life in the US.


Entry requirements and standardised tests

Entry requirements differ depending on the university to which you are applying; however, most US universities will expect you to have completed secondary school and to have earned a certificate of completion.


American universities also commonly require students to submit standardised test scores for admission. Scores from these tests can also help you determine which schools to apply to, as some universities require much higher test scores. Listed below are some of the common tests US universities require.


SAT or ACT: These are standardised tests that measure literacy, writing, and mathematical skills needed for college. Unlike the Philippines, where students are required to take a different entrance exam for each school, universities in the US generally accept scores from either the SAT or the ACT. This allows students to apply to multiple schools without having to take multiple tests. You can register for and locate test centres in the Philippines for SAT on College Board and for ACT on ACT’s official website.


TOEFL: This is an English-language proficiency test for non-native speakers wishing to study in American universities. You can register for and locate test centres in the Philippines on the TOEFL official website.


Each testing company charges a fee to take a standardised test. In most cases, payment of the fee allows you to send your test scores to a limited number of universities. For an additional fee, you may have extra copies of your reports sent to other institutions. Test fees vary by programmes. They usually range from $22.50 (USD) to $160 (USD) but are subject to change each year.


Study in the USA


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